DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: CASA DE MI PADRE (LionsGate Home Entertainment)This silly but spirited send-up of Mexican melodramas, southof-the-border shoot-’em-ups, and conventional Westerns didn’t find much box-office favor but deserved to.Will Ferrell (also a producer) is fabulously funny as Armando Alvarez, the stalwart hero of this tale, narrated in appropriately grizzled fashion by no less than Kris Kristofferson.The older, oft-ignored son of a Mexican rancher (the late Pedro Armendariz Jr., to whom the film is dedicated), Armando exists in the shadow of his aggressive younger brother Raul (Diego Luna, chain-smoking all the way). But when Raul gets mixed up with the Mexican mafia, led by the wicked Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal), it is Armando who rides to the rescue — to save the ranch, his honor and Raul’s gorgeous girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez in her screen debut).First-time feature director Matt Piedmont maintains a brisk, buoyant pace throughout, with throwaway gags (both visual and verbal), non-sequiturs and intentional continuity errors upping the irreverence quotient. The entire cast plays it almost entirely straight — and almost entirely in Spanish. Even the subtitles are funny. Cult status awaits Casa de mi Padre.
BUSH CHRISTMAS (VCI Entertainment): Simple but diverting 1947 family fare filmed on location in Australia, as children track down a trio of horse thieves (led by Aussie favorite Chips Rafferty). Writer/director Ralph Smart’s only film as a producer, with narration by John McCallum and ruggedly picturesque terrain.
“CAGNEY & LACEY”: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Visual Entertainment Inc.): In the title roles of a female New York City police team, Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly each won Emmy Awards as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series during the 1981-’88 run of the critically acclaimed CBS crime drama. In 1985 and ‘86, the show also won the Emmy as Outstanding Drama Series, and overall it won many awards. A 32-DVD collection of all 119 episodes retails for $139.99. A limited-edition collector’s edition (with an additional four DVDs) retails for $169.99 and is available only at www. cagneyandlacey.com.
THE EXPENDABLES 2 (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Sylvester Stallone (who also co-wrote the screenplay) is back in action, rejoined by Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and (briefly) Jet Li for this action-packed follow-up to the 2010 box-office hit, joined this time by Chuck Norris, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Yu Nan and bad guy Jean-Claude Van Damme (whose character’s name is “Vilain,” no less). The novelty’s a little tarnished, but there’s plenty of action for adrenaline junkies. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.99. LionsGate is also releasing an “extended director’s cut” of the original Expendables in a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.99 retail). Rated R.
“THE GARFIELD SHOW”: HOLIDAY EXTRAVAGANZA (Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): The title tells all in this DVD collection ($14.93 retail) of selected holidaythemed episodes from the Emmy-winning animated Cartoon Network series based on Jim Davis’ popular comic strip, with veteran Frank Welker voicing the title character.
THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS (Image Entertainment): A community rallies around a couple whose young son has been diagnosed with cancer in this holiday drama inspired by a true story, featuring Candace Cameron Bure, Jeanne Nielson, Eric Beck, George Newbern, Winston-Salem’s own Burgess Jenkins and real-life siblings Christopher and Nicholas Shone. This premiered on GMC and earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics (for the title tune). The DVD retails for $27.97.
LAST WILL (Green Apple Entertainment): Tension-free thriller with Tatum O’Neal suspected of murdering wealthy husband Tom Berenger. A good cast wasted: James Brolin, Peter Coyote, Patrick Muldoon and Moon Unit Zappa(!).
MADEA’S WITNESS PROTECTION (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Tyler Perry is back in his sixth go-’round as writer, producer, director and in the title role, this time giving sanctuary to a former Wall Street tycoon (Eugene Levy) and his family, laying low before a big mob trial. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.99. Rated PG-13.
MANKIND (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): A 12-hour History Channel miniseries follow-up to America: The Story of Us, which explores the pivotal moments in human history the world over. The DVD boxed set retails for $34.95, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.95.
“THE MYSTERIOUS CITIES OF GOLD”:
THE COMPLETE SERIES (VCI Entertainment): A six-DVD collection ($39.99 retail) of all 39 episodes from the entire 1982-’83 run of the animated fantasy series (originally titled Taiyo no ko Esteban) following the adventures of children seeking El Dorado in the 16th century.
“PERRY MASON” (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): He can’t be beat…. Raymond Burr returns in the title role of the long-running, award-winning CBS courtroom drama based on Earle Stanley Gardner’s character. “The Seventh Season: Volume Two” ($54.99 retail) includes the remaining 15 episodes from the 1963-’64 season, “The Eighth Season: Volume One” ($54.99 retail) includes the first 15 episodes from the 1964- ’65 season.
“POWER RANGERS SUPER SAMU- RAI”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Saban Entertainment returns to present the latest incarnation of the high-flying superheroes in all 20 episodes from the 2012 season of the fantasy adventure series broadcast on Nickelodeon. The DVD boxed set retails for $29.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $39.99. LionsGate also rings in the holidays, “Power Rangers”-style, with the self-explanatory DVD collection “Power Rangers Samurai: Christmas Together, Friends Forever,” which retails for $14.98.
ROCK OF AGES (Warner Home Video): The hit, Tony-nominated Broadway musical about ’80s rock ‘n’ roll is adapted into a lively but disheveled big-screen musical that didn’t replicate the stage version’s success but has its show-stopping moments and an enthusiastic all-star cast: Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta- Jones, Paul Giamatti, Mary J Blige, Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, Diego Boneta (in his screen debut) and Tom Cruise, having a ball as dissipated rock god Stacie Jaxx. Rated PG-13.
SHAKA ZULU (A&E Networks Home Entertainment): Henry Cele portrays the title role in this 1986 miniseries adapted from Joshua Sinclair’s international bestseller, depicting the life of the proud warrior who defied the British empire in 19th century South Africa. Filmed on location, this aired during the last days of Apartheid and aroused controversy as a result… which may well have been the intent. An all-star cast includes Edward Fox, Robert Powell, Christopher Lee, Trevor Howard, Gordon Jackson, Fiona Fullerton, Kenneth Griffith, Simon Sabela, John Carson and Roy Dotrice as King George IV. The four-DVD boxed set retails for $49.95.
TOTAL RECALL (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): Colin Farrell has an action-packed identity crisis in director Len Wiseman’s adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic. The 1990 version has the edge (and a then-novel concept), but as remakes go this is a decent one and in some ways more faithful to Dick’s novel — although clearly just as inspired by the earlier film. Kate Beckinsale (Mrs. Wiseman off-screen), Jessica Biel, Bill Nighy, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho and ever-busy Bryan Cranston co-star. Rated PG-13 (also available in an unrated version).
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2012, Mark Burger.