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VIDEO SHELF

A two-disc teaser for fans of the 'Ring'

August 28, 2003

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom

New Line, $30

New Line is following the same release pattern as it did last year for the first "Lord of the Rings" movie: Offer a two-disc set featuring the theatrical version, plus several featurettes from the Web site and a few other extras thrown in for good measure. Then, in November, release the extended theatrical version with numerous documentaries, commentaries and other fun goodies.

The reason for the dual releases: Director Peter Jackson is busy readying the third installment of the Tolkien trilogy, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which hits theaters this Christmas season. So, consider this two-disc set of "The Two Towers" an appetizer. Besides the featurettes, there is an on-set documentary that originally aired on Starz and another special that premiered on the WB. Among other features are a cute short film that star Sean Astin made one rainy Sunday using most of the crew from the film and a music video.

*

From Justin to Kelly

Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini

Fox, $28

There are bad movies and then there are really bad movies. Despite the fact that this musical romance came and went from theaters in a heartbeat, "From Justin to Kelly" is just a bad movie; if this teen musical had been a bit campier, it probably would have been more fun instead of being merely boring.

Clarkson, the winner of the first "American Idol" contest, plays a fresh-faced girl who travels with her two best friends to Florida for spring break. There she meets curly-haired Guarini, the runner-up in the contest, who has a reputation for being a womanizer. Faster then you can say "A Moment Like This," the two have a budding romance.

The DVD features the theatrical version and an extended version with two additional musical numbers, a video scrapbook, deleted scenes, a gag reel, a glimpse at the choreography, a mini-documentary on the making of the film and painless commentary from the two stars and director Robert Iscove.

*

Levity

Billy Bob Thornton, Morgan Freeman

Columbia TriStar, $25

Despite its title, "Levity" is not a laugh riot, but a dour drama about an ex-con (Thornton, sporting a long, grayish wig) released from prison after many years who tries to gain forgiveness from the sister (Holly Hunter) of the young man he killed during a botched robbery. Written and directed by Ed Solomon, who penned "Men in Black," the film is short on dialogue and long on mood and pauses. The digital edition features thoughtful commentary from Solomon.

*

National Lampoon's Animal House: Double Secret Probation Wide-screen edition

John Belushi, Tim Matheson

Universal, $20

It's hard to believe that this raucous, sidesplitting comedy is turning 25 this year. Age has been kind to this film, which was directed by John Landis and which transformed Belushi into a certifiable movie star as the gross slob Bluto. The comedy also gave career boosts to stars Matheson, Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, Karen Allen, Peter Riegert and Kevin Bacon and spawned a seemingly never-ending stream of teen comedies.

This special edition of the classic is a mixed bag. There is a funny "Where Are They Now? A Delta Alumni Update," hosted by Landis, who catches up with some of the favorite characters from the film; a retrospective documentary; and a trivia track. But what the disc is sorely lacking is a commentary track with Landis, producer Matty Simmons and the stars. Maybe fans will have to wait until the 30th anniversary version to get an audio commentary.

*

Also this week

First love blooms in "Raising Victor Vargas" (Columbia TriStar: $24.95); Latina lib is advocated in the light comedy "Chasing Papi" (Fox: $27.98); Mars Callahan portrays a young pool shark struggling with self-realization in "Poolhall Junkies" (Columbia TriStar: $24.95).

Top VHS rentals

1. Bringing Down the House

2. The Hunted

3. Head of State

4. Cradle 2 the Grave

5. The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Top DVD rentals

1. Bringing Down the House

2. The Hunted

3. Head of State

4. Cradle 2 the Grave

5. Daredevil

What's coming

Tuesday: "Identity," "A Man Apart" and "Endurance"

-- Susan King

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