With so many collections of Warner Bros. cartoons on DVD, you might think the vaults have been exhausted. But two new collections focusing on Bugs and Daffy suggest otherwise as they lead this look at theatrical offerings released this week.
"Looney Tunes Super Stars: Bugs Bunny: Hare Extraordinaire" (Warner, 1950-64, $19.95). "Looney Tunes Super Stars: Daffy Duck: Frustrated Fowl" (Warner, 1944-1965, $19.95). There are several Warner Bros. collections out there that feature some of the same cartoons, but the toons on these two discs are all new to DVD.
There's a lot of talk today about how consistent the high quality of Pixar's animated features has remained over 15 years, which is true. But Warners held an astonishingly consistent level of quality with hundreds of cartoon shorts churned out over several decades.
The cartoons here all played in movie theaters during the golden age of "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies." And, among others, classic animators Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones are all represented.
Primarily from the 1950s and '60s, these are all winners and include some very funny parodies of such '50s TV series as Ralph Edwards' "This Is Your Life," Edward R. Murrow's "Person to Person" and Art Linkletter's "People Are Funny."
Extras: full frame/widescreen, 15 cartoons each
"The Good, the Bad, the Weird" (IFC, 2008; R for violence; $24.98). As the title suggests, this action-packed adventure is a "weird" amalgam of styles and genres, with a heavy emphasis on Sergio Leone's spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s. And, yes, it's a Korean film with subtitles. But trust me, you will not for a moment be bored. This one makes "Salt" look like slow motion.
Supposedly set in a fantasy version of 1930s Manchuria, the film opens with a kinetic set piece. It's a startling train chase/robbery that sets the tone for what will follow, which is all about unbelievable stunts, wild chases and shootouts, and "borrowings" from every big action star you can name, from John Wayne to Clint Eastwood to Harrison Ford.
The three characters in the title all scramble for a treasure map and go up against bandits, gangsters and the Japanese army. That's about it for plot, as they battle gangsters, the Japanese army and each other.
Extras: widescreen, in Korean with English subtitles, featurettes, trailers
"The Last Song" (Touchstone/Blu-ray, 2010, PG, two discs, $39.99). Miley Cyrus stars in this sappy Disney melodrama as a teenager estranged from her father (Greg Kinnear), forced to reconnect with him during a summer visit to his Southern beachside home. They eventually make up, and she encounters her first romance.
Co-written by Nicholas Sparks; what more needs to be said? Not bad for what it is, and Cyrus and Kinnear offer appealing performances.
Extras: Widescreen, deleted scenes/alternate opening sequence, audio commentary; this combo pack includes Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; trailers (also on single DVD, $29.99)
"Furry Vengeance" (Summit/Blu-ray, 2010, PG, $40.99). Silly slapstick aimed at children combines live action and computer animation for a man-against-the-critters environmental comedy. Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields and their son move to the woods as Dad oversees a supposedly eco-friendly housing development. It's not really green, however, so the local wildlife goes all "Home Alone" on Fraser.
Might be more palatable for parents if it contained fewer scatological gags.
This is a Blu-ray/DVD single disc, playable on both Blu-ray-compatible players and DVD players.
Extras: widescreen, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers (also on DVD, $22.99)
"Orlando" (Sony Pictures Classics, 1993, PG-13, $19.94). Sally Potter's loose and bizarre adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel follows the title character (Tilda Swinton) over 400 years of history, during which she "evolves" from male to female (an apparent reaction to refusing to engage in battle during a segment set in an Arab kingdom).
When I reviewed this film in 1993, I found it a fascinating idea but far too aloof to embrace. My reaction today isn't much different. Swinton is quite good, if expressionless, with her porcelain skin and bright red hair giving her an ethereal quality. And although she's never really convincing as a male, the first half of the film is more engaging than the second.
Extras: widescreen, audio commentary, featurettes, trailers
"Cemetery Junction" (Columbia, 2010; R for language, sex; $24.96). Ricky Gervais and his working partner Stephen Merchant wrote and directed this comedy-drama, a nostalgic coming-of-age tale set in the 1970s about three friends who are in that stage of (reluctantly) putting away childish things and entering the grown-up, make-a-living world.
Overly familiar but not bad, except that Gervais and Merchant have a penchant for standup-style gags — cheap jokes that often seem out of character and sometimes out of left field. Emily Watson, Ralph Fiennes and Gervais himself are among the supporting cast.
Extras: widescreen, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes, bloopers, trailers
"Triage" (NEM/E1, 2009; R for violence, language, sex, nudity; $24.98). Colin Farrell is very good in this thriller about a wartime photographer who tries to unravel the disappearance of a friend and colleague. But the movie itself is unfocused and haphazard. It's nice to see Christopher Lee in a supporting role, but he seems to have wandered in from some other movie.
Extras: widescreen, featuretes, trailers
"Helen" (E1, 2009; R for language, sex; $24.98). Ashley Judd stars in this cliche-ridden but sincere look at clinical depression and suicidal tendencies, playing a music professor with a young teenager. Judd is on her second marriage and struggling, but when she is eventually hospitalized, she finds kinship with a young bipolar woman.
Extras: widescreen, featurette, trailers