SWEET HOME ALABAMA
Touchstone Home Ent., $29.99
IN A STORY LINE about as poppin' fresh as Green Acres, Reese Witherspoon stars as Melanie Carmichael in Alabama (on disc Feb. 4). She's a rising Manhattan fashion designer who becomes engaged to the mayor's ber-eligible son (a very JFK Jr.-esque Patrick Dempsey) but must first take care of her secret unresolved marriage to childhood sweetheart Jake (Josh Lucas) down in—you guessed it, smarty-pants—Alabama.
When cell-phone-clutching, black-clad Melanie shows up in her pea-sized hometown—seemingly caught in deep-fried amber since the day she left seven years ago—friends and family quickly pull her back into the world of rowdy honky-tonks, Civil War re-enactments, and marathon fruit-canning sessions, which leads, inevitably, to the softening of her fierce animosity toward the uncouth country-boy lover of her wayward youth (Lucas looks like Paul Newman and has a nice chunk of his wheat-stalk-chewing charm). You can no doubt guess the outcome, but it's pleasant enough waiting the 109 minutes it takes to get there, thanks in big part to its star.
Anyone who's seen Election, Freeway, or even Legally Blonde knows Witherspoon is one of the sharpest under-30 actresses working right now; unfortunately, sweet, silly in-flight-movie fluff like Alabama isn't very likely to take her to the next level, unless we're talking income brackets (the film did over $125 million in its domestic release). She hasn't lent her voice to a commentary track (director Andy Tennant supplies one), and she graces only eight enjoyable-enough deleted scenes, as well as the film's alternate ending, which was (very wisely) scrapped after a test screening.
WOULDN'T YOU know it, but Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn also skipped their commentary duties on The Banger Sisters (Jan. 28). Fans of '70s blaxploitation cinema will appreciate the documentary Baadasssss Cinema (featuring Pam Grier and Quentin Tarantino), while anime fans should steer clear of Lupin the Third: The World's Most Wanted. Dana Carvey's Master of Disguise may have been the least-wanted movie of 2002—no, wait, that honor goes to Matthew Perry's Serving Sara. Finally, the debut feature by The Usual Suspects team (which includes Seattle resident Chris McQuarrie), 1993's Public Access, is also on disc.