How to Spend $20
By David Mumpower
July 25, 2006

We all could be reading a book right now.

For Dick Cheney: Awesome...I Shot That

This is a Beastie Boys concert video wherein members of the audience were given camcorders. Their shots are used as a compilation of the performance. I think the concept is brilliant, but I mainly included this to get in the cheap shot about Cheney's hunting prowess.

For knuckleball (and steroid) specialist Jose Canseco: The Benchwarmers

This Rob Schneider/David Spade/Napoleon Dynamite comedy was one of the surprise hits of the first half of the year. It opened to almost $20 million then had a reasonable final multiplier of just under 3. Considering that word-of-mouth was wildly mixed and critical reviews were...evil (currently 11% at Rotten Tomatoes), a $57 million tally is impressive for a movie with no real stars. I guess Jon Heder's popularity isn't going away any time soon. The Benchwarmers is a comedy about nerds attempting to play baseball. If you have already given the vastly superior Bad News Bears re-make from last year a try, this is a reasonable rental choice.

For people who want to see Eddie Murphy's older brother be the main participant in a show with Dave Chappelle's name on it: Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes

Whenever my new issue of Home Media Retailer arrives, I always peruse the list of best sellers in the various fields. One of the best hidden secrets in the industry is how dominant sales have been for the first two seasons of the show. In fact, if you don't keep up with the sales charts, here is a potentially stunning revelation. Season 1 Uncensored is currently THE best selling TV show on DVD with over four million sales to date. Season 2 is also in the top ten all-time. When Chappelle allegedly went crazy and vanished right before the start of season three, Comedy Central decided to take all of the rejected clips from the first couple of years and add in some new content with the other players from the show. The end result is an inferior release that should still make a lot of money given the past performances of its predecessors. The good news is that Eddie Murphy's brother is funny.

For people who never get tired of this demented variation of Mouse Trap: Final Destination 3 (2-Disc Widescreen)

Final Destination was a brilliant concept for a movie that was brilliantly executed. Creators James Wong and Glen Morgan leveraged their success on this project into a bigger budgeted film, The One, as well as a re-make/vanity project about rats called Willard. Both titles disappointed and in the interim, an inferior Final Destination sequel was released. When the third project rolled around, Wong and Morgan's recent missteps made them available once more. They decided upon a clever setting, an amusement park. The latest film in the franchise doesn't re-invent the wheel, or, perhaps more appropriately, its violent, semi-ironic destruction. Instead, Final Destination 3 offers a crowd-pleasing amount of twisted death sequences. A fascinating extra on the DVD release is that it allows the viewer to choose which characters die. So once you've seen the movie as it was intended, if the annoying skank girl made it to the end while funny comic relief guy was first to die, you can change that at your own discretion.

For Warner Bros. Pictures: Hudson Hawk (15th Anniversary Edition)

Okay, guys, it was a rough summer, what with Superman Returns hugely disappointing financially and Poseidon bombing. What always helps in Hollywood when you have just gotten your ass kicked? Schadenfreude! Check out the bigget bomb of 1991 and feel slightly better about yourselves while you wait for that pink slip to show up in your inbox. Fifteen years later, one thing is abundantly clear about Hudson Hawk. It's still not the least bit funny.

For people tired of Tom Cruise but who want to see a Tom Cruise-inspired character: JAG: The Complete First Season (6-DVD Set)

I hate talking about shows I've never seen. As I understand it, some television producer saw A Few Good Men and decided the Tom Cruise character would make for a great main character. Simultaneously, this insightful person decided Demi Moore was too butch and went a different direction with Catherine Bell. Of course, she wasn't the first choice. Season one focuses upon Tracey Needham as Meg Austin. So, the strongest selling point of the program (as I understand it) isn't on display in this compilation. I'm going to boldly speculate that later season box sets sell better.

For people who want to see the show's resolution: La Femme Nikita: The Complete Fourth Season (6-DVD Set)

No, wait, at the last second, everyone agreed to do eight more episodes because season four didn't tie up enough loose ends. Hmm, that makes this one little more than filler until Season Five comes out. And since it's only eight episodes, I guess there is also a chance it won't ever be released. This is problematic on so many levels. Oh well. Peta Wilson is hot, so I'll still watch it.

