DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: I AM SANTA CLAUS (Virgil Films)
Director/editor Tommy Avallone’s documentary showcases bearded, burly fellows who play Saint Nick during the holiday season.This is a Christmas documentary like no other, as it profiles quite an eclectic selection of Santas. One Santa is gay. Another is a confirmed swinger. Another legally changed his name to “Santa Claus.” There’s a Santa who drinks too much on St. Patrick’s Day (well, he’s not working that day) and uses language that would make a reindeer blush. There’s also pro wrestler Mick Foley, one of the film’s producers, who loves Christmas more than just about anything else – including bashing his opponents.With affection and appropriate good cheer, Avallone allows his Santas to take center stage as they discuss Christmas, the rigors and responsibilities of being Santa Claus, and some of the hardships they’ve faced – or are facing – in their everyday lives. It’s an up-close and personal look at the men behind the myth. Just like all of us, these Santa Clauses are people, too.
“2 BROKE GIRLS”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (Warner Home Video): Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs return as waitresses working their way through the world, in all 24 episodes from the 2013- ’14 season of the award-winning CBS sitcom co-starring Garrett Morris, Jennifer Coolidge, Jonathan Kite and Matthew Moy. Emmy nominations for Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series and Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series. The DVD boxed set retails for $38.99.
“ADVENTURES OF THE WILDER- NESS FAMILY TRIPLE FEATURE” (LionsGate): A self-explanatory DVD trilogy ($14.98 retail) of the G-rated family features produced by Arthur R. Dubs starring Robert F. Logan and Susan Damante Shaw as a couple who forsake modern civilization to raise their children in natural surroundings: The Adventures of the Wilderness Family (1975), 1978’s Adventures of the Wilderness Family 2 (released as The Further Adventures of the Wilderness Family) and 1979’s Adventures of the Wilderness Family 3 (released as Mountain Family Robinson). The first film was a surprise hit, so they repeated the formula twice more.
“THE BIRTHDAY BOYS”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Anchor Bay): Ben Stiller and Bob Odenkirk are executive producers for this IFC sketchcomedy series boasting the talents of the title troupe: Jefferson Dutton, Dave Ferguson, Mike Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, Matt Kowalick, Mike Mitchell, Chris VanArtsdalen and honorary member Odenkirk. The DVD collection ($29.98 retail) includes all 10 episodes from the inaugural 2013 season plus bonus features.
FLEX IS KINGS (Alive Mind Cinema/ Kino Lorber): Cinematographer/producer/ directors Diedre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols’ feature documentary examines the growing popularity of the “Flex” style of street dancing. The DVD retails for $29.95.
“GARFIELD HOLIDAY COLLEC- TION” (Anderson Digital): A collector’sedition DVD ($14.99 retail) of cartoon specials showcasing the misadventures of the comic-strip cat created by Jim Davis: A Garfield Christmas, Garfield’s Thanksgiving, Garfield in Paradise, and the Emmy-winning Garfield’s Halloween Adventure and Garfield on the Town.
“A GOLDEN CHRISTMAS TRIPLE FEATURE” (Cinedigm): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($14.93 retail) of popular TV movies about some golden retrievers who add a little magic to the holidays: A Golden Christmas (2009), 2011’s A Golden Christmas 2: The Second Tail (also known as 3 Holiday Tails) and A Golden Christmas 3: Home for Christmas (2012).
“HALLMARK HOLIDAY MOVIES” (Cinedigm): A self-explanatory selection of brand-new, holiday-themed Hallmark Channel movies: The Nine Lives of Christmas stars Brandon Routh, Kimberly Sustad and Gregory Harrison; A Cookie Cutter Christmas stars Erin Krakow, David Haydn-Jones and Alan Thicke; A Royal Christmas stars Lacey Chabert, Stephen Hagan and Jane Seymour; and Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas stars Eric Mabuys, Kristin Booth, Rob Estes and Marion Ross. Each DVD retails for $14.93.
“HOLIDAY FAMILY CLASSICS” (CBS DVD/Paramount): A DVD doublefeature ($19.99 retail) of TV movies, both directed by Paul Bogart and adapted by Eleanor Perry from Gail Rock novels: The House Without a Christmas Tree (1972) stars Jason Robards, Mildred Natwick and Lisa Lucas, and won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama for Perry, and The Thanksgiving Treasure (1973) is the follow-up, reuniting Robards, Natwick and Lucas.
“LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE: A MERRY INGALLS CHRISTMAS” (Lions-Gate): A DVD double-feature ($9.98 retail) of two holiday-themed episodes from the long-running, award-winning NBC family drama based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic books, with series regulars Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle and Melissa Sue Anderson.
LOUDER THAN WORDS (Arc Entertainment): Hope Davis and David Duchovny headline this precious, fact-based tearjerker as a couple who establish a children’s hospital in remembrance of their late daughter (Olivia Steele-Falconer). Timothy Hutton, Craig Bierko, Xander Berkeley and Victoria Tennant also appear. Rated PG-13.
NORTHPOLE (Arc Entertainment): Robert Wagner and real-life wife Jill St. John play Santa and Mrs. Claus in this G-rated Hallmark Channel yuletide comedy co-starring Tiffani Thiessen, Bailee Madison, Max Charles and Josh Hopkins. The DVD retails for $20.99.
OH CHRISTMAS TREE (Monarch Home Entertainment): This romantic comedy stars Sarah Lancaster as an unemployed career woman working at her family’s Christmas-tree business who discovers the true meaning of the holidays – and finds romance with customer Eric Johnson. The DVD retails for $19.95.
“PAWN STARS: A VERY VEGAS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL” (LionsGate): The title tells all in this holiday-themed DVD ($9.98 retail) in which the “Pawn Stars” gang is joined by the casts of “American Restoration” and “Counting Cars” to celebrate the holidays in Las Vegas.
RUNNING FROM CRAZY (Virgil Films): Producer/director Barbara Kopple’s insightful documentary follows actress Mariel Hemingway as she confronts the history of mental illness that has afflicted the Hemingway family over the years, including her parents, her grandfather Ernest, and her sisters Joan and Margaux (to whom the film is dedicated). Oprah Winfrey and Mariel were also among the executive producers.
A STAR FOR CHRISTMAS (Monarch Home Entertainment): Briana Evigan stars in this romantic comedy as a small-town baker tapped by filmmakers company to cater their production of a Christmas film and Corey Sevier as the Hollywood hunk who catches her eye. The DVD retails for $19.95.
“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – THE BEGINNING”: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Nickelodeon/Paramount): The title tells all in this DVD boxed set ($39.99 retail) of all 26 episodes (plus bonus features) from the inaugural 2012-’13 season of the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon fantasy series detailing the origins of those ever-popular “Heroes in a Half- Shell.”
TYLER PERRY’S A MADEA CHRISTMAS – THE MOVIE (Lions- Gate): Writer/producer/director Tyler Perry again dons his signature housedress in this PG-13-rated holiday comedy featuring Alicia Witt, Chad Michael Murray, Kathy Najimy, Anna Maria Horsford and the inimitable Larry the Cable Guy. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $39.99. For Perry proponents, LionsGate has also released Tyler Perry’s Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned – The Play on DVD ($19.98 retail).
UNDER WRAPS (Arc Entertainment): Brooke Shields, Drake Bell and Matthew Lillard lend their voices of this familyfriendly, PG-rated animated fantasy in which two siblings accidentally unleash dastards from an ancient tomb. The DVD retails for $20.99. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2014, Mark Burger.