- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The screwball comedy is alive and well in Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest confection, Intolerable Cruelty, out this week via Universal Studios Home Entertainment ($26.98). It’s our …

Video pick of the week

George Clooney amply displays his comic skills as smooth operator Miles Massey, god of all divorce lawyers and a specialist in forging ironclad pre-nups. Miles begins a free fall from grace, however, when he ill-advisedly accepts beautiful professional divorcee Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones) as a client, then commits the ultimate sin by tumbling for the ruthless gold digger.

While lacking some of the Coens’ trademark quirk quotient (the siblings explain in a supplemental interview that they initially wrote the script without intending to direct), “Intolerable Cruelty” offers plenty of inventive moves within its more traditional farcical format.

The action moves at a brisk clip without resorting to artificial frenzy, emerging as a satisfying blend of the cynical and the romantic. Even more refreshingly, “Intolerable Cruelty” avoids the witless scatology seemingly crucial to so many contemporary comedies, from the “American Pie” series to the Farrelly Brothers’ oeuvre.

Terrific supporting performances abound, ranging from Billy Bob Thornton’s naive Texas oilman to Cedric the Entertainer’s gleefully intrusive private eye and Phantom fave Irwin Keyes’ brief but intense turn as hulking asthmatic hit man Wheezy Joe. DVD extras include the entertaining behind-the-scenes documentary, “A Look Inside Intolerable Cruelty,” along with an outtakes reel and a fashion-oriented featurette. If you’re in the mood for honest laughs, be kind to yourself and check out “Intolerable Cruelty.”

Collectors’ corner

In preparation for the upcoming Oscar season, Warner Home Video dresses up Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn), Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) and friends in a gala double-disc “Special Edition” of George Cukor’s 1964 Oscar-winning musical smash My Fair Lady ($26.99). The set incorporates commentary by art director Gene Allen, singer Marni Nixon and film restorers Robert A. Harris and James Katz, along with “More Loverly Than Ever: The Making of My Fair Lady,” new and vintage featurettes, film premiere and awards footage, and much more.

The label also debuts an additional Best Picture quartet: 1932’s all-star drama Grand Hotel; the 1936 musical extravaganza The Great Ziegfield; 1935’s Mutiny on the Bounty, with Clark Gable as the fractious Fletcher Christian and Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh; and 1942’s Mrs. Miniver, starring Greer Garson.

Those are in addition to the 1944 gothic chiller Gaslight and the 1939 drama Goodbye, Mr. Chips, featuring Oscar-winning performances by Ingrid Bergman and Robert Donat, respectively.

Tele-video

The invasion of the cult-TV box sets continues apace. This week, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment unveils Angel: Season Three ($59.98, six-DVD), containing 22 episodes, select filmmaker and cast audio commentary, cast and crew interviews, featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes, screen tests and more.

The same label strikes again with the alien-visitation science-fiction series Roswell: The Complete First Season ($59.98); the six-disc set assembles all 22 debut-season episodes, select commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, audition clips and a music video by Sense Field.

Anchor Bay Entertainment likewise goes all-out with its new nine-disc Xena, Warrior Princess: Season Three marathon, starring Lucy Lawless in the title role. The set contains all 22 episodes and more extras than you can wave a broadsword at, from rare footage to interviews, multiple audio commentaries, blooper reel and CD-ROM content.

Old-school ghoul buffs, meanwhile, should welcome Dark Shadows: DVD Collection 10 (four-DVD, $59.98), offering 11 hours of 1960s TV goth-opera antics in a set bolstered by exclusive interviews with actors Kathryn Leigh Scott, John Karlen, Alexandra Moltke and other series personnel.

The ‘A’ list

In theatrical-to-video news, this week Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment debuts the Meg Ryan thriller In the Cut ($26.95), along with the lighter-toned romantic comedy Lucky Seven ($24.95), starring Patrick Dempsey and Kimberly Williams.

Elsewhere, DEJ Productions introduces the reality-based disco depravity drama Party Monster, with former towhead Macaulay Culkin in a rad change-of-pace role as party-kid-turned-convicted-killer Michael Alig. Picture This! Home Entertainment offers a verite view of the same events with Party Monster: The Shockumentary ($24.95).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Are there any plans to release Ruby in Paradise, the 1993 Sundance Film Festival favorite, starring Ashley Judd, on DVD? I know it is currently available on VHS but would love to see a widescreen transfer to disc with extras.

Teddy Durgin, Laurel, Md.

Artisan Entertainment, the “Ruby” license holder, has been transferring much of its VHS library to disc, so hopefully “Ruby” will join the DVD ranks soon.

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: [email protected] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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