Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Part 6: Blu-rays and DVDs (Part One) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, January 23rd, 2020  

Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Part 6: Blu-rays and DVDs (Part One)

Classic and Current Movies and TV Shows from Shout! Factory, The Criterion Collection, HBO, CBS, and More

Dec 05, 2019 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern
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Welcome to Part 6 of Under the Radar's Holiday Gift Guide 2019. This one is centered on Blu-rays and DVDs, including classic and current movies and TV shows. This is just part one of this year's Blu-ray/DVD guide. Below are write-ups on 25 releases, but we have another 25+ movies and TV shows to also tell you about later in the second part. 

In terms of our Holiday Gift Guide 2019 we have already posted a guide about video games and two drinks related guides, one for coffee, beer, and wine and another for cocktails. Then we posted part one of our collectibles guide. After that we posted part 5 of our 2019 guide, which was about technology. And stay tuned for more guides we'll be posting on board games, music box sets and reissues, toys and other gifts for kids, and books and graphic novels. And don't forget that Under the Radar print magazine subscriptions also make a great gift. Plus donating to the charity of your choice in the name of the gift receiver is also a good way to go.

Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RRP: $169.99

Now here's an absolute massive box set for any classic comedy fan. This collection pulls together all 28 films made by Abbott & Costello for Universal Pictures between 1940 and 1965, including all-time greats such as Who Done It? and Buck Privates, as well as all the more outlandish movies they did, from Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and The Mummy, to Abbot & Costello Go to Mars. (When you make almost 30 movies in 25 years, you wind up having to reach pretty deep into the bag of ideas.) The set includes 10 all-new, feature-length audio commentaries and more than eight hours of bonus features. This comprehensive, high-definition set provides an astounding amount to watch, and should keep any fan of the comedy duo busy for a long time to come. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

Bojack Horseman: Seasons One & Two Blu-ray/DVD (Shout! Factory)

RRP: $65.99 (Blu-ray)/$26.99 (DVD)

No one guessed an animated show about a washed-up horse actor who starred in a cheesy, '90s TGIF sitcom would be one of the most thoughtful comedies on television. But, that's where we are. With exceptionally clever writing that's vulgarly funny yet deals with serious, real-world issues in a respectful manner, and a great voice cast which includes Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Aaron Paul, and Alison Brie, Bojack Horseman has quietly earned its buzz as being one of the best shows of the decade. The second part of the final season premieres on Netflix in early 2020, and this collection of seasons one and two is a great place to start catching up. Or, if you're already a fan of the series, it's worth grabbing for the audio commentaries on every episode and other behind-the-scenes features. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

Captain Marvel Blu-ray (Marvel Studios/Disney)

RRP: $39.99 

DC may have gotten there first in terms of having a modern superhero movie headlined by a female character with 2017's Wonder Woman. Going further back, there were also 1984's Supergirl and 2004's best-forgotten Catwoman, although you could also count 2005's poorly received Elektra, based on a Marvel character but not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU finally got in on the action with this year's Captain Marvel, which proved once and for all that female-fronted superhero movies can be embraced by all audiences, making over $1.1 billion worldwide despite a backlash from some conservative fans against woke culture and in particular feminist statements made by star Brie Larson. Progress will continue to be made, with next year's Black Widow movie and Wonder Woman 1984. Regardless of the politics of it all, Captain Marvel was a damn fun film, one set in the mid-1990s (complete with appropriate music from the era from Elastica, Garbage, Hole, Nirvana, R.E.M., and more), and featuring a convincingly de-aged Samuel L. Jackson and a crazy alien cat. The Blu-ray release includes a slew of special features, such as deleted scenes, a gag reel, audio commentary from writer/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, mini features on Larson, The Skrulls and the Kree, Jackson's Nick Fury character, and more. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Charlie's Angels: The Complete Series DVD (Mill Creek Entertainment)

RRP: $69.98 

My wife scoffed when she found me watching Charlie's Angels, implying that it wasn't exactly "woke" viewing in 2019. And sure the three model-looking heroes often find themselves going undercover in swimsuits and other sexy outfits. At the time some even called it "Jiggle TV." But you also have to remember that 1976, the year the show debuted, was a time when female-fronted action shows were just coming to the fore, with Wonder Woman debuting the year earlier and The Bionic Woman's first episode premiering near the start of 1976. Having three strong, intelligent women who kicked ass and supported each other was somewhat groundbreaking at the time, five years before Cagney & Lacey, a more serious take on female crime-fighters.

Season 1 featured the classic team of Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith, before Fawcett left to be replaced by Cheryl Ladd in season 2, and Jackson then left to be replaced by Shelley Hack is season 4 and then future Bond Girl Tanya Roberts in season 5. And there are all those fabulous guest stars, some from before they were famous: Kim Basinger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Timothy Dalton (pre-James Bond), Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Jonathan Frakes (pre-Star Trek: The Next Generation), Frank Gorshin (formerly The Riddler), Christopher Lee, Cesar Romero (formerly The Joker), Tom Selleck (pre-Magnum, P.I.), Phil Silvers, Craig T. Nelson, Kim Cattrall (pre-Sex and the City), and Tommy Lee Jones (pre-most of his Oscar-winning career).

Although a spin-off featuring three male detectives thankfully didn't get picked up, Charlie's Angels was followed by two fairly well-received films in 2000 and 2003 and a terrible TV reboot in 2011 that was cancelled after only seven poorly rated episodes. This year saw a brand new Charlie's Angeles movie directed by Elizabeth Banks and starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska, making it the perfect time to revisit the original series via Mill Creek Entertainment's bare bones set that includes all five original seasons but no special features. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Cobra (Collector's Edition) Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RRP: $29.99

Cobra is a relic of a simpler time, when action heroes carried huge guns, there was little thought of gun control regulations or the epidemic of mass shootings, and a film's tagline could be "Crime is a disease. Meet the cure." It's little surprise that the 1986 movie is a favorite of Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn and that it was an influence on his acclaimed 2011 movie Drive. For example, Ryan Gosling's unnamed get away driver character often has a toothpick in his mouth in homage to Cobra's Lieutenant Marion "Cobra" Cobretti, as played by Sylvester Stallone. Cobra might be as riddled with action movie clichés as Cobretti's adversaries are with bullets, but it has '80s style to spare.

The plot, such that it is, features Cobretti on the trail of a serial killer The Night Slasher (Brian Thompson) and his cult of followers. Stallone also wrote the script. Although it's adapted from the 1978 novel Fair Game by Paula Gosling, much of the script's origin can be traced back to Stallone's original involvement with Beverly Hills Cop. Stallone was originally attached to star in that hit comedy, but wanted to take things in a more serious action-orientated direction. When he thankfully left the project they recruited Eddie Murphy instead, resulting in one of the greatest action comedies ever and the highest grossing movie in the U.S. in 1984. Stallone took some of his rejected ideas from Beverly Hills Cop and worked them into Cobra. While the film wasn't as successful as Beverly Hills Cop, either financially or critically, it still debuted at #1 at the U.S. box office and was the 15th most successful film of 1986. Cobra co-stars Stallone's then wife Brigitte Nielsen as the witness he needs to protect and the very next year she co-starred as one of the villains in Beverly Hills Cop II.

Interestingly, Fair Game was adapted again only nine years later as a truly terrible movie starring William Baldwin and super model Cindy Crawford, in her one and only starring role (proving she really can't act). Shout! Factory's new Blu-ray release of Cobra includes new interviews with various supporting actors from the film: Thompson, Marco Rodriguez, Andy Robinson, Lee Garlington, and Art LaFleur. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Collector's Edition) Blu-ray (Shout Select/Shout! Factory)

RRP: $29.99

Michael Caine and Steve Martin play two competing con men in the South of France in this 1988 comedy. Caine is the refined Englishman Lawrence Jamieson with a fancy house and a team on his side (including a local police inspector he pays off). Martin is the rougher American Freddy Benson, grifting his way across Europe. They make a bet, the first one to swindle 50 thousand dollars out the young wealthy American heiress Janet Colgate (the late Glenne Headly) has to leave town for good. But perhaps all is not what it seems. If you can past the terrible way most women are treated in this film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is very funny.

What I didn't realize when I first saw it many years ago is that the film is a remake of a 1964 movie called Bedtime Story, which starred Marlon Brando as Freddy, David Niven as Lawrence, and Shirley Jones as Janet. That film's writers, Stanley Shapiro and Paul Henning, also wrote the script for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with the aid of Dale Launer, and a quick perusal of the Wikipedia plot description for Bedtime Story seems beat for beat the same as the plot for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. No matter, Caine and Martin have a distinct chemistry and fans of either actor will find much to enjoy here. Another interesting trivia tidbit is that at one time the film was going to be a starring project for David Bowie and Mick Jagger (one wonders who would've gotten which role, but it's easier to picture Bowie in the Caine part and Jagger in the Martin part for some reason). Eddie Murphy was also at one time considered for Freddy and years later Murphy would work with Martin and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels director Frank Oz (yes, Yoda himself) on the even funnier Bowfinger. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was adapted into a 2005 Broadway musical that also ran in Australia in 2013 and on the London's West End in 2014. Bedtime Story and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels were both remade this year with The Hustle, which flipped the genders and starred Anne Hathaway in the Caine part and Rebel Wilson in the Martin part. Alas it was savaged by critics and made less money at the U.S. box office than Dirty Rotten Scoundrels did 31 years ago.

