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VideoView -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United Press International   |   May 29, 2003 at 10:30 AM   |   Comments

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

MOVIES

"About Schmidt" -- In a splendid job of being someone else, jaunty Jack Nicholson turns down all burners to become the shambling Warren Schmidt, who if he were a boat would be dead in the water. Warren's life has been in a structured drift for a long time, devoting much of his 66 years to work at an insurance company with very little else other than his small family, also in somewhat of a drift, no hobbies, no vices, no nothing. But life has suddenly taken a tumble. His wife of 40-something years has suddenly died, leaving him virtually helpless around the house. He has retired from the firm that no longer wants him around. His daughter, about to marry a waterbed salesman he considers a "nincompoop," has no time for him. He's alone and lonely, a nowhere man slouching unnoticed toward the unknown when the discovery of a family secret sends him roaring off on what to him is a great adventure, hitting the road in his bought-for-retirement but seldom used motor home. Along the way, Warren shows signs of stepping out of his own shadow when he agrees to "sponsor" a Tanzanian orphan, a little boy named Nidugu, and write him long letters about where he goes, what he sees and sometimes what he doesn't see as well. Later, joining his daughter (Hope Davis) for her wedding, he gets tangled up with the groom's lusty mother Roberta (Kathy Bates), his exact opposite, who shows him how to enjoy a hot tub. This film could have been a real downer but instead, in such capable hands as Nicholson, Bates and director-cowriter Alexander Payne, it all comes off as quite engaging, a neat balance between comedy and tragedy. 2002. 124 minutes. New Line Home Entertainment. Rated R (some language, brief nudity).


"Die Another Day" --- It is indeed another day for the indomitable James Bond in his 20th movie over a 41-year span with 007 showing little sign of slowing down in another flashy, explosive, wildly improbable action adventure. Pierce Brosnan returns for his fourth venture into Bondage in a timely tale of dark doings involving North Korea, showing a rare vulnerability as he takes his lumps early but true to form in romancing a new lovely called Jinx, played by Halle Berry. (Berry's bikini-clad emergence from the sea will remind Bond fans of Ursula Andress's similar introduction in the first Bond movie, 1962's "Dr. No.") Clearing his name against bogus charges with his boss M (Judi Dench) and armed with a new batch of gimmicks including an invisible car, Bond takes off after an international mogul (Toby Stephens), a typical world-dominating Bond villain with whom the North Koreans are allied and who has his own orbiting space mirror with which to cause havoc. The accent is on action with more great stunt work. Humor takes a back seat athough there are the usual sexual double-entendres bantered about. Preposterous, sure, but that makes it fun. 2002. 132 minutes. MGM Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (action violence and sexuality.


"National Security" -- Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn are Earl and Hank, a couple of combatants who become mismatched buddies in this moderately funny, raucous action comedy. Lawrence's Earl Montgomery is such an overzealous LAPD cadet that he gets booted out of the academy in an incident involving Zahn's dedicated cop Hank Rafferty. Earl responds by setting up Hank so that he loses his badge and goes to prison. Naturally they wind up working together as guards for the National Security Corp. and reluctantly go after a team of smugglers headed by tattooed, silver-haired Eric Roberts. 2003. 88 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (violence, language and some sensuality).


"The Guru" -- A sex-obsessed farce about a young actor from India who tries his hand in Hollywood and winds up as a famous, though thoroughly bogus, sexual adviser to lonely rich women. Ramu Gupta (Jimi Mistry) gets his how-to advice from a porn starlet (Heather Graham) and his clientele by way of a socialite (Marisa Tomei) whose dull life he sharpened. Has some funny moments but mostly just so-so. 91 minutes. Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Rated R (strong sexual content including dialogue, and for language).


VIDBITS

Coming up next: "Frida," the story of an extraordinary life starring Salma Hayek, the Bruce Willis war tale "Tears of the Sun" and the suspenseful thriller "They"... "Catch Me If You Can" is still running out front in the video rental derby this week...


"The Animatrix," new on DVD from Warner, is a mind-bending experience even if you're not a "Matrix" fan, though it helps. This is a collection of nine short anime films, a spectacular flood of wildly wayward images, conceived and produced by the Waschowski Brothers, creators of "The Matrix" trilogy, telling of the original war between man and machines which led to the creation of the Matrix...


Also new on DVD: "The Song of Bernadette" (Fox, 1944) starring Oscar-winning Jennifer Jones in an inspiring tale of a sickly teenage girl whose vision of a "beautiful lady" not only cures her but produces an apparently healing fountain for others, bringing on both ridicule and reverence...


"Death of the Incredible Hulk" (Fox) is the finale of the TV series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, released as an appetite whetter for the upcoming big screen version... "Finally Orange" (Paramount) recounts the unexpected drive by the Syracuse Orangemen to the NCAA basketball championship earlier this year...


Charlie Chaplin hits DVD on July 1 with four of his most popular films, "Gold Rush," "The Great Dictator," "Limelight" and "Modern Times" (from Warner)...


MGM has finally set a firm release date of Aug. 19 for Michael Moore's Academy Award winning documentary "Bowling for Columbine" on DVD and VHS. Among the extras, Moore comments on his furor-raising acceptance speech at the Oscar ceremony in which he declared, "We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president."

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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