Clerks II and Other New Releases

Kevin Smith gives us three commentaries for just one sequel.

Clerks II

Genius, $29.95

In the 10 years since Kevin Smith sparked that whole indie thing with Clerks, he's dredged up the old characters and motifs for numerous other potty-mouthed dorkfests. Some (Chasing Amy) have been good, some (Dogma) have been horrible, but mostly they're just another Kevin Smith movie. Here's another one closer to the horrible side. There's some funny rants from Randall and some cameos from the same famous people who show up in all of Smith's movies. There's also wooden, overwritten dialogue, jokes that 5 percent of the population get, and an absolute lack of visual style that will continue to infuriate detractors. But they can't say Smith doesn't cater to his fans: This DVD is loaded with enough features to make a geek weep, including a feature-length making-of doc and three commentary tracks. JORDAN HARPER

Da Ali G Show: Da Compleet Seerez

HBO, $34.99

Now that the whole world knows Sacha Baron Cohen, there's a good chance he'll never be this funny again. But the success of Borat makes it a good time to revisit the show that started the phenomenon. Here, his simple method is the same: create an unbelievably stupid character, then make real people believe it. While the befuddled, sex-crazed Borat is the funniest of the bunch, wannabe gangsta Ali G runs a close second. It's not so much social satire, as some critics have claimed; it's just marveling at the sheer balls it takes to ask Boutros Boutros-Ghali how to say "shit" in French. There's some funny extra footage, but more interesting are the audio commentaries, in which Cohen speaks candidly as—gasp!—himself. JORDAN HARPER

An Inconvenient Truth

Paramount, $29.99

This isn't exactly the kind of DVD you buy to watch again and again; the ending doesn't get happier, and there are no twists to decipher with repeated viewings. The producers hope instead that you buy it and share it; it's less movie, after all, than droning agitprop—effective, compelling, frightening agitprop, but droning nonetheless. Al Gore is as articulate and well-versed a spokesman as global-warming activists could hope for, but the man has the charisma of a pie chart. The disc—which comes in a biodegradable paper sleeve inscribed with 10 ways to curb global warming—has only a few extras, including a short but interesting doc about the doc and Gore updating his stats a year later. Turns out global warming doesn't make more hurricanes after all, it just intensifies the ones we get. Is that a bonus? ROBERT WILONSKY

A Star Is Born

Warner, $19.97

Finally, the perfect Hanukkah gift for Mom. A Star Is Born itself doesn't have much going for it; it's a rock and roll movie for people who hate rock and roll—which is probably why Kris Kristofferson wears his sneer with something approaching contempt dipped in ennui. That said, I can't get enough of this thing, if only for the fact that Barbra Streisand, who starred and exec-produced the movie, won't stop yapping about it—not only on the too-much-information commentary track, but also all over the deleted scenes and even the wardrobe tests that get her all misty-eyed and giddy ("Oh, that's cute. When did I wear that? I like those boots. I was only 119 pounds, I think, when I made that. God how I wish today."). It's like watching a movie with a yenta (or Yentl, yeah) sitting right next to you. Truly awesome. ROBERT WILONSKY

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Warner, $24.98

At long last, Richard Donner's much-whispered-about "original version" of Superman II sees the light of day, and it quickly joins the ranks of the reconstructed Touch of Evil, Apocalypse Now, and Blade Runner as films made superior in the recutting and retelling. It's an entirely different movie now, one shorn of the comic-book silliness and given extra tragic weight with the addition of father-and-son scenes between Christopher Reeve and Marlon Brando. There are enormous alterations and tiny changes, enough to merit repeat viewings even for those who've memorized the lines. And Donner's commentary is its own show, the contented nyah-nyah of a man who gets possession of his child 20 years later and finally reveals its true potential. Bonus: even more deleted scenes. Is today Christmas? ROBERT WILONSKY

Other Releases

In addition to Superman II (above), Warner is also packaging just about every Superman ever made into various gift sets. Kino boxes together five old Claude Chabrol thrillers, with L'Enfer best of the batch. Criterion gives us flapper icon Louise Brooks in the naughty silent-era classic Pandora's Box. Never having done a DVD commentary in his life, Woody Allen's dreadful Scoop slinks onto disc. Owen Wilson wears out his welcome for audiences, too, in You, Me and Dupree. A case study in bad marketing: Seinfeld season seven comes out in the wake of Michael Richards' n-word meltdown. Good to keep kids entertained during holiday gatherings are new packages of Laurel and Hardy shorts from Warner Bros., along with reissues of vintage laffers from the Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello. And if the children demand something newer and computer-animated, there's always The Ant Bully.

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