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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Beauty Contest > Romance > Christmas > Family > Action > Spoof > Farce > French > Gross Humo > Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999*)/Holiday Affair (1949/RKO*)/Iron Mask (2019/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/It Happened On 5th Avenue (1947/Allied Artists)/Life Is A Quiet River (1989**/***)/Mallrats (1995/**Arrow Blu-r

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999*)/Holiday Affair (1949/RKO*)/Iron Mask (2019/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/It Happened On 5th Avenue (1947/Allied Artists)/Life Is A Quiet River (1989**/***)/Mallrats (1995/**Arrow Blu-ray***)/Opening Act (2020/RLJ Blu-ray)/Pit Stop (2020/DVD***)/Senior Week (1987/Liberation DVD/***all MVD)/The Shop Around The Corner (1940/MGM/Blu-ray*)/Young Sheldon: The Complete Third Season (2019 - 2020/*all Warner Archive Blu-ray)



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



PLEASE NOTE: All five Warner Archive Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the link below.



Next up is a huge helping of comedy for the holidays, including a few that were made with Christmas in mind...



We start with Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999,) a fun mockumentary style comedy with plenty of beautiful Hollywood movie stars including Kirsten Dunst, the late Brittany Murphy, Amy Adams, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney, Kirstie Alley, and Denise Richards.


Centered on a documentary about the Sarah Rose American Teen pageant and its high school beauty contestants, the film explores the drama of high school and the drama of their parents as well.


This film was pretty popular when it came out and so I'm surprised this is its first proper release on disc. It's funny watching it now and seeing how young many of these stars look and how much they have changed over the years. The movie isn't too dated and has a bunch of quotable one liners.


Drop Dead Gorgeous is presented in 1080p high definition and an MPEG-4 AVC and a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an English, lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix. The film is nicely presented here in high definition on Blu-ray for the first time and is definitely worth picking up if you're a fan!


Special Feature: a Trailer.



Don Hartman's Holiday Affair (1949) is a sadly forgotten Christmas comedy with Janet Leigh as a widow mom desperate to make money and has a son, so she becomes a secret shopper for a local newspaper anonymously. This requires some sneaking around, but so be it. One day, she tries pricing toy train sets and it is the holiday, so she hopes this will offer some cover. Unfortunately, she is too noticed by one of the department's employees (Robert Mitchum) and he figures her out. Will he tell?


He is interested in her, though she is engaged to a good man already (Wendell Corey) and is glad her son likes him. From there, it would be telling, but the film has clever bookends and some funny moments, along with a few that stretch credibility, but maybe not as much for what used to constitute a good Christmas film. A few things here might shock some people and others would not happen in any movie today. Leigh is great here, Mitchum gets a rare comedy/romance turn and the film is handled well enough that I recommend those interested should definitely catch it. It might even finally be discovered as at least a minor Christmas classic, plus it is better than all those phony holiday movies we keep getting on cable. But of course, what isn't?


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer rarely shows the age of the materials used and looks great for its age, especially since there has been strong concern many of the RKO titles may not have survived as well as fans and scholars might like. However, this film is one of the best transfers of a RKO film I have seen on Blu-ray and you will be pleasantly impressed too. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix shows its age more, can be warm and nice at times, but has some sonic limits. I expect this is the best this film will ever sound. A condensed, all-audio-only Lux Radio Theater version is the only extra.



Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger star in Viy 2: Journey to China also known as Iron Mask (2019), which is a period Chinese fantasy film with plenty of recognizable faces. The film was expensive as you can tell from the (literally) ten production companies with logos at the film's head. It's big, loud, and expensive film full of digital effects. There's plenty of action sequences, but at the end of the day it all feels a bit overblown and silly. In a way, it feels like a foreigner with a lot of money trying to mix an anime cartoon style with a Hollywood big budget style, and it doesn't always work.


Iron Mask has an abundance of stars and features Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Godzilla: King of Monsters), Rutger Hauer (the late Blade Runner star), Xingtong Yao, and Jason Flemyng to name a few. The film is directed by Oleg Stepchenko, who also made the first film.


A sequel to Forbidden Kingdom (2014), cartographer Jonathan Green (Flemyng) ends up in China where he faces loads of bizarre beings and soldiers including a Dragon Master. The iron masked Russian Czar ends up in a battle with him as well and things get ugly. The cartographer's skepticism is challenged as he sees mystical beings and black magic first hand.

Iron Mask is presented in 1080p high definition with an MPEG-4 AVC Codec and an original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and paired with audio mixes in English, lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and Spanish 5.1. The overall quality isn't terrible for the format, but one can't help but yearn for a ultra high definition version to help enrich the colors and style on display here. The film was obviously shot digital among many green screens for the lot of it. However, the overall transfer and presentation of the film is fine.


Special Features: "In Service of Others: Reflections of the Cast" featurette.



