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CONNIE AND CARLA It still remains to be seen whether writer-actress Nia Vardalos' mega-smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding will have served as the launching pad for a prosperous career or merely fall under the "15 Minutes of Fame" designation, though the theatrical nosedive of Connie and Carla hints at the latter. Yet although it cribs shamelessly from both Victor/Victoria and Some Like It Hot, this comedy at least finds Vardalos breaking away from her established bread-and-butter -- on the heels of Wedding and the short-lived TV series My Big Fat Greek Life, I was dreading My Big Fat Greek Divorce, My Big Fat Greek Funeral, etc. Instead, this one finds Vardalos working opposite Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense), with the pair cast as struggling airport lounge singers who take it on the lam after they witness a murder. Hoofing it to LA, they hide out by pretending to be drag performers at a local bar -- in short, they're girls pretending to be guys pretending to be girls. As writer, Vardalos couldn't be less interested in the movie's plot -- the crime escapades wouldn't even have been approved for an episode of Hawaii Five-O. But she clearly has great affection for all her characters, and the on-stage routines of Connie and Carla (covering everything from Webber & Rice to Rodgers & Hammerstein) are fun to watch. Vardalos-Collette won't supplant memories of Lemmon-Curtis, but you could do worse. DVD extras include audio commentary by Vardalos and director Michael Lembeck, deleted scenes and outtakes, and a piece on Debbie Reynolds (who appears as herself in the film).
Movie: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

HIDALGO A sprawling mess of a movie, Hidalgo is also the sort of old-fashioned popcorn entertainment that has become increasingly rare on the current movie scene -- and in this case, that particular pro far outweighs the occasional con. Upon its original release, Disney pushed the film as being based on fact, while historians thoroughly debunked its sources. But that's neither here nor there as far as home viewers are concerned: They can instead lose themselves in the movie's riptide rush of thrills without worrying about its veracity. In his first post-Lord of the Rings stint, Viggo Mortensen is adequate as a sensitive soul who, shaken up by the mass genocide of Native Americans, turns to the bottle and performs in a Wild West show before accepting an offer to journey to a foreign land (yes, this movie kicks off exactly like The Last Samurai). In this case, the character and his trusty horse Hidalgo are invited to take part in a grueling 3,000 mile race across the Arabian Desert, a contest in which most participants perish under the merciless sun and the few survivors must contend with duplicity and double-crosses at every turn. What follows is a rousing adventure yarn that includes breathtaking vistas, worthy comic relief, occasionally terrible CGI effects, a supporting role for Omar Sharif (as the Sheik overseeing the race), and plenty of exciting derring-do in the grand tradition of Indiana Jones. DVD extras include a making-of short, trailers, and a hidden Easter Egg.
Movie:
Extras: 1/2

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