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'Hurlyburly' DVD Is an Investment for Hard-Core Fans Only

July 08, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Movies don't have to be box office hits--or even be very good, for that matter--to warrant a special DVD edition.

Take New Line's edition of the distressing 1998 Hollywood drama "Hurlyburly" ($25), adapted by David Rabe from his hit Broadway play. The independent production, which was filmed in just 30 days, features a terrific cast--Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright Penn, Meg Ryan, Anna Paquin, Chazz Palminteri and Garry Shandling. Though the play was inspired, "Hurlyburly" doesn't translate to the big screen. Who really wants to see seven losers spend two hours screaming at each other while they abuse drugs?

The DVD features trailers and talent biographies and filmographies, plus two audio tracks--meaning you can sit through this depressing exercise three times. The first track features commentary from Rabe and director Anthony Drazen, who discuss, among other things, opening up the play and working with the cast. The commentary, though, doesn't offer any real insights and is rather a snooze.

The second track includes commentary from Penn, Rabe, composer David Baerwald and social commentator and feminist Janet Brown talking about the themes of the movie. The latter has an interesting take on the film--she compares it to "Macbeth"! Penn sounds uncomfortable discussing his craft, but he talks about how difficult it was to do a demanding role on such a short shooting schedule. This disc is for hard-core fans of the play and film.

Though "Hurlyburly" received some favorable notices at Christmas, the film got lost in the holiday rush.

The spring romantic comedy "Just the Ticket" (MGM, $25) also didn't click at the box office. Though the film is wafer-thin, it's a good fit for the small screen. Andy Garcia stars as a New York ticket scalper and Andie MacDowell plays the love of his life.

The disc features the obligatory biographies and trailers, and numerous deleted scenes from director Richard Wenk's cut of the film. The audio commentary features Wenk and Garcia, who also served as producer; they are as lively and fun as Drazen and Rabe are dull and serious.

Garcia says "Just the Ticket" was made for a "song and a dance" in just 30 days. In fact, most scenes were done in one take with two cameras because of the hectic schedule. All the actors worked for scale, Garcia explains--the same rate as the scrappy little dog that plays his beloved pet.

The disc also includes "The Scalper," which is test footage Wenk and Garcia made in 1991 to raise funds to make the full feature. It's great fun to watch a grungy Garcia milling about the Pantages Theatre trying to sell tickets to "Les Miserables."

The teen horror-comedy "Jawbreaker" (Columbia TriStar, $20) didn't exactly burn up the box office or turn the critics on their ears. But the disc is quite entertaining, thanks to the enthusiastic commentary from its young director, Darren Stein, who peppers his sentences with "great," "cool" and "you know." He has a great visual style, and it's enjoyable to listen to him discuss how he framed certain scenes and why he opted for a surreal, timeless production and costume design. Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Pam Grier and Carol Kane star.

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