Deja deja vu vu
A man lives the same day over and over; so, who doesn’t?
The fact that everyone can relate is a big reason for the continued appeal of “Groundhog Day,” out this week as a “15th Anniversary Edition.”
The brilliant dark comedy (full disclosure: “Groundhog Day” is my favorite film) follows cynical, self-involved TV weatherman Phil Connors — Bill Murray in his richest performance — who goes through the same Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pa. (actually Woodstock, Ill.), waking up to Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” stepping in the same deep puddle, ad infinitum.
“The key to ‘Groundhog Day’ for any of us,” writer-director Harold Ramis says in a new commentary, “is having the insight, courage and energy to make … changes when you come to those moments when you could make the same mistake again (but don’t).”
Andie MacDowell plays the kind TV producer Phil falls for during his endless stay — estimated at 10 years by Ramis in the extras.
Extras: New deleted scenes, one of which is worthwhile (Murray slicing the heads off ice sculptures); colorful short about groundhogs (aka woodchucks, or marmots); making-of shorts; commentary that ranges from ho-hum to cool for fans of the film. (Clarence Darrow once defended Eugene V. Debs in the Woodstock courthouse.)
Part political statement, part Jennifer Lopez star vehicle, the tense but murky “Bordertown” succeeds in creating awareness of an ongoing tragedy: In Juarez, Mexico, more than 400 women, mostly factory workers in the huge factory town, have been murdered and raped, and approximately 5,000 women are missing.
Lopez plays a reluctant Chicago journalist sent by her editor (Martin Sheen) to investigate the story, with help from the Juarez newspaper editor (Antonio Banderas), a former lover.
The two become involved with a frightened 16-year-old Indian (the excellent Maya Zapata) who survived a rape and burial and is urged by J-Lo’s character to testify against her attackers.
When writer-director Gregory Nava keeps his camera on Zapata, “Bordertown” is a compellingly saga. When he aims it at Lopez’s character’s awakening _ to corruption and to her past, which she’s spent years trying to deny, the story turns Hollywood and dilutes the suspense.
Extras: “Dual Injustice,” about a woman’s murdered daughter and her cousin, who’s framed for the crime; information about getting involved via Amnesty International; making-of short.
We have lift-off
“Rocket Science” is an affable coming-of-age tale about Hal Hefner (a well-cast Reece Daniel Thompson), a clumsy, self-conscious 15-year-old with a stutter, a severely dysfunctional family and a crush on the older Ginny (Anna Kendrick, also perfect for her part).
Ginny’s a fast-talking whiz who drafts Hal to be her partner on the school debate team _ because, she tells him, people with disabilities have the most to gain and are the easiest to mold. Yes, the comedy’s dark, and complexities ensue.
The film aspires to be something like “Rushmore” or “Napoleon Dynamite,” but it has too many bland spots and moments of eccentricity for eccentricity’s sake.
The young actors keep “Rocket Science” credible, as do the supporting players who make up Hal’s family and therapist (who suggests Hal use an accent when debating to get past his stammer). It’s uneven but affable.
Extras: Making-of short and Clem Snide music video.
“Right at Your Door” is the week’s bleakest DVD.
After dirty bombs explode in downtown L.A., spreading contaminants through the air, citizens in outlying areas are told to tape shut windows and doors and keep others out in case they’re contagious.
Brad’s (Rory Cochrane) wife, Lexi (Mary McCormack), is caught in downtown traffic when the bombs blow.
Unable to contact her, Brad seals off their house. Then she shows up and he won’t let her in. That’s the gist of a story driven by fear, frustration and desperation.
The frantic feeling created by writer-director Chris Gorak works well. The acting’s fine. Be in the mood for a downer.
Extras: Gorak commentary, interview and tips on making an independent film; alternate script endings.
“Lake Placid 2″ is a cut-rate horror film that refuses to take itself seriously.
A sequel with wit, gore, excitement and entertaining big-crocodile-wreaks-havoc shots, the movie stars the ubiquitous John Schneider as a small-swamp sheriff whose pretty ex (Sarah Lafleur) from Fish and Game joins him and others on a search for the beast responsible for the severed body parts in the lake.
The worst actor gets eaten first; two of the cast’s array of pretty women expose their breasts, then swim naked _ and, as appropriate for a prudish society, become reptile food for punishment. Good pacing.
Extras: Light-hearted lot includes “Gnawed Up,” the entire movie fast-forwarded, with stops in key places, in eight minutes; “Sex, Guns and Croc-n-Roll,” a video of stunt work done without commentary; “Surviving a Crocodile Attack,” a short played for amusement rather than education.
Also on DVD
“The Comebacks – Unrated”: Spoof of sports films such as “Remember the Titans.”
“Daddy Day Camp”: Cuba Gooding Jr. steps into Eddie Murphy’s “Daddy Day Care” sneakers for no good reason.
“Invasion”: Another do-over of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” with Nicole Kidman aware that something wicked this way comes.
“Joshua”: Evil child prodigy gets jealous of baby sister.
“King of California”: Con man Michael Douglas leaves mental institution and convinces estranged daughter Evan Rachel Wood to join him on a treasure hunt.
“The King of Kong: A Fistful of Dollars”: Captivating oddball documentary about the rivalry between two men obsessed with achieving the world record in the arcade game “Donkey Kong.”
“Trade”: After his sister, 13, is kidnapped in Mexico by sex traffickers, a teen allies with a Texas police officer (Kevin Kline) to find her.
DVD on TV
“Aqua Teen Hunger Force 5″
“Blue Murder, Set 2″ (BBC crime drama)
“Barry Manilow: Songs from the Seventies”
“Chancer, Series 2″ (BBC drama with Clive Owen as a con man)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Sixth Season”
“Hannah Montana: One in a Million”
“Jag: The Fifth Season”; “Twitches, Too.”
Feb. 19: “American Gangster”