|Annie (Special Anniversary Edition) (DVD released: 2004-01-13)|
Charmless and dull, this adaptation of the Broadway hit stars Aileen Quinn as the depression-era moppet, Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, Carol Burnett as the cruel headmistress at an orphanage, and Tim Curry as a villain. The film never gets its legs, and there is no sense of setting; it's almost as if the whole thing is happening in a void. John Huston nominally directed--no doubt to make money between his smaller, cheaper masterpieces--but one would have thought he would invest something of himself in here. --Tom Keogh
|The Jerk (26th Anniversary Edition) (DVD released: 2005-07-26)|
That wild and crazy guy, Steve Martin, makes his film-starring debut in the wacky comedy hit The Jerk. Steve portrays Navin Johnson, adopted son of a poor black sharecropper family, whose crazy inventions lead him from rags to riches and right back to rags. Along the way, he's smitten with a lady motorcycle racer, survives a series of screwball attacks by a deranged killer, becomes a millionaire by inventing the "Opti-grab" handle for glasses - and shows why he's one of the hottest comic performers in the world.
|Clint Eastwood Collection: Pink Cadillac (DVD released: 2003-09-02)|
A comic action-adventure about a modern-day bounty hunter chasing down a bail-jumping woman fleeing her ex-con husband in his prized 1959 pink cadillac.
|Slaves of New York (DVD released: 2005-07-26)|
Eleanor lives with the artist Stash. Just like his artist friends, he is completely unknown but is waiting for the big break. Stash is mean to her and finally she leaves him. Ironically, she gets her big break - as a hat designer.
|Pennies From Heaven (DVD released: 2004-07-27)|
During the Great Depression, a married sheet-music salesman falls in love with another woman and uses cheery songs from that era to imagine a better life for himself.
|The Jerk (DVD released: 1998-04-29)|
Amazon.com essential video:
Carl Reiner (Where's Poppa?) brought comic Steve Martin to the screen in this mostly funny 1979 movie about a relentlessly stupid but innocent man, whom we get to know from childhood (where it never occurred to him that he was white as he was raised by a family of black sharecroppers) to romance (where he doesn't quite know what to do with Bernadette Peters). Martin is game as the moron, and this is the kind of film with funny moments people still talk about. --Tom Keogh
|The Longest Yard (DVD released: 2001-01-30)|
Director Robert Aldrich had a knack for depicting outsiders with originality and authenticity. Much like The Dirty Dozen, The Longest Yard is a popular fable about integrity and group unity. It possesses a requisite toughness along with the loneliness that accompanies the outsider status. Compromise is never easy in an Aldrich film. There's always a bitter price to pay.
Burt Reynolds, in peak form, plays a former pro quarterback ostracized for shaving points. After beating up his girlfriend and resisting arrest, Reynolds winds up in prison, where he's taunted by warden Eddie Albert to help his semiprofessional team of guardsmen win a championship. Naturally, the inmates despise Reynolds, and naturally he redeems himself in one of the great movie football matches of all time. --Bill Desowitz
|It Runs in the Family (DVD released: 2003-10-21)|
Three generations of the Douglas clan--old-time star Kirk, Michael of Fatal Attraction and Wonder Boys, and movie newcomer Cameron--star in It Runs in the Family. Alex Gromberg (Michael) is a high-powered lawyer who works for a firm co-founded by his father Mitchell (Kirk), who's recovering from a stroke, while Alex's son Asher (Cameron) is dealing pot and flunking out of his senior year in college. The movie moves between the three men's relationships with women and each other. Surprisingly, It Runs in the Family isn't as much of a vanity project as it seems; though some implausible elements serve only to flatter the stars (wealthy lawyer Alex volunteers at a soup kitchen for the homeless, where a babelicious co-worker throws herself at him), most of the script is solidly written and the parent-child conflicts ring true. Also featuring Bernadette Peters and Rory Culkin. --Bret Fetzer
|Impromptu (DVD released: 2002-03-19)|