Roy Del Ruth's It Happened On 5th Avenue (1947) is also set during the holidays and was made around the time as that larger independent holiday classic, It's A Wonderful Life, also having Charles Ruggles (Clarence the Angel from that other film) as a lite con artist/hobo who is illegally and unknowingly living in the huge home of a rich man when that man is not around. He only has a dog with him and he has figured out when that is. This activity has gone unnoticed for a long time, apparently, but all that is about to change.


The actual owner (Victor Moore) is looking for his daughter (Ann Harding) who has gone missing and she goes to the big home, a move her father does not consider (for some reason) at first. Of course, the script is humorously bent on shaking up any kind of class system, especially since WWII has just ended and there is a housing shortage. It is a little funnier thinking of it in that context, but it still has too many coincidences to fully work. However, it is good looking, well made and the rest of the cast is good, including Dom DeFore and future hit TV star Gale Storm, which is good since this plays often like a sitcom.


However, it is also a decent addition to holiday viewing and an interesting flipside film to It's A Wonderful Life, although this one is more socially conscious and is not covering up for unseen greedy people.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film to any copy of this film I have ever seen before and I have seen it a few times over the years. Nice that so many of these Allied Artists films are looking so good. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix shows tis age more, but is not bad and again, as good as it is ever likely to sound.


A condensed, all-audio-only Lux Radio Theater version is the only extra.



Life Is A Quiet River (1989) aka La Vie est un long fleuve tranquille is a French family oriented comedy from award winning debut filmmaker Etienne Chatiliez about a son and a daughter who were switched at birth and, at the age of 12, realize this. Presented on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy, the film has been lovingly restored to disc and has loads of new extras.


The film won many prestigious awards at France's Cesar Awards ceremony winning for best screenplay, best debut work and acting prizes for Helene Vincent and Catherine Jacob.


The film stars Benoit Magimel, Helene Vincent, Valerie Lalande, Catherine Jacob, and Tara Romer.


Life is a Long Quiet River is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a French DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix. The film has been nicely restored with no glaring issues and plenty of detail in the image for the format.


Special Features:


Archival interviews with director Etienne Chatiliez, actor Andre Wilms, co-writer/co-producer Florence Quentin and producer Charles Gassot


Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow


and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jonathan Romney



Kevin Smith's second feature film and cult favorite Mallrats (1995) gets the deluxe Blu-ray treatment it deserves (finally) thanks to the good folks at Arrow Video. The film is definitely a fun time capsule piece of what nerd culture was like before the rise of the internet and pop culture fandom as we know it today. While Jay and Silent Bob have made plenty of movies since this one they are simply in top form here. This film is highly quotable and serves well as a romantic comedy and as a piece that comic book fans in particular can enjoy.


The film stars Jason Lee, Jeremy London, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Stan Lee, and Shannen Doherty.


Brodie (Lee) and TS (London) both get dumped by their girlfriends and retreat to their only safe place - the local mall. As they both try to figure out where they both went wrong with their significant others, they end up debating the serious subjects of sex, superheroes, and their unique annoyances and observances within the '90s era.


This limited edition version features the Theatrical Version, Extended Versions, and the TV Cut.


Mallrats is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC (34.41 Mbps) codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and paired with audio mixes in lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) and English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo (48kHz, 24-bit). The film looks and sounds better than previous versions with this brain new restoration approved by Smith and DP David Klein.


Special Features:


LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS


Newly assembled TV cut of the film featuring hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity

Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Philip Kemp

Fold-out poster featuring replica blueprints for 'Operation Drive-by' and 'Operation Dark Knight'


DISC ONE - THEATRICAL AND EXTENDED CUTS

Original, lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing


Audio commentary with director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, archivist Vincent Pereira, and actors Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, and Jason Mewes


Brand new introduction to the film by Kevin Smith


My Mallrat Memories - an all-new interview with Kevin Smith

A newly filmed tribute to producer Jim Jacks by Kevin Smith


Brand new interview with actor Jason Mewes


Brand new interview with Cinematographer David Klein


Hollywood of the North: A newly produced animated making-of documentary featuring Minnesota crew members who worked on the film


Deleted Scenes - Kevin Smith and Vincent Pereira discuss deleted scenes and sequences originally cut from the film


Outtakes and behind the scenes footage


Cast interviews from the original set


Erection of an Epic: The Making of Mallrats - archival retrospective with cat and crew looking at the making and release of the film.


Q&A with Kevin Smith - archival Q&A filmed for the 10th anniversary


Build Me Up Buttercup music video


Stills galleries


and a Theatrical Trailer


DISC TWO - TV CUT

Newly assembled TV cut of the film featuring hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity

Original stereo audio

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

Brand new introduction to the TV cut by director Kevin Smith

Stills gallery of the comic books featured in the film's opening sequence

and Easter eggs.



