The holiday season home video glut has begun. Stores will be full of new releases in the next month as retailers and distributors look to cash in on Christmas.
One of the big comedy releases will be "Hollywood Shuffle," Robert Townsend's extravagantly praised low-budget satire, which makes its home video bow Dec. 16. Star Townsend also co-wrote, produced and directed.
Ralph Bakshi's controversial "Coonskin" (1975), a seamy look at street life, has been renamed "Street Fight" for home video. This part-animated, part-live-action feature is available Nov. 23 from Academy Entertainment.
The He-Man movie, "Masters of the Universe," comes to home video Dec. 9 on Warner Video. Dolph Lundgren stars as the muscular hero in this fantasy adventure.
"Amazing Grace and Chuck," a family drama with an anti-nuke theme, got good reviews but didn't do good business at the box office. It's scheduled for release Dec. 2 on HBO. Jamie Lee Curtis, Gregory Peck and the Denver Nuggets' Alex English star.
For horror fans, two early December releases are expected to be popular. The scary "House II: The Second Story"--aimed at teen horror fans--is due out Dec. 8 on New World; Vestron's "The Gate," famed for its special effects, will be available Dec. 9.
For the art house crowd: "Heaven," a documentary about afterlife directed by Diane Keaton, will be released by Pacific Arts on Dec. 2.
Fred Astaire fans are eagerly awaiting Dec. 8. That's when MGM/UA releases three of his movies at $29.95 each--"The Barkleys of Broadway" (1949), "Three Little Words" (1950) and "The Belle of New York" (1952).
"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (Playhouse Video, 1945), featuring James Dunn's Oscar-winning performance in this turn-of-the-century family drama, is scheduled for release Nov. 25.
Due out next week: "Ishtar," "Outrageous Fortune" and "Deadline."
NEW RELEASES: In the first half of Warner's "Who's That Girl," Madonna plays her character, an ex-con floozie, with a irritating Jerry-Lewis-style accent. The floozie--a brainless shrew--is so off-putting that you may tune out the rest of the movie. The character is toned down in the second half but it's too late. Even Madonna's many fans couldn't tolerate her in this strained screwball comedy, which rips off some of the genre's classics. Fresh out of jail, the floozie hooks up with a yuppie lawyer (Griffin Dunne) on a madcap 24-hour search for the man who framed her. While she's disrupting his life, they, of course, fall in love. For most of the movie, director James Foley mistakes lame-brained silliness for clever comedy.
IVE's "Extreme Prejudice," packed with extreme violence, is director Walter Hill's reworking of the tired old theme about two boyhood friends who wind up on the opposite sides of the law. In this modern Western set in a border town, a Ranger (Nick Nolte) goes after his old pal (Powers Boothe), who's turned into a drug lord. The screenwriters even add another old-movie cliche--the buddies are in love with the same woman (Maria Conchita Alonso). The subplot--about mercenaries on a mysterious mission--is merely an excuse for more mayhem. The bullet-riddled bodies--there are dozens of them--make more impact than the characters. With Sam Peckinpah gone, Hill stages shoot-outs better than any other director. Great action sequences surrounded by a perfunctory plot.
In MCA's "Harry and the Hendersons," produced by Steven Spielberg's company, Harry is the half-man, half-beast known as Bigfoot who lives in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. But he's not menacing. He's E.T. in an ape suit--a lovable, sentimental slob who, through thoroughly improbable circumstances, winds up living with a Seattle family. For the rest of the movie they're protecting this dumb, clumsy giant from attackers. This is just an unimaginative "E.T." rehash that's awash with sentiment. John Lithgow and Melinda Dillon portray the parents. Kevin Peter Hall, who's 7-foot-2, plays the goo-goo-eyed monster.
RCA/Columbia's "Happy New Year," part romantic comedy and part caper film, is based on Claude LeLouch's 1973 "La Bonne Annee." While two thieves (Peter Falk and Charles Durning) are planning a Florida jewel heist that calls for elaborate disguises, the Falk character falls for an antique dealer (Wendy Hughes). But he's a kindly ruffian while she's smart and sophisticated. Rather than the caper, which does have its suspenseful moments, the romantic ups and downs of these opposites are the core of this charming, easy-to-take trifle. Falk's octogenarian disguises are remarkable. John G. Avildsen directed.