Mark Burger`s

by Mark Burger

THE ODD COUPLE (Paramount Home Entertainment): Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau — a legendary screen team. The 1968 adaptation of Neil Simon’s Broadway smash, about two divorced men rooming together in New York City, is perhaps the quintessential pairing of the two actors. Lemmon plays the fastidious, neurotic Felix Ungar and Matthau the slovenly, acerbic Oscar Madison. When Felix’s wife kicks him out, he arrives at Oscar’s apartment— ostensibly at first to commit suicide, but then to remain as Oscar’s roommate. Before long, the two men are at each other’s throats, as this universal theme of incompatibility is played to the hilt. This was only the second team-up between Lemmon and Matthau (after The Fortune Cookie), and their chemistry and mutual affection are clearly evident. It’s still an unvarnished pleasure to watch the two of them play off each other. All director Gene Saks needed to do was to turn the camera on and point it in their direction — which is in no way an insult to his nimble direction. This two-disc “Centennial Collection” special edition includes a retrospective documentary (sans Simon, oddly enough) and a warm audio commentary with the actors’ sons, Chris Lemmon and Charlie Matthau. The film earned Academy Award nominations for editing and Simon’s adapted screenplay, and was a huge success with audiences. Then again, it’s hard to go wrong with this story — especially with Lemmon and Matthau at the peak of their powers. Rated G. ***’½

ALSO ON DVD 2009 ROSE BOWL GAME (ESPN/Genius Products): On Jan. 1, 2009, the USC Trojans won their unprecedented 24 th Rose Bowl championship, defeating Penn State’s Nittany Lions 38-24. This special-edition DVD ($19.95 retail) includes the entire broadcast as well as post-game analysis and interviews.

ACE VENTURA JR.: PET DETECTIVE (Warner Home Video): Jim Carrey has bigger (and better?) things to do, so Josh Flitter fills in as the pet detective’s chip-off-the-old-block son, attempting to solve a series of animal abductions in and around Universal Studios, Florida. Okay fare for kids, with Flitter giving it his all. It’s not really a surprise that they’re trying to resurrect this franchise, but the participation of cinematographer Mark Irwin is. Also on hand: Emma Lockhart, Art La Fleur and Ralph Waite (as Grandpa Ventura!). Rated PG. **

BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): Drew Barrymore provides the voice for the title character in this one-note, cornball comedy that somehow hit the box-office jackpot, in which a pampered pooch finds herself lost in Mexico. Other familiar voices emanating from the mouths of dogs include Andy Garcia, Cheech Marin, George Lopez, Paul Rodriguez, Edward James Olmos, Placindo Domingo and Luis Guzman, while the human contingent includes Piper Perabo and Jamie Lee Curtis. Rated PG. *

BRITISH CINEMA: THE RENOWN PIC- TURES CLASSIC COLLECTION (VCI Entertainment): A triple-feature of adaptations of classic novels produced by Britain’s Renown Pictures: Robert Newton and Michael Hordern appear in the 1951 adaptation of Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s Schooldays; James Hayter and James Donald star in screenwriter/director Noel Langley’s 1952 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, which earned an Academy Award nomination for best costume design (black and white); and Langley’s 1954 adaptation of Svengali, starring Donald Wolfit and Hildegard Neff. As a bonus, this special-edition DVD ($39.99 retail) also includes the 1931 version of Svengali, starring John Barrymore and Marian Marsh, which earned Oscar nominations for cinematography and editing.

BUNNYTOWN: HELLO, BUNNIES! (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): Those cute and fuzzy bunnies in four selected episodes from the animated Playhouse Disney featuring a family-friendly compilation of comedy, songs and lessons about sharing and teamwork. This special-edition DVD, which includes an interactive game, retails for $19.99.

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3: SENIOR YEAR (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): It’s the final year at East High for Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, et al, in the third installment of the popular Disney Channel series of films, which made the successful leap to the big screen. This franchise has become yet another cottage industry for Disney, encompassing stage productions, soundtracks, a concert tour, merchandising and more. The single-disc DVD retails for $29.99, the twodisc special edition for $34.99, and the three-disc Blu-ray for $39.99. Rated G.

THE EASTER BUNNY IS COMIN’ TO TOWN (Warner Home Video): A “deluxe edition” ($14.98 retail) of the perennially popular, TV special (in stop-motion animation) that explores the origins of the Easter Bunny. Produced by the Rankin/Bass duo and narrated by the great Fred Astaire, this originally aired in 1977.

