Way Out of Sync
Edison Force (Sony)
Gritty cop stuff must write itself -- just make sure everyone's tough, corrupt, and talking like they stole Mickey Spillane's thesaurus. Then cast Justin Timberlake. Screech! Employing the talented (at music) popster as a crusading journalist isn't this lame flick's worst flaw -- merely the one you'll notice first. Others include LL Cool J as the lone good cop in an entire rampaging division, Morgan Freeman playing his 9,000th wizened father figure, and Kevin Spacey in a small role distinguished mostly by his poofy hair. This lump of neo-noir clichés would be fine for most straight-to-DVD thrillers, but those big names on the box will lure a lot of viewers expecting actual quality. Instead they'll get Timberlake searching for the predictable truth and acting well, in the sense that he doesn't sneak any looks at the camera. --Jordan Harper
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: The Complete Series (Warner Bros.)
Fox let Brisco run for only a season, but who else would have even greenlighted a western sci-fi action comedy starring big-chinned cult hero Bruce Campbell -- and let it run for a full 27? (Well, maybe UPN, which ran Jack of All Trades, the Napoleonic pirate superhero action comedy that also starred Campbell and is also out on DVD this week.) Best known as Ash from the Evil Dead movies, Campbell brings the same mix of charisma and pratfalls to Brisco, a Harvard-educated cowboy bounty hunter with a super-intelligent horse. Witty, and with surprisingly convincing sci-fi, the show deserves its status as a cult classic (unlike Jack, which was more blandly strange). But like a two-headed cat, it was just too strange to live. --J.H.
Ren & Stimpy: The Lost Episodes (Paramount)
This handful of episodes featuring the gangly Chihuahua and his feline pal were made for Spike TV--and they were too much even for the, ahem, manly network, which promised creator John Kricfalusi the use of boobies and curse words. These aren't Nickelodeon outcasts, but adult fare for moms and dads who'll feel guilty for chuckling at a dog-and-cat show with no more to it than Three Stooges violence turned up to 11 (Ren yanks out Stimpy's hair . . . with his hand up the cat's ass). No wonder only a few aired on Spike, among them "Naked Beach Party" (you'll never guess what happens, yeah) and "Stimpy's Pregnant" (with Ren's kid, confirming long-held suspicions). They're less suitable for broadcast than screening at a backroom bachelor party in 1956. --Robert Wilonsky
Amazing Stories: The Complete First Season (Universal)
It would be just like Steven Spielberg to re-envision The Twilight Zone as heartwarming and inspwiring, buffing off all the sharp edges that made the original great; it'd also be just like him to make it work, goddammit. Amazing Stories' 1985 debut marked the return of the anthology series to TV, and Spielberg brought the big names--Kiefer Sutherland, Harvey Keitel, Clint Eastwood, John Lithgow--along with him. Some of the episodes are mini-classics, like the goofy "Mummy, Daddy," in which an actor in full mummy makeup must rush across a small, jumpy town to reach his pregnant wife in labor. Others are so bad that no adjectives are needed to damn them: In "Guilt Trip," the emotion Guilt (played by Dom DeLuise) goes on a cruise and falls in love with Love (Loni Anderson). And Burt Reynolds directs. --J.H.
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