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V for Vendetta: Two-Disc Special Edition

Warner Brothers
Movie A-
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

This is one of the better films of 2006 as of now. Alan Moore's graphic novel gets a nice screen adaptation, with Hugo Weaving starring as V, a mask-wearing vigilante looking to bring the British government to its knees. Natalie Portman plays Evey, who finds herself in V's lair learning about why he likes to run around at night blowing things up and kicking bad-guy asses.

Produced by the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix trilogy) and directed by James McTeigue (his feature debut), the movie paints a bleak portrait of the future where America is a Third World country, and Britain is an empire led by a dictator (John Hurt). Portman is her usual great self, and Weaving does some damn fine acting, even though we never see his face.

Special Features: There are single-disc and two-disc versions of the film. The two-disc version includes the making-of documentary Freedom Forever!, and features about the film's graphic-novel origins.

The Shaggy Dog

Movie B-
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

I missed this one in theaters, and it actually kind of surprised me when I finally sat down to watch this nutty kids' movie. Tim Allen stars in the remake of the Disney semi-classic, providing a chance for us to hear his voice over footage of a dog. It is what it is, and sometimes relatively entertaining.

I have to give props to a film that starts with a sheep dog in a Buddhist monastery, in a full-on prayer pose. That dog is 300 years old, and he winds up in an animal-testing lab where an evil drug company looks to extract his DNA as a means of prolonging human life. He escapes and eventually bites a big-time lawyer (Allen); in turn, that lawyer learns a little about life while chasing his own tail, eating cereal with his face and playing fetch.

Allen is in fine form here, and the supporting cast is surprisingly good. Robert Downey Jr. actually shows up in a Disney movie, for Christ's sake, making the most of his screen time (as he usually does). He plays the usual evil business type, but he puts his own strange twist on the role. Kristin Davis, Danny Glover, Jane Curtin and Philip Baker Hall are also featured.

The special effects provide the most fun in this flick. My personal favorite would be a bulldog with a toad's body (he freaks out the lab technicians). There's also a great scene where Allen chases a cat on all fours, smacking into an elderly woman and her walker, knocking her into a tree. (It's not a proper lesson for the kids, but it's funny nevertheless.)

The movie is dumb as all hell, but it's sweet, and the kids will dig it. It also has a strange, subversive sort of humor at times that will keep adults interested. There's a decent enough message here, and in the end, the selfish lawyer learns that he's a better father as a dog. Or is it that dogs make better fathers? Jesus, I don't know.

Special Features: Deleted scenes (including a funny one with Downey Jr.), a blooper reel (lots of footage of Allen being frightened by monkeys) and an audio commentary. There's also a "bark along" feature, where you can let a montage of barking dogs play for your pooch while you leave to go grocery shopping.

Three's Company: Season Seven

Anchor Bay
Show D
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 3.5 (out of 10)

The seventh season of this mundane series saw Priscilla Barnes becoming the permanent third roommate (she would later go on to grow a third nipple in Kevin Smith's Mallrats). Further developments included Jack (John Ritter) owning his own restaurant and falling down a lot. Mr. Furley (Don Knotts) helps out at said restaurant and snorts a lot. (I hated when he did that.) Finally, Joyce DeWitt, very possibly the worst actress in the history of man, does the bug-eyed face and gets all riled up about the darndest things.

This show pretty much established itself as the hell it was in the opening credits, where the cast visits the zoo and acts all zany--Jack falls down while Larry kisses an elephant, and Don Knotts snorts. Episodes included one where Jack thinks he had drunken sex with Joyce DeWitt. That was pretty much regarded as the nightmare episode around my house.

Ritter was a talented actor, but it got a little hard seeing him stuck in this stupid show year after year (he had to suffer through the even worse spinoff, Three's a Crowd). This season actually featured an episode where Jack wears a fake mustache to get girls, because it worked for Burt Reynolds. I suppose this show had its endearing qualities, but I hated the thing. As dopey sitcoms go, Bosom Buddies kicked this show's ass.

Special Features: They include a best-of reel that shows the season's finest moments (pretty stupid), a Don Knotts tribute feature (he passed away when the DVD was in production) and a couple of commentaries by Richard Kline (Larry).

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