- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2007

Anyone who has ever dealt with real estate agents should be able to relate to Closing Escrow, a bright new mockumentary out this week via Magnolia Home Entertainment ($26.98). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Themselves veterans of the straightforward reality TV series “House Hunters,” co-auteurs Armen Kaprelian and Kent Llewellyn tilt the home-search process just slightly off its axis while following three couples and a like number of real-estate agents on their increasingly agonizing rounds.

The funniest thread involves black lawyer tandem Tamika (April Barnett) and Bobby (Cedric Yarbrough ) and their white agent, Hillary (Wendy McLendon-Covey), whose initially submerged racism gradually rises to the surface, much to the couple’s understandable bemusement.

The movie reaches its zenith in a brilliantly choreographed climactic scene that finds all our principals descending on the same property at the same time, with expectedly chaotic results.

While “Closing Escrow” doesn’t quite hit the heights of mockumentary maven Christopher Guest’s best comedies (e.g., “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind”), there’s more than enough here to guarantee an evening of at times painfully honest laughs. Mr. Yarbrough and Miss McLendon-Covey — both regulars on Comedy Central’s consistently sharp police-show parody “Reno 911!” — rate as the comic standouts.

Magnolia’s extras add to the fun, particularly a making-of documentary examining the semi-improvisational approach of “Closing Escrow.” Deleted scenes and more behind-the-scenes footage complete the bonus material.

Tele-video

Comedies likewise dominate the week’s fresh TV on DVD slate. Universal Studios Home Entertainment leads the way with two series — Steve Carell in The Office: Season Three (four-disc, $49.98), and Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan in 30 Rock: Season 1 (three-disc, $49.98). Both arrive with a host of extras, including commentaries, featurettes, blooper reels, bonus interviews and more.

Paramount Home Entertainment spotlights ‘80s odd couple Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari in the drag sitcom Bosom Buddies: The Second Season (three-disc, $39.98), while Buena Vista Home Entertainment lavishes much TLC on its extras-enhanced release of the seriocomic series Desperate Housewives: Season 3: Dirty Laundry Edition (six-disc, $59.99).

20th Century Fox focuses on funnyman Danny DeVito’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Seasons 1 & 2 (two-disc, $39.98), while Sony Pictures showcases David Spade in Rules of Engagement: The Complete First Season ($29.95).

Warner Home Video offers the offbeat Nip/Tuck: The Complete Fourth Season (five-disc, $59.98) and covers the animation/puppetry front with the irreverently surreal 20-episode series Robot Chicken: Uncensored (two-disc, $29.98).

Paramount Home Entertainment appeals to younger viewers with the animated SpongeBob SquarePants: Season 5 Volume 1 (two-disc, $39.99).

From across the pond, Acorn Media concentrates on the British mystery beat with the gala 27-episode set Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Collection (13-disc, $149.99), starring Patricia Routledge as a sixtysomething housewife-turned-sleuth. The set arrives with the bonus feature-length drama “Missing Persons,” an interview with Miss Routledge and more. Jonathan Pryce takes the eponymous detective role in the same label’s Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars ($24.99).

Elsewhere, 20th Century Fox goes the action-suspense route with Prison Break: Season Two (six-disc, $69.98).

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical releases joining the digital ranks this week, Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman and Lindsay Lohan represent dueling generations in Gary Marshall’s drama Georgia Rule (Universal Studios, $29.98), equipped with featurettes, deleted scenes and gag reel.

Larry the Cable Guy heads the military romp Delta Farce (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, $28.98), while Paul Walker and Laurence Fishburne topline in the limited-release action movie Bobby Z (Sony Pictures, $24.96).

Genius Entertainment introduces Ken Loach’s 1920s Ireland-set drama The Wind That Shakes the Barley ($19.94), starring Cillian Murphy. The disc includes a Ken Loach commentary and career retrospective.

Video verite

In documentary news, Kino Video introduces the 2006 Mexican film In the Pit ($29.95), dealing with a massive construction project, while Shout! Factory profiles a legendary Nashville record producer in Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan: Cowboy Jack Clement’s Home Movies ($19.95), and WGBH Boston Video explores the Six-Day War and its aftermath in Six Days in June: The War That Redefined the Middle East ($19.95).

Collectors’ corner

In the archival arena, Kino Video returns to the dawn of the sound era with two newly unearthed rarities — Roland West’s expressionistic 1929 gangster drama Alibi, starring Chester Morris and Mae Busch, and the 1930 Fannie Brice musical Be Yourself ($24.95 each).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Where can I find El Cid, Bad Day at Black Rock and Anatomy of a Murder on DVD?

— R Dykes, via e-mail

The classics “Bad Day” and “Anatomy” are available, via MGM Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video, respectively, from Amazon.com and other online sources. “El Cid” is out of print, though used copies occasionally surface at the above site.

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.

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