Archives

[VIDEO VAULT]

by Mark Burger

DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (The Criterion Collection)| marksburger@yahoo.com

The great American comedy about good old-fashioned greed, Stanley Kramer’s dazzling 1963 slapstick extravaganza is mammoth movie-making at its most exhilarating and exhausting.It’s debatable whether this is the greatest comedy ever, but it certainly boasts the greatest comedic cast: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Edie Adams, Dorothy Provine, Dick Shawn and Jonathan Winters (in his screen debut), all doing their best to out-shine and upstage one another, and having a great time doing it.Kramer further sweetens the deal with scores of celebrity cameos, including Peter Falk, Carl Reiner, Buster Keaton, Jerry Lewis, Jim Backus, Don Knotts, Andy Devine, William Demarest, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and Jimmy Durante, who sets things in motion when he crashes his car in the desert and, before dying — he kicks the bucket — telling those who’ve come to his aid about $350,000 buried under a “Big W” in Santa Rosita State Park, which spurs them on a mad, merrily destructive dash to recover the loot.The film earned six Oscar nominations: Best Cinematography (color), Best Editing, Best Score, Best Song (the title tune), Best Sound and Best Sound Effects (which it won). The new five-disc DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $49.95 and includes a bounty of special features, including audio commentaries, retrospective interviews and the longer road-show version of the film. Rated G

ACOD (Paramount): The title’s an acronym for “Adult Children of Divorce,” referring to the emotional syndrome affecting Adam Scott (also an executive producer) as he still tries to deal with his long-divorced parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara, both first-rate) in this dysfunctional-family farce that eventually runs itself ragged but still has its moments, and a fun cast including Amy Poehler, Jane Lynch, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clark Duke, Ken Howard and Jessica Alba. Rated R.

“ANGER MANAGEMENT”: VOLUME TWO (LionsGate): Charlie Sheen’s up to his old tricks as the therapist in need of therapy, in all 22 episodes from the 2013 season of the FX Network comedy series, available on DVD ($34.98 retail) or Blu-ray ($34.97 retail).

BAD GRANDPA (Paramount): Crazy old coot Johnny Knoxville and game “grandson” Jackson Nicoll hit the road in the latest “Jackass” feature. Typically outrageous and frequently funny thanks to the leads’ easy chemistry. The makeup even earned an Oscar nomination. The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Rated R (also available in an unrated edition).

THE BAT (Film Chest): Entertaining 1959 old-dark-house mystery, with Agnes Moorehead as a mystery writer who finds herself enmeshed in one when the serial killer “The Bat” stalks the area. Top-billed Vincent Price plays the local doctor, who has his own nefarious agenda. The new, digitally restored DVD retails for $11.98.

“BOARDWALK EMPIRE”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (HBO Home Entertainment): The battle for Prohibition-era Atlantic City continues for Steve Buscemi’s power broker Nucky Thompson in all 12 episodes from the 2012 season of the HBO crime series, which won five Emmy Awards including Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Bobby Cannavale), with five additional nominations including Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Timothy Van Patten). The DVD boxed set retails for $59.99, the Blu-ray boxed set for $79.98.

“THE COEXIST COMEDY TOUR” (Horizon Movies): John Fugelsang, Sammy Obeid, Tapan Trivedi, Tissa Hami, Moshe Kasher and Keith Lowell Jensen are six comedians — all of different religious faiths — who perform in this feature-length stand-up concert documentary, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).

“COMEDY BANG! BANG!” (Anchor Bay): Creator/host Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts turn the talk-show format upside-down in all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2012 season of the IFC comedy series spun off from Aukerman’s popular podcast. Guest stars include Seth Rogen, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, Jon Hamm, Michael Cerra, Will Forte, David Cross, “Weird” Al Yankovic and the inimitable “Tenacious D” (Jack Black and Kyle Gass). The two-DVD collection retails for $29.98.

“FORBIDDEN PLEASURES” (Alpha Home Entertainment): A DVD triple-feature ($7.98 retail) of vintage “instructional” films warning teens against the dangers of venereal disease, including The Innocent Party, The Decision is Yours and Summer of ’63.

FORGOTTEN FUNNYMEN: JACK DUFFY (Alpha Home Entertainment): A compilation ($7.98 retail) of six comedy shorts featuring the title star (1882-1939), who tended to play crazy old coots even as a young man thanks to his expertise at makeup — and his easily detachable dentures! The 1920 short Neighbors costars and was directed by Buster Keaton.

“THE GREAT AMERICAN TEEN” (Alpha Home Entertainment): Subtitled “Troubled Teens of the ’50s,” this DVD compilation ($7.98 retail) features educational films designed to help teenagers do the right thing, including College: Your Challenge, The Fun of Being Thoughtful and What About Juvenile Delinquency?

LADIES CRAVE EXCITEMENT (Alpha Home Entertainment): Oddly titled but entertaining 1935 programmer with Norman Foster as a hotshot newsreel producer and Evalyn Knapp the adventurous aviatrix with whom he partners.

Purnell Pratt steals every scene as a bellicose boss, and there’s plenty of vintage newsreel and stock footage. Look for Jason Robards Sr., Russell Hicks and George Hayes (forgoing “Gabby” here) in support.

“MAZ JOBRANI: I COME IN PEACE” (Inception Media Group): Iranian-born actor/ comedian Maz Jobrani (a veteran of Comedy Central’s Axis of Evil Comedy Tour) takes the stage in this stand-up comedy special ($14.98 retail).

THE MENACE WITH FIVE ARMS (Alpha Home Entertainment): Joshua Kennedy, the youthful auteur of backyard genre filmmaking, is the writer/producer/ composer/editor/director and star of this entertainingly goofy, cheerfully cheap creature feature about a mutant starfish on the rampage. A little slow in spots, but impossible to dislike given Kennedy’s enthusiasm and affection for horror and science-fiction. Lots of in-jokes throughout. The DVD also includes Kennedy’s 2011 short film Curse of the Insect Woman.

MORE THAN HONEY (Kino Lorber): Markus Imhoof’s award-winning documentary examines the alarming decrease in the world’s bee population, as well as the importance of bees in nature. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95. In German with English subtitles.

“WILL HAY DOUBLE FEATURES” (VCI Entertainment): A self-explanatory selection of vintage comedies starring British legend Will Hay (1888-1949), whose popularity in the US was far surpassed by his popularity in the UK: “Volume 1” includes Boys Will Be Boys (1935) and Where There’s a Will (1939), both directed by William Beaudine; “Volume 2” includes Windbag the Sailor (1937) and Good Morning, Boys (1937); “Volume 3” includes Oh, Mr. Porter! (1937) and Convict 99 (1938), both directed by Marcel Varnel; and “Volume 4” is a triple-feature including Hey! Hey! USA, Old Bones of the River and Ask a Policeman (all 1938), all directed by Varnel. Hill usually had a hand in his scripts, and was also a renowned astronomer (no joke!). Each volume retails for $14.99. !

MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.

Share: