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The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension: Specal Edition

Can world-famous brain surgeon/scientist/test pilot/sharpshooter/rock star Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) stop evil Lectroids from the Planet 10 from returning to their homeworld? Can he rescue the mysterious Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin) from the clutches of an insane alien warlord (John Lithgow)? Can he stop a pack of Rastafarian extraterrestrials from blowing up the Earth? And can he do it all while wedging in his next rock-n-roll gig at Artie's Artery? The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension is one of those movies where, to abuse the cliché, if you're the sort of person who really likes this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you're really going to like. A flawed, low-budget puree of Doc Savage, science fiction, absurd comedy, '80s-synth/barroom rock, and cheesy action — most of it played with conviction and without much explanation — Banzai has developed a small cult following since its 1984 box-office belly-flop. Fortunately, it's a pretty vocal cult — in fact, their howls of protest led MGM Home Entertainment to jam-pack the Banzai disc with fan-appeasing extras. The result is a marvelous, surprising platter that, unlike most DVDs, extends the movie's fiction rather than deconstructing it. While most extras-packed DVDs pick apart a movie's constructed fiction with making-of documentaries, director commentaries, and assorted behind-the-scenes glimpses, the Banzai filmmakers have adopted a thematic conceit for their extras, which they carry off with surprising consistency: Buckaroo Banzai actually exists, and the Buckaroo Banzai movie was a "docudrama" chronicling his real-life exploits. Ridiculous? Absolutely. But it's also courageous — and pretty much unprecedented on DVD. Banzai director W.D. Richter and screenwriter Earl Mac Rauch (playing "Reno Nevada," the fictional chronicler of the "Banzai Institute") rush headlong into the idea, gleefully making fools of themselves among the disc's many extras. The end result isn't for everyone — but if you're willing to play along, you'll find that the myriad extras act as a sort of footnotes to the movie, expanding its universe tenfold and ultimately transforming a love-it-or-hate-it flick into a vastly richer multimedia experience. The disc features a solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1, and supplements include a commentary track featuring director W.D. Richter and "Reno" (i.e., screenwriter Earl Mac Rauch); a footnote-like subtitle track called "Pinky Carruther's Unknown Facts"; an alternate opening sequence with Jamie Lee Curtis; a sort of fictional making-of documentary, "Buckaroo Banzai Declassified"; 14 deleted scenes; a "Jet Car Trailer" for a proposed Banzai TV series; enhanced NUON features; a teaser trailer; Buckaroo Banzai "Personal Profiles" and "Character Profiles"; a faux "Jet Car All Access" magazine article; a photo gallery; "Banzai Institute Archives," featuring technical data, Hong Kong Cavaliers CD covers, interviews, reviews, and much more; and at least five Easter eggs. Keep-case.
—Alexandra DuPont

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