By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Still not famous, and gods, apparently, don't drive borrowed vans.
But I got some cool pix. --Shannon Sutlief
Sick of schlepping to the googolplex, fighting hordes of wilding teens on faux-melted butter highs, sitting next to the invalid with the TB cough just to check out the latest and greatest Vin Diesel idiotfest? Suffer no longer: This week, Full Frontal offers up the ultimate guide to the latest crop of bootleg videos surfacing around town--those illicit, straight-to-video offerings shot off cinema screens by would-be Conrad Halls with shaky hands and shakier ethics. They cost 11 bucks; they're actually quite worthless.
XXX: Don't think this movie was really produced by "Revoluti Studios"; turns out the cameraman just couldn't capture the right side of the screen--a plus only if your diet calls for one-third less Vin Diesel. Looks more like an early-'70s Hong Kong production than a state-o'-the-art actioner; for fans of John Woo's student movies, maybe.
Barbershop: No. 1 at the box office, No. None in our hearts, this dub of a dub of a dub of a dub of a dub is so washed-out Ice Cube looks whiter than Kathie Lee. And the sound's no pleasure, either: Like most boots in our collection, the dialogue's often drowned out by torrents of static. Still, one of the best of the bunch, second only to...
Star Wars Episode II: The Clone Wars: The opening frames suggest this boot, which comes packaged in the rare plastic case (most come in flimsy paper sleeves with artwork lifted from the posters), was copied from a DVD; we're not so sure, given the grainy picture and dinky sound. Problem is, despite its letterbox-perfect framing, the movie looks like hell--which is a distinct drawback, given that the only good thing about EpII is how shiny it looks on a big screen.
Spider-Man: If you don't mind a warped picture (curved at the ends, like Bill Clinton) and the sound of audience coughing, this is the boot for you. Otherwise, our Spidey sense suggests you wait till the official release in a few weeks.
Men in Black II: Perfectly captures the moviegoing experience: You can actually watch audience members taking their seats, when you're not peeking around the corner trying to see the missing half of the screen. Docked, also, for having "SLP" at the top of the screen throughout the entire movie.
Undercover Brother: Not a visual delight, but neither's the movie; this grainy rub-a-dub-dub is actually a decent audience lift, until 15 minutes in, when the static kicks in and drowns out the jokes. OK, the joke.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash: What--you mean this isn't already out on video? Our bad.