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The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

click to enlarge The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway (Blu-ray)
  • The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway (Blu-ray)

With this, we get the return of Paul Reubens as his eternally youthful alter ego, Pee-wee Herman. This show was modeled after Pee-wee's Playhouse, the hit TV show that ran for a while before Reubens got himself in trouble.

While I wasn't a huge fan of the TV show, it is a rush to see Reubens running around in the suit and bowtie again. Familiar characters like Cowboy Curtis and Chairry return, and it's kind of fun. However, Phil Hartman and Laurence Fishburne are missed.

Judd Apatow has said he is working on a new Pee-wee film, but the Internet Movie DataBase currently lists the release date as unknown. Perhaps they are all waiting to see how Pee-wee's new Broadway exploits do on the home-video market.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Reubens offers up a commentary.

Mimic: The Director's Cut (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

click to enlarge Mimic: The Director's Cut (Blu-ray)
  • Mimic: The Director's Cut (Blu-ray)

I wasn't crazy about Mimic upon its initial release, a film director Guillermo del Toro allegedly disowned after clashing with producers. With this, del Toro tries to "reclaim" the picture—but it remains a heavily flawed enterprise.

The movie stars Mira Sorvino as a scientist trying to wipe out a plague caused by cockroaches. She introduces a genetically engineered bug that's designed to kill the roaches and die out after serving its purpose.

As for getting rid of the plague, she scores. As for getting the bugs to die out ... instead, they grow into human-size creepy things that look like tall dudes wearing trench coats. Oh, and they like killing people. (Two kids meet their demise in the film's most-frightening sequence.)

Unfortunately, a convoluted plot involving a police investigation and an autistic kid obsessed with shoes slows things down. It's clear that del Toro was trying to do much more than a B-movie here, but his artistic sensibilities don't jibe with the mainstream nature of the film. It feels like two films clashing within the same movie, and that's probably why del Toro battled with his bosses.

As for new additions, there's some nonsense involving sweat shops and a couple of other little tweaks that don't really do much to improve the film. Del Toro's talent for atmospherics is definitely evident, but he hadn't quite hit his stride yet.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Del Toro provides a video introduction, some interviews and a commentary about the making of the movie. It's more interesting than the finished film.

My Life as a Dog (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

click to enlarge My Life as a Dog (Blu-ray)
  • My Life as a Dog (Blu-ray)

Anton Glanzelius delivers one of cinema history's great child performances as Ingemar, a young Swedish boy sent to live with kooky rural relatives when his mother falls ill. Glanzelius didn't do much acting after this movie, which is fine, because it would be hard to top the work he does here.

Director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, What's Eating Gilbert Grape) captured magic with Glanzelius, who had a talent for devilish looks. He gets many laughs as a kid going through confusing times as he deals with the separation from his family and beloved dog—and finds ways to cope and adapt.

The town Ingemar goes to visit is full of offbeat charms, including a young girl who is the best athlete but seems to be slowly growing out of her tomboy phase. Running gags—including a guy constantly roofing his house, and a kid who has inexplicably green hair—give the film a unique flavor.

Hallström has made some fine films since, but this one remains one of his best.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A video interview with the director, and Shall We Go to My Place or Your Place or Each Go Home Alone?, a film he did in 1973. You also get a nice collector's booklet.

Submarine (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

click to enlarge Submarine (Blu-ray)
  • Submarine (Blu-ray)

Craig Roberts is a lot of fun as Oliver Tate, a British high school student trying his best to get a girlfriend, and working hard to keep his parents (a superb Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins) together. Their humdrum marriage gets further threatened by the next-door presence of Graham Purvis (a funny Paddy Considine), his mom's former boyfriend.

Writer-director Richard Ayoade lets his actors speak very fast (I found myself needing to use the subtitles at times) and gives his film a unique, quirky look. I especially liked a moment when Oliver got in his bed, and it drifted out to sea.

It's a coming-of-age story along the lines of Rushmore that isn't quite as funny and inventive, but it is certainly worth a look.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get a making-of featurette and some deleted scenes.

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