"RENO 911!: MIAMI – MORE BUSTED THAN EVER UNRATED CUT"


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

    STARRING
    Carlos Alazraqui as DEPUTY JAMES GARCIA
    Mary Birdsong as DEPUTY CHERISHA KIMBALL
    Ben Garant as DEPUTY TRAVIS JUNIOR
    Kerri Kenney as DEPUTY TRUDY WIEGEL
    Thomas Lennon as LIEUTENANT JIM DANGLE
    Wendi McLendon-Covey as DEPUTY CLEMINTINE JOHNSON
    Niecy Nash as DEPUTY RAINEESHA WILLIAMS
    Cedric Yarbrough as DEPUTY S. JONES

    unrated
    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Directed by: Ben Garant

I have to say that I am actually quite surprised at how quickly a new version of “Reno 911! Miami” has made it to the shelves. Normally you have to wait a couple years, but the previous unrated cut of this film was released only last year.

However, I can’t say this version isn’t warranted. Moreover, if you have the original unrated cut of this film, the new “More Busted Than Ever!” cut might even be worth a buy for the true fan.

The film follows the inept deputies in the Reno sheriff’s department who are invited to a police convention in Miami Beach. Due to a paperwork glitch, they aren’t on the guest list and must stay at a local fleabag motel. When the convention comes under a bioweapon attack, the Reno sheriff’s department is the only law enforcement left in the city... which may or may not be a good thing.

If you’re interested in my take on the original cut and the unrated cut of the film, check them out
here and here. In short, I enjoyed the film even though I have never been an avid watcher of the show.

However, let’s focus on why this new release is worth a look. First, there’s a second disc with Digital Copy. This is the flavor of the month when it comes to bells and whistles, and while it’s redundant to save it on a laptop, these digital files are very helpful if you like to watch movies on your iPod.

The other big reason to check this version out are some new special features. While the disc isn’t loaded with the same features (e.g., the in-character commentary is noticeably absent), there are some new elements that make the disc worth it. In particular, there’s the “Lost Version” of the film, which goes beyond a director’s cut.

Unlike the unrated cut which just features more raunch, the “Lost Version” is a new cut of the film built from alternate takes and deleted scenes. When it comes to flow and consistency, this doesn’t work as well as the actual film, but it is a great feature for fans of the show. You should watch the regular film first to catch up on the story, but this 70-minute alternate version has plenty of scenes and takes that make it an extra feature film to be viewed as a companion piece.

Other bonus features include a writer/director commentary, new extended scenes with optional commentary and previously-seen features like in-character public service announcements and the theatrical trailer.



"YOUNG@HEART"


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

    Rated PG
    Directed by: Stephen Walker
    Studio: Fox Searchlight

Thanks to Michael Moore, documentaries have become dangerous territory. Too many people are trying to bend the truth in order to make a pre-determined statement. The true documentary is swept under the rug in order for egomaniacal filmmakers to boost their own celebrity status.

It is this very reason that makes me grateful for people like Stephen Walker, the director of “Young@Heart.” This documentary follows the Young@Heart chorus, a group of senior citizens in their 70s and older who perform rock songs, ranging in styles from James Brown to Sonic Youth. This film documents the chorus’s preparation for a show, featuring the struggles they have in rehearsals and the tragic aspects of life.

If you do the math, senior citizens who rock aren’t all that uncommon. After all, Mick Jagger is now 65, and even the members of the early punk bands are in their mid- to late-50s. However, what makes the members of the Young@Heart Chorus unique is that some of them aren’t necessarily into the music but gladly perform it when it is given to them.

This film shows the triumph of the human spirit and the strength of will. The folks in the chorus are full of energy, and while they battle their own medical challenges, they manage to keep young through their music.

Are they the greatest chorus in the world? Not really. There’s still the distinct feeling of an elderly church choir, even when they’re blasting through the Ramones’ “I Want to Be Sedated” (sung somewhat inaccurately, I might add). I’ve sat through many community concerts and church music performances, and the style sounds squarely familiar.

However, I commend these seniors for their eagerness and strength. The movie features several music videos of the singers, which are very cute and a little edgy. However, it’s not all music. There’s tender moments in their daily lives, including some medical scares and tragedy that befall the group.

The DVD comes with a short documentary of the Young@Heart Chorus performing in Los Angeles this past summer after the movie became a minor hit.

I can’t say that I particularly want to see a live Young@Heart musical event. However, I know plenty of people (i.e., those church friends and family members who enjoy community music) who would eat this stuff up.



"WOW! WOW! WUBBZY!: A TALE OF TAILS"


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

    Not Rated
    Studio: Starz Media

Any parent will tell you that finding appropriate children’s programming can be a challenge. Some shows (like “SpongeBob SquarePants”) are visually stimulating but offer no educational value. Others (like the Baby Einstein series) have plenty of educational elements but really don’t have much meat to them. Still others (like “Yo Gabba Gabba”) are just too darn weird to swallow.

One of the cute and clever shows that my kids have found is “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” It’s the story of a gerbil-type creature (which, like the title character from the cartoon “Chowder,” is of a species not precisely identified) who pals around with his friends in the town of Wuzzleburg. Widget is a pink rabbit who is always fixing things. Walden is a brainy creature who has a wide knowledge of science and art.

Each episode (of which two make an installment on television) features Wubbzy or his friends getting into some sort of scrape. They work together to solve their problems and differences, often learning a lesson by the end.

The first DVD of “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” is now available through Anchor Bay, and it features eight episodes on a single disc. Some of the themes include being yourself, respecting others’ property, not being overly competitive, taking care of a pet, respecting privacy, lying and keeping out of trouble.

Like many preschool shows, “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” presents problem solving in a very safe and nice way. The conflicts are very understandable to young children, and the characters are never in any real danger. Usually the friends are able to resolve their differences and solve their problems easily and with a lesson. However, the lessons aren’t rammed down the kids throats but are rather presented logically within the show.

I’ve enjoyed “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” on television, and my kids have warmed up to it. With eight episodes available, there’s more than 90 minutes of programming on this first DVD. It also has a selection of music videos from the shows, which can be played separately as well as a DVD-ROM game along with coloring pages and party printables from the disc.



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