- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2008

Hancock (Sony, $28.96 for single-disc DVD, $34.95 for two-disc DVD, $39.95 for Blu-ray) — Critics weren’t too kind to this Will Smith movie about a superhero with serious personal problems. Audiences didn’t care, though: “Hancock” is the fourth-top-grossing movie in the country this year so far, with a take of $228 million. It’s true that in the last third of the film, its narrative arc takes a dramatic — and not particularly believable — turn. The first two-thirds of “Hancock,” though, might be some of the funniest moments on film this year. Mr. Smith stars as the title character, a guy with great power, but not great responsibility. Hancock cleans up Los Angeles, but not without causing a lot of mess in the process. The troubled superhero can’t lay off the bottle, so his help also comes with destruction. When he saves the life of a public-relations guru (played by the always-enjoyable Jason Bateman), the spin master decides to help Hancock rehabilitate his image. His wife (Charlize Theron), however, is against the job for rather mysterious reasons.

If you want the single-disc DVD, you’ve got your pick of the PG-13 theatrical release and the unrated version. Bonuses include five featurettes as well as making-of and special-effects documentaries. The two-disc DVD includes both versions of the film, all those extras and a digital copy of the film you can watch on your computer, portable device or PlayStation Portable. It also includes two more extras on the making of the film.

The Blu-ray version ups the ante, with all those extras plus a Blu-ray exclusive on-set visual diary and a picture-in-picture track that lets you watch the movie along with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. It also includes a digital copy of the film.

Heathers: Limited Edition Locker (Anchor Bay, $89.97) — Apparently, an awful lot of people revel in their nostalgia for 1980s teen movies, as I was reminded recently when I saw someone at a theater with a “Sixteen Candles” tote bag. With that in mind, this set would make a perfect Christmas gift for a whole generation. The 20th High School Reunion Edition of this cult classic about high-school cliques starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater was released earlier in the year. Both discs of that set are included here along with a brand-new Blu-ray edition. Including both DVD and Blu-ray discs is an innovative move; one certain to please gift-givers who aren’t certain whether their recipient has a state-of-the-art player. Extras include audio commentary with director Michael Lehmann, writer Daniel Waters and producer Denise Di Novi as well as making-of and retrospective featurettes. You can even read Mr. Waters’ original ending in an excerpt for DVD-ROM.

There are also some nondisc extras: a T-shirt, magnets, hardcover yearbook and algebra book. (Although I can’t imagine who wants to be reminded of that high school subject.) The packaging for this set has to be one of the most adorable of the season. Everything comes in a metal locker with a working combination lock.

Mr. Slater may have just had his television series “My Own Worst Enemy” canceled, and Miss Ryder may now be known best as a shoplifter instead of as an actress, but you can see them both here in better days.

The Odd Couple: The Final Season (Paramount, $39.98) — The fifth and final season of this classic TV series is now out on DVD, but don’t expect fans to be overjoyed. It seems that music has been cut out of some episodes in the DVD release of each season, and this one is no exception. There aren’t any extras either. Still, it’s the only way you can see the wife of one of the two men finally take him back in the end. Tony Randall was Felix Unger and Jack Klugman was Oscar Madison in this ABC series (1970-75) based on Neil Simon’s 1965 Broadway hit and the 1968 feature film. All 22 episodes are on three discs. — Kelly Jane Torrance

Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear and The Man Called Flintstone (Warner Home Movies, $19.98 each) — More than 40 years after their original movie theater premieres, these old-timey kids’ favorites are released for the first time on DVD. The question, however, is whether these full-length movies will appeal as much to Emily and Jacob in 2008 as they did to Lisa and Michael back in the mid-1960s.

Probably not.

The pacing is slow — a delight for those approaching age 40, but probably insufferable for those nearing age 4. Yogi Bear, in particular, whose antics are sweet and innocent by today’s standards, would probably put many a contemporary child to sleep. (Hey, there’s an idea.)

“The Man Called Flintstone” fares a little better with its high-speed chases, crooks and dinosaurs. The story line features Fred Flintstone chasing “arch-baddie” Green Goose in Eurock, while the rest of la famiglia (including Barney Rubble and his crew) think they’re visiting Rome and Paris as mere tourists.

As pure nostalgia for us oldsters, both movies work. Perhaps that is how they should be viewed with today’s youngsters while telling them, “Look, this is what mommy and daddy used to watch when we were kids.”

It’s the kind of sweet trip down memory lane that might just yabba-dabba-do-the-trick to get wee ones interested in Yogi and Fred despite the slow-moving narratives.

Gabriella Boston

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