If you enjoy films about comedians in the same vein as Judd Apatow movies or Funny People, then you may want to take a look at The Opening Act (2020). The film shows the life of a modern day comedian in an interesting light and captures the difficult profession comedy is.


Following the story of Will Chu, a young Asian American, who had a passion for stand up comedy since birth. When he gets an opportunity to open a show for the Pittsburgh improv, he ends up discovering that the gig is harder than he thought. He gets shacked up with another comedian while there that lives a much wilder life than he goes, and he ends up getting into all sorts of odd situations. The film tells a great message that you have to believe in yourself to accomplish anything.


The film features many top comedians including Neal Brennan, Cedric the Entertainer, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Jermaine Fowler, Ken Jeong, Russell Peters, Debby Ryan, Tom Segura, Iliza Shlesinger.


The Opening Act is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix. The film looks and sounds great on disc and is shot and produced high end.


Special Features:

The Making of featurette

Getting Started in Comedy

Extended Stand-up scenes with Jimmy O. Yang, Cedric The Entertainer, Whitney Cummings and more...


The Opening Act is a funny movie with a lot of talent behind it that is worth checking out.



A foreign horror comedy, Pit Stop (2020) aka Acid Pit Stop, centers on a group of twenty somethings who go to a rave party at a deserted warehouse. A new designer drug is introduced that when drank turns people into raging flesh eating zombies. Now the friends who brought the drug to the party (but didn't take it) are the only ones alive to battle the undead.


The film stars Bruce Payne, Swaylee Loughnane, Crystal Wingx, Peter Stanford, Rosie Pearson, and Andrea Sandell to name a few. The film is directed by Jason Wright.


Pit Stop is presented in anamorphically enhanced, standard definition on DVD with a 5.1 lossy Dolby Digital mix. The production quality is on the low end and definitely was shot on low end digital. The audio is so so and recorded half hearted, most of the shots are a bit wide and there isn't too much detail or overly cinematic lighting in the any of it. Compression issues are evident but that is thanks to the aging format.


No extras.


Pit Stop attempts to be a sort of Shaun of the Dead style horror/comedy but ends up being an amateur effort.



A low budget '80s comedy, Senior Week (1987) is a fun R-rated romp centers on some mischievous high schoolers who go on a spontaneous road trip to Florida in search of escaping responsibly and finding babes despite inviting their jealous girlfriends. The movie hits all of the '80s comedy cliches seen in movies like Porky's and One Crazy Summer however doesn't showcase the star power and originality of those films.


The film stars Michael St. Gerard, Barbara Gruen, Alan Naggar, George Robert Kirk, and Vicki Darnell with direction by Stuart Goldman.


Senior Week is presented in standard definition on DVD with a full frame aspect ratio and a 2.0 Stereo mix. The film is full of compression issues and the overall transfer is a bit muddy.


Special Features: 25 Minute Behind the Scenes Featurette



Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around The Corner (1940) is the director's underrated follow-up to his masterwork Ninotchka (1939) and takes place in Budapest of all places. The shop in question is an excellent little store that has all kinds of goods you might want for yourself to to give as gifts to others. It longtime owner (Frank Morgan from The Wizard Of Oz) is doing well enough, but something is wrong. His longtime best manager (James Stewart on the upswing in one of his best films) is keeping the place successful, but that comes from hard work and high standards.


One day, a young woman (Margaret Sullivan, who was very popular at the time and gets top billing here) tries applying for a position, though she clashes with the manager, she lands up at the shop and just in time to be holiday help. It is a great store anyone would love to shop at, on that existed more back in the day, but there are plenty of them still left (pandemic notwithstanding) if you know where to look.


Then multiple storylines start to converge and there are even dark moments (Stewart and holidays I guess) and yet, the results are remarkable and save a few small things that are obvious (some of them, admittedly, have to be to keep the film moving,) this is a gem that also needs serious rediscovery and when you finish watching, you'll being to understand what 'The Lubitsch Touch' is all about because he truly is one of the great filmmakers. Great to see this film restored!


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer hardly shows the age of the materials used and has all the vividness and luster you would expect from an MGM film of the time. You can really see all the richness in the set designs and how it is filled, which are usually very dense in Lubitsch's films. You even get a few demo shots. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix has a good source that has held up and you can hear this well enough, but again, the age of the film holds the sound back a bit despite MGM having some of the best sound equipment of the time. It will, at the same time, never sound better than it does here. A condensed, all-audio-only Lux Radio Theater and Screen Guild Players versions of the film and a featurette, A New Romance Of Celluloid: The Miracle Of Sound, are the extras.



