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Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story--2-Disc Unrated Edition

Theatrical Version C+
Director's Cut B-
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

I wasn't too crazy about this Judd Apatow-produced comedy from director Jake Kasdan when I saw it in theaters. This spoof on music biopics like Walk the Line and Ray got off to a great start, with a young boy getting chopped in half during a good-natured machete fight, but it became slow and dull in its second half.

The film, depicting the rise and fall and rise of Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly), felt incomplete and chopped down, even though the film paradoxically also felt long. That problem is remedied with American Cox: The Unbearably Long, Self Indulgent Director's Cut. Many scenes are restored, and even though the running time goes up, the film feels smoother and faster.

There's more material dealing with Dewey's Brian Wilson period, where he gets messed up on LSD and puts all of his creative efforts into a crazy song featuring animal sounds and world music. There's also a long bit involving Dewey's variety show, with him marrying supermodel Cheryl Tiegs while partying with Cheryl Ladd and the one-and-only Patrick Duffy.

The movie still has a lot of clunkers, but the extended length gives it a more epic, tripped-out feel. It increases its sense of lunacy and restores some great material featuring Reilly. I'm still not crazy about the film, but it's definitely an improvement.

Special Features: Along with the extended version of the film, there are deleted and extended scenes; a commentary with Reilly, Kasdan and Apatow; 16 full song performances; and more. The special features total more than two hours of material; this is a rather robust effort.

1968 With Tom Brokaw

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

There are many reasons why 1968 could be considered one of the worst years in recent American history. It basically started with the Tet Offensive, and got worse from there. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy and Andy Warhol all got shot, while Richard Nixon made a big return to politics. Even worse than the return of Nixon, it was the year of my birth, a sure sign of the oncoming apocalypse.

Basically, the year blew ass.

Tom Brokaw is your host, and he gives the proceedings his own personal touch. He starts the doc standing on a corner in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, and then shows himself in the very same spot 40 years ago.

Brokaw sits down with the likes of Jon Stewart, Tommy Smothers ("The drug culture was neat!"), Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie and others. As Guthrie croons his famous "Alice's Restaurant," Brokaw sings along like a sleepy kid being sung his favorite tune at bedtime.

Brokaw also conducts an interview with a cop and a protester who were involved in the infamous Democratic National Convention riots that some believe cost the Democrats the presidency. The cop still insists that their actions against the crowd were justified, while the protester retorts that the demonstration was, and should've remained, peaceful. Most memorable is Brokaw's recent visit to the gravesite of a fighter-pilot friend who perished in the Vietnam War.

The documentary closes out the way the year did: on a note of hope. Astronaut Jim Lovell (later of the troubled Apollo 13 in '70) and his fellow flight crew orbited the moon in Apollo 8, giving Earthlings their first glimpse of their planet on the moon's horizon.

Special Features: Some extended interviews, but nothing much beyond that.

Life After People

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

This sometimes-goofy documentary tries to give us a glimpse of the Earth if humans were to vanish from the planet. The film depicts family dogs finding ways out of houses after masters have gone bye-bye, and the crumbling of skyscrapers due to a lack of maintenance. The filmmakers try to guess how long it would take for certain structures to fall, and what animal creatures would survive.

As for dogs, the film guesses that medium-sized breeds would fare the best, while dogs with short legs and funny faces due to special breeding would perish. English bulldogs ... you're screwed!

Most eerie is a recent visit to Pripyat, an abandoned city near the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Plants are overtaking masonry, and buildings are covered with greenery after just two decades. It's the documentary's most vivid example of what the world would look like a short time after humans disappeared.

The film goes all Jerry Bruckheimer when it depicts the world 100 years after humans, and structures like the Golden Gate Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge begin to collapse--in less-than-impressive CGI. The film guesses that skyscrapers like the Sears Tower and the Empire State Building would start collapsing after around 300 years. A sequence in which the Eiffel Tower meets its doom looks like the moment of its destruction in Team America: World Police. I expected to see puppets running away in fear.

Special Features: Some additional scenes, and that's it.

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