Blu-Ray Round Up, Feb. 8, 2009: ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ ‘Office Space,’ ‘Sideways,’ ‘Napoleon Dynamite’

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CHICAGO – Welcome back to the world of the Blu-Ray Round Up, a safety net for all the Blu-Ray titles hitting store shelves that might otherwise slip through the cracks. Every week seems to see more and more catalog releases and new titles hitting the next-gen format and it’s shockingly easy to miss a title that you’d like to add to your collection. That’s why we’re here.

This edition of the Blu-Ray Round-Up presents an amazingly diverse wave of titles from Fox/MGM that includes comedy classics, two best picture nominees, and a couple of new flicks that barely made a dent at the box office.

Igor” and “The Pink Panther” were released by MGM on January 20th, 2009.

Little Miss Sunshine,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Office Space,” “The Secret Life of Bees,” and “Sideways” were released by Fox on February 3rd, 2009.

“Igor”

Igor Blu-Ray
Photo credit: MGM

“Igor” is one of those odd animated movies that slipped completely under the radar at the end of a season that saw “WALL-E” and “Kung Fu Panda” steal hearts around the world. Audiences are likely to forget that the film, which made under $20 million in theaters, even played in the multiplex but children’s movie do very well on the home market and animation always looks stunning on Blu-Ray. “Igor” features a stellar ensemble of voice actors including John Cusack, John Cleese, Steve Buscemi, Sean Hayes, Jay Leno, Jennifer Coolidge, Christian Slater, Molly Shannon, Eddie Izzard, and Arsenio Hall. Weird group, for sure, but the story of a lowly lab assistant who has a chance to achieve his dreams is likely to appeal to family audiences looking for something their kids haven’t already seen a dozen times.

“Igor” is presented in 1080P with a 1.85: 1 aspect ratio and the English audio track is available in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with a 5.1 track in Spanish too. Special features include an audio commentary by writer/director Tony Leondis, an alternate opening scene, concept art galleries, characters, set, and production design, storyboards, and posters. The film is rated PG.

“The Pink Panther: Collector’s Edition”

Pink Panther Blu-Ray
Photo credit: MGM

Before you go to see the sequel to the Steve Martin remake (or, based on the reviews, maybe instead of going to see “The Pink Panther 2”), you should rent or buy the Peter Sellers classic that started it all. One of Sellers’ most career-defining performances has held up in the forty-plus years since its release. Directed by Blake Edwards and included in Bravo’s list of the “100 Funniest Movies,” “The Pink Panther” is still a comic gem. The title actually refers to the world’s largest diamond. When it goes missing, royalty calls on the skills of the hilarious Inspector Clouseau. With only a forgotten glove as evidence, Clouseau must piece together the clues and win the diamond back for his country. The comedy co-stars David Niven and Robert Wagner.

“The Pink Panther” is presented in 1080P with a 2.20:1 aspect ratio, an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, original mono English track, and 5.1 DTS tracks in Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Special features include an audio commentary by writer/director Blake Edwards and five featurettes - “The Pink Panther Story,” “Beyond the Feline: The Cartoon Phenomenon,” “The Coolest Cat in Cortina: Robert Wagner,” “The Tip-Toe Life of a Cat Burglar: A Conversation with Former Jewel Thief Bill Mason,” and “Diamonds: Beyond the Sparkle”. The film is not rated.

“Little Miss Sunshine”

Little Miss Sunshine Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Fox

Fox Searchlight may finally take home an Oscar for Best Picture this year for “Slumdog Millionaire,” but what hasn’t been noted is that this is the small company’s third nomination in the big category in a row and fourth in the last five years. Their entry in 2006 was the beloved “Little Miss Sunshine,” now available on Blu-Ray. Winner of two Oscars (Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay), “Little Miss Sunshine” is one of the most popular comedies of the last few years, placing in the top 250 of all time on IMDB.com.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris’ film tells the story of the Hoovers. Father Richard (Greg Kinnear) is desperately trying to sell his motivational success program…with no success. Meanwhile, “pro-honesty” mom Sheryl (Toni Collette) lends support to her eccentric family, including her depressed brother (Steve Carell), fresh out of the hospital after being jilted by his lover. Then there are the younger Hoovers - the seven-year-old, would-be beauty queen Olive (Abigail Breslin) and Dwayne (Paul Dano), a Nietzsche-reading teen who has taken a vow of silence. Topping off the family in the foul-mouthed grandfather (Alan Arkin), whose outrageous behavior recently got him evicted from his retirement home. When Olive is invited to compete in the “Little Miss Sunshine” pageant in far-off California, the family piles into their rusted-out VW bus to rally behind her - with riotously funny results.