Shout! Factory's new Blu-ray release of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, released under their Shout Select imprint, includes a new 2K scan and a new interview with co-writer Dale Launer, along with previously available audio commentary from Frank Oz. (Buy it here.)

 

Kuffs Blu-ray (Shout Select/Shout! Factory)

RRP: $29.99

Kuffs is a truly forgotten action comedy from 1992, but it's far from forgettable. It features a magnetic star turn from Christian Slater in his prime, only a few years removed from Heathers and Pump Up the Volume. He plays George Kuffs, a bit of a screw-up and slacker. When his older brother Brad (Bruce Boxleitner) is murdered, George inherits his business, a San Francisco Patrol Special Police company. In a concept that seems Hollywood borne, some areas of San Francisco are indeed watched over by private police forces paid for by those in the community, dating all the way back to the California Gold Rush era of 1847. Kuffs attempts to track down his brother's killer, while also attending the police academy and trying to win back his college attending ex-girlfriend Maya Carlton (an early role for Milla Jovovich) and saddled with a seemingly straight-laced partner, Ted Bukovsky (Tony Goldwyn, fresh from Ghost).

Directed and co-written by Bruce A. Evans, Kuffs is quirky and sometimes struggles to balance the action and comedy, with one scene featuring unnecessary cartoony sound effects. Jovovich was only 15 at the time of filming, although she looks and plays much older, which makes her dancing in her underwear scene at the start of the film slightly uncomfortable to watch now. But she does have good chemistry with Slater, despite him being in his early 20s at the time. Slater has charm to spare and there are lots of scenes of him speaking directly to the camera à la Ferris Bueller. Harold Faltermeyer's score successfully maintains the spirit of the music he did for Beverly Hills Cop, a likely influence on Kuffs.

Shout! Factory's new Blu-ray release from their Shout Select series includes new audio commentary from director/co-writer Bruce A. Evans and co-writer Raynold Gideon, a new on camera interview with Evans and Gideon, and a new interview with Faltermeyer on the score. One bit of trivia is that various other actresses auditioned for Jovovich, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd (who the production liked so much they wrote a different small role for her, which was Judd's movie debut). By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Game of Thrones: The Complete Series Blu-ray (HBO)

RRP: $282.99

No matter your thoughts on the show's ending, it's hard to imagine that we'll ever get another show as complex or elaborately produced as Game of Thrones. (Much less another fantasy series!) For eight seasons the show captivated record-setting audience numbers as it packed in a labyrinthine tale of clashing families, war, political intrigue, sex, dragons, ice zombies, and magical prophecy, spreading it all across an intricately realized fantasy world that some fans came to know better than the one they live in. With single episodes that were more grandiose in scale than many Hollywood movies, you can't argue that Game of Thrones is anything less than a landmark achievement in television production.

If you haven't seen the series yet, well, this Blu-ray set collects all 73 episodes (which is a whopping 70 hours of entertainment.) The best part? No excruciatingly long waits between seasons. If you've already followed the show over the last decade, this set contains an exclusive reunion special hosted by Conan O'Brien, as well as 15 hours of bonus content collected from the series' individual season boxed sets. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

I Love Lucy Colorized Collection DVD (CBS/Paramount)

RRP: $29.98

Remember when Ted Turner was all about colorizing old black & white movies in the 1980s? Luckily plans to colorize Citizen Kane against Orson Welles' wishes were cancelled, but other classics such as It's a Wonderful Life went through the process, even though there were notable vocal detractors (Roger Ebert, John Huston, George Lucas, Woody Allen, and James Stewart, to name but a few). I Love Lucy is actually a classic that perhaps benefits from colorization. The original decision to film it in black & white was less an artistic one and more a technical one, as no shows were broadcast in color when I Love Lucy first aired in 1951. The first coast-to-coast American color broadcast wasn't until 1954 and even then it wasn't for several years until many people had color TV sets. Also, Lucille Ball's natural red hair befits her fiery character, so it's nice to see her in color, even if it's fake. This DVD set includes 16 episodes colorized, including classics like Job Switching and Lucy and Superman (guest starring Adventures of Superman star George Reeves-historical note, the first seasons of Superman were filmed in black & white, but the remaining four, from 1954-1958, were filmed in color, but not broadcast that way until 1965). It includes a special feature about the process of colorizing I Love Lucy. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Last Action Hero Blu-ray (Mill Creek Entertainment)

