- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

First Run Features (firstrunfeatures.com) rescues an enduring cult fave from video oblivion with its new DVD release of the 1975 futuristic sci-fi satire A Boy and His Dog ($24.95). It’s our…

Video pick of the week

Based on Harlan Ellison’s fable of the same name and directed in sure-handed, deadpan style by iconic character actor L.Q. Jones (of “The Wild Bunch” and, more recently, “The Mask of Zorro”), “A Boy and His Dog” stars a young Don Johnson as Vic, an opportunistic post-nuke survivor who gets by with more than a little help from his talking canine best friend Blood (voiced by actor/musician Tim McIntire).

Vic’s wasteland wanderings eventually lead to his discovery of an underground totalitarian community modeled in the image of vintage Topeka, Kan., a happy-face dystopia ruled by folksy fascist Lou Craddock (an excellent Jason Robards) and enforced by killer farmer robots.

To reveal more would be to risk ruining the many surprises this modestly budgeted but creatively rich midnight-movie staple has in store. For those who wish to hear the film’s fascinating backstory, director-screenwriter Jones provides one of the most entertaining audio commentaries ever to grace a disc. The DVD also includes both the film’s original and 1982 re-release trailers.

We recently spoke with Mr. Jones to score his take on the film’s lasting popularity. “People try to peg it, they try to put it in a niche, and it won’t fit, because it is so totally different,” he contends. “But when you push me to the mat and say, ‘What is ‘A Boy and His Dog,’?’ to me it’s really a love story, between the boy and his dog.”

‘Toons of glory

November shapes up as a banner month for animation fans, with Warner Home Video leading the charge. Moviegoers planning on catching Joe Dante’s current live-action/animation combo “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” can brush up on their “Looney Tunes” lore with Warner’s Looney Tunes Golden Collection ($64.92). The four-DVD set, available now, assembles 56 vintage cartoons showcasing Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and the gang, along with hours of innovative extras.

The same label goes a more contemporary route with two new Cartoon Network collections: the surreal adventure Aquateen Hunger Force Volume One and the agreeably bizarre animated superhero talk-show satire Space Ghost Coast to Coast Volume One, featuring such illustrious guests as “Weird Al” Yankovic, Bobcat Goldthwait and Judy Tenuta. The double-disc sets, tagged at $29.98 each, include episode commentaries and other extras.

Elsewhere, Disney DVD’s Lilo & Stitch’s Island of Adventures ($29.99) combines two new Lilo & Stitch animated stories with an interactive game that takes players deeper into the duo’s wild and crazy world. The same label releases the holiday-themed Rolie Polie Olie: Olie’s Winter Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving ($19.99 each).

Buena Vista Home Entertainment brings another popular illustrated character to full-dimensional life in Eloise at the Plaza ($24.99 DVD/$19.99 VHS), starring Julie Andrews, Jeffrey Tambor, and Sofia Vassilieva as Eloise.

Koch Vision resurrects a kooky 1962 series with The Krazy Kat Kartoon Kollection ($19.98 for two DVDs), offering over three hours of cat-and-mouse cartoons, drawn from legendary comic-strip creator George Herriman. Artisan Entertainment chips in with the computer-animated feature Rescue Heroes: The Movie ($19.98 DVD/$14.98 VHS).

Foreign fare

Returning to live action, several foreign films make their homevideo debuts.

Miramax Home Entertainment introduces Italian writer-director Gabriele Muccino’s romantic romp The Last Kiss ($29.99 DVD). From China comes writer-director Chen Kaige’s Together (MGM Home Entertainment, $29.98), about a violin prodigy and his father’s quest for big-city fame. Britain kicks in with the wacky office comedy Janice Beard (Koch Lorber Films, $24.98), starring Eileen Walsh, Rhys Ifans and Patsy Kensit.

Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment contributes French documentarian Jacques Perrin’s acclaimed true-life avian adventure Winged Migration ($26.95) in a special edition complete with director’s commentary, an in-depth “making-of” segment, a photo gallery and many other ornithological goodies.

‘X’ marks the spot

Next week, 20th Century Fox unleashes its double-disc X2: X-Men United DVD ($29.98). In addition to the action-packed feature, starring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and Patrick Stewart, the disc comes with two filmmaker commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted and extended scenes and much more.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Where can I find a copy of Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles?

Luke Bell, via e-mail

The future “Lord of the Rings” auteur’s 1989 show-biz puppet satire is available ($21.24 DVD only) via Movies Unlimited (moviesunlimited.com).

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. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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