“Little Miss Sunshine” is presented in 1080p with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and 5.1 tracks in Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Special features include “Do You Wanna Talk?,” “On the Road with the Hoovers: The Making of Little Miss Sunshine,” “We’re Gonna Make It…A Session with Mychael Danna and DeVotchka,” “Who Are the Hoovers,” “No One Gets Left Behind: The Music of Little Miss Sunshine,” 4 alternate endings with directors’ commentary, directors’ commentary by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, screenwriter’s commentary by Michael Arndt with directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and “‘Till the End of Time” performed by DeVotchka from the “Little Miss Sunshine” soundtrack. The film is rated R.

“Napoleon Dynamite”

Napoleon Dynamite Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Fox

“Napoleon Dynamite” is a love-it-or-hate-it comedy that reached cult status in 2004. With countless rip-offs in the last five years, several with the same lead, Jon Heder, “Napoleon Dynamite” is one the biggest sleeper hits of the ’00s. Like your wildest dreams just came true - “Napoleon Dynamite” is finally on Blu-Ray. Gosh! Finally!

Jon Heder stars as Idaho’s biggest nerd, and thanks to his special skills and his new friends Pedro and Deb, he’s dodging his idiot brother Kip, outsmarting Uncle Rico and taking Preston High School by storm in this wildly outrageous comedy that’s more fun than a barrel of ligers.

“Napoleon Dynamite” is presented in 1080p with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and 5.1 tracks in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, and Italian. “Napoleon Dynamite” in Italian. Awesome. Special features include outtakes and deleted scenes with commentary by director Jared Hess, producer Jeremy Coon, and Jon Heder, “Peluca” original short film, audio commentary by director/co-writer Jared Hess, Coon, and Heder, cast commentary by Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries, and Tina Majorino, The Making of “The Wedding of the Century,” “On Location: Napoleon Dynamite,” “World Premiere - Jared Hess Documentary,” Napoleon sightings, MTV on Air promo spots, and a still gallery. The film is rated PG.

“Office Space”

Office Space Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Fox

Like a lot of people, I adore “Office Space,” one of the more quotable and fun comedies of the ’00s. It’s not a perfect movie, but it is immensely re-watchable, which is most people’s standard for what to buy on Blu-Ray. “Will I want to watch it more than once?” “Office Space” provides a few good laughs every single time.

“Office Space” stars Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston as a pair of relatable working stiffs who loathe their average jobs. Livingston plays Peter Gibbons, a drone at Initech Corporation who can no longer endure another mind-numbing Monday as a white-collar peon. Peter snaps one day and decides to bring a whole new attitude and a little bit of white-collar crime to his workplace. Mike Judge’s cult classic about one man’s struggle to break down the walls of his cubicle and do absolutely nothing is a must-own for everyone “working for the man.”

The “Special Edition with Flair!” version of “Office Space” is presented in 1080p with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, Dolby Digital tracks in Spanish and French. Special features include “Post-It Pandemonium - The Apathy on Men” Trivia Track, “Out of the Office” Retrospective with Writer/Director Mike Judge, 8 deleted scenes, original theatrical trailer, and four games: “Grab the Stapler,” “Printer Beat-Down,” “Whack-a-Drone,” and “Jump to Conclusions 2.0”. The film is rated R.

“The Secret Life of Bees”

The Secret Life of Bees Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Fox

“The Secret Life of Bees” features Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning at forefront of a stellar ensemble cast in the film based on the acclaimed best-selling novel. To escape her cruel, angry father - and discover the truth about her late mother’s past - 14-year-old Lily Owens (Fanning) flees with her caregiver and friend Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) to a South Carolina town where she’s taken in by the bee-keeping Boatwright sisters (Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo). Surrounded by the unexpected love, grace, and spirituality she encounters there, Lily forms a bond with each of these uniquely gifted women and discovers that sometimes you must leave home in order to find it.

“The Secret Life of Bees” is presented in 1080P with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and a 5.1 Spanish track. Special features include an extended version of the film, a commentary with director/screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood, producers Lauren Shuler Donner & Jon Pichirallo, actors Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah, commentary with director/screenwriter Prince-Bythewood and film editor Terilyn Shropshire, 8 deleted scenes, “Adaptation: Bringing The Secret Life of Bees to the Big Screen,” “The Women and Men of The Secret Life of Bees,” “Inside the Pink House with Sue Monk Kidd,” “Beekeeping 101,” “Life on the Set,” and “The World Premiere”. The film is rated PG-13.

“Sideways”

Sideways Blu-Ray
Photo credit: Fox

Alexander Payne’s fantastic “Sideways” was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Adapted Screenplay. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church star as Miles and Jack, old college buddies who take a wine-tasting road trip through California’s famed central coast to celebrate Jack’s upcoming nuptials. But Miles’ desire to savor the regions’ wines suddenly takes a back seat to Jack’s desire to sample its woman. Co-starring Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen, “Sideways” is one of the critically acclaimed films of the ’00s, winning Best Picture prizes from critics groups in Boston, Chicago, Florida, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto. It’s a comedy masterpiece, finally available on Blu-Ray.

“Sideways” is presented in 1080P with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and 5.1 DTS tracks in Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Specal features include a full-length commentary by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, 7 deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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