#011

Bad Company
Touchstone DVD

BUY IT

It shouldn’t be surprising that a Jerry Bruckheimer production directed by Joel Schumacher should be a rather mechanical piece of work. On his own, Schumacher can be a decent, even occasionally interesting director (see Tigerland), but a tendency to laziness draws him to clanking thrillers like Bad Company, a kind of film he’s shown he can finish on time and on budget, to the great joy of studio accounting departments.

Chris Rock’s agents would probably have considered him crazy for turning down a film like this, though why a comic with a talent for polemic satire would want to become an action hero is a secret known only in boardrooms and to Rock’s own conscience. A perfunctory “making-of” short that comes with this package is hardly a bonus but it reveals the laziest person involved in this whole production to be Anthony Hopkins, who admits that he only read half of the script before accepting the role.

Since he became a bona fide star, Hopkins has swung between fits of barely concealed self-loathing and occasionally inspired performances. He’s in the former mode here, perspiring as little as possible, at no point actually looking another actor in the face, turning in a performance equal parts mannerism and dismay.

_______________

Fellowship of the Ring Special Extended Edition
Alliance Atlantis DVD

BUY IT

Four discs long, half of which are devoted to a long version of the movie, with a choice of commentaries to go with each, this probably as much of director Peter Jackson’s film as anyone can handle.

At over three hours, the true fan can watch the first installment of the Rings trilogy to the limit of their endurance, lulled by abstruse production details, script ephemera, and the generally jovial recollections of the actors. New scenes don’t, alas, do much more than add to the burden of exposition the film has to carry, and extend the processional aspect of the journey.

The other two discs are a groaning board of production documentaries, at least one of which, on the locations used for the whole trilogy, will probably do more for New Zealand tourism than any billion-dollar advertising budget. Recommended for avid and devoted fans of the film, of which there seem to be many.

_______________

Spongebob Squarepants: Sea Stories
Nickelodeon DVD

BUY IT

Parents can be grateful for shows like the cartoon hit "Spongebob Squarepants", which will appeal to their children while throwing a bone to that giddy, anarchic strain of humour that surfaces in classic Looney Tunes, The Simpsons, and Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python cartoon segments.

Kids love the aggressive silliness of the show, about an overachieving sea sponge and his group of underwater buddies, while adults will adore episodes like “Gary Takes A Bath”, which is full of the exhuberant cartoon brutality of a Road Runner cartoon, or “Jellyfish Jam”, where Spongebob stays up all night raving with a bunch of hard-partying jellyfish. The Spongebob music video included with the package is an offshoot of that episode, a kind of “baby’s first techno” that’ll act as a welcome antidote to Barney and Fred Penner.

_______________

To Catch A Thief
Paramount DVD

BUY IT

Alfred Hitchcock’s least frightening thriller is really a celebration of the beauty of the French Riviera and of its stars, Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

In widescreen Technicolor, it’s utterly ravishing, and while you’ll rarely be biting your knuckles with suspense, you’ll find yourself envying the elegance of everything from retired cat-burglar Cary Grant’s mountainside villa to Grace Kelly’s Edith Head-designed wardrobe. This is Hollywood “product” at the boutique level. Includes some decent “making-of” featurettes, and a documentary about costume designer Head.

©2002 rick mcginnis all rights reserved.