OnVideo JANUARY Video Reviews
The resolutely single, retired ex-computer magnate Don Johnston has just been dumped by his latest lover, Sherry. Don yet again resigns himself to being alone and left to his own devices. Instead, he is compelled to reflect on his past when he receives by mail a mysterious pink letter. It is from an anonymous former lover and informs him that he has a 19-year-old son who may now be looking for his father. Don is urged to investigate this "mystery" by his closest friend and neighbor, Winston, an amateur sleuth and family man. Hesitant to travel at all, Don nonetheless embarks on a cross-country trek in search of clues from four former flames. Unannounced visits to each of these unique women hold new surprises for Don as he haphazardly confronts both his past and, consequently, his present.
Director: Jim Jarmusch. Stars: Bill Murray, Julie Delpy, Jeffrey Wright, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 106 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $13.736 million, (Universal), $29.98 VHS SRP, Available: 1/3.
Sci-fi Horror film about professional divers caught in a vast, underwater cave network littered with bloodthirsty creatures. Deep in the Romanian forest, a team of scientists stumbles upon the ruins of a 13th century Abbey. On further inspection, they make a startling discovery -- the Abbey is built over the entrance to a giant underground cave system. Local biologists believe the cave could be home to an undiscovered eco-system, so they hire a group of American cave-explorers to help them investigate its depths. Jack (Cole Hauser) is a professional cave diver and leads the explorers. The group is comprised of Charlie (Piper Perabo), a professional diver; Top (Morris Chestnut), a former soldier; Jack's brother Tyler (Eddie Cibrian); Kim (Daniel Dae Kim), a photographer; Kathryn (Lena Headey), a scientist; Dr. Nicolai (Marcel Iures), a professor; and Briggs (Rick Ravanello). Together, they embark on a scientific journey, only to find the eco-system below the earth harbors an entirely unknown species.
Director: Bruce Hunt. Stars: Cole Hauser, Morris Chestnut, Lena Headey, Piper Perabo, Eddie Cibrian, Rick Ravanello, Marcel Iures, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Daniel Day Kim. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 97 min.), Thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $14.888 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/3.
CONSTANT GARDENER, THE
Based on the best-selling John le Carre novel and from the Academy Award-nominated director of "City of God." In a remote area of Northern Kenya, the region's most dedicated activist, the brilliant and passionate Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz), has been found brutally murdered. Tessa's traveling companion, a local doctor, appears to have fled the scene, and the evidence points to a crime of passion. Sandy Woodrow (Danny Huston), Sir Bernard Pellegrin (Bill Nighy) and the other members of the British High Commission assume that Tessa's widower, their mild-mannered and unambitious colleague Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), will leave the matter to their discretion. They could not be more wrong. This career diplomat's equilibrium has been exploded by the loss of the woman he was deeply devoted to. They were opposites whose attraction sustained a marriage, the memories of which now spur Justin to take decisive action for the first time in his life and diplomatic career. Haunted by remorse and jarred by rumors of his wife's infidelities, Justin surprises himself by plunging headlong into a dangerous odyssey. Determined to clear his wife's name and "finish what she started," Justin embarks on a crash course to learn about the pharmaceutical industry, whose crimes Tessa was on the verge of uncovering, and journeys across two continents in search of the trust. His eyes are soon opened to a vast conspiracy at once deadly and commonplace, one that has claimed innocent lives -- and is about to put his own at risk.
Director: Fernando Meirelles. Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Hubert Kounde, Danny Huston, Daniele Harford. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 129 min.), Thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $33.221 million, (Universal), $29.98 VHS SRP, Available: 1/10.
It's homecoming weekend at Roosevelt High School and rumors are spreading fast about the legendary Dirty Deeds -- 10 increasingly outrageous and raucous challenges that have to be completed from dusk to dawn on Friday night. No one has attempted the Deeds for 15 years and for good reason: the last guy to try was never heard from or seen again. Now Roosevelt senior Zach (Milo Ventimiglia) faces the ultimate challenge from his arch-rival, football team captain Dan Lawton. In a moment of inspired chivalry to win the heart of the stunning and hard-to-get Meg (Lacey Chabert), Zack decides to be the first guy to complete the mythical quest and live to tell about it. The first deed is easy, involving a can of beer and a minor brush with local law enforcement. But things soon spiral out of control, and the Deeds quickly take Zach on an unpredictable adventure. Taunted by Lawton, Zach finds himself contending with stolen cars, dead bodies, the bra of Roosevelt's former homecoming queen, a ferocious mob boss, a dim-witted cop and a persistent vice principal. Zach's confidence begins to fade, but his determination is revived when Meg makes clear how impressed she has been with his courage under fire. But even Meg's affection may not be enough to get Zach through the last of the Dirty Deeds.
