DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: INNERSPACE (Warner Home Video)
Director Joe Dante’s 1987 comedy/fantasy, produced under the auspices of executive producer Steven Spielberg, was predicted to be a box-office smash. It didn’t quite work out that way, but this ingenious and imaginative riff on Fantastic Voyage (1967) remains a dazzling treat, replete with Oscar-winning visual effects and a customarily fine Jerry Goldsmith score.
Navy test pilot Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) is miniaturized and accidentally injected into the body of bumbling supermarket clerk Jack Putter (Martin Short). With Tuck’s reporter girlfriend Lydia (Meg Ryan) along for the whirlwind ride, Jack tries to elude industrial saboteurs who want the technology for their own nefarious gain.
Rarely has Short had so hilarious a showcase for his brilliant physical prowess, Quaid and Ryan (soon to be a Hollywood golden couple) are a winning romantic duo despite being “apart” much of the time, and the giddy cast includes Kevin McCarthy, Fiona Lewis, Vernon Wells, Harold Sylvester, Short’s “SCTV” compatriots Joe Flaherty and Andrea Martin, and such Dante stalwarts as Robert Picardo, Dick Miller, Kenneth Tobey, William Schallert, Wendy Schaal and Henry Gibson.
The new Blu-ray ($14.98 retail) includes audio commentary and trailer. Rated PG.
BIO-DOME (Olive Films): Slackers Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin crash scientist William Atherton’s research project in this PG-13-rated 1996 comedy, now on DVD ($24.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.95 retail).
“BITTEN”: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Entertainment One): Laura Vandervoort’s not only a fox – she’s the last female werewolf in the world – in all 10 episodes from the 2015 season of the award-winning Syfy horror series based on Kelley Armstrong’s popular novels, now available in a three-DVD collection ($39.98 retail), replete with special features for “Bitten” buffs.
DESCENDANTS (Disney): Taking a cue from Into the Woods, Disney reassembles many of its classic fairy-tale characters for this musical fantasy from choreographer/executive producer/ directed by Kenny Ortega, with Kristen Chenoweth stepping into Angelina Jolie’s shoes (and horns?) as Maleficent, plus Wendy Raquel Robinson as Cruella de Vil, Maz Jobrani as Jafar, Kathy Najimy as the Evil Queen and more. The DVD retails for $26.99.
“DOROTHY IN THE LAND OF OZ” (CBS DVD/Paramount): The DVD debut ($9.99 retail) of the animated 1980 CBS special, also known as “Thanksgiving in the Land of Oz,” based on L. Frank Baum’s classic characters, featuring the voices of Mischa Bond as Dorothy and Sid Caesar as The Wizard.
THE DOVEKEEPERS (CBS DVD/Paramount): Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and director Yves Simoneau served as executive producers for this two-part CBS mini-series based on Alice Hoffman’s best-seller about the siege at Masada by Roman troops in 73 AD, available on DVD ($39.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($42.99 retail).
JOHNNY BE GOOD (Olive Films): Highschool quarterback Anthony Michael Hall deals with recruitment rigors in editorturned-director Bud Smith’s middling 1988 sports comedy, with Robert Downey Jr., Uma Thurman (in her first major feature), John Pankow, Seymour Cassel, Steve James and Jennifer Tilly, plus Howard Cosell and Jim McMahon as themselves, but Paul Gleason steals it as Hall’s coach. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated PG-13.
THE LEGEND OF LONGWOOD (Shout! Kids Factory): Newcomer Lucy Morton headlines co-writer/director Lisa Mulcahy’s PG-rated, family-friendly fantasy as a young girl who discovers a mythical kingdom in rural Ireland after relocating from New York, available on DVD ($16.97 retail) and a 3-D DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.97 retail).
LI’L QUINQUIN (Kino Lorber): Bruno Dumont’s award-winning, four-part mini-series (originally titled P’tit quinquin) offers a murder-mystery with an absurdist bent, as bumbling detective Bernard Pruvost’s murder investigation in a small French village is constantly interrupted by the incorrigible title character (Alane Delhaye). In French with English subtitles. The DVD retails for $29.95, the Blu-ray for $34.95.
THE MISSOURI TRAVELER (VCI Entertainment): Orphaned teen Brandon DeWilde comes of age in early 20thcentury Missouri in this lackadaisical, family-friendly 1959 melodrama originally distributed by Disney, which gets a boost from Lee Marvin, Gary Merrill and Paul Ford – particularly Marvin and Merrill’s climactic brawl.
“MYTHBUSTERS”: COLLECTION 13 (Cinedigm): Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage continue investigating urban legends in eight episodes from the 2012 season of the Discovery Channel documentary series, which earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Reality Program. The two-DVD collection retails for $29.93.
NIGHT AND THE CITY (The Criterion Collection): A Blu-ray special edition ($39.98 retail) of Jules Dassin’s classic 1950 film noir, based on Gerald Kersh’s novel, with Richard Widmark first-rate as a two-bit hustler at large in London, backed by a stellar cast including Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hugh Marlowe, Francis L. Sullivan, Mike Mazurski, and Herbert Lom at his menacing best. The claustrophobic, paranoid tone of the film was likely due to Tierney’s emotional fragility at the time and Dassin’s having fled the US in the wake of the Hollywood Blacklist. Special features include audio commentary, retrospective interviews, and more. This, incidentally, is the full 101-minute British cut – and more’s the better.
“ONE STEP BEYOND” (Film Chest Media Group): A six-DVD collection ($19.98 retail) of 70 episodes from the entire 1959-’61 run of the ABC anthology series hosted and directed by John Newland, which explored strange and unexplained phenomena, with a star-studded line-up of guest stars including Warren Beatty, Charles Bronson, Cloris Leachman, Robert Blake, Joan Fontaine, Suzanne Pleshette, Robert Loggia, Julie Adams, Norman Lloyd, Robert Webber and many others.
“SEBASTIAN MANISCALCO: AREN’T YOU EMBARRASSED?” (Shout! Factory): The Chicago-born funnyman returns home to the Windy City for this stand-up comedy special, now available on DVD ($14.98 retail).
“SLAM DUNK”: SEASON 1, VOL- UME 1 (Cinedigm): A two-DVD collection ($19.93 retail) includes the first 14 episodes from the inaugural 1993 season of the animated Japanese comedy series, produced by Toei Animation, about a high-school rebel who finds success and learns self-esteem when he joins the basketball team.
“WALKER, TEXAS RANGER: STANDOFF” (CBS DVD/Paramount): Chuck Norris is back in action in this episode from the long-running CBS action series, now available on DVD ($14.99 retail).
WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, DADDY? (Olive Films): Blake Edwards’ bubbly 1966 service comedy, scripted by a pre-Exorcist William Peter Blatty, puts a light-hearted spin on the American invasion of Sicily during World War II, with a friendly cast including James Coburn, Dick Shawn, Giovanna Ralli, Harry Morgan, Aldo Ray, Sergio Fantoni, Vito Scotti and Carroll O’Connor, whose turn as a blowhard general seems a warm-up for playing Archie Bunker. The DVD retails for $24.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95.
“THE WONDER YEARS”: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (StarVisa Entertainment/Time Life): A four-DVD collection ($39.95 retail) of all 23 episodes from the 1989-’90 season of the beloved ABC situation comedy starring Fred Savage (Emmy nominee as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series) as Kevin Arnold, an all-American boy growing up in late ‘60s/early ‘70s suburbia, with Daniel Stern providing narration as the grown-up Kevin. Emmy winner for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, with an additional five nominations including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (David Huddleston). !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2015, Mark Burger.