"YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Not Rated
    Available on DVD January 26
     www.PeanutsDVD.com
    Studio: Warner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
After the Peanuts comic strip became a cultural icon, an Off-Broadway musical was created to bring the characters to life in a different way. After the success of that musical, Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez brought it to life as an animated television special. This 48-minute animated show finds its way to DVD in a new release, featuring your favorite Peanuts characters (including Snoopy with a voice) singing the songs made popular on the stage.

WHAT I LIKED
When I was a kid, my sister and I checked the LP of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” out from the library on a regular basis. You remember LPs, folks? If you don’t, then you best stop reading this review because you’re too damn young to understand the nostalgia this brings.

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” was a brilliant musical because it managed to bring to life the Peanuts characters without dripping in show tune mentality. The only other musical I can think of that took such a cool piece of pop culture and made as great a theater show is “The Little Shop of Horrors.”

Having seen the musical before and hearing the record countless times on lazy Saturday afternoons, I fell in love with this special. Good grief, it’s right up there with the Great Pumpkin and the Christmas special as my favorite Peanuts cartoons.

The natural feel of the animated characters is a testament to the writers of the musical because they captured their voices and mannerisms so well. Even giving Snoopy a voice for the brilliant song “Suppertime” – while initially jarring – seems as natural as anything. I’m truly saddened that I missed this production on television when it was released in the mid-80s, but I’m thrilled to have a chance to see it now.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Not much. This was a thoroughly enjoyable film. Happiness is “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

DVD FEATURES
The DVD comes with the featurette “Animating a Charlie Brown Musical,” which explores the journey the songs and the play took to become an animated television special.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Peanuts fans and anyone who loved the original musical.

Watch these clips from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"





"SPACEBALLS: THE TOTALLY
WARPED ANIMATED ADVENTURES"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Not Rated
    Studio: 20th Century Fox

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
With the legacy of “Spaceballs” in cinema, Mel Brooks authorized the creation of an animated series, which spent a short time on television in the U.S. and Canada. This flash-animated series makes its way onto DVD telling the extended tales of Lone Star, Barf, Princess Vespa, Dark Helmet and of course President Skroob and Yogurt.

WHAT I LIKED
Before I start with the actual review, let me say that I met some of the folks behind this series at Comic-Con in 2007, and they were a wacky bunch. I with them the best in all of their endeavors. Now... on to the review.

I’m a big fan of Mel Brooks, and having revisited most of his film in “The Mel Brooks Collection” on Blu-ray, I realized that “Spaceballs” isn’t my favorite. Rather, it’s somewhere in the middle. Still, it’s a lot of fun, but without my reverence, the animated series isn’t treading on hallowed ground.

In this respect, I saw the “Spaceballs” animated series as a whimsical fancy to have some fun with the characters. It’s not any more raunchy than the movie, though you’ll want to know what’s appropriate for your kids if you’re going to let them watch it. There are some pretty lurid sex jokes, but nothing out of place for Mel Brooks.

There’s enough of a continuous joke line in the episodes to keep my attention, though they do get a bit goofy in a Saturday morning cartoon sort of way.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
My biggest problem with this series wasn’t necessarily the writing or where they took the characters. It definitely had a feel of forcing a story in some places that it didn’t fit. But instead of this, my problem was the animation. Flash animation is a great tool that reduces work load. However, it’s much more appropriate for a stylized cartoon like “George of the Jungle” or even “The Powerpuff Girls.” Applying the canned look of the Flash style to the characters of “Spaceballs” just looked a little cheap.

DVD FEATURES
The DVD comes with the four episodes of the animated series, with intermissions featuring President Skroob and Dark Helmet.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of the original movie... but not so rabid that they will get offended



"AZIZ ANSARI: INTIMATE MOMENTS
FOR A SENSUAL EVENING"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Not Rated
    Studio: Comedy Central

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Comedian Aziz Ansari takes the stage with his cocky style of observational humor. The star of “Parks and Recreation” and an intern on the eighth season of “Scrubs,” Ansari gives his take on everything from bedsheets to his nerdy cousin Harris and how that affects his relationship with Kanye West.

WHAT I LIKED
Let’s face it... when it comes to a stand-up comedy special, it all depends on how much you like the guy (or gal) on stage. In this respect, I find Aziz Ansari to be hilarious.

I didn’t start out as a fan. In fact, when I first saw him, I found him obnoxious and only a few steps away from the over-the-top character of Raaaaaaaaandy from “Funny People.” However, after seeing more and more of him, the more and more I appreciated his humor. That’s why a stand-up special like this is so great. It gives the viewer a chance to warm up to his style.

Aziz Ansari is an enigma. With one look, you think he’s a total nerd. However, his confidence and coolness spin that nerdiness into something envious for us regular guys. In the stand-up special, you get a chance to see Ansari as more human and less of the caricature he plays on the screen.

I also give a lot of credit to him because he doesn’t make a mockery out of himself. Rather than using his race as a crutch, he goes for the more mainstream and relateable humor. And that’s what makes his jokes about “Slumdog Millionaire” all the more funny.

Give Ansari a chance, and you may not have a sensual evening, but you’ll have a funny one.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Not a whole lot. Unlike many comedians out there, I really don’t have a bone to pick with Ansari. Keep up the good work, man.

DVD FEATURES
The DVD comes with 30 minutes of additional footage, though it’s something a little more special than your run-of-the-mill bonus feature. Instead of just slapping some outtakes on the DVD, Ansari treats the audience to an intimate performance of old material that wouldn’t make the cut. It’s a pretty cool retrospective of his material, and it shows him in a less imposing situation.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of Aziz Ansari... and anyone who feels white guilt from “Slumdog Millionaire.”





"ARTIE LANGE: JACK AND COKE"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
    BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Not Rated
    Studio: Image Entertainment

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Many people will recognize Artie Lange from the Howard Stern Radio Show. Others might recognize him from the tabloids. Now, he’s got a new stand-up special in which the clean and sober Lange cuts deep into the crowd of New York City, skewering sacred cows and being just generally politically incorrect.

WHAT I LIKED
I’ve never been a big fan of Artie Lange, so this stand-up special had to win me over. The best part about it was that he managed to do so by the end of the night. I have respect for anyone who goes through the trials that he did and comes out alive on the other end. He has earned the right to say what he does on stage.

Ultimately, Lange doesn’t give a shit about what his critics or his audience have to say, and that’s what keeps him real. There’s an honesty in his stand-up, which might be brutish and crass, but it works for him.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Although I give Lange props for being able to stand up on stage and say whatever he wants to, I recognize that what he wants to say isn’t always that original or even funny. The first half of the show is really rough, and he falls onto crutches of creatively vacant profanity. But that New York City crowd seems to love him.

The production value of this DVD isn’t as good as other comedy shows I’ve seen recently, looking as slovenly as Lange’s appearance. Still, that’s understandable as this release is from a smaller production house.

DVD FEATURES
There’s a handful of additional features, including some self-congratulatory interviews with fans, a behind-the-scenes look at the show, plus some hecklers that Lange dispatches during the show. Additional features include songs from the pre-show with ReSurch as well as opening acts by Pete Dominick and Joe Materese.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of Artie Lange... and that’s about it.




    

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