Video vault

by Mark Burger


GALAXY QUEST (Paramount Home Entertainment): A deluxe edition of the bright, cheerful 2000 sci-fi comedy that hits all the right notes in its good-natured mockery of the science-fiction “fanboy” mentality, and of pop culture in general. Some two decades after the cancellation of the title TV series, the members of its cast reunited for a fan convention are whisked away to another galaxy by a race of beings that assumes it was all true, and must do battle with a malevolent alien race bent on dominating the galaxy… kind of like their old show used to be, actually…. Combining the familiar trappings of any number of TV series’ and movies (a nod to “Star Trek,” in particular), the film nimbly maintains a careful balance. It’s often very funny, with some truly inspired jokes (and in jokes), but it’s never insulting and it’s affectionate without being overly reverential. It’s also played with zest and smarts by a fine ensemble cast: Tim Allen (never better on the big screen), Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Daryl Mitchell and Sam Rockwell as the unsuspecting — and, in some cases, unlikely — Earth heroes. Any resemblance to actual celebrities is, undoubtedly, pure coincidence. Given that the film pokes fun at the cult culture, little wonder that Galaxy Quest has found a little cult all its own. What’s more — it even won a few awards along the way. Deserved, on both counts. Rated PG. ***

Also on DVD

ARIZONA CARDINALS NFC CHAMPIONS (Warner Home Video): This special-edition DVD ($19.98 retail) recounts the successful 2008-’09 season of the NFL’s oldest franchise (founded in 1898, for those keeping score at home) and the team’s run to Super Bowl XLIII — defeating the Philadelphia Eagles to secure the NFC Championship (not a pleasant memory for yours truly), but then being defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers (see below).

DADNAPPED/HATCHING PETE (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): Emily Osment stars in the first film, Jason Dolley and Mitchel Musso in the second of this DVD double feature ($26.99 retail) of live-action family comedies that premiered this year on the Disney Channel.

DEAN MARTIN DOUBLE FEATURE (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): A twin-bill of comedies starring the former Dino Crocetti (1917- 1995): Screenwriter Norman Krasna adapted his Broadway farce Who Was That Lady I Saw You With? for director George Sidney in Who Was That Lady? (1959), co-starring James Whitmore (who died in February) and the real-life couple Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh; and the romantic comedy How to Save a Marriage… and Ruin Your Life (1968) teams Martin with Stella Stevens and the real-life couple Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson. This doublefeature retails for $19.94.

“DESIGNING WOMEN” — THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (Shout! Factory): Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts and Jean Smart form a much-loved ensemble in all 21 episodes from the 1986- ’87 season of the long-running, awardwinning, prime-time CBS situation comedy created by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. The first season’s ratings weren’t so hot, but a letter-writing campaign brought the show back and it thrived — as it continues to do in syndication. Emmy nominations for directing in a comedy series (for the episode “The Beauty Contest”) and costume design for a series (for the episode “Oh Suzannah”). This four-DVD boxed set retails for $44.99.

DISNEY ANIMATION COLLECTION (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): A selection of classic animated Disney shorts based on classic children’s stories in individual volumes: “Mickey and the Beanstalk” (1947); “The Prince and the Pauper” (1990); “Three Little Pigs” (1933), which won the Academy Award as best short subject (cartoon); “The Tortoise and the Hare” (1934), which won the Oscar in the same category the next year; “The Wind in the Willows” (1949), narrated by Basil Rathbone; and “The Reluctant Dragon” (1941), featuring humorist Robert Benchley. Each DVD retails for $19.99 and includes bonus shorts and a collectible litho print.

FILMS OF FAITH COLLECTION (Warner Home Video): A triple feature of inspirational dramas: Audrey Hepburn stars in Fred Zinnemann’s award-winning 1959 adaptation of Kathryn Hulme’s semi-autobiographical best-seller The Nun’s Story, which earned eight Academy Award nominations: best picture, best director, best actress, adapted screenplay, editing, score, cinematography (color) and sound — but won none; The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) earned an Oscar nomination for Max Steiner’s score; and Michael Anderson’s 1968 adaptation of Morris L. West’s best-seller The Shoes of the Fisherman (rated G) stars Anthony Quinn, Laurence Olivier, Oskar Werner, David Janssen and John Gielgud, and earned Oscar nominations for art direction/ set decoration and Alex North’s score. Each title retails individually for $19.97, or as a boxed set for $29.98.

