Project Greenlight: The Complete 2nd SeasonMiramax
Movie (The Battle Of Shaker Heights) C+
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)
For some cockamamie reason, HBO decided to let Project Greenlight go to another network after its second mesmerizing season. (The series will continue on Bravo.) This is perhaps the best reality TV show out there, an addictive 13 episodes during which a contest winner takes $1 million and attempts to create a releasable motion picture for Miramax films. The first season produced Stolen Summer, a terrible movie that wasn't half as entertaining as the series that preceded it. The second-season result was the not-much-better The Battle of Shaker Heights, a movie that wastes the talents of actor Shia LaBeouf in a schmaltzy story about an alienated kid who likes to re-enact World War II battles. The film was directed by two men (Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle), and while they are talented individuals, the script--written by the supremely untalented Erica Beeney--was not a match for their creativity. Watching the directors do their best to change the script and remove Beeney from the process was one of the greater joys the behind-the-scenes series had to offer. Producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon sporadically grace the production with their presence, but it's producer Chris Moore, the bug-eyed nut, who most prominently represents the craziness of Hollywood.
Special Features:The three-disc set includes every episode of Season 2, as well as the filmmaker scenes that qualified the directors in the contest. The directors provide a decent audio commentary on Shaker Heights, but the audio levels are a bit messed up, making it hard to hear them at times. A special jump-to-scene feature allows you to access behind-the-scenes footage of various moments in the movie.
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra: Special EditionColumbia Tri Star
Special Features D
DVD Geek Factor 2 (out of 10)
This is a failed spoof of those cheesy Ed Wood science fiction films of yesteryear. While it's pretty funny for the first few minutes, it quickly becomes tedious as the production intentionally tries to be bad. While it has moments of inspiration--most of them involving deliberately unimpressive special effects--the script fails to keep the parody interesting. It looks more like a modern day black-and-white TV show than the Ed Wood replica it seeks to be. Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 might find value in this release, although that does not guarantee satisfaction--I am a MST3K fan and was not impressed.
Special Features: Cast and crew commentary and a blooper reel fail to make the package interesting.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 2Warner Brothers
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)
The second season of this extremely weird cartoon is encapsulated in this two-disc set. Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad set out on a new series of adventures that include mail-order brides, cows wearing diapers and getting eaten by snakes. An acquired taste, the production value is appropriately lousy, adding to the crazed spirit of the show. Master Shake has some of the greatest nonsensical dialogue on television today. While yours truly regards it as brilliant, catch a few airings on the Cartoon Network before making the purchase. You will know after two or three shows whether or not you are on the Aqua Teen wavelength.
Special Features: The creators give exquisite commentaries on select episodes, often involving frightening music. You will also find an episode of Space Ghost, called Baffler Meal, featuring embryonic versions of the Aqua Teens and an apocalyptic band wearing powdered wigs. Future Wolf, a strange sort of puppet show, provides the origins of Aqua Teen, and some deleted scenes are as bizarre as the stuff that made it to air.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Second SeasonHbo Video
Special Features Nada
DVD Geek Factor 2 (out of 10)
You should know that the second season of Larry David's eternally funny, wondrously evil television show has come to DVD. You should also know that, if you have a VCR or TiVo, purchasing this package might not be worth your while, for it is void of special things. Among the second-season highlights are bad visuals involving thongs and doll thievery. The mostly improvised dialogue has always worked nicely on this series, although Season 4 was a little more sinister than past accomplishments. David might want to calm it down a bit next year, or he'll alienate the entire planet.
Special Features: None, although the way the DVDs pull out of the box is kind of neat.