Director: David Kendall. Stars: Milo Ventimiglia, Lacey Chabert, Charles Durning, Matthew Carey, Alex Solowitz, Zoe Saldana. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 85 min.), Teen action comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $0.145 million, (Freestyle Home Entertainment), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/10.
ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM
Inside story of one of history's greatest business scandals, in which top executives of America's seventh largest company walked away with over $1 billion while investors and employees lost everything. Based on the best-selling book "The Smartest Guys in the Room" by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind and featuring insider accounts and incendiary corporate audio and videotapes, director Alex Gibney reveals the almost unimaginable personal excesses of the Enron hierarchy and the utter moral vacuum that posed as corporate philosophy. The film comes to a harrowing denouement as we hear Enron traders' own voices as they wring hundreds of millions of dollars in profits out of the California energy crisis. As a result, we come to understand how the avarice of Enron's traders and their bosses had a shocking and profound domino effect that may shape the face of our economy for years to come. January 17 is the date set for the fraud and conspiracy trial of Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling.
Jodie Foster stars as Kyle Pratt, an aircraft designer who is on a trans-Atlantic flight with her 6-year-old daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston). While cruising at 40,000 feet in a state-of-the-art aircraft, Julia mysteriously vanishes. Kyle is stunned to discover that the crew does not even remember her daughter being on the plane, and realizes that she must rely entirely on herself to solve the mystery and find her daughter.
Director: Robert Schwentke. Stars: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean, Kate Beahan, Michael Irby, Assaf Cohen, Erika Christensen. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min.), Thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $88.817 million, (Buena Vista), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/24.
A remake of the 1980 horror classic. Exactly 100 years ago, off the rocky shore of an isolated Northern California town, a ship of lepers was horribly wrecked in an eerie fog when the founders of the town purposefully misguided the ship, dooming everyone aboard. Now, tonight, the ghosts of the long-dead mariners have returned from their watery graves to exact revenge. Shrouded within a supernatural fog, the ghosts trap the residents of the remote community, intent on seeking out the descendants of those who founded the town ... and killing anyone who stands in their murderous path.
Director: Rupert Wainwright. Stars: Tom Welling, Maggie Grace, Selma Blair, DeRay Davis, Kenneth Welsh, Adrian Hough, Sara Botsford. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 100 min.), Horror thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $28.001 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/24.
A film about the transformative power of faith and forgiveness. Set in the impassioned world of the African-American church, "The Gospel" tells the story of David Taylor (Boris Kodjoe), a dynamic young R&B star whose chart-topping albums have earned him fame and wealth, but whose decadent lifestyle has estranged him from his father (Clifton Powell), the Bishop of his hometown church. When David learns his father is ill and near death, he returns home to try and reconcile and discovers his former best friend, Charles (Idris Elba), is poised to become his father's successor at the church -- and threatens to ruin everything David's father worked so hard to achieve. Torn between his successful new life and the one he used to know, David has to decide whether he can give up his own desires to protect his father's legacy and make peace with his family, his beliefs, and, ultimately, himself.
Director: Rob Hardy. Stars: Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba, Clifton Powell, Aloma Wright, Donnie McClurkin, Omar Gooding, Tamyra Gray, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Nona Gaye. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 105 min.), Drama with music, 2005, Box office gross: $15.514 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/3.
HUSTLE & FLOW
Redemptive story of a streetwise Memphis hustler trying to find his voice and realize his long-buried dreams. Though DJay (Terrence Howard) has always had a way with words, that gift has long been misused; this philosopher-hustler lives a dead-end life at the fringes of society. Anything more feels out of reach. Still, DJay wonders what happened to all the big dreams he had for his life. A chance encounter with an old friend, Key (Anthony Anderson), a sound engineer who has always wanted to make it in the music business, spurs DJay: if he's ever going to make his mark, it has to happen now. He begins to write down his freestyle raps and the two team up with Shelby (DJ Qualls), a church musician with a beat machine, to lay down bass-thumping crunk tracks. With the impending visit to Memphis of hometown platinum-selling rapper Skinny Black (Ludacris), DJay has to make one last hustle if he's ever going to flow.
Director: Craig Brewer. Stars: Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji P. Henson, DJ Qualls, Paula Jai Parker, Elise Neal, Isaac Hayes, Ludacris. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 116 min.), Musical drama, 2005, Box office gross: $22.125 million, (Paramount), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/10.
IN HER SHOES
Story of two sisters with nothing in common but size 8 1/2 feet. Maggie and Rose Feller are both best friends and polar opposites when it comes to values, goals and personal style. Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is a party girl who barely graduated from high school, recycles jobs as quickly as yesterday's newspapers and believes her biggest asset is her attractiveness to the opposite sex. Her recurring state of unemployment leaves her virtually homeless as she bounces between the sofas of her friends and relatives. With no confidence in her intellectual ability, she prizes makeup over books and has an innate talent for choosing the perfect accessories and clothes for any occasion. Rose (Toni Collette) is a Princeton educated attorney at a top law firm in Philadelphia. Her beautifully decorated prewar apartment is her haven from the outside world. With her nose perpetually to the grindstone, she struggles constantly with her weight and never feels comfortable in the clothes she wears. Her low self esteem regarding her physical appearance has left her dating life non-existent. Rose's one joy in life is shoes (because they always fit), but unfortunately she has few social opportunities to remove them from her closet. After a calamitous falling out, the two sisters travel a bumpy road toward true appreciation for one another -- aided along the way by the discovery of the maternal grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) they thought was dead. Through their re-connection with their grandmother, Ella, Maggie and Rose learn how to make peace with themselves and with each other.
Director: Curtis Hanson. Stars: Cameron Diaz, Anson Mount, Toni Collette, Shirley MacLaine. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $32.625 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/31.
When Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz), a British-born dealer in regional, "outsider" art, travels from Chicago to North Carolina to pursue a local painter for her gallery, she and her brand-new, younger husband George (Alessandro Nivola) extend the trip to include an introduction to his family: his prickly mother Peg; his taciturn father Eugene; his angry younger brother Johnny (Ben McKenzie) who has always suffered in the shadow of his over-achieving brother; and Johnny's very pregnant and innocently garrulous wife Ashley (Amy Adams). Although Ashley immediately takes to the sophisticated Madeleine and embraces her as a sister, the other members of George's family, especially his mother, are less than receptive. With George falling into this old routine of spending time alone, Madeleine relies almost entirely on Ashley to help her navigate the family dinners, church meetings and Ashley's baby shower, all while desperately trying to close the deal on the artist. Tensions mount when Ashley goes into labor and each family member's priorities are confronted.
Director: Phil Morrison. Stars: Amy Adams, Ben McKenzie, Alessandro Nivola, Embeth Davidtz, Scott Wilson. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 107 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $2.611 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/17.
LEGEND OF ZORRO, THE
Having spent the last 10 years fighting injustice and cruelty, Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) is now facing his greatest challenge: his loving wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) has thrown him out of the house. Elena has filed for divorce and found comfort in the arms of Count Armand (Rufus Sewell), a dashing French aristocrat. But Alejandro knows something she doesn't: Armand is the evil mastermind behind a terrorist plot to destroy the United States. And so, with his marriage and country's future at stake, it's up to Zorro to try and save two unions
Director: Martin Campbell. Stars: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell, Adrian Alonso, Alberto Reyes. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 130 min.), Action, 2005, Box office gross: $45.005 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/31.
LORD OF WAR
Action adventure set in the world of international arms dealing. The film, based on fact, follows the globetrotting exploits of arms dealer Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage). Through some of the deadliest war zones, Yuri struggles to stay one step ahead of a relentless Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke), his business rivals, even some of his customers who include many of the world's most notorious dictators. Finally, Yuri must also face his own conscience.
Director: Andrew Niccol. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Bridget Moynahan, Jared Leto, Ethan Hawke, Eamonn Walker, Shake Tukhmanyan, Jean-Pierre Nshanian, Ian Holm. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 122 min.), Action, 2005, Box office gross: $24.127 million, (Lions Gate), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/17.
