- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

The latest video release from Showtime cable's 1994 "Rebel Highway" series wherein contemporary directors were given free rein (albeit tight budgets) to remake several 1950s American-International youth flicks Shake, Rattle & Rock! owes less of a debt to the 1956 original than to John Waters' "Hairspray" and "Shake" director Allan Arkush's own 1979 "Rock'n'Roll High School." It's our …

Video pick of the week
Despite these obvious influences, "Shake, Rattle & Rock!," new from Dimension Home Video (priced for rental VHS, also available on DVD), gets by on its nostalgic exuberance, finger-poppin' period rock score and talented, high-energy cast.
Since-ascendant actress Renee ("Bridget Jones's Diary," "Nurse Betty") Zellweger gives her peppy all as a typical '50s teen whose all-consuming love for rock'n'roll leads her to start her own combo.
Following a terrific opening-credits sequence that sees a jacked Renee bounce all over her 'burb bedroom to the strains of Little Richard's "The Girl Can't Help It," Renee encounters the first of several serious setbacks when local parents and teachers, spearheaded by Mary ("Eating Raoul") Woronov, campaign to curtail the music they feel is leading their youngsters astray. With the help of hip TV deejay Howie Mandel (who's actually under control here), Renee and pals, including a budding black femme doo-wop quartet, strive to overcome these obstacles and make the world a safer place for rock'n'roll.
While utterly, even winkingly, predictable, "Shake, Rattle & Rock!" offers fun aplenty for '50s-reared boomers and Renee Z lovers alike, while cult-movie buffs will enjoy the presence of such old-school faves as Dick ("Bucket of Blood") Miller, William ("Dobie Gillis") Schallert, "Rock'n'Roll High School" alum P.J. Soles, veteran rocker John Doe and soul singer Ruth Brown, among others. If you can live with the movie's myriad anachronisms, "Shake, Rattle & Rock!" shapes up as 83 minutes of cheery, fast-moving fun.

Comedies on cassette
And speaking of laughs, several big-screen comedies will be making their homevideo debuts over the next few weeks. Paramount leads off with a pair of adventure comedies: Company Man, starring Douglas McGrath, as a teacher who pretends he's a CIA agent, with Sigourney Weaver and John Turturro. Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski reprise their original roles in the culture-clash sequel Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.
Elsewhere, Sam Neill monitors the 1969 moonwalk via satellite in the Down Under comedy The Dish (Warner). David Spade assumes the title role in Joe Dirt (Columbia/TriStar). Chris Klein and Heather Graham go the gross-out route in Say It Isn't So (20th Century Fox). And real-life brothers Derick and Steven Martini portray onscreen siblings in the indie hit Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire (Studio). All of the above will be priced for rental and also available on DVD.
Next month, Buena Vista goes the sell-through route with Robert Rodriguez' wild and crazy family-comedy smash Spy Kids ($24.99 VHS, $29.99 DVD), starring Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino.

Mondo Groucho
In classic comedy news, Kultur Video releases Groucho Marx: A Life in Revue ($24.95), son Arthur Marx's two-act musical play chronicling the famous funnyman's life from age 15 to 85. The VHS edition includes bonus footage not aired when the show originally appeared on PBS TV, along with a 22-minute "making-of" documentary.
White Star Video, meanwhile, reissues a trio of Jackie Mason specials on one DVD, the "Jackie Mason Comedy Trilogy" ($29.95): Jackie Mason: An Equal Opportunity Offender, Jackie Mason in Israel and Jackie Mason on Campus. The shows are also available individually on VHS ($19.95 each).

Edge of the screen
The new Zeitgeist Video label debuts a pair of edgy comic imports: the trippy Scottish triptych Acid House, adapted from Irvine Welsh's short stories and starring Jemma Redgrave and Ewen Bremner, along with French director Francois ("Under the Sand") Ozon's 2000 adaptation of the rudely witty W.R. Fassbinder play Water Drops on Burning Rocks, featuring Bernard ("Ridicule") Giraudeau. The titles are priced for rental VHS, $29.99 each DVD.

Phan mail
Dear Phantom: I'm looking one of the funniest movies yet (in my opinion). It's called Gun Crazy or A Talent for Loving. In it are Richard Widmark, Cesar Romero. It was filmed about 1969-1970.
Stuart Hough, Raleigh, N.C.
"A Talent for Loving" (original theatrical title) was made in 1969. It was briefly available on video as "Gun Crazy," but is long out of circulation. Best bet for a copy would be online auction sites like www.ebay.com, while you might try Video Library (800/669-7157) for mail-order rental copies.

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

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