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Harvey (Blu-ray)

UNIVERSAL

MOVIE B

SPECIAL FEATURES C+

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 6

(OUT OF 10)

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The immortal James Stewart stars as Elwood P. Dowd, a jovial town drunkard with a 6-foot-plus imaginary rabbit named Harvey for a friend. Josephine Hull won a Supporting Actress Oscar for portraying Elwood's frustrated sister, Veta, and Stewart got a nomination for playing the polite and perhaps-confused Elwood.

I called Elwood a drunkard, but it's not like the film shows him stinking-drunk all of the time. This was made in 1950, so they are tame with that aspect of the story. Stewart plays it mostly straight and charming, with a few hints that his character is possibly super-drunk and hallucinating.

There's a comedic darkness to this story in the way it treats misunderstandings and mental illness. The movie was actually quite daring for its time.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There's not a lot, but there is a 1990 interview with James Stewart that is billed as an intro. (It's basically Stewart talking about how much he loved the film over a photo montage.) You also get a couple of featurettes about the movie moguls who have run Universal Studios in its 100 years. Stewart reprised his role more than 20 years later for a TV movie. Sadly, that's not included in this package.


The Office: Season Eight (Blu-ray)

UNIVERSAL

SHOW B

SPECIAL FEATURES B-

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 6.5

(OUT OF 10)

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The eighth season of this NBC show, the first without Steve Carell, turned out to be less of a showcase for newcomer James Spader and more of a chance for Ed Helms to take center stage.

Helms has done a good job, with the show still providing decent laughs on a weekly basis. While Carell's absence is definitely felt, Helms is a powerful player in his own right, as are remaining cast members like Craig Robinson, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer.

The episode storylines often lean toward the bizarre, including a strange Halloween episode, and another involving a goofy garden party. I like bizarre humor, and I appreciated stuff like the garden-party valet attendant driving everybody's cars into a cornfield so he could do stunts.

The upcoming ninth season will be the show's last. (Spader has already exited.) NBC apparently didn't learn its lesson when it did the Friends spinoff, Joey: The network will be spinning off Wilson's Dwight character for his own show based on his farm. Sounds promising ... in hell.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Nearly two hours of deleted scenes and bloopers, and some extended episode cuts.


The Dictator: Banned and Unrated (Blu-ray)

PARAMOUNT

MOVIE C

SPECIAL FEATURES C+

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 4.25

(OUT OF 10)

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Sacha Baron Cohen delivered his first stinker with this misguided attempt at political satire. With the title character, he's basically come up with somebody who isn't that funny—and teaming him with Anna Faris isn't exactly hot casting.

Cohen plays a dictator from a fictitious nation; he is looking to make nuclear bombs. He winds up in New York City, where his iconic beard is shaved, and he winds up lost.

The film actually gets slightly funnier in the unrated version, which includes an extra 15 minutes of footage—much of it good stuff. Still, it's not good enough to recommend. You will get a few sick laughs out, but mostly groans and, worse, yawns.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There's about a half-hour of deleted and extended scenes, and some extra footage of the Larry King interview that appears in the film.


The Rescuers: 35th Anniversary Edition (The Rescuers/The Rescuers Down Under) (Blu-ray)

WALT DISNEY

MOVIE B- (FOR BOTH FILMS)

SPECIAL FEATURES B-

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 6

(OUT OF 10)

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I was about 9 years old when The Rescuers hit theaters. For me, it was a dud, and it failed to grip me like other Disney flicks such as Dumbo or even Pete's Dragon. (Incidentally, Pete's Dragon came out in the same year and will get a Blu-ray in October. Hooray!)

The story of mice riding around on birds led to some so-so traditional animated work in The Rescuers, which was one of the last films to feature the work of Walt Disney's old-school animators, the "nine old men." It certainly has its charms, much of them owed to Eva Gabor and Bob Newhart, who voice the lead characters.

The Rescuers Down Under, although less-successful at the box office, was a landmark animated film in many ways, heavily utilizing digital art—although the story was a mess. It did feature the late John Candy's voice, so that was cool.

While these two films are weaker Disney fare, they are still pretty good, which is a testament to how good Disney animated films usually are.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The big extra would be "Peoplitis," a deleted song from The Rescuers played over some original storyboards. You also get "Three Blind Mouseketeers," a vintage animated short, and a real-life documentary about albatrosses.

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