DreamWorks Home Ent., $19.95
BARELY OUT of first-run theaters (make room for the gathering Harry Potter tsunami!), Shrek hits the shelves as a feature-packed DVD just in time to make the kidlets' holiday wish list. Imagine the fun you'll have Christmas morning, all huddled around the tree in your flannels, sipping hot chocolate, and listening to the little ones record their squeaky voices over the big green ogre's.
Yes, this two-disc set includes "never-before-seen" (heard?) technology allowing viewers to overdub their voices for certain characters, which then get synced to the action and played back. I didn't have enough patience to figure it out, but I'm sure the kids will love it. The package also features 15 extra minutes of animation from an extended ending (which seemed like more of the same), but the real draw here—besides the basic film—is how all this fancy CGI technology works.
If you're at all interested in the world of computer animation, you'll find lots to like in extensive segments on how the technicians made characters look human. You'd never guess what a pain it is to have liquids seem real in an animated format; Shrek's developers actually took mud showers to study "fluid dynamic simulation." As part of his research into rendering Shrek's beloved swamp appropriately, art director Doug Rogers visited a magnolia plantation and got chased by an alligator. And you thought you had a weird job.
Audrey Van Buskirk
NOVEMBER releases also include Merchant-Ivory's The Golden Bowl (notable mainly for Nick Nolte's performance), The Closet, Everybody's Famous!, Calle 54, and Crazy/Beautiful, none of which offer or deserve any DVD extras. With their Shallow Hal in theaters this week, the Farrelly brothers' Osmosis Jones does boast deleted scenes and commentary— but again, why? Talented Reese Witherspoon lends her comments to Legally Blonde, while Chopper provides an interview with its scary Australian writer-murderer inspiration. Tomb Raider looms as the month's big release; among its extras is a featurette detailing how Angelina Jolie got so buff for the role—still a question of intense scientific debate.