RRP: $14.98

What young film fan doesn't dream of stepping into the worlds of their favorite movies. To escape to far away lands and distant planets, to go on adventures with amazing heroes. It is the reason why so many theme park rides and settings are inspired by iconic movies, such as the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge section of Disney World and Disney Land. In 1993's Last Action Hero teenager Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) gets that very chance when a magic ticket once owned by Harry Houdini thrusts him into the middle of a car chase in the latest action movie in the Jack Slater series, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays both Slater and later himself in the "real world."

Last Action Hero tries to have its cake and explode it too, cleverly sending up action movie clichés while also reveling in them. Danny comes from a crime-ridden and rainy New York City, whereas Slater's world is a sunny and glamorous Los Angeles. Danny spends a good part of Last Action Hero trying to convince Slater that he's living in a movie, with little success (a trip to the video store reveals that Sylvester Stallone played The Terminator not Schwarzenegger in Slater's fictional land). Cameos abound, with Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick briefly reprising their then recent roles in Basic Instinct and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Things get more interesting when Danny returns to the real world, bringing Jack with him, in pursuit of the bad guy Benedict (Charles Dance). Benedict realizes that in the real world criminals can actually win, a point he proves when he shoots a man in cold blood on the street and the police don't show up right away (or at all). This is also a hard lesson for Slater. The climax includes Slater meeting Schwarzenegger and more cameos, with various celebrities playing themselves, including Schwarzenegger's then-wife Maria Shriver, Little Richard, James Belushi, Damon Wayans, Chevy Chase, Timothy Dalton, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and MC Hammer. In one of the best scenes, Sir Ian McKellen plays Death, stepping out of the screen from Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal.

The film had some growing pains, with original scriptwriters Zak Penn and Adam Leff originally intending to parody films written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon), among others, only to find the film being rewritten by Black himself, without their involvement. It was also a rush to the finish line, with director John McTiernan editing the film right up until just before its release date. And that release date proved to be a big roadblock for the film's success, as a little movie called Jurassic Park opened just the week before. Steven Spielberg's dinosaur adventure ended up being the biggest film of the year, grossing $357 million, whereas Last Action Hero had to settle for being #26 on 1993's box office rankings, making only $50 million domestically. It wasn't aided by the mixed reviews and was eventually nominated for six Golden Raspberry Awards. All of which is too bad. While the film is far from a masterwork, it is rarely less than enjoyable, making perhaps not the most of its clever concept, but enough of it to make it highly watchable. Mill Creek Entertainment's barebones Blu-ray re-release features no special features, but does come in packaging resembling a video tape being removed from an old VHS box. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Life with Mikey Blu-ray (Kino Lorber)

RRP: $14.95

This one is for Michael J. Fox completists. After receiving his initial Parkinson's Disease diagnosis in 1991 and being told he had 10 good working years left, Fox signed a three-picture deal to make sure his family was provided for. Unfortunately all three films were poorly received comedy flops: 1993's Life with Mikey and For Love or Money, and 1994's Greedy. Life with Mikey has now been issued on Blu-ray via Kino Lorber.

Fox stars as Michael "Mikey" Chapman, a former sitcom child star who now runs a child actor talent agency with his older brother Ed (Nathan Lane). The agency is in financial trouble and in danger of losing its biggest client Barry Corman (David Krumholtz, in his first film) to a bigger agency. Then Fox encounters young pickpocket Angie Vega (Christina Vidal, also in her first movie) and is impressed enough with her acting ability when lying to get out of trouble that he signs her. Is Angie the secret to saving the company? Will Mikey become a father figure for Angie? But what about her real father?

Plot-wise, Life with Mikey is a bit slight, with low stakes and not much of a climax. But Fox is likable and Krumholtz and Vidal went on to success as teen and adult actors. Krumholtz later appeared in Slums of Beverly Hills, the Harold and Kumar movies, Superbad, and This Is the End, as well as on TV's Numb3rs, The Good Wife, and The Deuce. Vidal has since showed up in many TV shows, including ER, House, Castle, Code Black, Training Day, Grand Hotel, and more. This gives you a chance to catch them at their start. The film also features Christine Baranski, Rubén Blades, Victor Garber, and Cyndi Lauper, as the agency's perky receptionist Geena Briganti. This Blu-ray release is bare bones, with no special features beyond the movie's trailer. While this period in Fox's career is bookended by better films (1991's Doc Hollywood and The Hard Way and 1995's The American President and 1996's The Frighteners), Life with Mikey would be a good stocking stuffer for diehard Michael J. Fox fans, many of who may not have even seen the film in years, if at all. (Buy it here.)

