COUCH THEATER — DVD PREVIEWS

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John Belushi in “Animal House”

By DNA Smith
PICKS OF THE WEEK
Unless you’re champing at the bit to get “Marmaduke” on DVD, there really aren’t any notable movie releases this week. However, we are on the cusp of Back to School season, so to get you in the mood, here’s a list of some of classic school movies you might want to revisit:

“Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (Unrated) — Robert Donat won the Best Actor Oscar in 1939 (beating out James Stewart, Clark Gable and Laurence Olivier) for his performance as the headmaster of an English boarding school. “Goodbye Mr. Chips” tells the story of Mr. Chipping, spanning his 50 years at the fictional school, from his first day as an unsure Latin teacher to a wizened old headmaster beloved by thousands. The enchanting Greer Garson made her first film appearance as Chipping’s young wife, who tragically dies in childbirth. Although the film can be a little heavy-handed with sentimentality, it is a heartwarming and entertaining movie from Hollywood’s Golden Age that still holds up today.

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (Rated R) — Before John Hughes showed up and ruined the teen movie genre (yeah, I said it!), there was “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” — a film more true-to-life than anything that hack ever churned out. It also launched the careers of Cameron Crowe, Amy Heckerling, Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold and Jennifer Jason Leigh. And let’s face it, most guys from my generation saw that movie at least 10 times just for that scene with Phoebe Cates coming out of the swimming pool wearing that awesome red bikini.

“Rock ‘N’ Roll High School” (Rated PG) — The Ramones bring down Vince Lombardi High School with the Power of Their Rock in this low-budget Roger Corman cult classic. The acting is horrible, the jokes are cheesy, but it doesn’t matter. The movie has such a frantic, anarchic energy to it that you can’t stop watching.

“National Lampoon’s Animal House” (Rated R) — The movie that spawned a thousand high-school cafeteria food fights and made John Belushi a movie star, “Animal House” is the greatest college comedy ever made. Its story about a fraternity of losers, slobs and outcasts getting revenge on the snooty rich kids has been used as a template for hundreds of films ever since.

“Back to School” (Rated PG-13) — How can I do a Back to School feature and NOT include this Rodney Dangerfield comedy classic? Rodney stars as Thornton Melon, a rich guy who returns to college in order to get closer to his son. He’s so rich he gets NASA and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. to do his homework for him. But Melon’s hijinks have a price, and he learns there are some things money can’t buy.

TV SERIES
“House” The Complete Sixth Season
“Sons of Anarchy” Season Two
“The Vampire Diaries” The Complete First Season
“Brothers & Sisters” Complete Fourth Season
“NCIS: Los Angeles” The First Season
“Thriller” The Complete Series
“Agatha Christie’s Marple” Series 5
“FlashForward” The Complete Series
“Parenthood” Season 1
“The Middle” The Complete First Season
“The Best of Soul Train”

© 2010 King Features Synd., Inc.

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