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An Enjoyable 'Wedding'

DVD offers something old and something new for fans of the lighthearted comedy.

July 05, 2001|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Jennifer Lopez-Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy "The Wedding Planner" didn't actually make critics say "I do," but the film did bring in more than $60 million when it was released earlier this year. The DVD (Columbia TriStar, $24) is just like the movie--pleasant enough but unmemorable.

Lopez plays a successful wedding planner who falls in love with a doctor (McConaughey). Complications ensue when she discovers she is the wedding planner for his upcoming nuptials.

The digital edition includes a wide-screen edition, a short, superficial "making of" featurette and another featurette in which Lopez talks about her fears of riding a horse in one scene and McConaughey discusses learning how to dance for a sequence. There are also the obligatory talent files, trailers and production notes.

Director Adam Shankman supplies commentary on several deleted scenes, including the original opening, featuring Lopez's character as a young girl talking to her mother about love and marriage.

Shankman and writers Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis (who were once romantically entwined) supply the better-than-average commentary. The three point out that it took years for "Wedding Planner" to get made and that several studios turned down the project before Columbia agreed to make it.

Though Lopez's character is Italian in the movie, in the original script she was Armenian. Shankman and the screenwriters say that film buyers in other countries weren't interested in a movie about an Armenian wedding planner but would accept an Italian.

The director also says that McConaughey was a last-minute replacement for Brendan Fraser, and that his character's name went through several incarnations. When Shankman was pitching the script to the actor, McConaughey told him he envisioned the character with the name of Steve. So Shankman agreed and McConaughey did the film.

"Snatch," the latest film from British director Guy Ritchie, best known now as Madonna's hubby, gets special-edition treatment from Columbia TriStar ($28). Though the caper thriller is stylish and fun, it certainly doesn't deserve two separate discs.

Included are both the wide-screen and pan-and-scan versions of the film, which stares Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Brad Pitt and Jason Statham; a better-than-average featurette, in which Statham asks Ritchie questions about the movie while they play chess; storyboard comparisons; deleted scenes with commentary from Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn; the English and American trailers; a photo gallery; talent files and serviceable commentary from Ritchie and Vaughn.

"Dracula 2000" is an anemic update of the famous vampire tale in which the handsome bloodsucker (Gerry Butler) stalks victims in present-day New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It stars Jonny Lee Miller, ex-spouse of Angelina Jolie, Justine Waddell and Christopher Plummer.

The DVD (Dimension, $30) features a wide-screen version, Butler and Waddell's audition footage, deleted scenes with commentary from director Patrick Lussier--including an early scene showing the capture of Dracula--storyboards, the trailer, talent files, a passable behind-the-scenes look at the film and OK commentary from director Lussier and screenwriter Joel Soisson.

*

Look very carefully while watching the DVD of "The Last Dragon"(Columbia Tri/Star, $20), a 1985 kung fu flick with music, and you'll see Oscar-nominated actors William H. Macy and Chazz Palminteri in tiny parts.

Taimak plays Bruce LeRoy, who must fight an evil martial arts expert and rescue a beautiful singer from a music promoter. Vanity and Faith Prince also star.

The digital edition includes both full-and wide-screen versions, trailers for other martial arts flicks and amenable commentary from director Michael Schultz of "Car Wash" fame. Schultz talks about how difficult it was to cast the lead role, because the man had to know martial arts besides being able to act. When Taimak arrived, he was a martial arts champion but had no acting skills. He was so enthusiastic, though, he was given the job.

*

The Criterion Collection has released a lovely DVD of Michelangelo Antonioni's 1960 classic "L'Avventura" ($40).

Winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and named three times as one of the top 10 films of all time by Sight and Sound critics' poll, the demanding, obtuse drama focuses on the disappearance of a woman on a yachting trip. While her lover (Gabriele Ferzetti) and her best friend (Monica Vitti) search for her across Italy, they begin a passionate but empty affair.

The digital edition includes a beautiful new digital transfer with restored image and sound, plus a demonstration of the restoration process. There's also the original American trailer and writings by Antonioni, as read by Jack Nicholson, who appeared in the director's film "The Passenger." And Nicholson also offers--in his imitable cool style--personal recollections of the director.

Also included is the enjoyable 1966 French Canadian documentary "Antonioni: Documents and Testimonials," and compelling commentary from film historian Gene Youngblood that was recorded in 1989 for the laserdisc.

Youngblood discusses the fact that audiences didn't understand the film when it premiered at Cannes, although critics and filmmakers were bowled over. Youngblood acts like an esoteric tour guide, dissecting each scene for the viewer.

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