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DVD title: Kingpin
Productgroup: DVD
Kingpin - movie DVD cover picture

As ``Kingpin'' opens in 1969 in Ocelot, Iowa, a promising young man is told, ``You can apply everything about bowling to your daily life.'' Only 10 years later, that young man is the winner of the $1,000 Odor-Eaters Bowling Championship. His name is Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson), and his future lies ahead of him, as indeed everyone's does. Then he meets Ernie McCracken (Bill Murray).
McCracken is everything Munson will never be, a cocky, wise-cracking bowler who seems mighty sophisticated to a kid from Ocelot, as he calls for his favorite drink (``Tanqueray and Tab''). Ernie spots Roy's great potential, and uses him in an attempt to hustle an alley full of very tough bowlers. They spot Roy as a ringer, are enraged, and end his bowling career by amputating his hand in the ball return.
So begins a long, dark decade for Roy, who without his bowling hand finds nothing to do but drink himself into oblivion in a scummy boarding house. He fits his arm with a hook, and buys a cheap rubber hand to wear over it, to display his state championship ring. Life is bad. Then one day in an alley he meets a kid with tremendous bowling talent.
So begins the odyssey of ``Kingpin,'' a very funny movie, and sometimes even funnier than that. The film has been directed by the Farrelly brothers, Peter and Bobby, who also made the Jim Carrey movie ``Dumb and Dumber.'' I did not quite recommend ``D & D,'' but perhaps I should have, considering how loudly I laughed at the scene involving the parakeet with the Scotch tape around its neck.
In ``Kingpin,'' I laughed like that again and again. No doubt the movie is vulgar, and tries too hard for some of its laughs; I am reminded of Mel Brooks' defense of ``The Producers'' (``This movie rises below vulgarity''). Some of the gags don't work, and yet I laughed at the Farrellys' audacity in trying them. And the humor isn't just gags and punch lines, but one accomplished comic performance after another.
The leads come together with the joy and assurance of actors who know they are in material that's working. Harrelson is a hapless drunk who finally bottoms out when he finds himself in bed with his unspeakable landlady. Murray is superb as the kind of guy you know is a con man, but allow to con you anyway, simply because he so intensely desires to. Randy Quaid is the talented kid, Ishmael--an Amish farmer whose hobby is a secret from his family. And there is a beautiful girl they meet along the way, named Claudia and played by Vanessa Angel, who at first seems like decoration and then proves herself as a comic actress able to hold her own in this company.
I could steal all the movie's best punch lines and repeat them here, but that would be unfair. One of the joys of the film is that you can't see a lot of the laughs coming. There are moments, for example, involving Roy's attempt to help out on the farm by doing the milking. And a moment involving his rubber hand and a bowling ball. And the timing in a scene where a fake assailant gets hot coffee in his face--twice. And little throwaway jokes in the background, such as a performance of ``The Jeffersons on Ice.''
The plot follows the obligatory outlines of most sports movies. Roy decides to become Ishmael's manager and mastermind his victory in a $1 million Reno bowling tournament. Their paths inevitably cross Ernie's, who is still out there hustling after all these years. They encounter rich guys who like to bet on bowling. And everything leads up to the big tournament.
Murray, who has been offscreen for the middle parts of the movie, when it sags a little, returns in the big finale, sporting one of those comb-over haircuts where every surviving strand does double-duty. In the heat of competition, his comb-over flies up like a sail, and makes him look like a strange animal, an iguana maybe, as he attacks the lanes. Meanwhile, the audience and the broadcasters display an unseemly interest in Harrelson's rubber hand.
Movies like this require a kind of daring. There are jokes that must have made even the filmmakers groan (the business of removing the horse's shoes, for example). Good taste, prudence and timidity had no place on the set. The Farrellys cut no corners and took no prisoners. ``Kingpin'' provides the release of many kinds of laughter, including the most rare: disbelieving.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Woody Harrelson
Randy Quaid
Bill Murray

DVD title: Just One of the Guys
Productgroup: DVD
Just One of the Guys - movie DVD cover picture
Better Than Expected - Even At My Age!

I just rewatched this movie (too many times to count...) and found it to still be funny (scenes and clothes - really dates itself in the beginning with Terry's pink and white school outfit!), sensitive and clever! It stands out above the other "teenflick" movies due to the amusing and well written/well portrayed script and cast. The actors are not the typically famous names and faces we saw throughout the 80's which separates it even more so...The final scenes after "Terri" reveals herself/write the winning newspaper article, (when other guys who aren't always popular approach Terry) are a reassurance to any teen feeling the all-too-real-pain of non-popularity...I'm 35, never saw the movie when it was first released, but still enjoy it today...And for those reviewers who questioned why this isn't a cult classic...well, I think it is because it is still being shown on those Saturday/Sunday movie marathon stations. Watch it if you get the chance! Buy it for your teenage kids! It's simply a nice movie - good piece of teen-pop-culture!

