Breakfast on Pluto
Neil Jordan's fantastical adaptation of the Patrick McCabe novel is, explains the director on his commentary, not your standard dour Irish film. True, you won't find talking birds or Daniel Day Lewis in platform shoes and lipstick in The Field. Instead, with his glittery heels trouncing through the mud, we have Patrick/Patricia "Kitten" Braden (Cillian Murphy, also on the commentary). He flees Ireland to escape IRA gunrunners and search for his absent mother in London. There, in a kicker straight out of The Alchemist, he rediscovers his priest father (Liam Neeson) and—wait for it—himself.
Like Kitten's cheap brassiere, there isn't much holding up this DVD. Among the extras are a nine-minute featurette and the commentary, which illuminates Jordan's meta-storytelling style. This includes employing a pair of robins to narrate the fablelike twists, and Kitten's burlesque imagining of his own conception, patterned after radio serials of the '50s. Jordan additionally explains how Kitten's pansexuality is also a rebellion against the harsh Catholic Church, and offers his definition of childhood: "a paradise from which you'll never recover."
Breakfast is most enjoyable for its sprightly glam and bubblegum pop soundtrack (including the Rubettes' "Sugar Baby Love" and Middle of the Road's "Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep"). Jordan has Wes Anderson's knack for choosing music that speaks and stands in for character. While Bowie was deemed too mature a voice for Kitten's naïveté, Harry Nilsson was a revelation—his falsetto felt like "finding an alternative version of the Beatles," per Jordan. As for the title, which seems plucked from the mane of Marc Bolan's unicorn, it refers to an obscurity by actor-songwriter Don Partridge. Says Jordan, "It means nothing and everything at the same time in that strange, stoned-out '60s hippie-ish way." KATE SILVER
High School Musical
With the glorified dry humping that passes for dancing in today's rap videos, even Disney has to be shocked by the widespread success of this squeaky-clean made-for-TV Grease knockoff. Maybe a fun pop musical was just what the kids needed, as the response for the film, its soundtrack, and its stars has been overwhelming since the movie's late-January airing. After numerous rebroadcasts, cult fan club start-ups, plans for an upcoming stage adaptation, and a No. 1 Billboard album, the movie finally arrives on DVD.
The scant bonus features, however, leave something to be desired on this "encore edition." A behind-the-scenes featurette quickly summarizes the dance moves in the film's main numbers with director-choreographer Kenny Ortega (director of Newsies, choreographer of Dirty Dancing). At least the cast members look like they're having fun learning how to dance. We at home never get the chance. There's a "Learning the Moves" featurette, which promises to teach us the steps from the upbeat salsa duet "Bop to the Top," but Ortega has an odd understanding of the word instruction. His "class" consists of performing the complicated routine once for us to copy. This is Disney, Kenny, not A Chorus Line.
Rounded out by two lame music videos that mostly recut existing Musical footage and about a dozen trailers for upcoming Disney releases, the disc's saving grace is the subtitled sing-along version for the film, which allows the whole family to gather at home and belt out charmingly cheesy duets like "Start of Something New" and "Breaking Free." FRANK PAIVA
Kids will dig the 1940 Disney classic Dumbo, tween girls will opt for the mermaid comedy Aquamarine, and teens have the rom-com spoof Date Movie. From HBO, look for season two of Entourage, plus a host of comedy specials highlighting Louis C.K., Caroline Rhea, and others. Redford and Newman contribute new interviews to the extras on a two-disc Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). Not so Harrison Ford in Firewall. For kitsch devotees, there's a reissue set of Valley of the Dolls and its sequel; for aging rockers, Jonathan Demme's Neil Young: Heart of Gold. Glory Road—for hoops fans only. Everyone can appreciate the smart, vulgar, beautiful stand-up star of Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic. Also look for 16 Blocks, Green Street Hooligans, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and The Boys of Baraka. John Ford and John Wayne share a 10-disc, eight-title collection including The Searchers and Stagecoach. Fox is reissuing some old noirs including House of Strangers and I Wake Up Screaming. Criterion offers an excellent new treatment of Dazed and Confused on two discs with Richard Linklater commentary.