DVDs of the Week: 'Tropic Thunder,' 'Wall*E'

Two wildly different releases, each huge summer successes, come out today: Tropic Thunder and Pixar's Wall*E. I highly recommend both.

Tropic Thunder: Hollywood gets a somewhat safe skewering in this meta-tale of a group of egotistic actors shooting a war movie in the jungle who inadvertently end up actually becoming soldiers. The razor-sharp script has Robert Downey Jr., whose character is so devoted to his craft he dyed his skin black, muttering such lines as "I don't read the script - the script reads me" in all seriousness, and an virtually unrecognizable Tom Cruise as a bombastic, smarmy studio boss. Terrific turns as well by Ben Stiller as action has-been Tugg Speedman and Jack Black, a heroin addict who bites the head off a bat who dares try to nab his stash. The hysterical faux trailers in the beginning might possibly be the funniest part of the film.

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Best Extras: Robert Downey Jr.'s in-character commentary; alternate ending; Tom Cruise's makeup test; and the sketch from the MTV Movie Awards, with the four main characters filming a promotional video for the film.

Wall*E: Pixar's masterful sci-fi animation picture about Wall*E, the last robot on earth, and his love affair with a high-tech fact-finding robot named Eve shows off the studio's fearless risk taking in the genre at the same time it tells an almost heartbreakingly sweet relationship story couched in a thoughtful environmental message.

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Best Extras: The deleted scenes, which show rough sketches narrated by director Andrew Stanton who explains why they were cut; "Captain's Log," which shows the early days of the film when most of the characters were shapeless, Jello-y blobs.

Also New This Week:
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 This engaging sequel picks up as the four girls, now young women, seek adventure during year 1 of college.
Encounters at the End of the World Werner Herzog's entertainingly sardonic look at the human and animal inhabitants of Antarctica.
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson Johnny Depp narrates this chronicle of the subversive journalist's life.

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