- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Highlighting the best interactive features from the high-definition format.

Maximum cop-out mode

Director Kevin Smith and actor Bruce Willis‘ most forgettable film to date, “Cop Out” (Warner Home Video, Rated: R, $35.99) gets a boost in the “Rock Out with Your Glock Out Edition” from the Blu-ray format’s magic and turns a pretty lame action comedy into a humorous evening with Mr. Smith.

The buddy film finds a pair of New York City detectives (played by Mr. Willis and Third Rock’s Tracy Morgan) out to break up a drug gang, retrieve a valuable baseball card and blah, blah and blah.

Let’s get to the point.

The gold mine on the disc is called a Maximum Comedy Mode, and our bearded, fearless leader takes control of his critically panned effort.

Much as in Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode, the director walks out on-screen and gives viewers an immersive glimpse into the filmmaking process with help from multiple visual aids.

Except here, Mr. Smith becomes more comic than director and will really give fans a belly laugh with his unique perspectives on his job, life and his love of the New York boroughs.

Yes, we still get a robust collection of outtakes, raw footage, extended scenes and production minutia, but Mr. Smith has fun at his own expense and rants on about making a big-budget movie and his weight, and he even fast-forwards the movie to get to the occasional funny stuff.

Also, look for useless facts, pop-up boxes (such as the contents of a po-boy sandwich or how many cats coexisted with the crew in one of the set locations), some clickable Focus Points (which pull the viewer into a short segment away from the film) and wisdom from the [expletive] Bandit (played by Sean Williams Scott) who reminds us that if you think the world is monitored by Big Brother, always be ready to give him a show.

Mr. Smith’s entertaining performance begs the question, “How could Warner Bros. further leverage the director’s perspective on film?”

I say let Mr. Smith star in any future Maximum Movie Mode on any box-office-challenged Warner Bros. release slated for the Blu-ray format.

I bet the upcoming “Jonah Hex” Blu-ray would sell like hotcakes with Mr. Smith’s shenanigans attached to it.

Embrace the Runaways

Hollywood celebrated the influential 1970s all-girl band the Runaways earlier this year with a hollow but raw biopic of the same name that explored the group’s brief but very influential role in rock music.

Based on Cherie Currie’s memoir from 1999, the film stars Kristin Stewart as guitarist Joan Jett, Dakota Fanning as lead singer Currie and Michael Shannon as visionary and eccentric manager Kim Foley.

“The Runaways” arrives on Blu-ray (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Rated: R, $34.95) with some weak extras and only a minimal interactive experience for fans.

First, I’m a little surprised by the lackadaisical optional commentary track with Miss Jett, Miss Fanning and Miss Stewart, especially from the two actresses.

I’ll not only cut Miss Jett slack for her comments but even give her kudos for trying to engage the pair to at least talk about what’s on-screen.

Now, why the actresses are not taking full advantage of the situation by peppering “the” Joan Jett with questions about her early years, career minutia, the type of guitar she plays and even her opinions on music is unbelievable.

This music legend is in the room and willing to talk, so come on, folks. It would have been way more interesting hearing about the filmmaking process with girlfriends.

As far as harnessing Blu-ray technology, viewers get movieIQ Sync, Sony’s online interactive mode, which presents a streaming pop-up box of information about the film in a text format playing over the action.

Besides presenting cast credits, bios and interesting facts such as that Cheap Trick and Tom Petty opened for the Runaways on their first American tour, the box enables the user to select from the 28 songs featured in the movie and receive a customized tune list as an e-mail.

Viewers do indeed get an e-mail, with a link to a Web page that lists their selections and that’s it — a text list. How about a link to either the full song (for a one-time play only) or at least a snippet of the song or a way to buy the track immediately online?