CATEGORIES DVDsBatten down the hatches: 'Pirate Radio,' the story of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll on the high seas, is coming to DVD this week just in time for the April 15 deadline for income taxes. If '60s rock music can't soothe your tax pain, then take a trip to outer space with 'Apollo 13: 15th Anniversary Edition,' get involved in an animated mystery with 'The Great Mouse Detective (Mystery in the Mist Edition),' have dinner with the crew at 'The Slammin' Salmon's' restaurant, or settle in with six classic art-house films from The Criterion Collection. And start thinking about next year's deductions. 'Pirate Radio'
What It's About: Back in the day -- the mid-sixties -- Great Britain was a hotbed of fashion, rock 'n' roll and pop culture, yet British radio (run by the BBC) played little if any music over the government-run airwaves. Enter 24-hour Pirate Radio, music broadcast illegally from boats in the middle of the Northern Atlantic. By 1966, 25 million people -- more than half the population of Britain -- listened to pirated rock every single day. This is the story of that movement -- and the British government's attempt to shut them down.
It's Kinda Like: 'FM' meets 'American Graffiti' on the high seas
What We Say: As much as we wanted to like this movie -- after all, it has so much going for it with a great cast (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh, Nick Frost and January Jones) and soundtrack (The Beatles, The Stones, the Beach Boys, Dusty Springfield, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Smokey Robinson, David Bowie, Otis Redding, Cat Stevens and more), 'Pirate Radio' takes on water from the beginning and eventually goes aground. The hyper-kinetic direction and chaotic story line -- with eight DJs fighting enjoying sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll on the high seas while fighting the British censors -- never slows down long enough to allow us to get a handle on the characters much beyond surface caricatures. But it does have one redeeming quality -- the music of rebellion, which is what it was all about. | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
'The Slammin' Salmon'
What It's About: In this latest comedy from the Broken Lizard comedy group, a former heavyweight boxing champ turned restaurant owner (Michael Clarke Duncan), indebted to the Japanese mob, challenges his waiters to sell more food in one night than they've ever sold before -- or face a pummeling by the Champ. Spurred on by greed and panic, the staff resort to backstabbing, bribery and indecent proposals in an attempt to upsell their patrons while sabotaging their co-workers.
It's Kinda Like: 'Waiting' (2005) meets 'American Pie'
What the Critics Say: The consensus on 'The Slammin' Salmon' was a resounding Boo! They ranged from the New York Daily News' comment that "Thirteen-year-old boys big enough to sneak into R-rated movies are presumably the prime audience for this witless comedy from the Broken Lizard troupe" to the damning with faint praise of Bullz_Eye.com: "It's pretty obvious from the start that 'The Slammin' Salmon' isn't going to be the comedy troupe's funniest movie, but there are still plenty of laughs to be had." | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
On Blu-ray this week:
'Apollo 13: 15th Anniversary Edition'
Why the Re-Release? It's been 15 years since Universal released Ron Howard's 'Apollo 13' (starring Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, Kathleen Quinlan) theatrically and only four years since the last DVD release, a Collector's Edition, and five years since the "first" Anniversary Edition in 2005. This version jumps on the Blu-ray bandwagon of reissuing catalog titles to take advantage of the high def process.
New Special Features: The bonus features here duplicate those on 2005's 10th anniversary two-disc set (commentary and three featurettes); new features include those specific to Blu-ray: BD-LIVE; a U-Control function, "The Apollo Era and Tech-Splanations," which provides picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes pop-ups; a pocketBLU app for iPhones and iTouch; socialBLU networking; and D-Box Motion Control.
Is It Worth Upgrading? If you don't already own a copy of 'Apollo 13,' this is a nice addition to your collection. The high-def space scenes alone are worth the price of admission.
Notable April 13 Releases:
'The Great Mouse Detective (Mystery in the Mist Edition)' (1986): Of all the animated films created by the talented duo of Ron Clements and John Musker ('The Little Mermaid,' 'Aladdin,' 'The Princess and the Frog') this one, their first, appeals most to the adult in us -- maybe because of its grown-up story line involving Basil of Baker Street, a mouse version of Sherlock Holmes, hunting down his arch-enemy, the evil genius Dr. Ratigan. It's enjoyable throughout for kids and adults. Disney updates the original DVD release with the feature "You Think You Can Sleuth?" an animated look at the history of detective work, complete with a crime-solving puzzle for the entire family. Our only gripe: It wasn't released on Blu-ray.
'Essential Art House: Volume Five': These elegant, movie-only DVD editions of the true classics of art-house cinema are a practical, lower-cost alternative to the more elaborate Criterion Collection special editions. The no frills DVDs in this edition -- all worthy of being added to your collection -- include David Lean's "Brief Encounter" (1945), Federico Fellini's "8 1/2" (1963), Yasujiro Ozu's "Floating Weeds" (1959), Francois Truffaut's "Jules and Jim" (1962), Gillo Pontecorvo's "Kapo" (1959) and Milos Forman's "Loves of a Blonde (1965). Available as a box set or individually.
Other New April 13 DVD Releases:
'Crazy on the Outside'
'The Missing Person'
Check out other new April 13 DVD releases at OnVideo.