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Extras in the two-disc special edition include audio commentary by Lloyd; a 24-minute making-of piece; eight minutes of deleted scenes; a deleted musical number ("The Name of the Game"); a breakdown of the filming of the musical number "Lay All Your Love On Me"; the music video for "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!"; and a short piece on the Greek location shooting. The movie can also be played in the "sing-along" mode, with on-screen lyrics for all 22 musical numbers.
STEP BROTHERS (2008). The battle for the title of Hollywood's Ultimate Man-Child found Will Ferrell finally overtaking Adam Sandler this past summer. While Sandler played an actual adult (well, sort of) in You Don't Mess With the Zohan (now on DVD), Ferrell again adopted an infantile pose, this time in the service of Step Brothers. The law of diminishing returns – to say nothing of Step Brothers' cringe-inducing trailer – suggested that this should have represented the nadir of Ferrell's efforts, but the truth is that he's done worse: This is rescued from the bottom of the barrel by several choice quips as well as a surprising sweetness at the center of its storyline involving family dysfunction. Ferrell and Talladega Nights partner John C. Reilly star as Brennan and Dale, two 40-ish men still living at home with their single parents (Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins, respectively). When said parents decide to marry each other, the two "kids" are forced to not only live under the same roof but also share a bedroom. Initially combative, they become best friends after they're united by their mutual hatred of Brennan's smug, perfectionist brother Derek (Adam Scott). As usual, Ferrell doesn't know where to draw the line when it comes to childish antics on screen. But the theme of how parents and children will often fail each other carries some startling resonance (thanks largely to Steenburgen's delicate performance), and every time we write off the dialogue as just a string of schoolyard taunts, along comes an unexpected zinger. Step Brothers is clearly a step up from recent Ferrell offerings like Semi-Pro and Blades of Glory, but please, guys, it's time to grow up and give this formula a rest.
DVD extras include audio commentary by Ferrell, Reilly, director Adam McKay and basketball star Baron Davis; a 22-minute making-of feature; five deleted scenes; and the "Boats 'N Hoes" music video.
WANTED (2008). Action films are by definition loud and chaotic, but here's one so hyperactive, it makes titles like Live Free or Die Hard and The Bourne Ultimatum seem as staid as Atonement by comparison. Based on the graphic novel series, Wanted initially feels like an unofficial remake of Fight Club, as cubicle nobody Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy, speaking of Atonement) narrates how he's been beaten down by his mundane, miserable existence (cheating girlfriend, obnoxious boss, dead-end job). Into his life walks not Tyler Durden but Fox (Angelina Jolie), a tattooed beauty who insists that he's been targeted for elimination by the same man (Thomas Kretschmann) who recently killed his father. Fox soon introduces Wesley to The Fraternity, a clandestine outfit made up entirely of assassins and led by the cordial Sloan (Morgan Freeman). Shucking aside any moral qualms rather quickly, Wesley joins the group, in the process learning that he possesses untapped skills that make him a natural for this line of work. Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, best known for the visually striking yet dramatically inert Nochnoi Dozor (Night Watch) and its sequels, has crafted a slam-bang feature that revels in its own ridiculousness: To criticize the movie's outlandish situations would be to miss the whole point of Bekmambetiv's exercise in excess. Still, the script's twists and turns aren't nearly as clever as writers Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan pretend (the secret involving Wesley's dad is pretty transparent), and after a while, the movie's gleeful approach to nihilism proves wearying.
Extras in the two-disc special edition include one extended scene; a piece on the cast and characters; featurettes on the stuntwork and visual effects; and a music video.
WHITE DOG (1982). Political correctness has rarely seemed as misguided as when it ran headfirst into this drama by maverick writer-director Samuel Fuller. Loosely working from a story by Romain Gary, Fuller and co-scripter Curtis Hanson (who would later win an Oscar for bringing L.A. Confidential to the screen) crafted a social polemic in which a young actress named Julie Sawyer (Kristy McNichol) decides to keep the German shepherd she accidentally struck with her car. Soon, however, Julie comes to the chilling realization that her new companion has been trained to attack and kill black people; although an animal trainer (Burl Ives) insists that the dog is a lost cause, a fellow trainer, the black Keys (Paul Winfield), makes it his mission to reprogram the canine. After protests from the NAACP, Paramount Pictures shelved White Dog, never giving it a theatrical release (it briefly aired on HBO, which is where I first caught it back in the day). But clearly, this isn't a racist movie; it's a movie about racism, and how it can bubble up from the most unlikely sources. The performances from the bit players are amateurish, as is some of the dialogue, but Fuller has nevertheless managed to make a fascinating yarn that actually has something to say about the state of the nation.