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Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Comedy > High Society > Slapstick > Wit > British > Romantic > Skits > Teens > Animation > Satire > Ro > Auntie Mame (1958/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/A Fish Called Wanda (1988/MGM/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)/Home Again (2017/Focus/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Impractical Jokers: The Complete Fifth Season (2017/Wa

Auntie Mame (1958/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/A Fish Called Wanda (1988/MGM/MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray)/Home Again (2017/Focus/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Impractical Jokers: The Complete Fifth Season (2017/Warner DVD Set)/MamaBoy (2016/MVD Visual DVD)/The Simpsons: The Complete Eighteenth Season (2006 - 2007/Fox DVD Set)/Victoria & Abdul (2017/Focus/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/With Child (2015/Summer Hill/MVD Visual DVD)



Picture: B/B+/B & B-/B/B-/B-/B & C+/B- Sound: B-/B+/B & B-/B/B-/B-/B & C+/B- Extras: C+/B/C/B/C/B/C/C Main Programs: C+/B/C/C+/D/B+/C+/C+



PLEASE NOTE: The Auntie Mame Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Here's a big group of new comedy releases you should know about...



Morton DaCosta's Auntie Mame (1958) is the hit film of the hit musical with Rosalind Russell (later in her long, successful career) as the wealthy, eccentric and sometimes over-accessorized title character who becomes the guardian of the son of her suddenly deceased brother. She is a bit of a snob, but she is also wild and exposes the underaged youth to more than she ought to, as she should know better. However, so lost in her own sometimes insular world, you can see why.


Russell can sing and do the comedy as she had when she originated the role on Broadway, but the film also manages to bring on the energy to make it just work enough... that is if you like the material in the first place. There are some good moments here, but if you are not a fan, you might find this one drags a bit at a needed 143 minutes (doing justice to the play and the budget) despite its ambition. Now also a gay cult item apparently, Warner has issued this film as part of their Warner Archive collection on Blu-ray and in that it is a bit overdue. Helping out is the supporting cast that includes Forest Tucker, Coral Browne, Fred Clark, Lee Patrick, Willard Waterman, Peggy Cass, Pippa Scott, Joanna Barnes and Roger Smith, in tunes with the tunes that are not ones that stuck with me, but work when watching. Now you can see for yourself.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was originally shot in the large frame Technirama format and issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor reduction prints and no doubt this is best the film has ever looked on home video. Color is even pretty good throughout save a few flaws, but not all scenes are up to real, full, rich, wide-ranging Technicolor standards, so you cannot see the money on the screen or the color-range intent throughout as much as one should. Maybe the print/negative materials were not always in the best condition or Warner has no actual Technicolor print to go by, but it is not totally Technicolor at its best throughout.


However, thanks to Blu-ray, you can see the depth and richness intended when the transfer shines and this will come as a pleasant surprise to many.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is not a mixdown from any lost stereo or multi-channel soundtracks but the only sound the film was released in, theatrical mono. That's a surprise considering so many widescreen films and especially musicals were being issued in 'the new stereophonic sound', but this pone was not and was still a big hit.


Extras include the very pleasant surprise of an Isolated Music Score track in DTS-MA lossless 2.0 Stereo by Bronislaw Kaper and two Original Theatrical Trailers: one for this film, the other for the odd 1974 Mame remake with Lucille Ball.



While it's been on Blu-ray disc before, Charles Crichton's A Fish Called Wanda (1988) has been remastered from the original 35mm camera elements in this deluxe edition from Arrow video that dwarfs previous releases. A hilarious British comedy starring John Cleese (who also wrote the film), Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Michael Palin, the film is a bit dated, but clever enough that many other films have borrowed elements from it over the years.


After a successful diamond heist, four criminals soon turn on one another as they each fight to end up on off their stolen fortune. As they try double crossing one another, only one of these very different people will end up on top. At the center of all of the madness, an unexpected romance blooms as a political figure (Cleese) ends up getting entangled unknowingly into this elaborate plot with an ending that's far from predictable.


The film is a great character study piece with solid performances throughout. When I was a film student many years ago, I noticed a lot of books that I read references this film for dramatic tension and (in screenwriting courses) character development. Comedies nowadays are rarely as intelligent and thought out as this one, which is a shame. No wonder it was a slowly-building surprise hit in its time.


Remastered in 4K high definition from the original camera negative and presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and English lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48 kHz, 24bt) and 1.0 original Mono track, the presentation is commendable to say the least. A great candidate for the 4K Ultra HD format, the film has a clean look with great detail and textures throughout with little flaws.


