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Reviews: October 28

28 Oct, 2007 By: Home Media Reviews

Danny Roane: First-Time Director

Street 11/6
Lionsgate, Comedy, $26.98 DVD, ‘R' for drug content, crude and sexual humor and some language.
Stars Andy Dick, Michael Hitchcock, Anthony Rapp, James Van Der Beek, Maura Tierney, Kate Flannery, Danny Trejo.

Danny Roane is a sobering satire of the entertainment industry's obsession with partying to excess, rehab and relapse. The film takes viewers on a wild ride through the drunken delirium of former bumbling sitcom star Danny Roane (Andy Dick), who has been blackballed from Hollywood for his infamous debauchery.

The film opens on Danny being interviewed (mockumentary style) by a video crew charged with filming his attempted return to fame via the autobiographical movie Dead Dream.

Flashbacks to Danny as an obnoxious guest on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” hearken back to the hilarious skits that made “The Andy Dick Show” so popular. Fans of Andy Dick will be entertained by the increasingly off-the-wall and, at times, grotesque but darkly humorous scenes that follow.

A variety of stars have cameos throughout the movie, which careens from spoofing Hollywood's egocentric caricatures to Danny's fall from ill-fated grace into a drunken relapse.

Jack Black makes an appearance portraying God on a Hog, and Danny corners Ben Stiller in his posh office, begging him to play the role of a horse. “All you have to do is go, ‘weeeehhhee,’ he exclaims to a stunned Stiller.

Danny casts Van Der Beek as the leading man, only to replace him midway through the production with Rapp (Rent) after Danny goes on a three-day bender and returns to the set with a vision of transforming his drama into a musical.

In the midst of that chaos, the film's shady producer runs off with the production money, leaving nothing but the wrap party budget to plunder for the film's completion.

The crew, led by a constantly relapsing Danny, hurriedly finishes the film with ever-diminishing production values and a disastrous premiere at the fictitious National Society of Jewish Women's Film Festival.

During the phony outtakes as the credits roll, Kevin P. Farley, in character as gung-ho assistant director KC, provides his take on alcoholism and its inherent denial: “In America, we're all prudes. In Europe, they're drunk all the time. Everyone is drunk all over the world — but us.” — Brett Sporich

Prebook 11/1; Street 11/27
ThinkFilm, Comedy, $27.98 DVD, ‘R' for pervasive crude and sexual content, language and brief nudity.
Stars Jefferson Brown, Darryn Lucio, Melanie Marden, Christopher Elliott.

With a title like Pigs, it's hard not to think of the now classic juvenile debauchery film Porky's. Viewers expecting another version of the familiar “horny guys looking to score” formula will probably find themselves satisfied but might also be in for surprise.

Roomies Miles (Brown) and Cleaver (Lucio) have been living it up for years. Tiring of the now routine cycle of boozing and meaningless sex, Cleaver challenges Miles to a carnal competition: sleep with girls who, through their surnames, represent every letter of the alphabet.

Anyone with foresight might spot the logistical, if not ethical, problems inherent with the plan, specifically, finding a girl whose last name begins with the letter ‘X.'

Complications arise when Miles meets Gabby (Marden), whose last name does begin with ‘X,' and begins to develop genuine feelings for her.

The makers of Pigs seem to know the genre quite well and recognize how reprehensible and immature the actions of their characters are. It is a pleasant revelation to see the film morph from wacky college sex romp to a heartfelt coming-of-age romance. — David Greenberg

Quick Take: This ‘Angel' Still Has Wings

Since its debut in 1999, “Angel” was always seen as a darker counterpart to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Streeting Oct. 30, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's Angel Collector's Set (30-DVD set $139.98) is a perfect chance to re-experience the show's five seasons, which tell the story of a vampire with a soul (played by David Boreanaz of “Bones”) seeking redemption in a human world.

The packaging style mimics the earlier “Buffy” boxed set, with the discs stacked in trays contained within a larger cube.