FIRE IN THE SKY (Paramount Home Entertainment): An intriguing 1993 drama dramatizing the baffling disappearance of Travis Walton (DB Sweeney) for five days in 1975, which became national news when he reappeared and claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Adapted from Walton’s best-selling book by screenwriter Tracy Torme (Mel’s son), with a cast that includes Robert Patrick, Bradley Gregg, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Kathleen Wilhoite, Noble Willingham and reliable James Garner, playing a skeptical state investigator. Has a nice feel for the blue-collar characters, but goes on a bit long. Rated PG-13. **’½

HANDY MANNY: MANNY’S GREEN TEAM (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): Handy Manny “goes green” in this special-edition DVD ($19.99 retail), based on the popular, award-winning, animated Playhouse Disney series, in which the title character (voiced by Wilmer Valderrama) and his friends do their part to preserve and nurture the natural ecology.

HANNAH MONTANA — KEEPING IT REAL (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): A selection of five episodes from the popular Disney Channel Original Series, with Miley Cyrus playing both Miley Stewart and her celebrity alter-ego, the famous pop singer Hannah Montana. This special-edition DVD retails for $19.99.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (Warner Home Video): Brendan Fraser headlines the latest version of the classic Jules Verne tale, in which the title tells all. Although it deviates considerably from the novel, it retains an appropriate sense of wonder and fun — and the special effects are terrific. You can watch it in 3-D (glasses are included) or regular 2-D, and it works just fine in either format. Rated PG. ***

LILO & STITCH (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): A “2-disc Big Wave edition” of the awardwinning 2002 animated hit about a young girl (voice of Daveigh Chase) in Hawaii who befriends an escaped, mischievous alien (voice of co-writer/co-director Chris Sanders). Ving Rhames, Zoe Caldwell, David Ogden Stiers, Jason Scott Lee and Tia Carrere also lend their vocal talents to this lightweight comedy that’s not in a league with Disney’s classics but was successful enough to inspire one sequel (so far) and a TV series. It also earned an Oscar nomination as best animated feature. Rated G. **’½

POKEMON: GIRATINA & THE SKY WAR- RIOR (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): The latest, feature-length installment — the 11t h , for those keeping score at home — of the (seemingly endless) anime sci-fi series, this one involving the discovery of an alternate universe. Originally broadcast in the US on the Cartoon Network. This DVD retails for $19.98.

“THE REAL ADVENTURES OF JONNY QUEST” — SEASON 1, VOLUME 1 (Warner Home Video): A selection of 13 episodes from the updated version of the popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon series about a globe-trotting teen whiz kid who solves mysteries and battles bad guys. This boxed set retails for $26.99.

THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2 (Warner Home Video): Likably played, seriocomic follow-up to the 2005 box-office hit, based on Ann Brashares’ best-selling series of novels, following four childhood friends (Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel and Blake Lively) and the shared pair of bluejeans that bonds their friendship. Also on hand: Blythe Danner, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rachel Nichols, Rachel Ticotin, Ernie Lively (Blake’s real-life dad) and an unbilled Kyle MacLachlan. Rated PG-13. **’½

SPACE BUDDIES (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): The eighth (!) in the Air Bud series is an inoffensive but innocuous kiddie comedy in which a pack of perky pups is accidentally blasted into outer space… and you can guess the rest, right down to the obligatory slapstick shenanigans. A bearded Diedrich Bader (an alumni of the UNCSA School of Drama) shows up as a kooky cosmonaut. In addition, Disney is releasing a special edition of the original, award-winning Air Bud ($29.99 retail), which kicked off the franchise 12 years ago. Rated G. *’½

TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A HOLLYWOOD STARLET (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Joanna “JoJo” Levesque plays a teen starlet and tabloid regular who tries to get herself together while staying with her aunt (Valerie Bertinelli) in Indiana — far from the Hollywood limelight. Tim Matheson directed this predictable but painless adaptation of Lola Douglas’ novel, which makes a few good digs at show-biz. **

THE VELVETEEN RABBIT (Anchor Bay Entertainment): Mild adaptation of the classic Marjorie Williams children’s novel, with Matthew Harbour as a lonely young boy who finds companionship and friendship from the old playthings he finds in the attic of his grandmother’s house. This combination of live-action and animation is reminiscent of Hanna-Barbera, and features the voices of Ellen Burstyn, Tom Skerritt, Jane Seymour and Chandler Wakefield (in the title role). No classic, but not bad. Rated G. **

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2009, Mark Burger