Special Features include...


Commentary by John Cleese


John Cleese's First Farewell Performance - 1988 documentary on the making of the film


Something Fishy - a 15th anniversary retrospective


An Appreciation by Vic Pratt features the BFI Archivist talking about the film


Interview with Roger Murray-Leach (Production Designer)


On Location hosted by Robert Powell


A Message from John Cleese


Deleted and Alternative Scenes


Image Gallery


Trivia Track


Trailer


and a Reversible Cover/ Insert Booklet/ Slip Case.



The new Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy, Home Again (2017), is a Nancy Meyers-produced film that tugs at the heart strings with a look at a single mother of two starting over again. The debut feature by Hollywood heavyweight Nancy Meyer's daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, the film takes place in L.A. and takes a few corny twists and turns, at times feeling as tacky as a Hallmark movie.


The film also stars Lake Bell, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen, and Nat Wolff.


When Alice Kinney (Witherspoon) moves to L.A. with her two daughters, she decides to start over after a bad divorce. After a wild birthday party, she hooks up with a Guy whose two hunky filmmakers end up needing a place to stay. After her mother (Bergen) offers for them to stay in her guest house, Alice's new romance starts to blossom with one of them. Alice's Ex (Sheen) and Father of her children, shows up at her doorstep with a suitcase in hand and tries to get back in the picture... now she has to choose between her past, present, and possible futures with these two very different men.


This Blu-ray/DVD combo pack includes the 1080p high definition transfer with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix, both of which are up to standards and look great on disc. The colors and skin tones are spot on with little to be desired in terms of sound mix. A DVD version of the film is also included in standard definition with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track.


Digital UltraViolet copy also included.


Special Features are otherwise only a Feature Commentary with writer/director Hallie Meyers-Shyer and producer Nancy Meyers.



Sal, Joe, Q, and Murr are four lifelong friends in New York with their own hidden camera show. Every episode they come up with crazy pranks and challenges to play on each other in the unknowing New York public. Whoever isn't able to complete the challenge, then gets to play the 'punishment' game. There are no rules, no limits, no gag too big in Impractical Jokers: The Complete Fifth Season (2017).


Impractical Jokers are four real life friends who plays improv jokes to and on each other in front of the real life NYC public. Usually with a hidden camera, crew and an ear piece with the guys take turn in daring each other into saying or doing something complete ridiculous. It is crazy enough (usually) for public (the audience/people) to probably realize they are on hidden camera show. While one plays the prank, the rest of guys are on the other end of the microphone and camera get to watch and be the peanut gallery, make fun and have laughs. But for the really inappropriate pranks, they reserve for only each other in their 'punishment game' for whomever is the 'loser' of their various challenges.


This series was like a fusion of college pranks and 'America's Funniest Home Videos'. The four 'friendly' (and slightly overweight) guys who seem nice guys, but are the class clowns. And while it is great to have laughs with friends, if you think about it ...what kind of people are the kind that enjoys playing pranks on others? Most the jokes are kept kosher, nothing too sexually, racist or inappropriate (or that will get them sued). The jokes and show are amusing at first, but then the jokes got old pretty fast, it is simply a time killer for those who have too much time. The whole show is about the hosts' relationships with each other and getting 'shock value' as in "Oh my god, I can't believe you said/did that on TV and in public."


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is as good as it can be for DVD and such an off-hand production, in line with previous DVD sets we've seen of the show's previous seasons, while the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound might have occasional location audio flaws, but it is fine for what it is. Extras include deleted scenes, inside jokes and British Invasion Specials.



One of the goofiest indie films I've seen in a while, MamaBoy (2017) tells the story of two teenagers that get pregnant... as in both man and woman get pregnant. Kelly Hawkins (Dylan Riley Snyder) knocks up his girlfriend (Allie DeBerry) whilst trying to keep their relationship a secret. He then meets a scientist who has successfully gotten a monkey pregnant and wants to do a human trail. Stupidly, Kelly decides to get pregnant with a baby monkey and is soon the laughing stock of every person he comes in ear shot with.


Similar to other 'men who get pregnant' movies, with much of the film spending too much time making fun of its own plot. It's aim to be heartwarming and romantic is taken half heartedly as it ends up just being a weird mess about halfway through the second act.