The set doesn't include any bonus discs with new features, so fans who bought the season sets won't feel as if they're missing out. Other than the packaging, the only item exclusive to the set is an introduction by creator Joss Whedon. John Latchem

Run Granny Run
Street 11/6
Arts Alliance America, Documentary, $24.98 DVD, NR.

Shakespeare said that youth is wasted on the young. If that's true, 94-year-old Doris “Granny D” Haddock is making up for lost time.

She's really ticked off at how many people, especially young people, don't vote. So Granny D walks all the way across the country exhorting people to register and vote.

In New Hampshire, a candidate drops out of a 2004 race under suspicious circumstances, and Granny D steps into the 24-hour deadline void to challenge Sen. Judd Gregg for his seat. She's openly anti-war, anti-corporate-welfare and anti-offshore-drilling. She's not afraid to tilt at windmills or laugh at herself.

She's a force of nature, the soul of determination. She trains so she can keep walking, running an old-fashioned grassroots campaign. For 78 minutes we walk alongside her, sharing her trials and victories. In shadowing her we meet the people she cares about and see how she faces her challenges. Some are unique to her situation: On the way to a dreaded debate, she realizes she's forgotten her teeth and has to turn back to retrieve them.

Jaunty piano music stitches together the segments and lends a silent-movie-style soundtrack to the perils of politics.

That Gregg won the election is history. It was a blow to Granny D, but winning 34% of the vote on a $200,000 campaign proves the possibilities.

Marlo Poras' portrait of Granny D is an affectionate homage, and it's hard not to love “the angry grandmother,” whether or not you agree with her. As the film shows, even her political opponents love her. She's a wonderful reminder of the repository of knowledge and passion some people manage to grow and hold all their lives.

This is an inspiring documentary about a woman who regains meaning in her own life by trying to make her world a better place. It's also a great example of tow n-hall politics for students of civic affairs. Viewers of any age will appreciate the story and the quirky humor of hometown politics, Granny D style. — Holly J. Wagner

Blame It on Fidel
Street 11/6
Koch Lorber, Drama, B.O. $0.1 million, $26.98 DVD, NR. In French with English subtitles.
Stars Stefano Accorsi, Julie Depardieu, Nina Kervel-Bey, Benjamin Feuillet.

Blame It on Fidel is the story of one family's political awakening in the spring of 1970, seen through the eyes of a pre-adolescent girl.

When her bourgeois parents decide to give up their comfortable townhouse to become involved with the battle against fascism in Spain as well as Allende's campaign in Chile, Anna doesn't understand why her life has to change. But change it does.

First, her father insists that if she wants to continue to attend the convent school she loves, she can no longer participate in divinity class. Next, her beloved nanny is let go, and the children are left in the care of a series of political refugees with odd traditions, and even odder ways of preparing supper.

Finally, her apartment becomes the home base for her father's political cell and her mother's documentary about women who have had abortions.

Against the political upheaval on the streets and in her home, Anna must synthesize a set of beliefs with which she can live. As she negotiates the ideological maze her parents have constructed and with which they struggle as well, the film gently exposes the hypocrisies of political idealism.

As Anna, Kervel-Bey is remarkable. In her performance, Anna both internalizes and discards personas and philosophies with depth and skill that belie her youth. Also wonderful are Depardieu (Gerard's daughter) and Accorsi as Anna's conflicted, struggling parents who are torn between longing to make a difference in the world and wanting to make their children feel safe.

Blame It on Fidel is the first feature from director Julie Gavras (the daughter of Costa-Gavras), and although it may be challenging to viewers not familiar with the historical period it dissects, it is an astute, sensitive and absorbing look at how the personal and the political collide. — Anne Sherber

Quick Take: Back From the Dead

WWE Home Entertainment, through distributor Genius Products, recently released the DVD for Unforgiven 2007 ($24.95), a pay-per-view event from September fans will no doubt want to add to their collection.

The program was billed as the return of longtime favorite The Undertaker, in what turned out to be a sluggish brawl with strongman Mark Henry.

Highlights of the card include Triple H vs. Carlito (in which Carlito can't be disqualified) and a decent world tag team championship match. John Latchem

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