VideoView -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United Press International   |   April 25, 2002 at 11:09 AM

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


"Ali" -- Bulked up and with all the moves and emotions down pat, Will Smith makes a good Muhammad Ali in Michael Mann's engaging but somewhat restrained look at 10 tumultuous years in the life of the heavyweight champ. The film opens with Ali, as Cassius Clay, defeating Sonny Liston for the title in 1964 and carries him over the next decade, as Ali, to the pinnacle of his success, perhaps America's best-known person, to the "Rumble in the Jungle" bout with George Foreman in Zaire and a stinging TKO by the U.S. government. Ali's strict personal code led him to refuse induction into the Army during the Vietnam War even though the Army had promised him a "sweetheart" deal, the movie points out, a stand that cost him dearly. The fight scenes are well staged but there are only flashes of the old Ali playfulness. Out of the ring, he's shown as largely subdued, meditative. A casting curiosity, but one that worked very well, is that of Jon Voight as sportscaster Howard Cosell who took an almost parental interest in Ali, and a character Voight captures, right down to the toupee. Jamie Foxx is also noteworthy as Brundini, Ali's self-destructive right-hand man. 2001. 157 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Rated R (some language, brief violence).

"Not Another Teen Movie" -- Not only is this another teen movie, it's a spoof of other teen movies, which means another carload of clichés and the expected stereotypes running around doing expected things amid gross-out situations with only rare genuinely funny moments. A takeoff on "She's All That," but with nods to everything from "American Pie" to "Freddie gets Fingered," the story focuses on Janey (Chyler Leigh), the nerdy girl who's really gorgeous when she takes off her glasses, and Jake (Chris Evans), the traditional handsome jock who bets his buddies he can make the woeful Janey the prom queen. Of course, he falls for her and --- you know the rest. 2001. 82 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Rated R (strong crude sexual content and humor, language and some drug content).

"The Learning Curve" -- Two young people, Paul (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Georgia (Monet Mazur) are pulled into a life of crime after a chance meeting but their minor league scams suddenly grow dangerous when they join up with the wrong guy. They believe their gambit is beginning to pay off when they snare a tall, well-dressed man named Marshal (Vincent Ventresca) in a staged car accident. But Marshal snares them instead, roping them into his own high-powered scheme that involves building a huge entertainment center in downtown Los Angeles despite official rejection, a plan that could ruin a few lives and mean trouble all around. Writer-director Eric Schwab has concocted an engrossing movie that has a lot of drive but little that's new. 2001. 97 minutes. MGM Home Entertainment. Rated R (language, violence, some sexuality and drug content).

"Cruel and Unusual" -- Tom Berenger plays Adam, a stranger in a small Oregon town who identifies himself as an English professor working on his first novel. A likely story but one that suits Kate O'Connor (Rachel Hayward), grieving with her brother over the loss of their father. She invites him into their lives but that proves quickly to be a major mistake for, as we figured, he's a serial killer and her chapter is coming up. 2001. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Rated R (language, sexuality).


"Spy Game" is the hottest video rental this week... Next up: "Ocean's Eleven," updating the old Rat Pack caper with George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon... Biggest entry in the upcoming May lineup: "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" on the 28th... Others include "The Others" with Nicole Kidman and "From Hell," the Jack the Ripper tripper with Johnny Depp on May 14 and "Vanilla Sky" with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz and "Lantana" on May 21...

For friends of "Friends," your day is almost here. As the popular TV sitcom prepares for a ninth and supposedly final season, fans will get a chance to see again how it all began. The complete first season of the show, all 24 episodes, about 10 hours of programming, is being released April 30 in a four-disc DVD set, from Warner. Extras include a commentary on the pilot episode showing how the gang got together, guest star moments, a trivia quiz, and cast info. The six characters -- played by Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox-Arquette, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc -- have managed to stir up all sorts of problems alone and with each other and yet stay friends. And, above all, stay fresh and attractive...

Sylvester Stallone will be saluted by the Video Software Dealers Association as the "Action Star of the Millennium" at the VSDA convention July 16-18 in Las Vegas. "I'm very, very humbled by that," Stallone told Video Premieres magazine. Sly's "The Rambo Trilogy" comes out on DVD May 28...

Variety reports DVD rentals are at an all-time high -- way high -- for the first quarter of this year. Americans have spent more than $633.7 million on DVD rentals this quarter -- a 120 per cent increase over the same period a year ago and more revenue than for the whole year of 2000...

Saving the world sometimes can be too much for just one superhero. That sounds like a job for Superman... and Batman... and Wonder Woman. Also, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter. They all get together, in a manner of speaking, as the "Justice League," a feature-length animated adventure in its video debut, pitting the really good guys against some really bad dudes, alien and otherwise...

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