MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)

    Not Rated
    Studio: Soaring Star

Anyone who has gone through the challenge of potty training their child knows that there are no easy solutions. And if you are going through that struggle, you’ll find everyone giving you advice – from keeping them in diapers until they’re ready to throwing goldfish crackers in the toilet and telling them to aim for the fish.

The bottom line about potty training is that every child is different. In a perfect world, we could do everything right, but in the real world, there isn’t always time, resources and patience. Some families choose to use potty training videos, and I’ve seen several from “Elmo” to “Bear in the Big Blue House” to “Blues Clues.”

I wish it were as simple as showing your child a video. Sadly, it’s not. The videos can serve a purpose, however, to at least get the kids acquainted with the concept and reinforce certain behaviors.

Soaring Star productions has a low-budget potty training video available featuring the Pocket Snails. These are snails that live in a young boy’s pocket, and they dispense advice and support each other. In “Pocket Snails Potty Adventure,” the snails help Jake’s little sister Wendy to get potty trained.

Like the other videos available out there, it gives good advice to the child and encourages them in the behavior. Also included in the DVD case is a Potty Steps Map that lays out the process of potty training. For the child attuned to visual cues, this can be a benefit.

The animation is rather rudimentary, and the upbeat voices can get a little annoying. However, for the preschool audience, it can be appealing. The video might be good for your child, but like anything else, potty training will take its own, sweet time.


        MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)

    Sean Patrick Flanery as WAYNE
    Stephen McHattie as CLYDE
    Kristin Booth as CYNTHIA
    Rod Taylor as DOC
    John Ralston as OSKAR
    Michelle Duquet as BETTY

    Rated R
    Studio: Reel One Entertainment

    Directed by: Sheldon Wilson

I’ve never been a big fan of remakes and homage in film. Generally, these movies tend to rely too heavily on the pre-knowledge of its audience and don’t make a good film on its own. Some exceptions to this include Eli Roth’s “Cabin Fever” (paying homage to “The Evil Dead”), but they are pretty rare.

“Kaw” is a film that pays homage a little too much to “The Birds.” The film tells the story of a small town sheriff who, on his last day on the job, faces a threat of giant crows attacking people. He tries to fight the birds, but they are relentless. Eventually, he enlists the aid of the military and scientists, hoping to fight this attack of nature.

Just knowing the concept of the film, you can’t help but see the correlation to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film “The Birds.” But if you are too dense to notice this, the cover box blares out “in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds,” Rod Taylor makes an appearance as the town doctor and the special features show the director gushing over Taylor’s presence and comparing the film to “The Birds.”

In case you haven’t guessed, “Kaw” isn’t as good as “The Birds” and would have been served better to just be a scary little movie about crows attacking people. Ultimately, it does its part to be a small direct-to-DVD scare fest, and it at least provides the fledgling actor Sean Patrick Flanery a paycheck.

With a few good scares but a forgettable ending, “Kaw” will never rise to the level of Hitchcock’s masterpiece.

The DVD comes with a making-of featurette as well as an extended, over-indulgent and surprising dull interview with Rod Taylor.


        MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Lukas Haas as IVAN
    Jaime King as SAMANTHA
    Marsha Thomason as LINDA
    Jason Mewes as JOEY
    Stephen Heath as JACK
    Paz de la Huerta as JADE
    David Arquette as MUFF
    Courteney Cox Arquette as CYNTHIA
    Balthazar Getty as JIMMY
    Thomas Jane as BUZZ HALL
    Paul Reubens as FRANK BAKER

    Studio: Coquette Productions

    Directed by: David Arquette

I don’t have any problem with David Arquette. In fact, I really like the guy. Had a chance to hang out with him on his tour bus when his “Tripper” tour came through Columbus, Ohio. He’s a great guy and into having fun. Sadly, I had more fun watching him quote lines from “Ready to Rumble” than watching his directorial debut “The Tripper.”

The film tells the story of a bunch of hippies heading into the woods for a freedom festival. However, during the festival, there’s a psychotic killer on the loose who dresses like Ronald Reagan and chops up anyone smoking dope or doing any other sort of hippie behavior. As chaos reigns in the woods, the authorities try to shut down the festival, but the hippies just don’t dig authority, and they pay for it in the end.

“The Tripper” had its debut as a sneak during the 8 Films to Die For event last Halloween, and it got a theatrical release on April 20 of this year (that’s 420, for anyone not in the know of the drug culture). Perhaps Arquette could have gotten a bigger bump if he would have released it this Halloween, considering how poorly the horror films this year performed outside of that time frame.

I doubt it, though. While I don’t doubt Arquette’s love for the genre and his passion for filmmaking, “The Tripper” just turned into a mess. I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if drugs were involved throughout the script and production. After all, too many moments just didn’t make sense or work in the slightest for somebody sober.

The filmmaking and directing techniques weren’t bad, and the horror/slasher moments were pretty well formed. The problem fell in the script. I can hope that Arquette will find a better script for his next film, but right now, “The Tripper” works better as a concept and a logline than a film itself.

The DVD has quite a number of special features, including a commentary, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, trailers, a photo gallery, a retrospective of the bus tour and featurettes on Ronald Reagan, a missing finger and how the FX department made fake poop.

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