DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: WITHOUT A CLUE (Olive Films)
The enduring popularity of Sherlock Holmes gets a frothy makeover in director Thom Eberhardt’s 1988 confection, in which Dr. Watson (Ben Kingsley) is the true genius and “Holmes” is actually Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine), a boorish, boozy ham actor in Watson’s employ. It’s a fun twist that spoofs the characters but doesn’t insult them.Watson is fed up with Kincaid’s antics, but, as public demand compelled Arthur Conan Doyle to revive Holmes, there’s little interest in Watson’s “Crime Doctor” stories. Then, while investigating a counterfeiting ring, Watson vanishes – leaving the hapless Kincaid to crack the case himself. Only the fate of the British Empire is at stake …The unlikely pairing of Caine and Kingsley succeeds, as they play off one another very well, and it’s too bad the film wasn’t successful enough to prompt a series. In support are Jeffrey Jones (as Inspector Lestrade), Pat Keen (as Mrs. Hudson), luscious Lysette Anthony, Nigel Davenport, Peter Cook and Paul Freeman, perfectly cast as the dastardly Prof. Moriarty. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG.
“THE BEGINNER’S BIBLE” (StarVista Entertainment/Time Life): A self-explanatory DVD collection ($9.95 retail) of animated Bible stories for children: The Story of Esther, The Story of Moses and The Story of the Nativity.
“BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MA- CHINES: BLAZE OF GLORY” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): Nickelodeon’s CGI-animated pre-school children’s series makes its DVD debut ($14.99 retail) introducing the titular character of a fearless monster truck and his young driver, A.J., as they embark on adventures designed to entertain and educate.
“BLUE’S CLUES: GET CLUED INTO SCHOOL PACK” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A self-explanatory three-DVD collection ($16.99 retail) of 12 episodes (plus bonus features) from the long-running, Peabody Award-winning animated Nickelodeon series designed to prepare pre-schoolers for the real thing.
“BLU-RAY MUSICALS COLLECTION” (Warner Home Video): A self-explanatory quadruple-feature ($34.99 retail) of classic Hollywood musicals originally released by MGM: Singin’ in the Rain (1952), The Band Wagon, Calamity Jane and Kiss Me Kate (all 1953), all replete with special features. The Band Wagon, Calamity Jane and Kiss Me Kate (in both 2-D and 3-D) are also available as individual Blu-rays (each $19.98 retail).
“BUBBLE GUPPIES: FIN-TASTIC COLLECTION” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A self-explanatory, two-DVD selection ($21.99 retail) of six learning adventures from the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon children’s series.
CONFESSIONS OF A PRODIGAL SON (Cinedigm): A modern-day, faith-based version of the Biblical parable stars Nathan Clarkson (making his writer/producer debut) as the rebellious son of minister Kevin Sorbo. The DVD retails for $14.93.
“DORA AND FRIENDS” (Nickelodeon/ Paramount): A DVD selection ($14.99 retail) of four episodes from the animated Nickelodeon series “Dora and Friends: In the City!” – spun off from the long-running “Dora the Explorer” series, with Fatima Ptacek reprising her voice-over role as Dora.
THE EASTER PROMISE/ADDIE AND THE KING OF HEARTS (CBS DVD/ Paramount): A DVD double-feature ($19.99 retail) of the CBS TV movies based on Gail Rock’s novels: The Easter Promise (1975) starring Jason Robards, Mildred Natwick, Jean Simmons and Lisa Lucas; and the Emmy-winning 1976 follow-up Addie and the King of Hearts (1975), reuniting Robards, Natwick and Lucas.
