EW review: 'Cosby Show' holds up
By Dalton Ross
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(Entertainment Weekly) -- As a kid, I never missed an episode of "The Cosby Show." Then again, I never missed an episode of "She's the Sheriff," so it was with some trepidation that I approached this season 1 set. Was the show as fresh and funny as I remembered, or merely a convenient excuse to ditch homework for 30 minutes?
Thankfully, the answer is the former. In fact, save for one episode in which Denise's friends teach Cliff to break-dance, "The Cosby Show" remains pretty timeless.
Bill Cosby (like Jerry Seinfeld and Ray Romano after him) had a knack for finding humor in everyday oddities, be they either unwanted Father's Day gifts or dead goldfish. Even the "very special episodes" ("Theo and the Joint" comes to mind) do not go over the top in their specialness.
But the program was groundbreaking in other ways, portraying two successful African-American characters (he a doctor, she a lawyer) while also paying tribute to black legends (look for guest-starring spots from luminaries like Dizzy Gillespie and Lena Horne).
In the 2002 TV special, "The Cosby Show ... A Look Back" (included in this package), such fans as Oprah, Quincy Jones, and P. Diddy -- who informs us that "From a fashion iconic point of view, the Cosby sweaters were definitely the flava" -- discuss how the sitcom expanded the perceived definition of what it meant to be black in America.
Of course, the retrospective highlights more humor than history, showing outtakes and audition footage, as well as the myriad ways producers concealed Rashad's pregnancy (they raised the kitchen counter, cut a hole in the mattress, and even had her sit behind a giant teddy bear). At least there's no hiding the laughs.
EW Grade: B+
Reviewed by Tom Russo
For Keanu Reeves, going to hell and looking like hell are two very different propositions. As DC Comics/Vertigo occultist John Constantine, Reeves is an unexpectedly decent fit, all cigarette-punctuated, screw-this detachment, tackling demons mainly to square himself with God before imminently succumbing to lung cancer.
It's a testament to music-video vet Francis Lawrence's stylishly straight direction that Reeves manages to look so incongruously robust in "Constantine" -- even while brandishing a pair of cross-adorned brass knuckles -- without eliciting unintended snickers.
EXTRAS Lawrence, two screenwriters, and a producer all sit in on the commentary, sounding remarkably unified in, say, their vision of Peter Stormare's devil-may-care Satan. A featurette spotlighting the source comics refreshingly cops to the movie having taken the blond, bristly, British antihero and given him a Hollywood makeover; an insert sampler of "Constantine" stories by DC talent serves a similar function.
EW Grade: B+
'The Upside of Anger'
Reviewed by Mandi Bierly
As a desperate housewife whose husband has supposedly skipped town with his secretary, Joan Allen finds comfort in booze, the bed of her lost-soul neighbor (Kevin Costner), and countless fights with her four distant daughters (Erika Christensen, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt, Evan Rachel Wood). That her performance in "The Upside of Anger" is flawless comes as no surprise. That ending, however ...
EXTRAS Like the film, they run deep and light. The making-of spells out the familiar moral -- letting anger consume you is a waste of time -- but also expounds on the exploding-head-at-the-dinner-table scene. Deleted footage showcases Allen in a murderous dream sequence and Costner's character toking up with a wedding band (the actor's idea, incidentally). The commentary by Allen, writer-director Mike Binder, and guest moderator Rod Lurie ("The Contender") talks up casting "Bull Durham" vet Costner as yet another baseball player: The poster his former Detroit Tiger autographs in "Anger" is actually a shot of the actor from the 1999 flick "For Love of the Game."
EW Grade: A-
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