Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Eddie Murphy's new comedy, a great television show and a disturbing documentary are in this week's DVD column.


All great comedians have developed personas or styles of comedies. Charlie Chaplin had his tramp character. The Marx Brothers were anarchists. Jim Carrey is a maniac. And Eddie Murphy is now the guy who specializes in multiple roles accomplished by his considerable acting ability and tons of make-up by the great Rick Baker.

There's not much new ground here in "Norbit," though. Murphy has portrayed multiple characters before. He has played in fat suits before. He has been a female character before. He has also been the lead character in an unlikely romance.

So what is new with "Norbit" is the over-the-top villain in Rasputia, the bigger-than-life woman who attaches herself to meek and sweet Norbit early on in life. Rasputia is right up there with Cruella de Vil as a movie bad girl. The problem is she's plenty hateful, but not too funny.

In fact, this film made me laugh just three times. I have to admit, though, I was fascinated by the illusion of Murphy playing multiple roles and the DVD's extras explaining that process were very interesting.

All in all, this is a sub-par comedy.

For more information, log onto www.paramount.com/


Mission: Impossible Season Two

Time to climb into the time machine and go back to 1967 when my brother and I would end our weekends by staying up late hey, we were farm boys and it was a school night to watch "Mission: Impossible."

With intricate plots, a cool dispassionate style and the second coolest theme song on television "Peter Gunn" remains the best "Mission: Impossible" had it all.

The trouble is whether or not it still does.

Paramount has released the second season of the show, the first year with Peter Graves portraying the leader of the team that undertook a weekly covert assignment. What made the show different from other spy movies or shows is that it was a procedural drama. Every week we saw the challenge and the formation of a plan.

Of course there were some twists along the way, but this had a far more realistic feel than the James Bond films.

So do these shows hold up after 40 years? I'm happy to say, "Yes!" What I like about them is their central concept of tripping up a bad guy in such a way that their hand is never seen. Oh yes, I still have a crush on Barbara Bain. Sigh.

I much prefer these original shows to the recent Tom Cruise sort of re-makes.

For more information, log onto www.paramount.com/


The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

I bet you forgot about this footnote in the history of the Iraqi War, but you shouldn't and this chilling film underscores why.

This film is about how the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison came about and the impact the revelations made on the war effort. It questions how our troops are deployed and the effectiveness of torture in gathering intelligence.

Most importantly, it looks into how a group of Army Reservists could fall into the mindset of not questioning the very behaviors they had been taught to avoid by living under the rules of the Geneva Convention.

Extensive interviews with the soldiers involved in the torture and Iraqis unjustly imprisoned at Abu Ghraib and later released are matched with still and video images of the torture incidents.

This is strong stuff. I can't help but think that most people watching this film wouldn't question the basic foundations of the conflict itself.

For more information, log onto http://www.hbo.com


© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


SRBissette said...

Ghosts is essential viewing, indeed.

Mark Martin said...

We are evil bleating sheep.

Mike Dobbs said...

Mark, what the hell do you mean?

Mark Martin said...

We allow the torturing to continue. We are EVIL! Dick Cheney is the most dangerous man on earth, and we passively sit here playing with our little blogs and watching our little DVDs. It's disgusting!