 

Lu Over the Wall Blu-ray/DVD (GKIDS/Shout! Factory)

RRP: $26.99 (Blu-ray)/$16.97 (DVD)

Lu Over the Wall is a curious children's film. Masaaki Yuasa directed the 2017 Japanese animated film, which bears the strong influence of Hayao Miyazaki's 2008 classic Ponyo, but also charts its own course. The film centers on Kai Ashimoto, a downtrodden middle schooler in the seaside community of Hinashi Town. He's a bit of a loner, but forms a band with his friends Kunio and Yūho. When rehearsing on an island just off the coast their music attracts a mermaid named Lu. The beats of their music allows Lu's fins to transform into legs and gets her dancing and doing magical things. She also starts singing with the band and causing a sensation. But some in the town don't trust the merfolk, fearing a curse will be brought upon them all. The film can be somewhat ridiculous at times, but gets away with it due to its Anime style. It may not rank among Japan's all-time greatest animated kids films (such as the Studio Ghibli films like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away), but it has plenty of quirky charm and my six-year-old daughter, who is a big fan of My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, and other Studio Ghibli films, greatly enjoyed it. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 12: The Gauntlet Blu-ray/DVD (Shout! Factory)

RRP: $59.97 (Blu-ray)/$44.99 (DVD)

While we and our fellow MSTies hold our breaths in the hopes that the revived series gets pick up by another streaming network for a new set of episodes, it's time to revisit our latest season (so far, hopefully.) In this season, Mads Kinga (Felicia Day) and Max (Patton Oswalt) force Jonah and the bots to endure six painful films back-to-back in a twisted endurance challenge known as The Gauntlet. These episodes include the feature-length McDonald's commercial-slash-E.T. ripoff Mac and Me, the low-budget Asylum knock-off Atlantic Rim, and Ator, the Fighting Eagle, which was a precursor to the classic MST3K fan-favorite episode The Cave Dwellers. ("How much Keeffe is in this movie, anyway?" "Miles O'Keeffe!") It's a short season but a very good one. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

Night of the Creeps: Collector's Edition Blu-ray (Scream Factory)

RRP: $29.99

The classic, '80s zombie cult comedy finally lands on an extras-packed Blu-ray courtesy of the fine folks at Scream Factory. If you haven't seen it-this is a perennially underrated horror comedy-Night of the Creeps is essentially everything that Slither wished it was. Alien slugs crash land on a college campus and cause a zombie outbreak on the night of the Big Dance. (Of course.) The slugs slide their way down the throats of unwitting co-eds where they incubate, turning their hosts into the walking dead. This purposefully tongue-in-cheek movie boasts a hilarious turn from noted Dennis Farina lookalike Wally Taylor as a zealous, cigar-chomping cop who may be the one person standing between the aliens and total world domination. Two versions of the movie are included-the theatrical and director's cuts-with an insane number of extras, from newly-recorded interviews to a modern-day tour of the movie's shooting locations. Give this to your friend who was underwhelmed by Zombieland 2 and remind them what a real zombie comedy looks like. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

The Omen Collection Blu-ray (Scream Factory)

RRP: $79.97

The first Omen remains one of the true classics of demonic horror, just a sliver shy of great heights of The Exorcist or Rosemary's Baby. Directed by Richard Donner just before he made Superman, The Omen features a few of the most shocking and unforgettable death scenes in any movie-and I'm putting it up against slashers and giallos, so that's a serious claim. Gregory Peck and Lee Remick are thoroughly believable as a couple slowly learning that their adopted son may very well be the antichrist. The sequels are progressively more far-fetched as the evil Damien grows up and attempts to become president, but the story is still worth following through all four films. Also included is the mid-2000s remake with Live Schreiber and Julia Stiles. Along with its 4K remastering of the original film, this hefty box set includes hours of bonus features, with all-new cast and crew interviews, multiple documentaries, and a wide assortment of vintage marketing materials. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

 

Patrick Melrose Blu-ray/DVD (Acorn)

