DVD Reviews: Magnolia, Erin Brockovich&More | EW.com


Erin BrockovichBy David Hochman With a running time of 3 hours and 13 minutes, it's hard to believe there's anything left to add to the cinematic magnum opus...Erin BrockovichDrama, Mystery and ThrillerPT126MRBy David Hochman With a running time of 3 hours and 13 minutes, it's hard to believe there's anything left to add to the cinematic magnum opus...2000-09-06Peter CoyoteAaron EckhartConchata FerrellScotty LeavenworthIrene Olga LopezEmily MarksJulie MarksPeter Coyote, Aaron Eckhart, Conchata Ferrell, Scotty Leavenworth, Irene Olga Lopez, Emily Marks, Julie MarksJersey Films, Universal
Julianne Moore, Paul Thomas Anderson, ...

MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY Moore and Anderson are all smiles


Erin Brockovich

Genre: Drama, Mystery and Thriller; Starring: Albert Finney, Julia Roberts, Peter Coyote, Aaron Eckhart, Conchata Ferrell, Scotty Leavenworth, Irene Olga Lopez, Emily Marks, Julie Marks; Director: Steven Soderbergh; Author: Susannah Grant; Producer (group): Jersey Films; Release Date Wide: 03/17/2000; Runtime (in minutes): 126; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Jersey Films, Universal

By David Hochman

With a running time of 3 hours and 13 minutes, it’s hard to believe there’s anything left to add to the cinematic magnum opus that is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. Yet the DVD edition manages to tack on nearly two additional hours of extras. There is a stand alone version of the testosterone fueled seminar given by Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise) and a complete Mackey infomercial. There is the ”Magnolia” teaser and trailer and a few TV spots. Aimee Mann’s icy hot video for ”Save Me” is also included.

But the biggest bonus is the ”Magnolia” video ”diary,” a documentary that follows Anderson through the yearlong process of getting the movie made. What makes the diary so compelling is how shamelessly self indulgent Anderson appears to be: There he is, using the F word in front of a group of child actors; telling his crew that he promises, promises he’ll have a certain part of the script written by Tuesday; and letting actress Julianne Moore go on about ”What’s so great about Paul” (It’s ”his humanity,” she confides). There are some cool moments, particularly the ones showing how the plague of frogs scene happened, and the behind the scenes shots showing Anderson and girlfriend, Fiona Apple, getting snuggly. But overall, the supplemental material doesn’t really advance our understanding of the film and ends up being a showcase for one thing: Paul Thomas Anderson.
Grade: B-

Likewise, the extra features on the Erin Brockovich DVD are great for fans of Erin Brockovich. The real one, that is. The woman whose story inspired the film is the focus of behind the scenes interviews in both a making of the movie featurette and a second minidocumentary called ”Erin Brockovich: A Look at a Real Life Experience.” The rest of the features are fairly standard – production notes, a trailer, cast and filmmaker bios. The one worthwhile feature is the deleted scene chapter with voice-over commentary by director Steven Soderbergh. He talks about how Sheryl Crow’s music helped inspire the mood of the film and shows a long interesting sequence – eventually excised – of Julia Roberts’ title character getting sick and spending time in the hospital. If nothing else, it’s worth watching those scenes just to see how good Roberts looks even when she’s on her sickbed.
Grade: B

Here is EW Online’s list of other noteworthy new DVD releases

American Psycho
(2000, Universal, 179 mins., R/ Unrated, $26.98)
Christian Bale does a dazzling, wicked turn in this adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial novel about a Wall Street broker overcome by a murderous lust. The unrated release features an unreleased scene of Bale frolicking with two prostitutes – which version will you buy? SPECIAL FEATURES Interactive menus, cast/ crew bios, parental lock, production notes, scene access, theatrical trailer

Any Given Sunday
(1999, Warner Bros., 157 mins., R, $24.98)
Oliver Stone’s intense football drama features pulse pounding game scenes, a barking Al Pacino as coach, and Cameron Diaz out of character as an ultrabitchy owner. The film’s highlight, however, is the star making quarterback performance of TV comedian Jamie Foxx. SPECIAL FEATURES DVD-ROM features, scene access, interactive menus, documentaries, cast/ crew bios, filmographies, storyboards, music videos, theatrical trailer, Web access

(1995, Paramount, 179 mins., R, $29.99)
The long awaited DVD edition of the Oscar lauded epic – which Mel Gibson directed, produced, and stars in – tells the tale of Scottish warrior William Wallace, who was fighting for one thing: ”Freeeeedom!” SPECIAL FEATURES Interactive menus, audio commentary, theatrical trailer, featurette, scene access

The Haunting
(1999, DreamWorks, 117 mins., PG-13, $24.99)
Although Liam Neeson and the astoundingly beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones ostensibly star in this thriller wannabe about experiments in fear gone awry in a haunted house, the real star is the house itself, which takes on a grotesque life of its own via the magic of special effects. SPECIAL FEATURES Production notes, parental lock, interactive menus, cast/ crew bios, scene access, behind the scenes footage

Men in Black: Limited Edition
(1997, Columbia TriStar, 98 mins., PG-13, $39.95)
This two-disc set provides you with everything you wanted to know about the funny, crowd pleasing Will Smith/ Tommy Lee Jones blockbuster about the aliens living among us. And then some. ”MiB” has never before been released on DVD. SPECIAL FEATURES Interactive menus, multiple angles, music videos, photo gallery, storyboards, DVD-ROM features, audio commentary, scene access, cast/ crew bios, documentaries

The Next Best Thing
(2000, Paramount, 107 mins., PG-13, $29.99)
Real-life new mom Madonna springs forth a fictional bundle of joy after a drunken night of passion with gay best friend Rupert Everett in this dramedy, which also stars Benjamin Bratt. High jinks and custody battles ensue. SPECIAL FEATURES Music videos, theatrical trailer, interviews, interactive menus, cast/ crew bios

(1998, Universal, 104 mins., R, $29.98)
Although Gus Van Sant’s remake of the Hitchcock classic falls far short of the original, pick up this disc simply to look for signs that Anne Heche was cheating on former lover Ellen DeGeneres with costar and rumored paramour Vince Vaughn. SPECIAL FEATURES Scene access, production notes, parental lock, interactive menus, cast/ crew bios, audio commentary, Web access

(2000, MGM, 91 mins., R, $26.98)
In the mood for big budget disaster? This Angela Bassett/ James Spader sci-fi film, about a medical rescue spaceship that rushes to the aid of an alien inhabited space shuttle caught in a dying star, should hit the spot nicely. SPECIAL FEATURES Scene access, trivia booklet, theatrical trailer, deleted scenes, alternate endings, interactive menus

The Tigger Movie
(2000, Disney, 77 mins., G, $29.99)
Winnie the Pooh’s striped sidekick takes center stage in this kiddie musical, as Tigger goes on a Very Special Episode style search for his family that ends when his pals make him realize that maybe he’s not the ”onliest,” as he believes. SPECIAL FEATURES Interactive menus, scene access, music videos, interactive games, interviews