[DVDish] Wookiee Mistake

Blue Harvest ain’t exactly a blast

Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest (Fox)
As someone with no use for Seth MacFarlane's potty-mouthed Simpsonsrip, I'll admit to choking out a few giggles during his Star Wars send-up—though, truth be told, it's slightly less daring than Spaceballs and, sure, Porn Wars.
Stunningly faithful to the 30-year-old franchise, MacFarlane's homage gets in a few good lines—like, oh, when Darth Stewie cracks that his diaper's gone over to the Dark Side, heh. But it's little more than a pop-culture grab bag full of stunningly outdated references (Vacation, Breakfast Club, Grey Poupon ads) more groan-inducing than laugh-getting. Far better is MacFarlane's embarrassingly Farleyesque interview with George Lucas—really, he hums Star Warsmusic and asks his hero to name the scene. He's awesome. (RW)

An Affair to Remember: 50th Anniversary Edition (Fox)
When Harry Met Sally . . . : Collector's Edition (MGM)
Swell timing for these rereleases, even if the double billing's a little off; it was, after all, Sleepless in Seattlethat stole its premise from Leo McCarey's wondrous weepy about lovers whose Empire State Building rendezvous is tragically thwarted till the rapturous finale. There are many essential add-ons affixed to the Cary Grant-Deborah Kerr two-fer, not least of which is a doc about McCarey-a three-time Oscar winner whose "life is more interesting than his movies," says one historian with brass 'uns. The Harrycollection is less crucial, as its deleted scenes have appeared on previous editions, and the new featurettes more or less retread the whys and hows of other makings-of. How many infomercials for itself does one DVD need, anyway? (RW)

Oswald's Ghost(PBS)
For approximately the 3,853rd time, a filmmaker revisits the scene of the crime—Dealey Plaza in Dallas, to be specific—to ask the question: "Did Lee Harvey Oswald reallykill John Kennedy?" To which director Robert Stone, with the help of respectable historians and wing nuts and Norman Mailer in his final days, offers the resounding answer: Dunno. Which isn't the sole point made here, thank God. Stone also wants to connect our yesterdays with our todays; he insists that the unsolved mystery still haunts us today, bringing with it aching paranoia and seething anger and blinding hatred and a soul-stirring restlessness that will never dissipate so long as we trust no one and suspect everyone. (RW)

He Was a Quiet Man (Anchor Bay)
Christian Slater always had a weirdness to his teen-heartthrob image. (Lookit him in Heathers—dude is a Jack Nicholson-aping wax statue.) The ravages of time and crap films have laid Slater low enough to make him the perfect sad-sack office nebbish in this, the best work of his career. But the movie itself, an ambitious failure of a black comedy-drama, lets him down. It tries to meld Taxi Driver and Office Space with the visual audacity of Fight Club, on the cheap. And for about 10 minutes, it has a shot. But then it drowns in CGI talking goldfish and one-dimensional characters and too many ideas. Slater will make you squirm long after the rest of the film goes off the rails. Elisha Cuthbert is unremarkable as the office goddess brought low, and William H. Macy sleepwalks through his few scenes as a shitheel boss, leaving Slater to carry the load. He's good, not that good. (JH)

Our top DVD picks scheduled for release this week: Alex Haley's Queen (Warner Bros.); Amazing Planet Earth (Questar); The Attic (Allumination); Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (Warner Bros.); Breaker Morant (Image); Extras: The Complete Series (HBO); Dora the Explorer: Undercover Dora (Paramount); DragonLance: Dragons of the Autumn Twilight (Paramount); Good Luck Chuck (Lionsgate); In the Heat of the Night: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition (United Artists); Johnny Suede (Anchor Bay); Killer Diller (Echo Bridge); Mr. Woodcock (New Line); The Naked Prey: The Criterion Collection (Criterion); The New Adventures of Old Christine: The Complete First Season (Warner Bros.); Operation Homecoming: Writing the Marine Experience (New Video Group); Postwar Kurosawa: Eclipse Series 7 (Criterion); Scenes of a Sexual Nature (THINKfilm); She's Gotta Have It (MGM); Thunderbirds: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition (A&E).

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