RIC MEYERS: Miami Sand Fox
A few weeks back I was waxing enthusiastic about Sony Home Entertainment’s line of Columbia Classics Collectors Editions, especially The Guns of Navarone two-disc set. Well, it turns out that 20th Century Fox wasnt going to take that lying down, so they started peppering me with flicks young and old for the old ultra-violence (yes, that’s A Clockwork Orange reference, what of it?).
Starting with the young (and time-relevant): out this week is Reno 911!: Miami: The Movie (Unrated), a fittingly jaunty title for a fitfully hilarious film. In the spirit of complete disclosure, I’ve been a fan of this group’s creative core (Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, and Kerri Kenney-Silver) since seeing them on MTVs The State, and have been appreciating their work through their abortive CBS/Disney stint, Viva Variety, and their contributions to the screenplays of The Pacifist, Herbie Fully Loaded, and A Night at the Museum.
The yoks start in earnest at the menu page where Kerri, in character as passive-aggressive Deputy Trudy Wiegel, lets you know in no uncertain terms that this is the unrated version by unleashing the kind of words you didn’t hear in the rated edition. Then there’s the film itself, which benefits from its unratedness with elaborately salty vernacular, not to mention some of the finest looking natural breasts recently put on video (as well as some of the unfinest [Kerri was quick to point out on one audio commentary that she had just had a baby at the time of filming]).
The Reno 911 squad is not through with you yet, however. There are three audio commentaries: an entertainingly informative one with director Garant and writers Lennon and Kenney-Silver, and then two more with the cast in character as the hapless Nevada cops they play on TV. It’s like watching three different takes of the same movie. The group then go on to make it clear that they probably could’ve actually made three different movies, or more, with the extended deleted/alternate scenes, which, as is their wont, last fifteen minutes or more, until the improv runs out or the cameraman drops from exhaustion.
The disc also includes the Fox Movie Channels special, covering the films premiere, but probably my favorite extra is the series of Public Service Announcements in which the characters address various problems plaguing today’s cineplexes (as Kenney-Silver so succinctly puts it: shut up or I’ll shoot you and blame it on a crack addict). This DVD will give you hours o’ cringey fun.
Speaking of favorite, now starts our coverage of the Fox Cinema Classics Collection with one of the best DVDs I’ve ever seen in terms of this column’s theme. The Sand Pebbles two-disc special edition looks innocuous enough on the shelf. The only hint of the riches within comes with its weight and heft. No wonder: the package is literally bulging with stuff: illuminating liner notes, a recreation of the releases original souvenir book, and even an envelope of postcard-sized, full-color, lobby cards.
Then theres the discs: three sides containing the 183 minute theatrical version, the 196 minute Roadshow version, and so many new featurettes (nine in all), as well as six original docs from the Fox vault, that I wish I could roll around in them. Back in the department of full disclosure, I’ll admit Im a big fan of star Steve McQueen, but especially underrated director Robert Wise, who could, and did, do everything.
He’s the man who made The Sound of Music and West Side Story, Curse of the Cat People and The Body Snatcher, The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Andromeda Strain, Run Silent Run Deep and I Want to Live, The Haunting and, yes, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He, of course, also made this — an epic tale of sailors trying to protect U.S. interests and missionaries in 1926 China. So I was delighted to find that the DVDs gave equal weight to his contribution, as well as that of the charismatic McQueen.
Wise is also well represented on the audio commentary, where hes joined by cast members Richard Crenna, Candice Bergen, and Mako. In addition, theres an isolated track of Jerry Goldsmith’s stirring score, with commentary by music producers and film historians. Theres radio spots, trailers, and still galleries too. They even include the Mad Magazine satire of the film!
Okay, okay, 20th, you had me at here, have some DVDs. Im going to put The Sand Pebbles and The Guns of Navarone in a cage match and see what happens. My guess is that the viewer will win.
Ric Meyers is the author of Murder On The Air, Doomstar, The Great Science-Fiction Films, Murder in Halruua, For One Week Only: The World of Exploitation Films, Fear Itself, and numerous other books and has (and sometimes still is) on the editorial staff of such publications as Famous Monsters of Filmland, Starlog, Fangoria, Inside Kung-Fu, The Armchair Detective, The Weekly World News and Asian Cult Cinema. He’s also a television and motion picture consultant whose credits include The Twilight Zone, Columbo, A&E’s Biography and The Incredibly Strange Film Show.