Upcoming DVD releases

By on November 9, 2005

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Deluxe Edition”

(PG, Warner Bros., Nov. 8)

The original “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is considered a classic in many circles, but it’s hopelessly out of its league against an update blessed by Tim Burton’s imaginative direction and Johnny Depp’s wild turn as Willy Wonka. The new “Factory” belongs on a shamefully short list of remakes that surpass their predecessors. Not only does Burton not bastardize the original _ almost every important scene is preserved _ but the film pays better tribute to Roald Dahl’s book by delving into Wonka’s origins and delivering the story’s proper ending. And of course, you get the requisite visual update. Wonka’s factory looked pretty sweet way back when; this time, it’s a gorgeous, full-blown caloric wonderland.

Extras: Dahl feature, Oompa-Loompa Dance game and three other games, seven behind-the-scenes features, five trading cards.


“Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical”

(R, Showtime, Nov. 8)

The 1936 anti-marijuana film “Reefer Madness” has more or less been begging for a good mocking for close to seven decades now. Why it took so long is anybody’s guess, but Showtime has balled that wait into a monster of a parody. “Madness” starts off as a straight riff on the original, the only real difference being that the cast (Kristen Bell, Ana Gasteyer, Christian Campbell, Alan Cumming and more) now breaks into song. But the ante progressively one-ups itself as things roll along, and the final stretch is a wicked blindside of madness that is so blatantly bizarre as to be a parody of parody. Despite the abundance of talent and artistry, “Madness” is easier to enjoy if you’ve seen and can reference the original. Fortunately, it’s included on the disc, so head to the special features section before watching the film.

Other extras: Cast commentary, behind-the-scenes feature, bios. Best of all: The DVD case smells like chocolate brownies.


“Beavis & Butthead: The Mike Judge Collection: Volume One” (NR, Paramount, Nov. 8)

Uh, huh huh, uh, remember these guys? They like to, uh, watch TV and stuff? Well, now you can watch them watch TV anytime you want. Creator/star Mike Judge has handpicked some of his favorite episodes (“the two-thirds that didn’t suck,” as he puts it) and included extended director’s cuts whenever possible. Highlights include the opening laughing episode, driver’s ed, drawing class and various abuses of Stewart (the kid in the Winger shirt) and Tom Anderson (undoubtedly the prelude to Hank Hill). You also get a collection of Beavis and Butthead’s music video commentaries, though they’re sorely underrepresented here. Maybe volume two will fix that, since these bits are arguably the funniest parts of the show. Includes 40 episodes (23 director’s cuts) and 11 videos, plus a behind-the-scenes feature, three MTV VMA skits (one with David Letterman), the Thanksgiving special with Kurt Loder, promo spots and two montages.


“Las Vegas: An Unconventional History”

(NR, PBS, Nov. 8)

This two-part, three-hour “American Experience” special is a fascinating look at one of the world’s most unlikely tourist attractions, detailing everything from the original groundbreaking to the “Disneyland or Sin City?” identity crisis the city faced only a few years back. Much has happened in between: Everyone from the Mob to Howard Hughes to a legion of bean counters have passed through, and it’s not a very pretty timeline. In other words, this video isn’t brought to you by the board of tourism. But anyone who loves the action will probably enjoy the story all the same. No extras.


“Jeopardy!: An Inside Look at America’s Favorite Quiz Show” (NR, Sony Pictures, Nov. 8)

Alex Trebek had the gall to call “Jeopardy!” America’s favorite quiz show during the opening moments of the premiere episode of the show’s syndicated run. How he knew that far ahead of time is a question only he can answer, but he clearly was right all along. This DVD collection includes five episodes, including the 1984 premiere, Ken Jennings’ defeat and the three-part Ultimate Tournament of Champions. But the real attractions are the three 20-minute features detailing the show’s history and how it comes together day after day. The show is clearly a labor of love for Trebek, who plays an integral role on the DVD and comes off as enthusiastic about the show today as he was 21 years ago.

Other extras: Multi-angle feature, which allows you to view six minutes of a show from five different angles.


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