RRP: $39.99

We've seen him play the world's greatest detective, a Marvel sorcerer, and the inventor of the computer. Now, Benedict Cumberbatch plays... well, a snobbish drug addict who buries childhood trauma through habitual self-destruction. (It's definitely a different sort of character for him.) Cumberbatch is excellent as Patrick Melrose in this five-part miniseries adapted from the novels of Edward St Aubyn; the episodes leap around to different times in the character's life, tracking him at some of his lowest lows and through his attempts at recovery. Nominated for five Emmy Awards, the show also features Hugo Weaving, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Blythe Danner, and Allison Williams. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Steelbook Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

RRP: $29.97

Much like Jorma Taccone's similarly hilarious MacGruber, 2016's Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping has gone from being an underappreciated gem to having a wild cult following. The movie, which stars The Lonely Island, is a faux-documentary about the release of an anticipated second album by Conner4Real (Andy Samberg), a breakout pop idol who seems more or less based on Justin Bieber. His cluelessness is a large part of the comedy, as are the ridiculous performances of his misguided, Lonely Island-penned pop songs. The cast also features Tim Meadows, Sarah Silverman, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, and Justin Timberlake, along with a bunch of musicians and pop culture figures playing themselves.

Shout! Factory's new steelbook features art depicting the funniest scene that doesn't appear in the movie, and comes with hours of deleted takes, extended performances, and other bonus features. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

The Princess Bride Blu-ray/DVD (The Criterion Collection)

RRP: $39.95 (Blu-ray)/$29.95 (DVD)

"Inconceivable!" Yes it's true, The Princess Bride has come to The Criterion Collection on Blu-ray (and DVD). The endlessly quotable family film was a modest success upon its release in 1987, but has since become a classic (hence a Criterion release). Rob Reiner was following up Stand By Me when he directed the film, which was written by William Goldman and adapted from his own 1973 novel of the same name. The framing story, in which a boy played by Fred Savage is read a storybook by his grandpa (played by Peter Falk) was recently spoofed in Once Upon a Deadpool, the PG-13 version of Deadpool 2, with Savage reprising his role. The rest of the cast included Cary Elwes (who was a big fan of the book and always saw himself as Westley and so was excited when he was cast), Robin Wright (in only her second film role), Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, Peter Cook, Mel Smith, and, quite memorably, André the Giant. It's a romantic fairy tale about a sad princess kidnapped just before she is about to marry a king she doesn't love and the mysterious Man in Black who is trying to rescue her. It features duels and derring do, and revenge against six-fingered murderers ("My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!"). The Criterion release includes a new 4K digital restoration. Most of the special features come from previous editions, such as audio commentary from 1996 and archival interviews with the cast and crew. But there are some new documentaries and interviews, as well as an essay by author Sloane Crosley. Fans of the film will delight at this Blu-ray release, or you can expose a new generation to the film. "Have fun storming the castle!" (Buy it here.)

 

Scarface: The World Is Yours Limited Edition 4K Ultra HD (Universal)

RRP: $62.99

Brian De Palma's Scarface is one of the most iconic films from a decade that was full of 'em. Even if it feels wrong to buy into Al Pacino as a Cuban refugee, it's hard not to get caught up in his wild-eyed, over-the-top performance as a low-level crook who violently maneuvers his way to the top of the drug game only to lose it all in a maniacal self-implosion. "Say hello to my little friend!"

Universal's The World Is Yours set includes the three-hour crime epic on both remastered Blu-ray and 4K UHD discs, the latter featuring the best-looking transfer of the movie you'll ever see. Extras include the full director and cast reunion from the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and a wealth of previously issued and archival features. Two highlights of this limited edition set include the original 1932 version of Scarface on its own disc, and a cool statuette which looks like it was stolen right off the top of Tony Montana's cocaine-covered desk. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

Sesame Street: 50 Years and Counting! DVD (Shout! Kids/Sesame Workshop)

RRP: $16.97

Now celebrating its 50th season, Sesame Street is a show that most of us have been familiar with for our entire lives. This celebratory, two-disc release acts like a mixtape of everyone's favorite monsters, music, and memorable moments from the show's half-century existence. No matter which era of Sesame Street you grew up on, there's something here you'll remember yet may not have seen in decades. Disc one is a smattering of greatest hits, so to speak-fan-favorite songs and guest appearances ranging from R.E.M. to Janelle Monáe. Disc two is more of a historic look back at the series through its most famous segments, such as Snuffy turning from Big Bird's imaginary friend into a "real" creature, the marriage of Maria and Luis, and the heartbreaking passing of Mr. Hooper. You can pick up this DVD collection "for the kids," sure, but you're going to want to take the trip down memory lane alongside them. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

