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VideoView - UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United Press International   |   Jan. 10, 2002 at 12:02 PM   |   Comments

What's new on the home video scene...

Movies

"American Pie 2" -- The gang's all here again for a second helping of gross gags and crude, sex-obsessed humor which can be, at times, quite funny. The orignal made a lot of loot, hence the lightly plotted sequel from the same raunchy recipe. It's a year later and Jim (Jason Biggs) and his high school crassmates have finished their freshman college year and have rented a beach house hoping to party the summer away. "College men" or not, little has changed from high school days. Jim is still trying to get a little "experience" and things are still pretty much the same for Stifler (Seann William Scott), Paul (Eddie Kay Thomas), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Oz (Chris Klein) as well as the young women from the first movie, notably Tara Reid, Shannon Elizabeth, Mena Suvari and Allison Hannigan. 2001. 104 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated R (sexual content, nudity, language).


"Rat Race" -- A conniving Las Vegas casino magnate (John Cleese), looking for new ways to gamble for his compulsive, bet-on-anything high-rolling buddies, sends a group of randomly chosen people on a wild cross-country race for a $2 million payoff. Frantically, they take off in planes, trains and automobiles in a mad dash for Silver City, N.M., 563 miles away, where the winner-take-off bundle of cash is stashed in a locker. Their antics and misadventures offer some inspired nutty moments, like the two guys duking it out while hanging with a cow from a hot air balloon. There are also a few apparently obligatory crude jokes thrown in. It has a stellar ensemble, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Lovitz, Cuba Gooding Jr., Seth Green and Rowan Atkinson, the British comic known for his Mr. Bean travails. Funny and very entertaining. 2001. 112 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (sexual reference, crude humor, partial nudity, language).


"The Anniversary Party" -- This is the story of Joe and Sally, a Hollywood couple who decide to throw themselves a party celebrating the sixth anniversary of their turbulent marriage and their high-profile friends who join them. Joe (Alan Cumming) is a British novelist about to try his hand at directing and Sally (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a fading movie star, two talented souls about as insecure emotionally as the celebrities they invite to the party. All goes well for a time, the conversation flows, the evening glows. Then everything takes on a different glow when Ecstasy is passed around. From that point on, things get wacky and wicked, down and dirty, as the celebrants, whose lives are mired in make-believe, begin telling the truth. And it's almost too much. This is primarily the work of Cumming and Leigh, who wrote and directed the film as well as playing the two central characters, talking friends like Kevin Kline, Gwyneth Paltrow, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Beals and John Reilly into joining them in the 19-day shoot. 2001. 115 minutes. New Line Home Entertainment. Rated R (language, drug use and nudity).


"Tortilla Soup" -- A delightful, feel-good movie about the Mexican-American Naranjo family of East Los Angeles, headed by Martin, a master chef who prepares fantastic meal after meal for his brood. Martin (Hector Elizondo) is a widower caring for three daughters, all different, all determined, all looking for something, all still living at home. But that's about to change. Carmen, for example, is an outgoing hotshot businesswoman offered an attractive job in Barcelona. Leticia, the oldest, is a drab high school chemistry teacher until she meets the friendly coach. And teenager Maribel announces she's moving in with her boyfriend to discover who she really is. Not to be outdone, Martin is romancing a pretty neighbor but her husband-hunting mother (played flashily to the hilt by Raquel Welch) sets her sights on him, too. The script is adapted in part by Ang Lee from his "Eat Drink Man Woman," set in Tapei, and the transition from won ton to tortilla soup is a smooth one. It's a movie worth seeing and worth savoring. 2001. 102 minutes. Columbia Trtar Home Video. Rated PG-13 (sexual content).


VIDBITS

Coming up: "Rock Star," "Kiss of the Dragon," "American Rhapsody" and "Bubble Boy"... "Rush Hour 2" is still No. 1 among video rentals across the land...


He was called "the funniest man on earth," a "self-taught genius with words," one who "understood that art could be created out of the American language." Mark Twain was his name and humor was his game -- a man some say virtually invented American literature, a point brought home handsomely in Ken Burns' new riveting two-part, four-hour documentary, "Mark Twain," now on VHS and DVD from Warner and PBS. As Mark Twain he enjoyed great success as a writer and entertainer, the creator of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, whose tale made America take notice of its racial tensions, a "definitive parable" but one that got the book banned in hundreds of libraries across the country. On the other hand, as Samuel Clements, his real name, he was a spectacular inept businessman whose get-rich schemes nearly ruined the family time and again, and a man struck by tragedy. An exceptional study. (To be broadcast on PBS Jan. 14-15)...


Variety says DreamWorks' "Shrek" attracted sales of more than $420 million from better than 21 million VHS and DVD copies. That sends the jolly green ogre sailing past "Titanic" and into second place behind all-time leader "The Lion King"... VidTrac reports VHS and DVD rentals in 2001 made more money than theatrical box offices, $8.42 million to $8.13 million...


According to Universal, that vroooom you hear in the video stores is "The Fast and the Furious" digging out. The studio says 85 per cent of the copies of the super-charged street-racing thriller shipped to dealers were gone in the first five days... The special three-disc DVD presentation of "Pearl Harbor" is now set for July 2...

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