- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fans of “Beavis and Butt-head”/”King of the Hill” creator Mike Judge’s 1999 corporate satire/cult-movie mainstay “Office Space” should enjoy his latest live-action comedy, Idiocracy, new this week from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment ($27.98) following an under-the-radar theatrical run. It’s our

DVD pick of the week

As the film opens, quintessentially average American soldier Joe (Luke Wilson), along with prostitute Rita (Maya Rudolph), are chosen to be frozen for a year in a military hibernation experiment. Unfortunately for our test subjects, a government glitch extends that stretch to 500 years.

A narrator informs us that stupid people have been propagating at a far faster clip than their smarter counterparts, so when Joe and Rita thaw out in the 25th century, they discover they’re now the brightest individuals on the planet.

Director and co-scripter Judge’s elaborate goof on current consumer/jackass culture may be essentially a one-joke affair, but the joke’s a pretty funny one, yielding enough variations to keep this zany, possibly distressingly prescient vision of a depraved new world bouncing along at a brisk clip.

Lending particularly wacky acting support are Dax Shepard as Joe’s new futuristic pal Frito, and former footballer Terry Crews as U.S. President Camacho, a machine-gun-toting ex-rapper/wrestler/porn star.

Along the way, Mr. Judge and co-writer Etan Cohen poke fun at witless news programs, reality TV shows, bogus products (like the future’s prime panacea, an energy drink called Brawndo the Thirst Mutilator), fast-food franchises and other worthy targets, while scoring deeper points regarding our ongoing corporate-driven dumbing-down process.

Not every riff works, but the laugh level registers high enough to hoist “Idiocracy” above most contemporary big-screen comedy fare. Unfortunately, the disc arrives bare of back-story bonuses, with extras limited to a handful of deleted scenes.

The ‘A’ list

20th Century Fox delivers a trio of additional theatrical titles this week, leading with Neil Burger’s sleeper hit The Illusionist ($29.98), a heady, entertaining 19th century-set mix of magic and romance starring Edward Norton, Jessica Biel and Paul Giamatti, along with the limited release femme Western romp Bandidas ($27.98), pairing Salma Hayek with Penelope Cruz, and Jean Claude Lamarre’s controversial Crucifixion drama Color of the Cross ($26.98).

Elsewhere, country singer Toby Keith makes his dramatic bow in Broken Bridges (Paramount Home Entertainment, $29.99), “Transporter” star Jason Statham stays on the action track in Crank (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, $28.98), Robin Williams and Toni Collette topline in the thriller The Night Listener (Buena Vista Home Entertainment, $29.99), and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment debuts the Hispanic drama Quinceanera ($26.95) in an extras-enhanced edition.

Tele-video

In fresh TV-on-DVD developments, Image Entertainment time-travels to three disparate decades to retrieve a trio of vintage comedy series: Mister Peepers (1953), starring Wally Cox and Marion Lorne; Good Morning World: The Complete Series (1967), with Ronnie Schell; and the Dom DeLuise showcase Lotsa Luck (1973). The four-disc sets are tagged at $39.99 each.

HBO Video goes the contemporary comedy route with Extras: The Complete First Season (two-disc, $29.98), spotlighting erstwhile “The Office” boss Ricky Gervais as a mostly unemployed actor.

BBC Video enters the world of espionage with MI-5 Volume 4 (five-disc, $79.98), arriving with audio commentaries and featurettes, and offers the lighter-toned Hans Christian Andersen adaptation The Snow Queen ($14.97), with Juliet Stevenson.

Collectors’ corner

Romance-minded cinephiles have a treasure trove of titles to choose from this week, courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment’s four-disc Romantic Favorites Collection ($29.98). The set assembles a quartet of British films featuring suavely rumpled romantic comedy icon Hugh Grant: About a Boy (2002), the Renee Zellweger sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Love Actually (2003) and Notting Hill (1999).

Keyed to the current “Dreamgirls,” Warner Home Video polishes the 1976 girl-group show-biz drama Sparkle ($19.98), with future “Fame” ingenue Irene Cara as the eponymous chanteuse and Philip Michael Thomas as the group’s manager; bonuses include a five-tune Aretha Franklin soundtrack CD.

Video verite

In documentary news, WGBH Boston Video’s Puzzling Minds (three-disc, $39.95) collects a trio of literally cerebral “Nova” Public TV documentaries — Mind of a Serial Killer, Secret of the Wild Child and Secrets of the Mind — while Docurama issues the Vietnam War-themed Sir! No Sir! ($26.99) and Genius Entertainment introduces the gritty political campaign chronicle Street Fight ($24.95).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I have a question about a TV film from the U.K. titled “Ghostwatch.” I have yet to find a place that sells it in the U.S.

Shannon Harding, via e-mail

Alas, that notorious 1992 BBC faux documentary chiller, something of a U.K. answer to Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast, has yet to land a stateside homevideo release.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at phanmedia@aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide