Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

DVDs in Brief

In a perfect world, Mike Judge's Idiocracy (Fox) would be released in a two-disc special edition with copious documentaries and commentaries extensively documenting how Fox butchered, then buried, an audacious, timely science-fiction satire ruthlessly spoofing the dumbing-down of popular culture. In this imperfect world, Judge fans are lucky Fox is releasing the film at all, though Judge's stoner-friendly comedy seems likely to capture the fervent cult audience on DVD that it was denied during its limited theatrical run…

In any other year, a twisty little thriller like the sleeper hit The Illusionist (Fox) might have stood on its own merits, but when Christopher Nolan's superior The Prestige came out a few months later, the earlier film seemed to wilt in retrospect. Edward Norton brings a certain dark charisma to the role of a magician who rediscovers lost love, but unlike with The Prestige, there's no substance behind the sleight-of-hand, only empty cleverness…

Crank (Lions Gate) looks like a ridiculously wearying movie for Jason Statham's character, a hit man pumped full of poisons that will kill him unless he keeps his adrenaline levels sky-high via public sex, indiscriminate gun battles, manic car chases, and many more tough-guy stunts. But it's even more wearying for viewers, thanks to spastic, cartoony directing that makes the whole process seem even sillier than it already is…

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Want a Robin Williams movie that doesn't totally suck? Try The Night Listener (Miramax), a gripping adaptation of the Armistead Maupin novel about a prominent author (Williams) who champions a memoir of a teenage boy's struggle with abuse and AIDS, then later suspects the boy may not exist at all. The shades of fake authors J.T. Leroy and Anthony Godby Johnson (whose relationship with Maupin inspired the tale) deepen the film and almost make up for an ending that never delivers…

Country Music Television's answer to Elizabethtown—and every bit as hideous as that description implies—Broken Bridges (Paramount) tells the well-trod story of misdirected characters (here played by jingoistic country star Toby Keith and Kelly Preston) who return to their small town for a restorative visit to their roots. Several gray casseroles and countless heart-to-hearts later, everything's all better.

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