Amid the crap attack this week, led by the supremo trio of flops, Speed Racer, The Love Guru, and 88 Minutes, two movie comedies get classy, anniversary DVD treatments that raise the bar. They would be 1983's Risky Business and 1988's Beetlejuice. I'll let you decide which is the better movie and why, but here's what's offered on the discs.
Risky Business: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
First of all, previous editions of this hottie social satire look like shit. Now, thanks to a matted widescreen format and superior Dolby Digital Surround Sound, the thing just pops off the screen. If you've never seen the movie, this DVD package will help you understand what all the fuss was about. It's a kick watching a teenaged Tom Cruise in Ray-Bans dancing in his tighty-whities and air-guitaring to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock & Roll." Even better, screenwriter Paul Brickman's sure-footed directing debut is a sex comedy with lots more on its mind than screwing. Like the posh Chicago home where Cruise's Joel Goodson is letting his freak flag fly now that his parents are on vacation. He phones for a hooker, Lana, played with potent smarts and sexiness by Rebecca De Mornay. Lana teaches Joel about free enterprise by inviting her friends over to meet his friends. She likes how they're "clean, polite and quick." Pimping out a teenager is no shock when he's already been pimped out by his materialistic parents. Brickman's satire still has bite, and the slick DVD transfer makes it all look mighty tempting. Add a shout out to the score by Tangerine Dream and bonus materials that just won't quit. Loved the original screen tests with Cruise and De Mornay.
Beetlejuice: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
A newly restored transfer of Tim Burton's devilish comedy is just what the DVD doctor ordered. Michael Keaton's makeup deservedly took home its own Oscar. He looks like a demon on speed. And you can really revel in it here, as his skin color ranges from parchment-pale to sickly, Exorcist-vomit green. The plot concerns a dead couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) who haunt their own New England house when strident New Yorkers move in with their goth daughter (Winona Ryder). It's Keaton's demon who teaches them how to scare off the intruders. He's an unholy comic terror. Compared with Risky Business, the extras are surprisingly few — three episodes of the Beetlejuice animated TV series ("A-Ha!", "Skeletons in the Closet" and "Spooky Boutique") that ran from 1989 to 1991. You can isolate Danny Elfman's evocative, hugely entertaining score and play it all by itself, but you could have done that on the old, non-Deluxe Edition. But the movie itself is still a demonic joy. Watch Keaton getting his head shrunk in hell, presided over by a chain-smoking caseworker, hilariously deadpanned by Sylvia Sidney. "Hey, you're messing up my hair," he yells. "Come on, whoa, whoa, stop it. Hey, this might be a good look for me." It is, Beetlejuice, it is.
So here's the question: Now that you can see Risky Business and Beetlejuice looking and sounding as good as the day they were minted, which movie holds up better today?