Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

DVDs in Brief

The original 1979 When A Stranger Calls existed more as an urban legend than an actual movie; no one remembers that the "Have you checked the children?" and "The calls are coming from inside the house!" stuff comprises only the first third of the film. Rather than the Charles Durning detective procedural that comprises the film's final two-thirds— oh, how awesome that would have been—the new When A Stranger Calls (Sony) stretches the first act into an entire movie. Too bad it doesn't know what to do with all that extra time…

The bloated, uneven, but often funny musical remake of The Producers (Universal) creaks out of the gate and lingers on a good 20 minutes too long. But for a solid hour or so, it functions as a smooth-running entertainment machine, doling out big laughs and memorable songs in equal measure. In that respect, it's custom-made for DVD, where home audiences can end the film wherever they like. Here's a hint: Try where the original ended…

The premise of an able-bodied man rigging the Special Olympics in order to settle his debts sounds pretty offensive, but if anything, The Ringer (Fox) could stand to be more politically incorrect than it turns out to be. The film gets some good comic mileage out of the irony that its affable hero (Johnny Knoxville) lacks the conditioning to beat these supposedly challenged athletes, but it eventually goes soft…

There was so much hand-wringing in critical circles over Warner Brothers' mishandling of Carroll Ballard's boy-and-his-cheetah movie Duma that its virtues were a little overstated. After all, Ballard has done this story before and better, in modern children's classics like The Black Stallion and Fly Away Home. Still, those virtues are rare and numerous, including breathtaking footage of South Africa and a dignified portrait of a young boy coping with loss in his own way…

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With America growing more multicultural and diverse every day, why do we need a slick new interracial romantic comedy like Something New (Universal), which plays like a race-reversed version of the hoary old liberal message movie Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? Blame a screenplay too intent on delivering the romantic-comedy goods to delve too deeply into racial issues, though star Sanaa Lathan is a delight as always.

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