video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Rock Slyde (Monarch Home Video)

This diverting, low-budget send-up of film noir allows Patrick Warburton a chance to occupy center stage in the title role, that of a hard-boiled, dim-witted private eye at large in contemporary Los Angeles.

With affection and economy, Warburton (also an executive producer) and first-time writer/producer/director Chris Dowling keep the droll humor churning as Rock is pitted against a quasi-religious but ever-growing Hollywood cult known as the House of Bartology, named for Rock’s long-time nemesis, Bart (a nicely restrained Andy Dick). Any resemblance to the Church of Scientology is undoubtedly coincidental, of course.

Backing Warburton’s star turn are Rena Sofer, as the obligatory femme fatale, and Elaine Hendrix is Rock’s gal Friday, who falls under the spell of Bartology. Along the way, there are cameo appearances by Eric Roberts, Jason Alexander, Lea Thompson, Tom Bergeron and even Brian Bosworth. Rated PG-13.

ALSO Ava ila ble“BENNY HILL: THE COMPLETE MEGASET— THE THAMES YEARS, 1969-1989”(A&E Home Entertainment): Exactly what it saysit is, this mammoth, 18-DVD boxed set ($149.95retail) features all 58 original color episodes fromthe long-running, award-winning sketch-comedyseries featuring British funnyman Benny Hill (1924-’92). A surprise ratings hit when syndicated to theUS, the series earned consecutive Emmy nominations(1980 and ’81) as Outstanding Variety orMusic Program. Despite consistent ratings, theshow was canceled after its ribald content waslabeled sexist and politically incorrect (really?),which depressed Hill greatly. In retrospect, evenwith all the scantily-clad girls running around(Hill’s Angels, by name), the principal butt of jokeswas usually Hill himself — which he insisted wasthe point. Silly, juvenile, lowbrow… and for thosein the mood (there were many), it worked. Theydon’t make ‘em like Benny anymore.CAMP ROCK 2: THE FINAL JAM (WaltDisney Studios Home Entertainment): Anextended edition of the Disney Channel musicalfeaturing Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers.The special-edition DVD retails for $29.99, theBlu-ray/DVD combo retails for $44.99.“CASTLE”: THE COMPLETE SECONDSEASON (Walt Disney Studios HomeEntertainment): Nathan Fillion returns as crimenovelist Richard Castle, striking sparks withNew York cop Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) as theytackle the toughest cases, in all 24 episodesfrom the 2009-’10 season of the popular primetimeABC-TV mystery series, which earned threeEmmy nominations in technical categories. Thisfive-DVD boxed set retails for $45.99.CAT CITY (MTI Home Video): Adultery,deception and murder figure prominently inthis okay thriller set in and around the titleCalifornia town (Cathedral City). The competentcast includes a foxy Rebecca Pidgeon, JulianSands and the always-welcome Brian Dennehy,but Alano Massi struggles in the pivotal role ofa seductive blackmailer. Rated R.“DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES”: THECOMPLETE SIXTH SEASON (Walt DisneyStudios Home Entertainment): Life continueson Wisteria Lane for its resident lovelies (FelicityHuffman, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria Parker, MarciaCross, et al), as Drea de Matteo joins the cast ofthe award-winning prime-time ABC-TV series, all23 episodes of the 2009-’10 season of which areincluded in this DVD boxed set, which retails for$45.99. Kathryn Joosten received an Emmy nominationas Outstanding Guest Actress in a ComedySeries, for the episode “The Chase.”“EMPIRES” (A&E Home Entertainment): A14-DVD boxed set ($99.95 retail) of selectedepisodes from such popular History Channeldocumentary series’ as “Rome: The Rise and Fallof an Empire,” “Engineering an Empire,” “AncientsBehaving Badly” and “Barbarians,” which showcasesuch legendary civilizations as Egypt,Greece, Rome and others.THE GOONIES (Warner Home Video): A 25thanniversaryspecial edition ($39.92 DVD retail,$49.99 Blu-ray retail) of executive producer StevenSpielberg and director Richard Donner’s awardwinning1985 comedy/adventure about a groupof kids (Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Martha Plimptonand Corey Feldman among them) who discovera treasure map. Not without its charms, but shallowand overproduced — although a fervent cultfollowing would surely disagree. A long-rumoredsequel has yet to materialize. Rated PG.THE KILLING MACHINE (Anchor BayEntertainment): Dolph Lundgren directs andstars in this standard-issue shoot-’em-up abouta hired assassin who seeks vengeance againstthose who betrayed him. Lundgren handles theaction scenes well enough (in both capacities),but the story is ho-hum. Bo Svenson chews alittle scenery as the villain. Rated R.“THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW”: THECOMPLETE SERIES (Shout! Factory): A mammoth17-DVD boxed set ($149.99 retail) of all 89episodes from all six seasons (1992-’98) of thecritically acclaimed HBO comedy series starringGarry Shandling (also executive producer andco-creator) as a neurotic late-night talk show host,with Jeffrey Tambor as announcer Hank Kingsleyand Rip Torn as producer Artie. During its run, theseries earned more than 50 Emmy nominationsand won three, as well as many other awards.Among the guest stars who dropped by: HowardStern, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams,Jon Stewart and many others.THE LAST SONG (Walt Disney StudiosHome Entertainment): This drippy adaptationof Nicholas Sparks’ novel, co-scriptedby Sparks himself (therefore retaining everyounce of melodrama) affords Miley Cyrus herfirst “dramatic” role, that of a tough teen rebelspending a summer in a Southern beach townwith her ailing father (a glum Greg Kinnear).Maddeningly maudlin, although you do getto see Cyrus and onscreen love interest LiamHemsworth play in the ocean, roll around onthe beach and pelt each other with mud. Asteady stream of song montages further sendsthis off the deep end. Break out the insulin.Cyrus contributes a couple of songs (bigsurprise); she and Hemsworth are now an offscreenitem, as well. Rated PG.ORCHESTRA WIVES (Twentieth CenturyFox Home Entertainment): The Glenn MillerOrchestra (led by Glenn himself, in his last screenrole) headlines this 1942 musical comedy/dramaabout the whirlwind romance between a handsometrumpet player (George Montgomery) andan adoring fan (Ann Rutherford). Light fare witha pleasant cast: Cesar Romero, Lynn Bari, CaroleLandis, Jackie Gleason, the Nicholas brothers,Harry Morgan and Dale Evans (in her screendebut). The song “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo”earned an Oscar nomination.“PRIVATE PRACTICE”: THE COMPLETETHIRD SEASON (Walt Disney Studios HomeEntertainment): A five-DVD boxed set ($45.99retail) featuring all 23 episodes from the 2009-’10 season of the award-winning, prime-timeABC-TV medical drama, spun off from “Grey’sAnatomy.” The ensemble cast includes KateWalsh, Tim Daly, Taye Diggs, KaDee Stricklandand Amy Brenneman.“SCRUBS”: THE COMPLETE NINTH ANDFINAL SEASON (Walt Disney Studios HomeEntertainment): The end of the line for the doctors,interns and hangers-on at Sacred Heart Hospital,in all 13 episodes from the 2009-’10 season of theaward-winning situation comedy, which woundup its prime-time run on ABC-TV. The ensemblecast includes Zach Braff, John C McGinley, DonaldFaison, Sarah Chalke and Eliza Coupe. This two-DVD boxed set retails for $29.99. Walt DisneyStudios Home Entertainment is also releasing theself-explanatory, 26-DVD boxed set “Scrubs: TheComplete Collection” ($149.99 retail).STRIPPED NAKED (Anchor BayEntertainment): Sarah Allen plays a stripper in thewrong place at the wrong time who ends up witha bag of loot, setting into motion a series of violentevents. This low-budget Tarantino knock-offhas a few moments, but not enough of them.TWO FOR THE ROAD (Twentieth CenturyFox Home Entertainment): Audrey Hepburn andAlbert Finney play a married couple looking backover their 10-year relationship while motoringfrom London to the French Riviera, in producer/director Stanley Donen’s enjoyable, fragmented1967 comedy/drama. Nice work by the leadsand composer Henry Mancini, but the film’scolor scheme (exemplified in some of Hepburn’scostumes) sometimes overwhelms the story.William Daniels, Eleanor Bron, Claude Dauphinand Jacqueline Bisset are also along for the ride.Frederic Raphael’s original screenplay earned anAcademy Award nomination.