Still more Victorian country-house shenanigans: novelist George Sand (Judy Davis, affected but pretty darn charming) has eyes for Franz Liszt's young protégé Chopin (Hugh Grant, solid as always, but burdened by a silly Polish accent and a script that never lets him stretch out), but various lovers, jealous rivals, and Chopin's own overdeveloped sense of propriety conspire to confound her. Impromptu is witty but overlong--probably 20 minutes of hijinks and repartee, not to mention several completely gratuitous and redundant characters, could have been sliced from the film. Davis plays Sand as an impetuous, overgrown tomboy, outraging her genteel hosts by wearing pants, chomping cigars, and falling off horses; her coterie of artist-friends assure us, in a series of naked plot devices, that she nonetheless has a heart of gold. It's all good silly fun, and about as feminist as your average Def Leppard video--the other two developed female characters are ugly stereotypes: a featherbrained, feckless social climber (Emma Thompson, who once again proves she's up for anything) and a spiteful, back-stabbing shrew (the ever-capable Bernadette Peters). Director James Lapine clearly belongs to the Dr. Quinn school of historical accuracy, so don't expect to learn anything about the period or the artists themselves. Impromptu is far more Melrose Place than Mrs. Dalloway, or perhaps best described as an episode of Entertainment Tonight set in the 19th century. --Miles Bethany
|Alice (DVD released: 2001-06-05)|
Alice is one of Woody Allen's more grounded whimsies, though viewers with a low tolerance for feyness might miss it. Here goes Mia Farrow again as a nattering Manhattanite with a girlie-girlie voice and a well-to-do husband of 16 years (a stockbroker played by William Hurt) who doesn't always notice whether she's in the room. One day a back pain sends her up a dim staircase in Chinatown to see an acupuncturist (the valedictory role of the beloved Keye Luke). He has quite a bag of tricks--including hypnosis and a versatile assortment of herbal teas--and enough insight to recognize that Alice's troubles lie somewhere other than her sacroiliac. Under Dr. Yang's ministrations, Alice goes on a Wonderland voyage through her own life, fantasizing about having an affair with a dusky stranger (Joe Mantegna), flitting about Manhattan as an invisible spirit, and--most unlikely of all--talking straight with her various relatives, past and present.
Like so many Allen films, Alice wavers between scenes imagined with deftness and precision (like Farrow and Mantegna's astonished mutual seduction) and other scenes and notions that are merely touched upon and then abandoned before they can develop any rhythm and complexity, persuade you they were worth including, and justify the presence of so many nifty performers--Judy Davis, Judith Ivey, Gwen Verdon, Robin Bartlett, Alec Baldwin, Holland Taylor, Cybill Shepherd, Blythe Danner, Julie Kavner, Caroline Aaron--who mostly wink in and out again as cameos. Nevertheless, almost all Woody's looking glasses are worth passing through at least once. --Richard T. Jameson
|Faerie Tale Theatre - Sleeping Beauty (DVD released: 2004-11-16)|
A princess who has been put into a deep sleep by an evil fairy is awakened one hundred years later by the kiss of a prince.
|Bobbie's Girl (2002)|
Two middle-aged Lesbians (Peters and Ward) find their lives complicated when one of them (Ward) takes in her ten-year-old nephew (Sangster).
|Let It Snow (2001)|
Our two young lovers meet on a series of snowy days in high school. Years later they reconnect in Manhattan, but life is more complicated. Sarah sleeps with her beeper. James goes to "open-mike therapy". As Sarah plans her wedding to someone else, James prays for snow and a second chance at first love.
Val and Aqua are two household servant robots who start feeling emotions for each other. After falling in love, they decide to escape from their servitude and attempt to start a family of their own.
|Silent Movie (1976)|
Aspiring filmmakers Mel Funn, Marty Eggs and Dom Bell go to a financially troubled studio with an idea for a silent movie. In an effort to make the movie more marketable, they attempt to recruit a number of big name stars to appear, while the studio's creditors attempt to thwart them. The film contains only one word of dialogue, spoken by an unlikely source.