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Lisa Gottlieb
Joyce Hyser
Clayton Rohner

DVD title: Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery (New Line Platinum Series)
Productgroup: DVD
Austin Powers - International Man of Mystery (New Line Platinum Series) - movie DVD cover picture
It's a hit!

This is most definatly one of the funniest movies ever! It has a few dirty parts, but overall it's just comedy.

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Jay Roach
Mike Myers
Elizabeth Hurley

DVD title: The Cowboys
Productgroup: DVD
The Cowboys - movie DVD cover picture
One of my all-time favorite films

I don't consider this to be much of a JW movie since he was not in the story very much. It is the story of how a bunch of children overcome the odds to bring in the cattle. I once had it rated as 1 star but there is something to be learned in this story of perseverence. It is also a family friendly movie so I rate it 2 star -FAIR-.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Mark Rydell
John Wayne
Roscoe Lee Browne

DVD title: Bride and Prejudice
Productgroup: DVD
Bride and Prejudice - movie DVD cover picture
Jane Austen done Bollywood style means fun, fun, fun!

"Bride and Prejudice" is a lot of fun. I have never seen a "Bollywood" movie before, so this was a totally new experience for me. I liked the orgy of bright colors and was intrigued by the dancing, which certainly made the songs more memorable for their rhythms than their lyrics. But what is wrong with that? Dancing with a sense of grace seems beyond me, but I think I could do some of the dances in this movie and lose some weight. Especially if I am trying to do the extended versions of the four big dance numbers provided in the special features. They were, to repeat the initial sentiment expressed above, fun. It has been a while since I have seen a movie and just had fun watching it. After all, I know what is going to happen, so stressing style over substance is fine with me.

I found the idea of putting Jane Austen's novel in the context of a modern family in India totally charming at face value, especially knowing that director Gurinder Chadha ("Bend It Like Beckahm") was the one making the movie. My familiarity with the story of the Bennett family is such that I was instantly able to recognize who was now who in the new configuration and what the corresponding scene from the novel would be for most of what was happening. I liked a lot of what they did in this regard, such as transforming Mary's piano playing debacle into an equally overplayed example of traditional Indian dance by Maya (Meghna Kothari). None of the transformations were heavy handed, which can be dangerous in an attempt such as this, and the key thing was the delight of discovering each act of translation.

I even figured out that Mrs. Darcy (Marsha Mason) was going to be the Lady Catherine de Bourgh character and was somewhat surprised that the scene where she insists that Lalitha not marry her son ended up in the deleted scenes. That is the pivotal scene in the novel, the point at which it suddenly dawns on Elizabeth that marrying Mr. Darcy is not the worst thing in the world, but its omission in "Bride and Prejudice" makes sense because the script by Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges moves his first proposal to much latter in the narrative. I agree that what made sense for a story set amongst the landed gentry of Hanoverian England does not necessarily work for modern India, so the change was a smart move. Besides, Lalitha has a scene where she goes toe-to-toe with Mrs. Darcy, which is the other important aspect of the scene. Consequently, Chadha and Berges have shown the requisite fidelity to the essence and key details of the Austen novel even as they change locations and nationalities.

It is not like the universality of "Pride and Prejudice" was every lost on us in the first place, even as we have come to admire Austen's attention to period detail and socially attuned characterizations. The Bakshi family lives in a rural town in India where the mother (Nadira Babbar) is wholly committed to getting her four daughters married, while her husband (Anupam Khre) endures the trials and tribulations of her frantic efforts. When Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar) and Balraj Bingley (Naveen Andrews) spark when they meet at a wedding it looks like the dreams of Mrs. Bakshi will come true for one of her girls. But William Darcy (Martin Henderson) disapproves of Balraj's interest, which gives Lalitah (Aishwarya Rai), the oldest daughter and the one always being warned by her mother not to seem too intelligent, another reason not to like him.

Darcy is to some extent an Ugly American in this incarnation, which lets the second key word of the title resonate in a slightly different way in this version, but not too much, because a bigoted Mr. Darcy is not going to be accepted by anybody. That is also why the subplot involving Johnny Wickham (Daniel Gillies) and Lakhi (Peeya Rai Chowdhary) is a tad differently. Again, this all shows the screenwriters understood what they were doing in translating Austen's novel to the screen in this fashion, and reinforces the idea that the primary purpose here was to have fun. For all I know the musical numbers here are only second-rate Bollywood extravaganzas, in which case I cannot wait to see what else is out there. The bottom line here is simple: you have to know going in whether or not you buy the idea of turning Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" into a Bollywood number. If you think that is a great idea, then you will enjoy this 2004 film. If you think that sounds weird, then lighten up. You are missing out on the fun here.

Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Aishwarya Rai
Martin Henderson
Nadira Babbar

DVD title: Thief
Productgroup: DVD
Thief - movie DVD cover picture
Very Good Movie, Great Soundtrack.

Edition: Special Director's Edition
Audio: Very Good
Video: Very Good, some ghosting or artifacts
Extras: Commentary, Full Motion Scene Index, Extra Scenes, Trailers, Widescreen, Subtitles
Master thief who can "take a trimmin" battles back against a mobster and the cops while carrying a picture of Willie Nelson, swearing he'll "never, ever, take a pinch from a greasy motherf*#@$! like you!" Commentary is funny, sort of inside story stuff. There is one extra scenes inserted, doesn't add much but it doesn't take too long. Haven't heard it in 5.1, but the stereo reproduction is excellent, especially if you are a fan of the Tangerine Dream soundtrack. You get to learn cool facts about some of the other actors in the movie listening to the commentary, like which ones used to be cops and crooks in real life. Could have had more extra features, like a making of and stuff, but they have to save something for the Extra Special Director's Cut Awards Edition, right? Excellent DVD.

Studio: Mgm/Ua Studios
Director: Michael Mann
James Caan
Tuesday Weld

DVD title: Fahrenheit 9/11
Productgroup: DVD
Fahrenheit 9/11 - movie DVD cover picture

Ignore the ubiquitous claims of bias that will inevitably come in the next few weeks (and mostly from those already hopelessly biased themselves), ignore the minute dissection of very trivial details that will come from Moore's enemies, for all of these things will completely miss the point. The fact is that Fahrenheit 911 is an incredible piece of filmmaking, and the emotional impact of the film is staggering. Personnally, I wept at the end, and I'm not one who cries easily. Frankly, if you can sit through the last hour of the film and not be moved, then you're probably either dead or else in deep denial. Kudos to Michael Moore.

Studio: Columbia Tristar Hom
Director: Michael Moore (II)
Michael Moore (II)

DVD title: A Knight's Tale
Productgroup: DVD
A Knight's Tale - movie DVD cover picture
A New Favorite!

A Knight's Tale is filled comedy, action, and even a bit of romance! It has it all! It is filled with dazzling sets, authentic-looking costumes, and the script is wonderful! I think that everyone should see this movie. I saw it three times in two days!

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Brian Helgeland
Heath Ledger
Mark Addy

DVD title: Hook
Productgroup: DVD
Hook - movie DVD cover picture
Just Think Of Happy Thought, Any Happy Little Thought!

Belive me, I am being generous in giving this 2 stars. If it wasn't for CUTE little Maggie I would give it 1 star. In the first place, I don't like the whole concept of the movie. Peter Pan isn't supposed to grow up. That's the whole point! Sure, this movie has some good stuff in it but there's so much bad stuff it's not even worth it. Also it had a lot of bad words and gross insults. Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys (Rufio most of all!) were very irritating. I mean, skateboards and graffiti in Neverland? And another thing: Tootles was very, very creepy. The two best parts in it were when Moira was telling Peter Banning how little time they have with their children, and the other was when Maggie says "Look what Jack drew!" That part is really funny. I know some friends of mine really like this movie, so maybe it's a thing where you either love it or hate it. If you want to watch a Peter Pan movie, don't watch this (especially not with your kids): instead, watch P.J. Hogan's MASTERPIECE Peter Pan from 2003.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Steven Spielberg
Dustin Hoffman
Robin Williams
Julia Roberts

DVD title: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Productgroup: DVD
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - movie DVD cover picture
This is quality humor

Just because this movie was made in 1963 doesn't mean it isn't still funny. What makes it timeless is the plot. A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Or basically the tale of a map and some hidden treasure. And a whole group of people who have greed written all over their faces and the balls to do anything necessary to get the prize even if it means flying stolen crop dusters.
Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Jimmy Durante, Spencer Tracy, Jerry Lewis Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman are just a few of the actors in this gem. These for those who do not remember or who were born after the "golden era" in television should know, were the giants in movies and television and comic geniuses.
In a day and age when we now hear such vulgur and in your face "humor", being able to see these gems in action and using REAL humor over blunt "humor" was/is so refreshing and a welcome change. This is a movie that my kids and grandchildren love and in my opinion is timeless. That alone makes it unique.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Stanley Kramer
Spencer Tracy
Milton Berle
Sid Caesar
Ethel Merman
Mickey Rooney

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