- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic (Touchstone, $29.99 for DVD, $32.99 for two-disc DVD, $39.99 for two-disc Blu-ray) - “Confessions of a Shopaholic” might be remembered as the film that gave a fresh-faced comedic star her first starring role - but it wasn’t memorable for much else. The romantic comedy could be one of the year’s biggest missed opportunities. Based on the best-selling novels about a spendthrift sweetheart who must learn to mend her ways after landing an unlikely job as a financial journalist, the movie arrived at the perfect time to be a lighthearted but smart commentary on our current crisis. It wasn’t - and it wasn’t even a very good romcom, either.

The fault wasn’t with Isla Fisher, the charming redhead who plays the title role. She’s eminently relatable, a girl maxing out her credit card at a sample sale one minute, tripping in her new high heels the next, all while being cute enough to catch the eye of her handsome editor (played by Hugh Dancy). Perhaps the biggest problem was that the filmmakers didn’t take a cue from the makers of the film adaptation of another best-selling British chick-lit book, “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” That movie did have an American star but otherwise hewed closely to the book’s very British sensibility. “Shopaholic,” on the other hand, was watered down for American audiences. Note which one was the runaway success - “Shopaholic” made slightly more than half as much domestically and much less than half as much worldwide.

The single disc has just the film, while the two-disc version includes bloopers, deleted scenes and a digital copy of the film. The Blu-ray edition has a lot to offer those watching simply for the clothes - there are six featurettes just on fashion, including one on that all-important green scarf. There’s also a peek at how Patricia Field, made famous for her (better) costuming on “Sex and the City,” created Shopaholic’s rather eclectic wardrobe.

Tom and Jerry: Chuck Jones Collection (Warner, $26.99) - The late Chuck Jones is best known for his legendary work on the “Looney Tunes” cartoons. (Some, including the classics “One Froggy Evening” and “What’s Opera, Doc?” are on the National Film Registry.) He did plenty of other work, of course, including a run of “Tom & Jerry” cartoons from 1963 to 1967. All 34 of those theatrical shorts are collected in this two-disc set. Mr. Jones brought a sense of the ‘60s to the classic cartoon. The animator’s influence is easily seen - his Tom looks rather like his Grinch, whom he brought to television in 1966. Included in the set are two documentaries, “Tom and Jerry…and Chuck” and “Chuck Jones: Memories of a Childhood.” The latter is a new half-hour documentary, which aired on TCM in March, that includes an interview with Mr. Jones about his influences. He died in 2002.

The Girls Next Door: Season 5 (Fox, $29.98) - The fifth season of “The Girls Next Door” was the last in which Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson lived at the Playboy Mansion. Hugh Hefner hasn’t ruled out a sixth season of the series - Crystal Harris has replaced Miss Madison as the “number-one girlfriend,” and the other two ladies were replaced by twins Karissa and Kristina Shannon. It’s hard to imagine even the twins topping the antics of the inimitable Holly, Bridget and Kendra, though. (Miss Marquardt now hosts “Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches” on the Travel Channel, while the engaged and expecting Miss Wilkinson is the star of another successful E! reality series, “Kendra.”) The fifth season saw Hef and the girls tour his ex-girlfriend Barbi Benton’s wacky Aspen mansion (and Hef eye up Barbi’s daughter) and Holly and Hef overseeing the photo shoots to find Playboy’s 55th anniversary Playmate, a contest the twins compete to win. (Does any man on the planet have a better job than Hef?)

Sixteen episodes are here on three discs - the two-part season finale is missing, presumably to show up on its own DVD later. Extras include deleted scenes and commentary from the blond and buxom trio who provided Americans with so many laughs for five full seasons.

The Pink Panther 2 (MGM, $29.98 for DVD, $39.99 for Blu-ray) - Warning: Spoiler ahead. Steve Martin, who stars in and co-wrote this sequel, reportedly had his character marry the one played by Emily Mortimer because he realized his movies that ended with weddings were all commercially successful. Not even the delightful Miss Mortimer in white could save this stinker, though. It made just $75 million worldwide - not even making back its budget of $85 million. The film lasted just a week in France’s theaters despite being set in Paris and including French actor Jean Reno and French musical icon Johnny Hallyday. (Perhaps the French noticed that Boston was used in some scenes as a stand-in for the City of Light.)

- Kelly Jane Torrance

Ghostbusters (Sony, $28.95 for Blu-ray) - Has it really been a quarter of a century since a green spud of a poltergeist slimed famed paranormal investigator Dr. Peter Venkman? Director Ivan Reitman’s film starring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis returns in a high-definition release that tries hard to please the fans. Besides a commentary track with Mr. Ramis and Mr. Reitman and a feature on the restoration of the Ectomobile, it delivers multimedia memories in two interactive areas.

The best is the Slimer mode. It frames the movie within the front of the Ghostbusters’ headquarters and adds a slew of pop-up boxes during the action. Most provide new interviews with almost the entire principal cast and crew (sans Mr. Murray and Rick Moranis). The interviewees even include sci-fi film historian Paul M. Sammon. Also look for pop-up text nuggets about New York City’s paranormal history, film characters and Ghostbusting equipment, such as the Proton Pack. The most historical of the pair of interactives is called Blu-Wizard. This buffet of extras culls content from the 2000 DVD release. The viewer can select a la carte from a 21-piece menu mixing featurettes, storyboards and multiangle scenes. He can watch his choices strung together immediately or enjoy them branching out within the movie as it plays.

Despite Mr. Murray’s lack of involvement, this ghostly Blu-ray exhaustively celebrates a classic comedy - one that is as satisfying as a bag of Stay Puft marshmallows.

- Joseph Szadkowski



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