Finally, is anything normal when you have a child prodigy in the house? Sheldon continues to drive his family, teachers and friends up the wall. As George and Mary try to hold on to their sanity as they 'try' to raise their kids normally. Meanwhile Meemaw has trouble in paradise when Dr. Sturgis dumps her and starts dating again. Meanwhile the Coopers have deal with Georgie Jr. and Missy's budding and raging hormones.


Young Shelton: The Complete Third Season (2019 - 2020) has Sheldon as a child genius and is not 'normal', he constantly out shines his brother Georgie and sister Missy making them seem like idiots. His father George is the high school football coach and his mother is devoted bible thumping Christian, Meemaw is his alcoholic gambling loving grandmother. While Sheldon's intelligence is far beyond his years, his maturity is still a child's and while his parents want him to be 'normal' and be treated as a 'normal' kid, he is constantly not and because he is different, he gets either outcasted or bullied (But he doesn't care).


This series is like a live action version of Bill Amend's 'Fox Trot' with a nuclear family with two clueless parents and typical American kids except with a Southern family and makes fun of the '80s pop culture.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image has a look separate from The Big Bang Theory, but is shot very well and is among the best sitcoms on TF in this respect, avoiding any generic look, making the comedy work better. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is also very well recorded, mixed and presented, better than most sitcoms today, if not as active as Theory was, but is fine the way it works, naturalistically and clear. The combination is fine and as good as any sitcom on Blu-ray today. Extras include The Coopers, East Texas and the '80s.


Episodes this time include:


Quirky Eggheads and Texas Snow Globes - Mary and Sheldon worries each other has mental issues. Georgie gets a get-rich-quick idea with snow globes.


A Broom Closet and Satan's Monopoly Board - Sheldon has a secret closet to study on his own instead of going to class. The pastor has lustful feelings with a woman and asks Mary for advice.


An Entrepeneurialist and a Swat on the Bottom - Georgie continues with getting rich by selling cheap candy at school. Sheldon think his family members are being selfish for not doing what he wants.


Hobbitses, Physicses and a Ball with Zip - Mary asks Sheldon get another hobby than science and he gets into Lord of the Rings. Missy asks George to teach her how to play baseball.


A Pineapple and the Bosom of Male Friendship - Dr. Sturgis gets released from the mental hospital, but he decides to break up with Meemaw.


A Parasol and a Hell of an Arm - The Coopers go to the church carnival. Missy wants to join the baseball team, but they won't let her because she is a girl.


Pongo Pygmaeus and a Culture That Encourages Spitting - Sheldon gets in an online flaming war. Missy gets in a fight during baseball and gets thrown out.


The Sin of Greed and a Chimichanga from Chi-Chi's - George and Georgie gets seduced by money and Mary thinks it's a sin.


A Party Invitation, Football Grapes and an Earth Chicken - Mary worries when Sheldon doesn't get invited to Billy birthday party. George has some male bonding time with Dr. Sturgis.


Teenager Soup and a Little Ball of Fib - Sheldon gets out of swimming class by pretending to be sick.


A Live Chicken, a Fried Chicken and Holy Matrimony - Mary helps the pastor plan for his marriage. Missy tries to save a chicken from being eaten. Georgie brings home a girl and has his father give him the 'talk'.


Body Glitter and a Mall Safety Kit - The Coopers take Paige in while her parents are getting a divorce, but Paige no long wants to be the smart and good girl and instead turns into the bad girl.


Contracts, Rules and a Little Bit of Pig Brains - Dale, George, Georgie and Dr. Sturgis go on a camping trip together. Sheldon and Missy plays a game in which loser has to do what the winner says.


A Slump, a Cross and Roadside Gravel - Geogie and Sheldon almost burns down the school making platinum. Missy believes her cross to be her good luck charm for baseball.


A Boyfriend's Ex-Wife and a Good Luck Head Rub - Meemaw hangs out with Dale's ex-wife and they trade stories about their exes.


Pasadena - Sheldon wants to visit Caltech for a Stephen Hawking's lecture but must first get over his fear of flights.


An Academic Crime and a More Romantic Taco Bell - Sheldon helps Dr. Sturgis with a paper but then accuses him of plagiarism, not caring that he could get Dr. Sturgis fired/expelled. Georgie has second thoughts about his old flame.


A Couple Bruised Ribs and a Cereal Box Ghost Detector - Ms. Hutchins comes to stay with the Cooper after getting hurt after George gets her hurt.


A House for Sale and Serious Woman Stuff - Sheldon tries to sabotage the house sale next door. Missy has issues when her baseball team has to play against the boy she likes.


A Baby Tooth and the Egyptian God of Knowledge - Sheldon has to get a tooth remove and under drugs he solved the unified field theory but then forgets it.


and A Secret Letter and the Lowly Disc of Processed Meat - Sheldon discovers his mother has been hiding college letters trying to recruit him.




- Nicholas Sheffo (Affair, Avenue, Shop), Ricky Chiang (Shelton) and James Lockhart

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


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