November 19, 2009 News » Cover Story

The discs that keep on giving 

No matter whom you want to silence this holiday season, there's a loaded DVD or Blu-ray package to do the trick

With Thanksgiving upon us, it's time to reflect on what truly matters: friends, family and, of course, sitting idly in front of your television. So allow us to offer a guide to the coming month's home-video releases, ranging from summer blockbusters to golden-age classics to the absolute finest Silent Bob vehicles.

Let's start at the head of the table with World's Greatest Dad (release date Dec. 8), an acid-laced indie gem that might have slipped under your radar. Bobcat Goldthwait's pitch-black comedy features a fearless performance from Robin Williams and a disturbingly hilarious turn by Daryl Sabara, all grown up from the Spy Kids films. The DVD includes deleted scenes, outtakes and a music video for a song from the film's indie-rock soundtrack.

Of course, sometimes Dad isn't in a laughing mood. Sometimes he just wants to watch Nazis get their comeuppance. That's where Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (Dec. 15) comes in. The single-disc DVD includes extended and alternate scenes along with the German propaganda film-within-the-film, Nation's Pride, while the two-disc DVD and Blu-ray includes a roundtable discussion with Tarantino and Brad Pitt as well as a gag reel and an army of other extras.

Once Mom has had her fill of Nazis being scalped, she may be ready to catch up on Lost: The Complete Fifth Season (Dec. 8), which arrives with enough bonus features to fill a cryptic hatch. Michael Emerson (who plays nefarious know-it-all Benjamin Linus) leads viewers on a mission through the secret Lost offices; Néstor Carbonell (the ageless Richard Alpert) takes us on an island tour; the production team scrambles to shoot the season finale. There's also a feature that explores the mysterious DHARMA Initiative, as well as bloopers, deleted scenes and several audio commentaries.

Another perfect TV-to-DVD choice may be It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas, which is full of the typical TV-MA shenanigans. This time, the gang tries to rediscover its holiday joy with an adventure that includes stolen presents, naked elves and a violent encounter with Santa. The holiday special will include deleted scenes, a look behind the scenes at Paddy's Pub, and a Sunny sing-a-long. Perhaps Green Man will make an appearance?

Age inappropriate

So what will the kids watch while the adults are busy? If their babysitter is anything like mine was, they'll have their pick of three solid R-rated comedic choices.

Audiences didn't know what to make of Judd Apatow's Funny People (Nov. 24) this summer. A 143-minute comedy starring Adam Sandler as a stand-up comic who's forced to re-evaluate his life when he's diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease? Though overlong and sometimes unfocused, Funny People remains one of the year's best movies, thanks to its hilarious cast and heartfelt screenplay. The DVD features Apatow's high school radio show, video of a Sandler prank call from 1990, Seth Rogen doing stand-up at age 13, deleted scenes, a four-part making-of documentary and more.

If Apatow's not your kind of guy, perhaps Brüno is. Sacha Baron Cohen's summer feature underwhelmed at the box office, but Universal is going all-out for the DVD and Blu-ray release. In addition to commentary from Cohen and director Larry Charles, there's an hour of alternate, deleted and extended scenes. Hopefully these include Brüno's encounter with LaToya Jackson, which was excised from the theatrical release shortly after the death of Michael Jackson, out of respect. Brüno isn't Borat, but this should be a fun DVD with enough extras to justify the purchase.

Speaking of fun DVDs, Todd Phillips' The Hangover (Dec. 15) comes as one or two discs including unrated and theatrical editions of the film, features on scene-stealers Ken Jeong and the Dan Band, a gag reel and dozens more photos from the missing camera. If you haven't seen the movie yet, do stay tuned through the end credits, which rival There's Something About Mary's as the funniest ever.

Socially awkward

For your sci-fi fanboy cousin, beam up a copy of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. At Best Buy, you can get a gift set with a four-pack of badge pins; at Target, limited-edition, collectible Starship Enterprise packaging on both the two-disc DVD and the three-disc Blu-ray; at Hollywood Video, a chance to win an autographed poster of Uhura (Zoë Saldana). That's a lot of incentives to see Star Trek, but the best one is that it's a well-cast thrill ride that brings the series into the 21st century.

Prefer the cozy confines of the 20th century? Gone With the Wind: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition is being released as a five-disc DVD and three-disc Blu-ray. Entirely remastered, this version contains more than eight hours of extras, including the brand-new documentary Gone With the Wind: The Legend Lives On; the 1989 TV special The Making of a Legend, narrated by Christopher Plummer; the 1939 Premiere newsreel; an MGM short from 1940; the film's international prologue; a 2004 documentary called Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia de Havilland; a 52-page hardcover book of production art; watercolor reproduction art prints; and a bonus CD soundtrack sampler. Whew! The Blu-ray also features a six-hour MGM documentary. Each set will be available in an individually numbered velvet keepsake box, and for those who find this Ultimate edition a bit too costly ($84.99 Blu-ray list price, cheaper online), a two-disc DVD Special Edition will be released with fewer extras.

Box it up

While we're on the subject of classics, if you're sick of your little brother's obsession with Saturday morning anime rip-offs, introduce him to some real Japanese filmmaking with AK 100 (Dec. 8), a 25-film collection from Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa that includes such timeless tales as Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro and Ikiru.

Once he works his way through the samurai, the other end of the boxed-set spectrum is the Kevin Smith 3-Movie Collection, which showcases the raunchy writer-director's growth from his debut feature Clerks to the critical favorite Chasing Amy to his underrated comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The Blu-ray boxed set, at $89.99, seems a little steep considering Smith's films don't necessarily demand to be seen in high-def, but honestly, who doesn't want to see the original auditions for Clerks?

Other film library titles coming soon to Blu-ray include Guy Ritchie's first (and best) two films, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Dec. 1) and Snatch (Dec. 1), the latter of which features Pikey subtitles for Brad Pitt's character. Another Pitt picture, Fight Club, arrives just in time for the film's 10th anniversary, while Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape celebrates its 20th anniversary.

So while you're picking over the leftovers in the days to come, pick a little something to watch that's right for you.



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