For people who want to hear Rodney Dangerfield make a lot of jokes about balls: Ladybugs

True story: I bought this movie on pay-per-view the first day it was available. I probably still have the videotape in a box somewhere. Judge me if you must, but the late, great Rodney Dangerfield was ridiculously funny. I have no shame where his work is concerned.

For people who are pondering what I'm pondering: Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain

These two get lumped together, because they feature the same central selling point. When Animaniacs came out in 1993, I warily eyed it as a potential replacement for my beloved Tiny Toons Adventures. With Tiny Toons: How I Spent My Break recently finished and Tiny Toons Spring Break announced, I figured the return of the show was inevitable. Alas, the popularity of Animaniacs destroyed any hope I had for the return of the Tiny Toons. I was too bitter to ever give the show a chance, but all of my friends (and especially their children) loved it.

In particular, lavish praise was heaped upon new villains Pinky and the Brain. When the fledgling WB Network arrived, a spin-off cartoon featuring them was announced. I gave it a shot from day one, and I was pleasantly rewarded for being one of its eight loyal viewers. Describing the show would involve a series of references such as "NARF!" that no one who has yet to watch the show would understand. Suffice it to say that Pinky and his uber-smart pal spend the body of their existence trying to take over the world. And it's ridiculously funny. Pinky and the Brain is as good as animated entertainment gets and since Animaniacs is done by the same people, I presume the same is true of it.

For people seeking the path to White Heaven: The Boondocks: The Complete First Season (3-DVD Set)

Judo flip. Chop chop chop. Aaron McGruder's exceptional comic strip made a shockingly deft transition into the animation medium. While the show has received a hail storm of criticism for its salty language and generally bad attitude, such assertions miss the point. The Boondocks as a cartoon is specifically designed to generate discussion about various taboos of our society. The financial divide between the races, the self-loathing of some black men, black-on-black crime, BET/UPN programming and entitled young white men are all topics of ongoing storylines. Not seeking to always be so acerbic, the show also includes send-ups of deceased painter Bob Ross, a flawed attempt to kidnap Oprah Winfrey and an episode about the path to enlightenment. In the last example, a self-loathing black man named Uncle Ruckus has a dream not unlike Martin Luther King Jr.'s...except for the "black people not invited" part. During the course of this episode, he becomes a spiritual truth-seeker attempting to educate African-American audiences on how they can become whiter. The season finale of the series, this episode provides as much laughter and insight into the madness of our society as any 22 minutes of programming ever could. It's a masterpiece, plain and simple. The Boondocks is a must-own TV on DVD title, and it's the obvious choice for DVD of the week. Sorry, Pinky and the Brain.

July 25, 2006
Almanac of Fall (1984)
Angel Guts: Red Vertigo (1988)
Ask the Dust (2005)
Awesome...I Shot That (2006)
The Benchwarmers (2006)
The Boondocks: The Complete First Season (3-DVD Set) (2005)
A Canterbury Tale (Criterion Collection) (1944)
Cello (2005)
Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes (2006)
Cold Showers (2005)
A Collection of 2005 Academy Award Nominated Short Films (2006)
Covert One: The Hades Factor (2006)
The Cult of the Suicide Bomber (2005)
Deck Dogz (2005)
Deepwater (2005)
Electric Shadows (2004)
Feed (2005)
The Fifth Horseman is Fear (1964)
Final Destination 3 (2-Disc Full Frame) (2006)
Final Destination 3 (2-Disc Widescreen) (2006)
Forbidden Fruits (2005)
Fortress (1985)
Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (2005)
Hudson Hawk (15th Anniversary Edition) (1991)
The Iris Effect (2004)
JAG: The Complete First Season (6-DVD Set) (1995)
La Femme Nikita: The Complete Fourth Season (6-DVD Set) (2000)
Ladybugs (1992)
Love - Zero = Infinity (1994)
Magdalena's Brain (2006)
Red Dust (2004)
Sars Wars: Bangkok Zomibie Crisis (2004)
Scorpius Gigantus (2006)
Screwed (1998)
Somersault (2004)
The Third Generation (2006)
An Uncommon Kindness: The Father Damien Story (2005)
Wanda (1971)
Where Eskimos Live (2002)
Zizek! (2005)