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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Stereotypes > Racism > Crime > Sexuality > Teens > Revenge > Videogames > Heist > Remake > Se > American Society Of Magical Negros (2023*)/Drive-Away Dolls (2024 w/DVD/*both Universal Blu-rays)/Joysticks (1983/MVD Blu-ray)/Ocean's Trilogy 4K (2001, 2004, 2007/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays)

American Society Of Magical Negros (2023*)/Drive-Away Dolls (2024 w/DVD/*both Universal Blu-rays)/Joysticks (1983/MVD Blu-ray)/Ocean's Trilogy 4K (2001, 2004, 2007/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B-/B & C+/B/X Sound: B/B & C+/C+/B Extras: C+/C/C+/C+ Films: C+/C/C+/C D C-

This next group of comedies has few laughs, but you might enjoy something here, somewhere...

Kobi Libii's The American Society Of Magical Negros (2023) is a one-joke comedy that tries to offer more with Justice Smith as a struggling artist who discovers a mysterious man (the underrated David Alan Greer, very restrained here) who turns out to be his mystery man guide to the title group, who actually exists in secret. This is meant to be a satire, but it is too lite and could have been a mall movie in the 1980s.

In this, they have to drag out this concept for 104 minutes and it could barely fit a Twilight Zone episode, which it is not. The ending is bad and the cast tries to make this work, but the script is just too flat and safe. Now you can see for yourself.

Extras (per the press release) include Digital Code plus:

  • SECRET SOCIETY MEMBERS: Cast converse about their roles and discuss the journey their characters took throughout the film.

  • CRAFTING A MAGICAL SOCIETY: Step through the secret entrance and see what goes into creating a magical society. Hear from cast and crew on the production design, wardrobe, and cinematography involved in crafting the fantastical world.

  • SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH: THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES might blend humor with romance, but the topic of race is at the forefront of the film. Filmmakers and cast share the importance of the narrative and the impact telling this story had on them personally.


Ethan Coen's Drive-Away Dolls (2024) wants to be a Coen-style answer to Thelma and Louise, sort of, but becomes an odd, weird film that could have also been Gregg Araki's The Living End, but it does not get that crazy either. It is no Tarantino film either, but a lite, somewhat stylish and sometimes amusing romp about two gals (Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan) who fall for each other as they turn out to have a very valuable and highly illegal package in a car they rented and do not know it is there.

Of course, the 'bad guys' (who all all male) try to find them and it becomes a half-hearted chase film, but not necessarily a good road movie, action film or any kind of mystery. This is only 83 minutes long and barely justifies that much screen time, though Pedro Pascal and Matt Damon do show up. Unfortunately, they cannot save seeing everything we've seen before and the lesbian jokes are obvious. Of course, one could argue that having a man, even a highly talented one, directing a film about lesbians on the run has its own issues, but the problems and tiredness here go beyond that. Only the most interested should bother.

Extras (per the press release) include Digital Code plus:

  • DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS: AN ETHAN AND TRICIA PROJECT: Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke discuss what inspired them to write this story, why they waited 20 years to bring it to life, and what it was like working together on a project from start to finish for the first time.

  • THE DRIVE-AWAY GANG: Sit down with the cast and filmmakers of DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS as they discuss their roles, getting into character, and the exciting cameo appearances.


Greydon Clark's Joysticks (1983) is the cheapest film here budget-wise, was meant to be a cheap teen B-movie comedy and was expected to just make its money back. Instead, it was a hit in its time, has a big curio factor and against all these newer or relatively newer films here, is narrowly the best film on the list. Joe Don Baker is a successful-but-spiteful business man who is so bitter, he wants to close the local video parlor where all the teens hang out.

Being it is the pre-PS5/X-Box/Internet era, you can see how they are nto going to take this, even when a new employee (Leif Green from Grease 2) is caught on a still camera with his pants down thanks to two female pranksters, but before he gets some friends to help him get back at them, King Vidiot (Jon Gries of Napoleon Dynamite and Real Genius) shows up at the parlor to have a big, gigantic video game battle and it will get wackier before this all ends.

Atari was in the home at the time, but did not have the quality of parlor games and the idea of having a game on a larger screen was starting to gain traction, faked in films like this and the Sean Connery James Bond film Never Say Never Again long before we landed up in the game-rich Ultra HD era we are now in. There are more teen hijinks all over the place and some crude humor most films would be afraid of showing out of political correctness or the like, but it is a film that holds up far better than anyone making it at the time could have imagined and is a major milestone in both teen comedies (one of the last big theatrical indie ones before home video ruined everything) and a key film for all serious videogame fans who also are all for The Last Starfighter and that lame Dennis Hopper Super Mario Bros. film made a few years later.

Cheers to Clark pulling off one of his better films, flaws and all, while the cast gives it their all in ways we hardly see in similar films today. You might find it uneven, but Joysticks has its moments and is worth visiting or revisiting, especially if you are a videogame and pulp culture fan.

Extras (per the press release) include:

  • NEW! Fan commentary featuring MVD Rewind Collection's Eric D. Wilkinson, Cereal at Midnight host Heath Holland and Diabolik DVD's Jesse Nelson

  • Feature Length Audio Commentary track with Director Greydon Clark

  • Interview with Director Greydon Clark

  • 'Coin Slots' Faux Trailer short written and directed by Newt Wallen

  • Reversible Artwork

  • 2-Sided Collectible Mini-Poster

  • and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Trilogy 4K (2001, 2004, 2007) is back in upgraded form and even if you are not a fan, this is likely the best way to experience them outside of a solid 35mm film print or better digital theatrical presentation. Not a big fans of these, we reviewed the films way back on the old, defunct HD-DVD format and you can read all about them here...


That includes a link to a fuller review of the last film (not counting the very belated Ocean's Eight, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and I still am amazed that the next films were so bad and just dull versus building on the first one, which was a remake of a so-so film in the first place, but this was all about star power at the time and they made money. You can judge for yourself whether you have seen them before or not.

Extras are the same with nothing new repeating all the older extras.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition images on the Ocean's 4K set more than correct the redness issues that plagued the old HD-DVD (and Blu-ray for that matter) sets, but the first two films show their age from older HD shoots, leaving the final film looking the best and by default. Sound is now offered in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes and are good as these films will ever sound. Glad they did not try to upgrade the sound.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Magical is a little soft from its HD shoot, but it is not awful, but expect some softness and blurriness, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix is a mixdown from a 12-track soundmaster that is good enough for a mostly dialogue-driven film.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Dolls is a little better, but is no knockout, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix that is also a mixdown from a 12-track soundmaster, but you have more music and sound effects here. The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is barely passable and here for convenience and its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix weaker by comparison. Fans will want a 4K edition with better sound at some point, we guess.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Joysticks can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film on home video with a decent 2K scan and lossless PCM 2.0 Mono that is as good as this film will ever sound, but it is not bad for its age at that.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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