CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC (2009). When this romantic comedy debuted theatrically this past February, it was savaged by critics for its exceptionally bad timing, as its story about a reckless spender arrived while real Americans were facing bankruptcy on a daily basis. Having finally caught up to it on DVD, I must say I was less offended by the unexpected ramifications of its tale than its reliance on hoary film clichés. Audiences during the Great Depression were known for rushing out to catch glitzy, star-studded dramas and eye-popping musical extravaganzas full of big spenders, so there's certainly a precedence for this film's placement in our nation's multiplexes. What sinks the picture is that there isn't much worth noting beyond Isla Fisher's bright performance as Rebecca Bloomwood, whose fashion infatuation finds her running up her credit cards faster than she can pay them off. She hopes to land a job at a fashion magazine, but instead she ends up – oh, the irony! – at a financial magazine which taps her to write about ways to save money. This adaptation of two novels by Sophie Kinsella wastes too many good actors in insignificant roles (John Goodman, Joan Cusack, John Lithgow, Kristin Scott Thomas), with only Fisher able to rise above the rom-com tedium.
DVD extras include four deleted scenes; a two-minute blooper reel; and the music video for Shontelle's "Stuck with Each Other."
DAKOTA SKYE (2008). In this era of unorthodox superheroes on both screens large (Hancock) and small (TV's Heroes), Dakota Skye manages to fly high. Eileen April Boylan plays the title character, a 17-year-old student whose secret power is that she always knows when someone's telling a lie. The fact that everyone lies – including her boyfriend Kevin (J.B. Ghuman Jr.) – has made her cynical and somewhat aloof, so imagine her shock when Kevin's childhood buddy Jonah (Ian Nelson) pops up on the scene and appears to be always telling the truth. But is he really that squeaky-clean, or is he Dakota's arch-nemesis, a villain who has found a way to conceal his deceit from her? Blessed with fresh-faced performances, Dakota Skye layers a pleasing fantasy element onto a thoughtful study of teen alienation and angst. Incidentally, Dakota Skye earned the Best Narrative Feature award at last fall's Charlotte Film Festival, a category judged by myself and Main Library film guru Sam Shapiro. (The equally deserving runner-up, War Eagle, Arkansas, has yet to be released on DVD.)
DVD extras include audio commentary by director John Humber and writer Chad J. Shonk; a 26-minute making-of featurette; and a 5-1/2-minute blooper reel.
1001 CLASSIC COMMERCIALS (2009). Exactly what the title promises, this three-disc DVD showcases over 16 hours of vintage commercials from American television. What's sorely lacking is any sort of context: While it's clear that most of these clips are from the 1950s and 1960s, specific dates would have helped place each era more in perspective. But for pop culture junkies, this set is irresistible, as it features scores of commercials broken down into a multitude of categories (beverages, cigarettes, toothpaste, cars, fashion, and many more). Among the offerings are a teaming of Bugs Bunny and The Monkees in a Kool-Aid plug; Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble enjoying Welchade Grape Drink while playing a round of golf; a spot for Fischer's Training Table Bread, "the official bread of the New York Giants"; Andy Griffith and Don Knotts (both in Mayberry character) hawking Grape-Nuts cereal; and several political TV ads for the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket.
There are no extras in this set.