Presented on standard definition DVD with an anamorphically enhanced widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, the film looks and sounds as good as it can on the format. There's nothing particularly special about the style or cinematography of the film but it's shot professionally enough considering its budget.


Special Features...


Teaser Trailer


Hollywood Red Carpet - Behind the Scenes



The Simpsons DVD releases grow with the hilarious 18th Season debuting in this nicely packaged special edition release. Featuring episodes that ran from September 2006 until May 2007, this is the season that not only celebrated the series' 400th episode, but its 20th Anniversary. The Matt Groening brainchild is still a success and on the air to this day with no signs of slowing down any time soon as it's now in its 29th Season on the Fox Network.


The Simpsons: The Complete Eighteenth Season features the reoccurring voice talents of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer to name a few.


The packaging features the character of Fat Tony and has an awesome fold out disc sleeve with exclusive artwork that fans will definitely find pleasure in seeing. It's rare that any television series puts as much pride in their disc presentation these days... so this is a welcome treat.


Episodes include The Mook, The Chef, the Wife and her Homer, Jazzy and the Pussycats, Please Homer Don't Hammer Them, Treehouse of Hot XVII, G.I. (Annoyed Grunt), Moe Na Lisa, Ice Cream of Margie (with light blue hair), The Haw-Hawed Couple, Kill Gil Volumes 1 and 2, The Wife Aquatic, Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times, Little Big Girl, Springfield Up, Yokel Chords, Rome-Old and Juli-Eh, Homerazzi, Marge Gamer, The Boys of Bummer, Crook and Ladder, Stop! Or My Dog Will Shoot, 24 Minutes, and You Kent Always Say What You Want.


Presented in standard definition with a 1.33:1 full screen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital track, the animated show looks fine on disc and is much better than the television broadcasts have tended to be. Commercial and network watermark free (and uncensored), it's nice to see the episodes the way that they were originally intended to be.


Special Features...


Welcome Back Loyal Fans! featurette


Audio Commentaries


Deleted Scenes


Bonus Episode: 22 for 30



The Simpsons is always fun and this release is no exception!



Stephen Frears' Victoria & Abdul (2017) is the quasi-comical story of how Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) in her later years became friends with a hired servant (Ali Fazal) that seems to be a chance, passing thing, only to develop into a great friendship that happens to challenge the racism around her she had never totally seen before and other issues with the society she has been in power to rule, limits included. The script never focuses on those points too much and some may say not enough, but it is still not a bad film and I can see why it has some of the acclaim it has.


However, it is still playing it a bit too safe as Frears' less challenging films can and it keeps it somewhat short at under two hours, though it still had a tendency to drag for me a bit. Fortunately, it is not merely more 'fuddy duddy' filmmaking set in the past being smart, but you still get the sense and feel you've been here before too often. Those curious should give it a look and Dench delivers, as usual.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray looks good for an all-HD shoot, Frears knowing what to show and do with the camera, but color and detail suffer by comparison when seen on the anamorphically enhanced DVD version, which is too soft. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the Blu-ray and clean, clear and well-recorded, Frears films usually having good sound, but this is a dialogue-based film with a limited, of consistent soundfield. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is a comedown by comparison and sells the soundmaster short.



Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber capable devices, while the discs offer two brief Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurette clips.



The low budget drama/comedy With Child (2014) is the debut feature by indie director Titus Heckel that is a bit drab. The main character is hard to relate to, especially in the first act of the film, as he seems more stubborn than meaning well for his infant daughter. The film has a real world quality to it and proves that it isn't easy raising a kid yourself, especially when you're still grieving.


When a construction worker named Auden Price (Kerry van der Griend) is widowed, he is left to look after his four month old daughter. Too stubborn to let the child out of his sight and unable to afford daycare, Auden ends up trying to find a job where he can take his daughter to work with him. When his sister-in-law Karen (Lori Koko) tries to help him by taking the child herself, he decides to take the responsibility into his own hands. Things start to change when he gets a new employer (Leslie Lewis) who ends up falling for him.


Presented in standard definition with an anamorphically enhanced widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio and a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, the film looks and sounds fine on disc for the format. The cinematography and lighting in the film isn't bad, nor is the music or audio. Some compression issues, which are evident in the format, are apparent but otherwise nothing that stands out.


The only special feature is a trailer for the film and other films from Summer Hill Films.


While more of a drama than comedy, With Child is a look at parenthood and the trials of being a single parent.



To order the Auntie Mame Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo (Mame, Victoria), Ricky Chiang (Jokers) and James Lockhart

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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