A Federal Agent turns up dead on the mean streets of Detroit. When it's learned that the Agent was 'on the take' in a multi-million dollar arms heist, all eyes turn toward his partner, Derrick Vann (Samuel L. Jackson) a hardcore undercover Federal Agent known for his untrusting, street-wise style. Vann's given 24 hours to recover the stolen arms and find the cop killers, but he's about to stumble upon an unlikely ally ... Enter Andy Fiddler (Eugene Levy) an affable dental supply salesman in town for a two-day convention. When the bad guys mistake Andy to be the buyer in a stolen arms deal, Vann is forced to use the talkative salesman as 'the face' of his sting operation. With the clock ticking, this unlikely duo speed through the streets of Detroit in an adventure that uncovers much more than they could have ever anticipated. Including laughs.
Director: Les Mayfield. Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Eugene Levy, Miguel Ferrer, Luke Goss, Anthony Mackie, Susie Essman. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 84 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $8.326 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/17.
MY DATE WITH DREW
Since the second grade, Brian Herzlinger has had a crush on Drew Barrymore. Now, 20 years later he wants to fulfill his dream by asking her on a date. This document of his dream was shot entirely for $1,100 that Herzlinger won on a game show. The production used a camera purchased on credit from Circuit City, and then returned under the store's 30-day refund policy. On his journey to woo Drew, Herzlinger consults a psychic for love advice, hires a Drew look-alike to practice his date etiquette and crashes the world premiere of "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" simply to steal a glance at his dream girl. Supporting Herzlinger's quest with anecdotes and advice are several Hollywood insiders who appear as themselves including Eric Roberts, Corey Feldman and "Charlie's Angels" screenwriter John August. A delightful, whimsical, charming film that, alternately, gives insight into our celebrity obsessed culture and proves that anything is possible in Hollywood.
Director: Jon Gunn, Brian Herzlinger. Stars: Brian Herzlinger, John August, Stephanie Bedell, Sara Berkowitz. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 90 min.), Documentary, 2005, Box office gross: $0.085 million, (First Look Home Entertainment), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/3.
Roman Polanski directs the classic Charles Dickens story of a young orphan boy who gets involved with a gang of pickpockets in 19th Century London. Abandoned at an early age, Oliver Twist (Barney Clark) is forced to live in a workhouse lorded over by the awful Mr. Bumble, who cheats boys of their meager rations. Desperate yet determined, Oliver makes his escape to the streets of London. Penniless and alone, he is lured into a world of crime by the sinister Fagin (Ben Kingsley) -- the mastermind of a gang of pint-sized pickpockets. Oliver's rescue by the kindly Mr. Brownlow is only the beginning of a series of adventures that lead him to the promise of a better life.
Director: Roman Polanski. Stars: Ben Kingsley, Barney Clark, Leanne Rowe, Mark Strong, Jamie Foreman, Harry Eden. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $1.987 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/24.
Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) hates to fly, but the terror that awaits her on the night flight to Miami has nothing to do with a fear of flying. Upon boarding the plane, Lisa is pleasantly surprised to find that she is seated next to Jackson (Cillian Murphy), the seemingly charming man with whom she had shared a drink -- and perhaps even a brief flirtation -- in the airport terminal. But moments after takeoff, Jackson drops his facade and menacingly reveals the real reason he's on board: He is an operative in a plot to kill the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security ... and Lisa is the key to its success. If she refuses to cooperate, her own father will be killed by an assassin awaiting a call from Jackson. Trapped within the confines of a jet at 30,000 feet, Lisa has nowhere to run and no way to summon help without endangering her father, her fellow passengers and her own life. As the miles tick by, Lisa knows she is running out of time as she desperately looks for a way to thwart her ruthless captor and stop a terrible murder.
Director: Wes Craven. Stars: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox, Jayma Mays. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 85 min.), Thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $57.859 million, (DreamWorks), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/10.
At the age of 17, Justin Cobb (Lou Pucci) still sucks his thumb. Worried that his childish habit is disrupting his family, his love life and his identity, he decides to stop. Hoping that quitting his crutch will make him feel "normal," he turns to hypnosis therapy administered by his free-spirited orthodontist (Keanu Reeves). Meanwhile, on the home front, Justin's father, a disgruntled ex-football player, is ashamed of his son's thumbsucking. His mother, like Justin, is struggling to discover who she is and how she became a "grown-up." After being diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin, Justin becomes more focused and evolves into a debate superstar. When he realizes his newfound success is not helping his popularity or home life, Justin turns to prescription drugs and sex to replace his thumb.
Director: Mike Mills. Stars: Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Vince Vaughn, Keanu Reeves, Benjamin Bratt. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 96 min.), Black comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $1.305 million, (Sony), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/24.
TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE
Set in a 19th century European village, this stop-motion, animated feature follows the story of Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp), a young man who is whisked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious Corpse Bride, while his real bride, Victoria, waits bereft in the land of the living. Though life in the Land of the Dead proves to be a lot more colorful than his strict Victorian upbringing, Victor learns that there is nothing in this world, or the next, that can keep him away from his one true love.
In a small, gloomily repressed Victorian town, two shy young people are set to be wed -- although they've never before met. Crass, social-climbing canned fish tycoons Nell and William Van Dort (voiced by Tracey Ullman and Paul Whitehouse) have always dreamt of joining high society -- but while they're not lacking in wealth, they're sorely lacking in the requisite class. Conversely, old-money aristocrats Maudeline and Finis Everglot (voiced by Joanna Lumley and Albert Finney), direct descendants of the Duke of Everglot -- as they will freely profess to anyone who will listen -- are full of class but drained of cash. Their money has long ago dried up, and all they have left of worth is their name and social standing -- and, as it turns out, their daughter Victoria (voiced by Emily Watson). While they've never seen much worth in her, she may just be their ticket back up the social ladder, as it seems the Van Dorts have a bachelor son, Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp). Victor and Victoria first set eyes on each other on the eve of their wedding, when the families gather for a proper introduction between the soon-to-be-newlyweds, to be immediately followed by a wedding rehearsal. While it's difficult to say who is shyer, upon their first meeting it seems p/ossible that against all odds, Victor and Victoria's chance for true love may not have been lost. But at the rehearsal, Victor bungles his vows so badly -- even before he accidentally lights his future mother-in-law's dress on fire -- that Pastor Galswells (voiced by Christopher Lee) sends him away until he can manage to learn his lines correctly.
Humiliated, he wanders off into the dark forest surrounding the village. Once he is alone, he is able to recite his vows perfectly, even going so far as to gently place the wedding ring on the root of a tree as a finishing touch. But it isn't a root after all. Terrifyingly, the strange and beautiful decaying corpse of a woman wearing the tattered remains of a wedding gown rises up from the ground, wearing Victoria's ring on her bony finger. It seems that Victor has unwittingly betrothed himself to the Corpse Bride (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter). Ever since she was mysteriously murdered on her wedding night, the Corpse Bride has waited, heartbroken, for her groom to come and claim her. While her heart may have stopped beating long ago, her search for true love, and a husband to share her eternal rest with, has never ended. Victor has mistakenly become that groom, and is dragged down beneath the earth to the Land of the Dead, a rowdy reversal of the staid life he has always known -- in the Land of the Dead, the pubs are always open and the corpses are more lively than anything you will find aboveground in the dull and somber Land of the Living. Victor tries in vain to find his way back to Victoria, who is waiting bereft in the Land of the Living, somehow unable to convince anyone that a dead woman has dragged her fiance off to the underworld. Instead of helping their daughter, the Everglots hastily arrange a second wedding, this time to the mysterious and sinister Barkis Bittern (voiced by Richard E. Grant), who just happens to be in the right place at the right time to take Victoria's hand ... While the Corpse Bride is determined not to let him escape the bonds of their unholy matrimony, Victor must find a way to return from the Land of the Dead, and back into the arms of the love of his life.
Director: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson. Stars: Voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman, Paul Whitehouse, Joanna Lumley, Albert Finney, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Jane Horrocks, Danny Elfman. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 76 min.), Animated, 2005, Box office gross: $52.506 million, (Warner), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/31.
Jason Statham returns in his signature role: ex-Special Forces operative Frank Martin, aka "The Transporter," who hires himself out as a mercenary transporter who moves goods -- human or otherwise. Very simply, he delivers ... no questions asked. Frank has relocated from the French Mediterranean to Miami, where as a favor to a friend he is driving for the wealthy Billings family. There's very little that can surprise The Transporter, but young Jack Billings has done just that; Frank has unexpectedly bonded with Jack, age 6, whom he drives to and from school. But when Jack is kidnapped, Martin must use all his skills to bring him to safety and thwart the kidnappers' master plan to release a virus that will kill anyone with whom it comes in contact.