HOW THE WEST WAS WON (Warner Home Video): It took the combined talents of three directors — John Ford, Henry Hathaway and George Marshall — and the “miracle” of Cinerama to bring to the screen this sprawling, grand-scale 1962 Western chronicling the 50-year span between 1839 to 1889 and the expansion into the American territories of the West. The incredible all-star cast includes John Wayne, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Richard Widmark, Gregory Peck, Lee J. Cobb, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Preston, Eli Wallach, Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, George Peppard, Carolyn Jones, Walter Brennan, Agnes Moorehead, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Massey (as Lincoln), with Spencer Tracy narrating. Winner of three Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, sound and editing, with additional nominations for cinematography (color), art direction/set decoration (color), costume design (color), score and, the big one, Best Picture. Available as an “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” ($59.92 retail), which includes photo cards a reproduction of the original 20-page press-kit; as a standard two-disc special edition ($20.97 retail); or as in a “Blu-ray Hi-Def Edition” ($34.99 retail). Rated G.

“THE JETSONS” — SEASON 2, VOLUME 1 (Warner Home Video): All 21 episodes from the revived, syndicated 1984-’85 season of the perennially popular Hanna-Barbera animated series about the misadventures of a space-age family. This boxed set retails for $34.98.

“LAND OF THE LOST” — THE COMPLETE SERIES (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): In preparation for the big-screen film, here are all 43 episodes from the Sid & Marty Krofft sci-fi children’s series set in a fantastic netherworld where dinosaurs roam free. The series, which I watched as a kid (sometimes to my embarrassment), ran Saturday mornings on NBC from 1974-’76 and even earned an Emmy nomination its final season for outstanding individual achievement (makeup) in children’s programming (for the episode “Blackout”). This is available as a boxed set ($59.98 retail) or in a limited-edition, commemorative lunchbox ($69.98 retail). Back in the day, didn’t every kid want a “Land of the Lost” lunchbox?

NFL GREATEST FOLLIES: VOLUME FOUR (NFL Films/Warner Home Video): The latest, goofiest gridiron missteps and mishaps are collected in the latest volume of the popular video series, this one retailing for $19.98.

PHILLIES MEMORIES — THE GREATEST MOMENTS IN PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES HISTORY (Shout! Factory): The highs and lows of Philadelphia’s venerable (126 years) professional baseball franchise are chronicled in this extensive sports documentary narrated by the late, great Harry Kalas. Given that the Phillies have won only two World Series’ (1980 and 2008) in all that time, those two seasons are covered extensively. Among the many players who have worn a Phillies uniform are such favorites as Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw, Rich Ashburn, Robin Roberts, Chuck Klein, Curt Shilling, Jim Konstanty (the first reliever to win the Cy Young Award) and such latter-day stars as Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Chase Utley. As a life-long Phillies fan, I loved every minute — even the ones I wished I’d forgotten (“Black Friday,” anyone?). This DVD retails for $19.99, and it’s worth it! ****

THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy and Sigourney Weaver (who narrates) head an all-star voiceover cast in this beautifully rendered, story-driven animated feature based on the best-selling children’s novel by Kate DiCamillo, in which a heroic mouse (with over-sized eyes) does his part to bring a kingdom back to prosperity. Entertaining and colorful, and the emphasis is more fairy-tale than comedy, but it doesn’t quite make the cut as a classic. Rated G. **’½

U2: A ROCK CRUSADE (Infinity Entertainment Group): This documentary ($14.95 retail) examines the career of the phenomenally popular, Irish-based rock ‘n’roll band — which has won more Grammy Awards than any other group — and its members (Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.) with particular attention paid to their ongoing humanitarian and philanthropic efforts throughout the world.

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2009, Mark Burger