Space: 1999 (The Complete Series) Blu-ray/DVD (Shout! Factory)

RRP: $109.99 (Blu-ray)/$69.97 (DVD)

As its title suggests, Space: 1999 takes place in the far-flung future of 1999, which was 24 years after the show premiered in 1975. Just like seven years earlier when 2001: A Space Odyssey imagined a turn of the century era of routine space exploration, Space 1999 takes place on a moon base. In the first episode, "Breakaway," an explosion at an atomic waste site on the dark side of the moon causes the moon to rocket out of orbit and hurl uncontrollably into space. The residents of Moonbase Alpha find themselves further into deep space after travelling through a black hole, and eventually some space warps, and over the series they encounter various aliens and disasters as they try and find a new planet to settle on. It's a fairly improbable concept of course, but the British/Italian co-production was grounded by strong leads in American actors Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, who were married at the time and were both previously in Mission: Impossible, and aided by a big budget, in 1970s TV terms at least.

The show was the brainchild of Gerry Anderson (along with his wife Sylvia Anderson) and he was more used to working with puppets than actors, having created the beloved 1960s children sci-fi adventure show Thunderbirds, which centered around marionettes and models. Hence the model work on Space: 1999 is strong. The series is probably better remembered by British TV viewers of the time, where it aired on one of the main TV networks, ITV. The producers failed to sell the show to any of the big American TV networks and so it aired in syndication instead.

The primary market for Shout! Factory's Space 1999: The Complete Series Blu-ray set is a nostalgic one, but even if you didn't grow up watching the show, modern sci-fi fans might find some historic value. The series featured several notable guest stars, including Patrick Troughton (who previously played the Second Doctor in Doctor Who), Sarah Douglas (who played General Zod's evil cohort Ursa in Superman II), Ian McShane (Deadwood), Peter Bowles (Victoria), and Joan Collins (Dynasty). And that's not to mention the various Star Wars actors who appeared in Space: 1999 episodes, including Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Julian Glover, Brian Blessed, Richard LeParmentier, and Darth Vader himself, David Prowse. And indie rock fans might be curious to know that season 2 regular Yasuko Nagazumi, a former Bond girl in You Only Live Twice, is the mother of Miki Berenyi, lead vocalist/guitarist in 1990s shoegaze/Britpop icons Lush (and currently in Piroshka).

Alas Space: 1999 only lasted two seasons and the planned third season and a proposed spinoff series centered around shape-shifting alien Maya (played by another former Bond girl, Catherine Schell), never came to fruition. The long mooted reboot Space: 2099 has yet to come together. For now, fans can revisit the original 48 episodes in this well produced box set that includes a third disc of special features, including new interviews with actors Barbara Bain and Nick Tate, various other interviews and documentaries, and new audio commentary from Gerry Anderson historian Anthony Taylor and writer/filmmaker Robert Meyer Burnett. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Star Trek: Picard Movie & TV Collection (CBS/Paramount)

RRP: $29.99

With Patrick Stewart returning to his iconic role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard for the first time in 18 years with the new series Star Trek: Picard debuting on CBS All Access in January, CBS and Paramount has put out this Blu-ray collection to prepare fans for the show. It includes all four Star Trek: The Next Generation movies and two pivotal two-part episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The movies are a mixed bag of course. 1994's Star Trek Generations brought together Picard with the original series' captain, James T. Kirk (William Shatner). It was certainly a delight to see the two captains together and there are other winning moments, such as the crash of the Enterprise. But a certain infamous underwhelming death scene puts a damper on the movie's legacy. 1996's Star Trek: First Contact brought back the Borg and was a vast improvement. It's the best of the Next Generation movies and one of the best Star Trek movies period. 1998's Star Trek: Insurrection plays more like an extended, slightly bigger budgeted episode of the show, but does have some interesting ideas. And the final Next Generation movie, 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, tried to course correct with a more cinematic feel, but didn't have the best results at the box office or with critics and fans. It's perhaps a bit underrated, with some great set pieces, and a very early performance by Tom Hardy as a Romulan clone of Picard, Shinzon. It was only his second or third movie role and Hardy looks a lot younger and less imposing than we're used to. 