Director: Louis Leterrier. Stars: Jason Statham, Alessandro Gassman, Amber Valletta, Kate Nauta, Matthew Modine, Jason Flemyng, Keith David. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 87 min.), Action thriller, 2005, Box office gross: $42.668 million, (Fox), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/10.
TWO FOR THE MONEY
High stakes drama set in the adrenalized world of wheeler-dealers whose fortunes are won and lost betting on sports. Matthew McConaughey stars as Brandon Lane, a former college football star whose uncanny ability to predict the outcome of a game introduces him to an unexpected new career when his gridiron glory is sidelined by a crushing injury. Brandon's talent makes him a prime candidate for recruitment by Walter Abraham (Al Pacino), the head of one of the biggest sports consulting operations in the country. Walter hires the small town ex-athlete and grooms him into a shrewd front man. Brandon soon begins to enjoy his status as a Manhattan golden boy and finds himself growing comfortable with Walter's high-rolling lifestyle. The surrogate father/surrogate son relationship fattens Walter's business and personal accounts ... until Brandon's golden touch begins to falter at the same time that Walter's manipulation of his protege crosses the line. With millions of dollars on the line, Brandon and Walter engage in a deadly game of con versus con, each one trying to maintain the upper hand while everyone in their world, including Walter's wife, Toni (Rene Russo), are drawn into the escalating duel -- where ultimately everything isn't what it appears to be.
Director: D.J. Caruso. Stars: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Armand Assante, Jeremy Piven, Gedde Watanabe. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 122 min.), Drama, 2005, Box office gross: $22.862 million, (Universal), $29.98 VHS SRP, Available: 1/17.
Most kids go to school to get an education, but when a stolen car ring infiltrates an exclusive private school, it's up to Tre Stokes (Nick Cannon) to go undercover and teach the bad guys a lesson. Maverick cop Tracy "Tre" Stokes is about to get schooled in a whole new way of solving crime as he goes undercover at an elite private high school. A fast-talking, street-smart but baby-faced detective who's honed his renegade crime-fighting skills in urban L.A., Stokes has no clue what he's in for when he heads back to high school to infiltrate a group of ultra-rich, hyper-smart students under suspicion. Cultures clash as Stokes' no-holds-barred style meets the ultimate in high school high-society. But soon Stokes finds himself getting closer to his killer ... and to passing Spanish and making the basketball team ... as he works his way with tenacity into the 'in' crowd and uncovers the dangerous ring of criminals.
Director: Marcos Siega. Stars: Nick Cannon, Roselyn Sanchez, Shawn Ashmore, Angelo Spizzirri, Hugh Bonneville, Cheech Marin, Kelly Hu. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 93 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $5.654 million, (Miramax), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/17.
In this wild comedy, divorce mediators John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are business partners and life-long friends who share one truly unique springtime hobby -- crashing weddings. Whatever the ethnicity of the wedding party -- Jewish, Italian, Irish, Chinese, Hindu -- the charismatic and charming duo always have clever back stories for inquisitive guests and inevitably become the hit of every reception, where they strictly adhere to their proven "rules of wedding crashing" to meet and pick up women aroused by the very thought of marriage. At the tail end of another successful season of toasting brides and grooms, Jeremy learns that the daughter of Treasury Secretary William Cleary (Christopher Walken) and his wife Kathleen (Jane Seymour) is getting married in what is sure to be the Washington, D.C. social event of the year. After infiltrating the lavish affair, John and Jeremy quickly set their sights on bridesmaids Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher) Cleary. With the lavish reception in full swing, Jeremy works his game plan to perfection in seducing Gloria, but John's flirtatious banter with Claire is unexpectedly impeded by her pompous, Ivy League boyfriend Sack (Bradley Cooper). Having uncharacteristically fallen hard and fast for Claire, John convinces a resistant Jeremy to bend the crashing rules and accept an invitation to an extended weekend party at the Cleary family compound. Once at the palatial waterfront estate, John and Jeremy endure a multitude of comical mishaps at the hands of the dysfunctional members of the Cleary family, but also learn a few unexpected lessons about love and relationships.
Director: David Dobkin. Stars: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher, Jane Seymour. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 119 min.), Comedy, 2005, Box office gross: $201.000 million, (New Line), No VHS SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 1/3.
All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
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January 1, 2006