'Imaginationland' gives pop culture a slap in the face
By G. Michael Dobbs
A fantastic mini-series is the highlight of this week's DVD review column.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough's biography of the second president of the United States has been turned into a moving and authentic mini-series first seen on HBO and now is available in a three-disc DVD set.
If the notion of a lengthy series about a man whom many consider to be a rather obscure president sounds boring to you, think again. "John Adams" is a stirring depiction of American history that delineates one of the primary conflicts in the creation of this nation.
Adams (played by Paul Giamatti) initially wants no part in the rebellious rumblings around Boston. However, as he sees the British crown twist the rights of its citizens in the colonies, Adams' point of view changes.
Thomas Jefferson may have been the primary author of the Declaration of Independence but Adams has been credited as the "voice" of the document, the person whose perseverance made the members of the Continental Congress finally come around to accepting it.
Unlike our schoolbooks that painted a rather benign vision of how this nation came about, this film, based on McCullough's scholarship, depicts our founding fathers as very human with their own selfish political interests and frailties.
A complicated, cranky, often egotistical man, Adams was certainly a flawed hero, but a hero he was nevertheless.
This production also details the love story between Adams and his wife Abigail, a feminist before there was feminism who was his primary advisor and critic. Played by Laura Linney, Abigail Adams is definitely a woman of her times who, surprisingly, is also a woman of our times.
The production is one of the most historically accurate films we might ever see, with extraordinary care in re-creating the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Although director Tom Hooper allows the pace of the film to become a little too leisurely sometimes, overall this is a mini-series you shouldn't miss.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the guys behind "South Park," continue to surprise people with their show and the three-episode story arc of "Imaginationland" was no exception when it when broadcast last fall.
Now available on DVD, the three shows forms an unofficial second "South Park" movie and is in the tradition of their best episodes: taking sophomoric sexual humor and pairing it up with a high concept. In this story the two take the phrase "terrorists have captured our imagination" and developed it quite literally.
Our young heroes Stan, Kyle and Butters travel to Imaginationland where all of the fictional characters of our collective imagination from Mickey Mouse to Mighty Mouse reside. When terrorists attack the character they also unleash the evil characters of our imagination.
Stan, Kyle and Butters have to save the good Imaginationland and bring it back into the forefront.
Like their best offerings, their savage satire pokes holes at our pop culture and politicians. Although the uncensored DVD is certainly not for everybody especially children I certainly enjoyed it.
Parker and Stone offer a revealing commentary about the film as an extra.
Drawn Together: Season Three
While "South Park" still has something to say after being on the air over a decade, "Drawn Together," the animated parody of reality shows, long ran out of anything to say.
But because the hallmarks of the show are attempts at scatological, racial and sexual humor, obviously there is an appreciable audience. As long as there are 14-year-old boys out there, shows like "Drawn Together" will always have fans.
The Comedy Central show is lacking in any humanity, wit or charm. If the filmmakers are at a loss, they have a character vomit or perform a cheap sex gag.
"Drawn Together" is a nasty, very unfunny joke.