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THE BRAT PACK MOVIES & MUSIC COLLECTION (1984-1985). Two years ago, Universal released three of John Hughes' Brat Pack flicks under the moniker "High School Reunion Collection"; the DVDs (available separately or as a box set) were disappointing in that extra features were limited to the films' theatrical trailers. Now Universal has seen fit to reissue the exact same barebones discs in another set and throw a CD into the mix. It's not much of an improvement: The set's packaging, created to look like a school binder (complete with three rings to hold the DVD sleeves), seems groovy until you realize its large size might not fit your DVD collection shelf. And while the CD is a nice touch -- it includes such staples as Simple Minds' "(Don't You) Forget About Me" (from The Breakfast Club), Orchestral Maneuvers In the Dark's "If You Leave" (Pretty In Pink) and Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science" (guess) -- music videos from the era would have been a more enjoyable bonus. As for the films themselves, Sixteen Candles (1984) is a charming tale that benefits immeasurably from Molly Ringwald's performance; The Breakfast Club (1985) remains the best of the Hughes oeuvre as well as a seminal film for many who came of age in the 80s; and Weird Science (1985) delivers more chaos than comedy.

Sixteen Candles: HH 1/2

The Breakfast Club: HHH

Weird Science: HH

Extras: H 1/2

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (2005). Forrest Gump's momma famously declared that "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get." You never know what you're going to get with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, either, given that director Tim Burton tends to fluctuate between enfant terrible and rank sentimentalist. Before this and Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, the director was last seen lunging for Oscar gold with the forced whimsy of Big Fish. He's on steadier ground here, helming the second screen version of Roald Dahl's 41-year-old novel. Johnny Depp headlines as Willy Wonka, the eccentric candymaker who allows five children to take a tour through his gargantuan factory. Young Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore, Depp's Finding Neverland co-star) is a perfect angel, but the other four kids prove to be such brats that they all eventually get their comeuppance within the walls of Wonka's candy-coated fortress. In most respects, this surpasses the previous screen incarnation, 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: It's faster, funnier and more visually stimulating. But Burton's maudlin streak gets the best of him via a needless back story that explains Wonka's affinity for candy, and this plot strand leads to a soggy finale that's easily bested by the final act of the '71 model. Depp delivers an engaging surface performance, though I still prefer the more measured madness of Gene Wilder's interpretation. A single-disc DVD edition is available, though all the good stuff can be found on the two-disc Deluxe Edition. Among the extras are features on the casting, the visual effects and the incredible production design, a piece on Dahl, a look at the training of the squirrels employed in the film, and five trading cards.

Movie: HHH

Extras: HHH

MYSTERIOUS SKIN (2005). Neil McCormick (Chase Ellison) knew he was gay as far back as the age of eight, when he would get off on watching the in-the-moment reactions of the boyfriends his single mom (Elisabeth Shue) would bring home for sexual fulfillment. Brian Lackey (George Webster), on the other hand, was more typical for his age, a blank slate merely interested in innocuous childhood pursuits. How these boys' lives are shaped by their molestation at the hands of their Little League coach (Bill Sage) drives Mysterious Skin, which played in Charlotte as part of the Film Society's October lineup and has since arrived on DVD. Attracted to his handsome, smiling coach, 8-year-old Neil is ripe for seduction, though from his summer of love springs an eventual teenage existence as a gay prostitute (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who services older men on the streets of his Kansas hometown. Little Brian is molested twice by Coach, but he remembers nothing about either encounter; as he moves further into his teen years (played by Brady Corbet), he becomes convinced that during those blackout periods, he must have been abducted by aliens. Neil is cold, cynical and sexually reckless, while Brian is timid, confused and obviously asexual. Yet despite their radically different lifestyles, it becomes clear that these two kids must come together again if they're to have any chance of addressing their collective demons from the past. Writer-director Gregg Araki has a history of shocking audiences with his indie efforts, yet by choosing to adapt someone else's work (Scott Heim's book of the same name), Araki locates a gentleness within his own art, crafting a deeply moving film that examines the betrayal of childhood innocence as well as the fallibility of roiling memories. The entire cast is exemplary, but those who know Gordon-Levitt only from the 90s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun or youth flicks like 10 Things I Hate About You will be startled by the dramatic depths he reveals here. DVD extras include audio commentary by Araki, Gordon-Levitt and Corbet, readings from Heim's novel by Gordon-Levitt and Corbet, and theatrical trailers.

Movie: HHH

Extras: HH

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