- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2015

Home theater owners looking for some politically incorrect laughs have a trio of movies to choose from in this week’s best of Blu-ray releases.

Ted 2 Unrated(Universal Studios Home Entertainment, not rated, $34.98) — The latest cinematic exploits ofSeth MacFarlane’s pot-smoking, foul-mouthed, plush bear arrives to home theaters in a slightly extended version to give fans over two hours worth of crude humor and Boston accented F-bombs.

The movie plays out like a massively crude episode of “Family Guy,” with a story centering around the struggles of Ted (voiced by Mr. MacFarlane) and his new wife Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) to acclimate to married life and realizing adopting a child might smooth over some of the rough relationship edges.

Except, Ted is a stuffed toy and after being confirmed by the courts to be an object and not a human, he will need help from his best thunder buddy John Bennett (Mark Walhlberg) and marijuana-fueled lawyer Samantha Jackson (Amanda “Gollum” Seyfried) to reverse the decision and avoid more trouble from evil Donny (Giovanni Ribisi).

Now, the rapport between Mr. Wahlberg and Mr. MacFarlane’s avatar is often stupidly funny for the male demographic, but the bigger laughs really arrive like through the disjointed celebrity cameos.

The roster includes Liam Neeson (as his “Taken” character), New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, Jay Leno, Sam J. Jones (star of the 1980 film “Flash Gordon”), David Hasselhoff and the famed vehicle KITT.

Also, pay attention for Patrick Warburton and Michael Dorn showing up during the New York Comic Con fight scene dressed as their fondly remembered pop-culture characters (I won’t spoil it).

Extras are surprisingly robust and besides also getting the theatrical version of the film, owners, enjoy seven deleted scenes, a gag reel and almost 40 minutes of featurettes dissecting the musical opening number and Comic Con sequence.

A welcomed optional commentary track features Mr. MacFarlane (producer, director and co-writer), Alec Sulkim (producer and co-writer), Wellesley Wild (producer and co-writer) and Miss Barth. Well worth listening for fans, it plays out like a bunch of friends hanging out at the corner pub and reminiscing about some great times.

The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear and The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, $14.98 each) — Bumbling police detective Lt. Frank Drebin returned for a pair of sequels in 1991 and 1994 after his successful cinematic debut in the late 1980s with “The Naked Gun: From the Files of the Police Squad.”

Both are now available for the first time ever in Blu-ray to highlight the wacky work of creators David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker. The trio delivers in each sequel a steady stream of “Three Stooges”-style slapstick, sophomoric situations and double entendre wordplay.

First, “Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear” features a story that rings true today as a group of evil corporate owners of coal, oil and nuclear energy use nefarious means to try and derail a new sustainable energy initiative by President Bush who is concerned about the endzone layer.

Hey, who cares about the plot, just laugh at star Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Drebin and co-stars George Kennedy, O.J. Simpson, Priscilla Presley and Robert Goulet. The ensemble cast delivers deadpan delivery throughout to maximize chuckles.

Specifically, be it Lt. Drebin unintentionally abusing Barbara Bush, fighting with a lobster, driving a tank through a zoo and struggling with an unruly bath towel, Mr. Nielsen is in his comedic prime and never flinches at the absurdity.

Next, “The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult” holds an even more relevant plot tied to domestic terrorism in the U.S. played for laughs, of course, and right from the beginning with an odd homage to the opening train shootout sequence of “The Untouchables.”

The returning cast (Mr. Nielsen, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Simpson and Miss Presley) are helped by Anna Nicole Smith and cameos by a fairly impressive list of pop-culture celebrities including Ann B. Davis, Vanna White, Elliot Gould, Mariel Hemingway, Mary Lou Retton, Morgan Fairchild, Shannon Doherty, Raquel Welch, James Earl Jones and Olympia Dukakis.

However, that third film will be most remembered for releasing approximately three months before Mr. Simpson found himself as the key suspect in the bloody murders of Ron Brown and Nicole Brown Simpson. Watching the hijinks of the supposedly mild-mannered actor onscreen, with this knowledge, amidst all of the comic shenanigans is a bit unsettling to say the least.

Each movie’s digital transfer (1.78:1 aspect ratio) offers a woefully uneven, soft presentation looking culled from a 1980s television show with even occasional dirt and scratches still visible. I think fans of these classics deserve better in the age of 4k restorations.

Additionally, neither offers any extras, which is odd since the material could have easily been ported over from the previous DVD releases.

It’s hard to recommend either film for purchase in the latest condition, even with the steady stream of laughs concocted by the ZAZ (Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker) team.



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