Will Ferrell and his buddy, director Adam McKay, reteam after the funny Anchorman for a film that's twice as hilarious as their first outing. Ferrell is in fine form as the title character, but he's almost the straight man compared to the band of crazies surrounding him.
Sacha Baron Cohen, the new Peter Sellers, is beyond funny as a gay French NASCAR driver with an abominable accent. His rapport with Ferrell is killer, and he disappears into his character in much the same way he does with his Borat and Ali G personas. John C. Reilly plays one of cinema's all-time-great dumbheads, Cal. While he's a terrific dramatic actor, his calling might actually be comedy, because his performance seems effortless.
As Ricky Bobby's alcoholic daddy, Gary Cole proves himself an international cinematic treasure. If you don't believe me, just watch the scene where he shows up for career day at his young son's school and gives the kids a little speech about getting laid. The likes of Jane Lynch, Michael Clarke Duncan and Amy Adams round out the cast.
All that would be enough, but this movie also has two nightmarish children in the forms of Ricky Bobby's sons, Walker and Texas Ranger. They come up with some of the best putdowns I've heard coming out of kids' mouths since Tanner let loose in the original The Bad News Bears.
The unrated cut is totally worth your time, with 13 minutes of extra footage that is as funny as the stuff in the original cut. You get more of Walker and Texas Ranger spouting off, a homeless guy on the subway saying the F-word, an extra scene of the clueless Cal not realizing that stealing a wife is a friendship killer, and more.
Special Features: Best of the features would be a segment dedicated to Walker and Texas Ranger outtakes, a concentrated helping of the two brats tearing it up. The reel is shown in chronological order, so it also covers when they clean up their acts and become intellectuals. A joke commentary with McKay is a bit of a dud, but there are full versions of the Ricky Bobby commercials and PSAs seen in the movie, so that's decent.
This thing is massive. You get the original 1978 cut of Superman, as well as the 2000 expanded cut. As for Superman II, you get the two-disc original version and the recently released Richard Donner Cut, one of the greater DVDs to come out this past year. Superman III gets a special-edition treatment, and while Richard Pryor truly sucked in that one, I had forgotten how much cool stuff was actually in that movie (the showdown in the junkyard between good and bad Superman is classic). Superman IV: The Quest for Peace gets a special edition, too, and it's still a terrible film.
That's not all, folks: You get the two-disc special edition of Superman Returns, the character's triumphant 2006 return to movie screens, and one of the year's best action films. There are also discs dedicated to Bryan Singer's journals and other documentaries. Quite unbelievably, Amazon.com was listing this set at less than $70 at the time of this writing.
Movie grades: Superman (A); Superman II (B+); Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (A); Superman III (C+); Superman IV (F); Superman Returns (A-).
Special Features: There are too many to list--commentaries, documentaries, screen tests, comic books and more. It's truly a gift to the Superman fan. Caution: There have been some reports of trouble with the Superman III disc (the wrong edition of the film with no special-edition features) and the case breaking, so make sure to inspect your purchase immediately. Still, who really needs special features for Superman III?
Writer-director Kevin Smith goes back to where it all started, with convenience-store clerks Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson), producing mixed, somewhat enjoyable results.
When Randal burns down the Quik-Stop, the location of Smith's debut film, the two malcontents get jobs at Mooby's, a McDonald's knockoff, where Dante is having an affair with his boss (Rosario Dawson) despite the fact that he's getting married to someone else. Randal makes a lot of caustic observations while Dante sports sad, lovelorn puppy eyes. (Smith just can't make it believable that two beautiful girls, including his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach, would be fighting over the guy.)
The film gets too sappy in spots, but it's salvaged by Smith's virtuosity with vulgarity and the presence of Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith). Mewes, as always, steals the picture. There are also some fun cameos from Jason Lee and Ben Affleck.
Special Features: Three, count them, three commentaries, all featuring Smith and an assortment of cast and crew members. There's tons of behind-the-scenes stuff, including the 90-minute documentary Back to the Well.