Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Total Movie

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, October 29, 2000

Then there’s Nicholas Cage, an actor who has actually flirted with looking like he could bust some chops, but when he runs away from a looming explosion, I genuinely fear for his hairpiece. Does he use a stunt rug or what?

Special features

Commentary Track6
Movie Shorts6

The first issue of “Total Movie” magazine comes with a very impressive DVD. The contents of the magazine are a bit variable, but $8 for “Troops” with a director’s commentary is worth it. Note that Total Movie has been cancelled by their parent company. More info at Home Theater Forum.

Transfer Quality6
Overall Rating6
  • Television Format

Let me be upfront with my biases. I hate magazines. I hate the waste of paper, I hate the space they take up in my mailbox, and I hate that most of them seem to be written by people who think “if you were a color, what color would you be?” is a good question for political leaders, or that it’s more important to cover a lot of trivial issues than to go in detail on one or two important issues.

“Total Movie” is only slightly better than that. It’s kind of cool that they’re willing to say things like (when discussing the upcoming release of “Red Planet”): “Well let’s look at it this way—it cannot be worse than Mission to Mars” on page 12 with the “Mission to Mars” full page DVD advertisement on page 25. In other areas, however, they’re more forgiving. Their review of the Scream box set doesn’t talk at all about the extras, giving each disc a 4-star rating and saying “each movie’s disc is loaded with commentaries, extra scenes, trailers and music videos…”. No mention of the variability of video quality (two of the discs are enhanced transfers, one is a standard transfer) or that Disney is pretending a director’s cut never existed. Dimension also has a full-page ad for the Scream box set. Their ad is much more informative than the review.

There’s a long kid-glove interview with Jerry Bruckheimer. The only thing they really pushed him on was the cost of “Pearl Harbor”, and apparently their information was wrong anyway so they dropped it.

It has a vaguely interesting interview with Spinal Tapster David St. Hubbins, an in-character two-page interview about the DVD release of “This is Spinal Tap”.

Across from the Spinal Tap interview is the answer to “Why aren’t you reviewing VHS”, with the “Real Genius”-like response “since the DVD for The Matrix made people sit up and take notice of this format, an ever-growing legion of movie fans have been discovering that their old VCRs make fantastic doorstops and, if you torch a good-sized hole in the middle, planters.” This bodes well for the magazine! They really are into DVDs. Some of the more useful information in the magazine is a section on DVD Extras: “Commentaries that Don’t Suck”, including “Surprisingly Good Stories About Surprisingly Crappy Films”.

The high point in the feature articles is probably their “Exorcist” story, which discussed writer/producer William Peter Blatty’s role in the film and director William Friedkin’s. It was full of interesting information, including why the film was cut, how it happened, and why writer/producer Blatty wanted it back uncut.

The high point in the ads department has to be Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s “Absolut” ad. Look on page 31 if you catch this first issue in the store.

The DVD is the main draw, however. It includes a wonderful transfer of Kevin Rubio’s “Troops”, a Star Wars/Cops take-off that is just hilarious. You can download this from the Troops web site, but it’s a huge download and is only 320x240. The DVD has the movie transferred from the film stock, and it includes an interesting commentary by Kevin Rubio. He talks about how the movie came about and how they brought everything together to make it.

The other short film on the DVD is Tax Goldstein’s “The Dancing Cow”, a fun, if predictable, story about a director who suddenly gets the attention of Hollywood—for a movie he didn’t make. It also includes a commentary by Taz, producer Robert Moniot, and cinematographer John Alonzo (of “Harold and Maude” fame), and a “making of” featurette.

There is a nice, short, interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as well as a PSA by them on the plight of hermaphrodites. There are a number of “behind the scenes” featurettes, although they don’t go very far behind the scenes. And there is the “No Tears for Ceaser” video with William Shatner. And a whole lot of trailers. Some of the cool trailers on this DVD include “Blair Witch 2”, “The Exorcist”, and “Chasing Amy”.

Personally, I’d rather get the DVD and skip the magazine.

The first issue has Elizabeth Hurley on the cover with a snake. If you see it, I recommend picking it up, although you might want to be careful. The real reason you want this magazine is for the DVD. My DVD ended up being unplayable. The business end of the DVD looked like it was full of pockmarks, and any attempt to play it brought lots of broken images if it even played at all. I could barely get through Troops, couldn’t get through The Dancing Cow, and couldn’t even start most of the trailers. Fortunately, the replacement they sent me works just fine.

The difference in price between buying it on the stands ($8 an issue) and subscribing ($2.50 an issue) was enough of an incentive for me to subscribe. They’ve got a lot to overcome if they want to keep me as a subscriber, however: they need to retain and better the edginess in their writing. They need to ensure that the DVD arrives intact in my mailbox through all the ‘care’ the post office will give it. And most importantly, they need to keep finding features as good as “Troops” to include on each issue’s DVD. My recommendation: you absolutely must buy the “Troops” issue. Beyond that you’re on your own.

Recommendation: Purchase

Spoken languageEnglish
Special FeaturesCommentary Track, Featurettes, Interviews, Movie Shorts, Trailers
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