- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Two of yours truly’s fave animated characters make their feature-film debut in the witty horror-movie spoof Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, new this week from DreamWorks Home Entertainment ($29.99). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

After impressing audiences in acclaimed shorts like “A Close Shave,” “A Grand Day Out” and “The Wrong Trousers” (available in the DreamWorks collection “Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures”), Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis), a cheese-loving bachelor inventor, and Gromit, his silent but brainy dog, succeed in carrying this lively 85-minute romp.

Here, the Claymation duo operate the “Anti-Pesto” pest-control agency, specializing in humanely ridding their small English town of the rabbits that threaten the burg’s gala annual Giant Vegetable Competition.

Unfortunately, one of Wallace’s new inventions goes awry, transmogrifying him into the destructive titular were-rabbit while an actual bunny takes on his original personality. This dire turn of events naturally upsets Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter), who sponsors the veggie contest, while spurring her villainous would-be suitor Victor Quatermaine (Ralph Fiennes) to terminate the outsized furry fiend.

Creator Nick Park, co-director Steve Box and co-writers Bob Baker and Mark Burton cleverly send up old-school werewolf-movie tropes — spooky transformation scenes, a doomsaying vicar (Nicholas Smith), your requisite mob of angry villagers, etc., while staying true to their core characters’ integrity, fashioning a film that provides ideal adult and children’s entertainment without condescending to broad American pop-cultural tastes.

Wallace & Gromit fans who caught the movie on the big screen will still want to check out the DVD, which includes such excellent featurettes as “How Wallace & Gromit Went to Hollywood,” “Behind the Scenes of the Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and “Studio Tour,” plus the surreal bonus short “Stage Fright,” deleted scenes and an audio commentary by Mr. Park and Mr. Box, for a whole night of animated fun.

Tele-video

Vintage sitcoms head the latest list of TV-on-DVD releases. Universal Studios Home Entertainment introduces Charles in Charge Season One (three-disc, $34.98) and Gimme a Break Season One (three-disc, $29.98).

Warner Home Video debuts Growing Pains: The Complete First Season (four-disc, $29.98), with a cast reunion featurette and gag reel, and Anchor Bay Entertainment bows Grounded for Life: Season 1 (four-disc, $39.98), with a wealth of extras ranging from cast and crew commentaries to new interviews.

Elsewhere, Paramount Home Entertainment puts out the reality TV show Survivor: Pearl Islands: The Complete Seventh Season (five-disc, $49.99) and the celestial series Touched by an Angel: The Third Season, Vol. 1 (four-disc, $38.99).

Universal revives the 1970s series Emergency! Season Two (three-disc, $39.98), MGM Home Entertainment goes the ghostly route with Poltergeist: The Legacy: The Complete First Season (five-disc, $59.95), and Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd banter anew in the bonus-packed Moonlighting: Season 3 (Lions Gate Home Entertainment, four-disc, $39.98).

The ‘A’ list

Two recent theatrical romantic comedy/dramas land in vid-stores this week — Cameron Crowe’s extras-enriched Elizabethtown (Paramount, $29.99), starring Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom; and the fantasy-driven Just Like Heaven (DreamWorks, $29.99), with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo.

The Rock gets down to destructive business in the video-game-based Doom (Universal, $29.98), bursting with bonus material galore. Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine explore dysfunctional-family values in In Her Shoes (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $29.99). Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones reprise their original roles in the sword-slashing sequel The Legend of Zorro (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $28.95).

And on the subject of sequels, one of Disney’s most beloved animated figures returns in Bambi II (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, $29.99), arriving with featurettes and interactive games.

Collectors’ corner

Warner Home Video liberates several classic films from its vaults in new special editions complete with commentaries, bonus shorts and trailers, among them Captains Courageous, 1931’s Cimarron, Gone With the Wind, The Good Earth, Johnny Belinda and the lush Van Gogh bio Lust for Life. The discs are tagged at $19.98 each.

Paramount Home Entertainment salutes an enduring star via its Audrey Hepburn DVD Collection (three-disc, $39.99), assembling Roman Holiday, Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, along with numerous extras, include audio commentary by director Stanley Donen.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Now that Warner is releasing some old TV shows on DVD, do you know if “77 Sunset Strip” will be released on DVD in the near future? Thanks for a great column.

R. Travis, via e-mail

Haven’t heard of any imminent plans, but that label certainly has a stockpile of vintage series ripe for digital rebirth, from “77” to “Surfside Six,” “Hawaiian Eye” and “Bourbon Street Beat.”

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


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