“GREATEST HEROES OF THE BIBLE” (CBS DVD/Paramount): From 1978-’79, NBC and Sunn Classic Pictures presented an ongoing, self-explanatory prime-time series, introduced by Brad Crandall and narrated by Victor Jory. “Volume One: Bible’s Greatest Stories” includes The Ten Commandments (John Marley as Moses), The Story of Noah (Lew Ayres as Noah), David & Goliath (Roger Kern and Ted Cassidy) and Samson and Delilah (John Beck and Ann Turkel); “Volume Two: God’s Chosen Ones” includes The Story of Moses (John Marley again), The Story of Esther (Victoria Principal), Joshua & Jericho (Robert Culp) and Abraham’s Sacrifice (Gene Barry); and “Volume Three” includes Tower of Babel (Richard Basehart and Vince Edwards), Jacob’s Challenge (Barry Williams), Sodom and Gomorrah (Ed Ames as Lot) and Joseph in Egypt (Sam Bottoms). Each DVD volume retails for $14.99.
INTO THE WOODS (Disney): Director Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical puts a new spin on classic fairy-tale characters, but despite a handsome production and an all-star ensemble, something gets lost in translation and the narrative loses focus. The cast includes Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, James Corden, Johnny Depp (as the Big Bad Wolf) and Meryl Streep, who earned her 19 th Oscar nomination (as Best Supporting Actress). The film also earned nominations for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. The DVD retails for $29.99, the Blu-ray for $39.99. Rated PG.
IRREPLACEABLE (Virgil Films): Tim Sisarich hosts this documentary about the concept of the traditional family in the 21 st century. The DVD retails for $19.99.
ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR (Warner Home Video): Morgan Freeman (of course) narrates this G-rated IMAX documentary that chronicles the crusade of scientist/conservationist Dr. Patricia C. Wright to protect the lemurs of Madagascar. The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $35.99.
“JULIUS JR.: PIRATES AND SUPER- HEROES” (LionsGate): A DVD collection ($14.98 retail) of six episodes from the award-winning, animated Nick Jr. series based on Paul Frank’s characters, with Elizabeth Daily voicing the title character.
JUNGLE SHUFFLE (Cinedigm): Alicia Silverstone and Drake Bell lend their voices to a pair of lovestruck raccoons in this familyfriendly animated feature. The DVD retails for $14.93, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $19.97.
“LEAPFROG LETTER FACTORY AD- VENTURES: AMAZING WORD EXPLOR- ERS” (LionsGate): The latest installment in the animated children’s educational franchise sees the “LeapFrog” friends go camping to see a meteor shower. The DVD retails for $14.98.
“PAW PATROL: MARSHALL AND CHASE ON THE CASE!” (Nickelodeon/ Paramount): A DVD collection ($14.99 retail) of eight episodes from the CGI-animated Nickelodeon pre-school series that follows seven pups with a collective nose for sniffing out adventure.
“STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE DOUBLE FEATURE” (CBS DVD/Paramount): The title tells all in this twin-bill DVD ($12.99 retail) boasting a pair of early- ’80s animated children’s specials: The World of Strawberry Shortcake and Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City.
TOM SAWYER (Timeless Media Group): Producer Arthur P. Jacobs (of Dr. Doolittle infamy) teamed with Reader’s Digest to mount this corny but colorful 1973 musical version of Mark Twain’s classic, starring Johnnie Whitaker in the title role, Jeff East as Huck Finn, Celeste Holm as Aunt Polly, Jodie Foster as Becky Thatcher and Warren Oates (he sings, too!) as Muff Potter. Nominated for three Oscars: Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration and Best Song Score. Rated G.
WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER (Alive Mind Cinema/Kino Lorber): Gustavo Ron’s award-winning, well-acted adaptation of Sally Nicholls’ best-seller focuses on a boy (Robbie Kay) with leukemia and its effect on his family (Ben Chaplin, Emilia Fox, Phyllida Law and charming newcomer Eloise Barnes), and his likewise-afflicted best friend (Alex Etel). Rated PG-13.
WWJD (WHAT WOULD JESUS DO): THE JOURNEY CONTINUES (Cinedigm): John Schneider reprises his role as a benevolent drifter who inspires a small town in this faith-based follow-up, based on Charles Sheldon’s best-seller In His Steps – What Would Jesus Do?. The DVD retails for $14.93. !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.