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The date doctor, with one 'Hitch'

June 14, 2005|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

After appearing in sci-fi flicks ("Men in Black," "I, Robot"), western comedies ("Wild, Wild West"), biopics ("Ali"), buddy cop action movies ("Bad Boys") and political thrillers ("Enemy of the State"), Will Smith finally got a chance to show off his romantic comedy chops earlier this year in the box-office hit "Hitch" (Sony, $29).

Smith plays a New York date doctor who guarantees men they can win the girl of their dreams in just three dates. More than holding his own opposite Smith is stand-up comic Kevin James ("The King of Queens") who plays a shy accountant madly in love with a society heiress (Amber Valletta). Eva Mendes plays a tabloid columnist who ends up falling for Hitch.

Conspicuously absent is audio commentary from director Andy Tennant, Smith and James -- it would have greatly benefited the digital edition. At least some of the featurettes are entertaining, especially those dealing with James' dancing skills, a chronicle of Smith's attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records for an actor attending the most premieres in one day and interviews with actual date doctors.

Also new this week:

"Tarzan II" (Walt Disney, $30): Made-for-video sequels to hit Disney animated films rarely come close to the original, and this follow-up to the 1999 "Tarzan" is no exception. This comedy adventure follows the antics of Tarzan as a young boy with Terk the ape and Tantor the elephant. Phil Collins supplies two new catchy songs, but the unfunny antics of a gorilla family (voiced by Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman and Estelle Harris) quickly wears thin. The extras, including interactive games and the tongue-in-cheek "Tarzan's Matter-of-Facts" trivia track, are geared for the wee ones.

"Brother to Brother" (Wolfe, $25): Writer-director Rodney Evans' thoughtful drama (it won a special jury prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival) is about a young gay African American painter (Anthony Mackie) and his relationship with an elderly gay poet (Roger Robinson) from the Harlem Renaissance. The DVD includes deleted scenes and an extended interview with Evans.

"Casino" (Universal, $30): The disc is the 10th anniversary edition of the film, which was the third in Martin Scorsese's gangster trilogy that began with Mean Streets" (1973) and continued with "GoodFellas" (1990). The extras on the digital editions of Scorsese films are usually a cut above and "Casino" doesn't disappoint, with several well-produced featurettes, deleted scenes and intelligent commentary from Scorsese, Sharon Stone, writer Nicholas Pileggi and longtime Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker.

"Heaven Can Wait" (Criterion, $30): This 1943 Technicolor comedy is not as well known today as several of Ernst Lubitsch's other romantic farces, such as the charmer "Trouble in Paradise" (1932), which was nominated for best film and best director. Don Ameche plays a cad who, upon his death, heads straight to hell to tell the gracious His Satanic Majesty (Laird Cregar) why he deserves to spend eternity there. Gene Tierney, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette and Marjorie Main head the crackerjack supporting cast. The DVD includes a new conversation between film critics Molly Haskell and Andrew Sarris about the film, a 1982 "Creativity With Bill Moyers" profile on screenwriter Samson Raphaelson, and even Lubitsch's home piano recordings.

"Gun -- The Complete Six Film Anthology" (Tango, $40): Uneven but interesting 1997 ABC anthology series from executive producer Robert Altman. James Sadwith, Ted Demme and James Foley were among the directors; the cast included a pre-"Sopranos" James Gandolfini, Kirsten Dunst, Carrie Fisher, Jennifer Tilly and Martin Sheen.

"A Dirty Shame" (New Line, $28): The faint of heart should steer clear of John Waters' NC-17 comedy about how a blow on the head awakens the sexual desires of a dowdy Baltimore convenience store worker (Tracey Ullman). The DVD extras -- an outrageous behind-the-scenes documentary, Waters' acerbic commentary and a separate track with several of his longtime crew -- are for adults only.

"Danger: Diabolik" (Paramount, $15): Hippy-dippy, psychedelic 1968 action-adventure from Italian cult director Mario Bava. John Phillip Law plays the world's greatest criminal, who, with his girlfriend Eva (Marisa Mell) carries off audacious capers. Ennio Morricone supplied the groovy score. The DVD includes a retrospective and commentary with the trivia-laden historian Tim Lucas and the rather monosyllabic Law.

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