The episodes on this set are "The Best of Both Worlds" and "Chain of Command." The former two-parter consists of perhaps the best known episodes of The Next Generation: Picard is kidnapped by the Borg and turned into one of them. Episode 1 ends on a cliffhanger worthy of classic Doctor Who. "Chain of Command" features a startling performance from Stewart, as he is kidnapped by the Cardassians and tortured by Gul Madred (David Warner). Warner previously appeared as St. John Talbot in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and was brought in at the last minute when the original actor cast as Gul Madred had to drop out unexpectedly, which is perhaps just as well, as Warner and Stewart have a great rapport. Each of the six discs in this collection come with a slew of bonus special features, most previously found on other releases. The set also comes with an exclusive 16-page Star Trek: The Next Generation mini-comic book from IDW. It all makes for great gift for your Trekkie friends or casual Star Trek fans who could use a primer for Star Trek: Picard. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

The Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2 Blu-ray/DVD (Netflix)

RRP: $39.98 (Blu-ray)/$24.95 (DVD)

If you're an '80s kid with a Netflix subscription, you've no doubt binged through every episode of the docu-series The Toys That Made Us. (Season three just premiered!) If you know someone your age who doesn't have a Netflix sub, however, you should think about grabbing this Blu-ray set of the series, which includes the first two season of the show along with bonus interviews, vintage marketing materials, and (appropriately!) a packed-on toy television. The series playfully looks at the history of our most iconic toys, featuring interviews, fun dramatizations, and tons of archival clips. This set includes episodes on Transformers, LEGOs, Barbie, G.I. Joe, Hello Kitty, He-Man, and Star Trek and Star Wars toys. It's the perfect gift for a toy collector, or anyone who feels nostalgic for their old playthings. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

Used Cars (Shout! Factory)

RRP: $22.97

Used Cars is a largely forgotten comedy from 1980 and that's too bad, because it's actually very funny. It is perhaps most notable for the talent involved. It is the second film to be directed by Robert Zemeckis and the third to be written by Zemeckis and his regular writing partner at the time, Bob Gale. Previously they had made the little seen Beatles-themed comedy I Wanna Hold Your Hand (which Zemeckis directed and the two wrote) and also wrote Steven Spielberg's World War II-themed comedy from 1979, 1941, but it was a little movie in 1985 that thrust Zemeckis and Gale into the big time: Back to the Future. Zemeckis also directed the hit Romancing the Stone in 1984 and went on to have an Oscar-winning career directing such hits as the two Back to the Future sequels (also co-written with Gale), Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Death Becomes Her, Forest Gump, Cast Away, Flight, and more. Used Cars starred Kurt Russell, who had already had great success as a child and teenage star for Disney and would go on to even greater success throughout the '80s and beyond, up to appearing in this year's critically acclaimed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. So Used Cars has always been a bit of a footnote in such illustrious careers, but deserves to be revisited.

The film actually had the highest test screening numbers ever for Columbia Pictures at the time. That prompted the studio to move Used Cars' release date up a month earlier, leaving not enough time to properly promote it and forcing it to open only a week after Airplane!, one of the biggest comedies of 1980.

Used Cars is a screwball comedy about two identical twin brothers, Roy and Luke Fuchs (both played by Jack Warden), who have competing used car dealerships across the street from each other. Roy is ruthless and has the fancier lot, whereas Luke has principles and thus a struggling business. Roy is eager to take over his brother's business because he has insider knowledge that a new freeway off-ramp will bring his brother's lot a whole bunch of new business due to its placement. Russell plays Rudy Russo, Luke's right hand man and an aspiring politician who is trying to raise enough money to enter the state senate race. Things go haywire when Luke has a heart attack instigated by his brother and Rudy and his fellow dealers Jeff (Gerrit Graham) and Jim (Frank McRae) have to hide the body and pretend their boss has gone on an impromptu vacation to keep the dealership out of Roy's hands. Things get even more complicated when Luke's daughter, Barbara (Deborah Harmon) comes to town looking for her dad.

The film has many laugh out loud moments as the two dealerships go to great lengths to one-up each other, including Rudy enlisting the help of Freddie and Eddie (played by Laverne and Shirley's Squiggy and Lenny, aka David Lander and Michael McKean) to illegally cut an explicit TV commercial for the dealership into a White House address from then President Jimmy Carter, as well as the dealerships using strippers and circus performers to sell cars. The climax involves "a mile of cars" being driven across the dessert in a mad dash. Seriously, if you're a fan of Robert Zemeckis, Kurt Russell, or anyone else involved in this film then seek it out.

Special features on Shout! Factory's new Blu-ray include a new interview with Bob Gale, as well as features ported over from a previous DVD release, including commentary from Zemeckis, Gale, and Russell, outtakes, trailers, and more. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

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