DVDs: Bonus Points Movies

No Shortage of Laughs in 'Extras'

By JEN CHANEY
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ricky Gervais is unquestionably the star of "Extras," a BBC/HBO series about a conflicted and socially inept sitcom actor. But in the second season of the show, on DVD today ($29.98), the high-profile celebrities who cameo in each of the six episodes nearly steal the focus from the co-creator of the original "Office" and the UK's official God of Comedy.

While notables like Kate Winslet and Patrick Stewart appeared in the first season of "Extras," the second season ups the ante and the humor quotient with yet another flotilla of famous personalities eager to ruin their reputations with a few wickedly funny moments. Hence we see Orlando Bloom, busting on Johnny Depp and boasting about the many magazines that list him as sexiest male star; Chris Martin of Coldplay recording a public service announcement while wearing a T-shirt that touts a Coldplay greatest hits compilation; and Harry Potter himself, young Daniel Radcliffe, hitting on older women and even (gasp!) flinging a condom at Dame Diana Rigg. Celebrity gawkers will get a kick out of every cheeky, Hollywood-bubble-bursting moment, while fans of Gervais and Stephen Merchant (the other man responsible for "The Office") will revel in another dose of the duo's intentionally awkward humor. Even if most Americans don't recognize the many British TV personalities who also make cameos (anyone remember Ronnie Corbett? No?), it still doesn't detract from the industry-insider fun.

With only six installments constituting a single season, this DVD is a pretty slim collection, which might make it more appropriate for renting than buying. Having said that, the two discs come with several entertaining bonus features, including making-of featurettes about each episode, outttakes and the especially hilarious mini-doc "The Art of Corpsing," a look at how frequently the actors break down with the giggles in the middle of a take. ("Never have I laughed out of place ever," confesses guest star Sir Ian McKellen, "until today.") Gervais -- with his high-pitched, infectious guffaw -- is by far the worst offender. Ironically, his "Extras" character, Andy Millman, gains fast fame because of a lame catch phrase he repeatedly utters on a BBC sitcom called "When the Whistle Blows": "Are you havin' a laugh?" Clearly, Gervais was throughout production on "Extras." And undoubtedly, anyone who watches this DVD will, too.

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Other Bonus Point Picks

I can't promise that the following family film is any good. But the press release's description of "Thunderpants" -- starring Rupert Grint and releasing today to no doubt capitalize on Grint's starring role in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" -- would surely elicit a giggle from Mr. Ricky Gervais: "A heartwarming family film about a young boy who finds the best in himself when he discovers his own super-powered flatulence." And yes, that is a direct quote from the P.R. machine at Genius Products, God bless them.

Also Available This Week

Billy Bob Thornton stars in the drama "The Astronaut Farmer"; The Last Mimzy," which did not play particularly well on the big screen, squeaks out just enough charm to make a decent rental for the kids. For more, check out this full list of today's DVD debuts.

Coming Next Week

Sienna Miller takes on the role of Warhol-muse Edie Sedgwick in "Factory Girl." For a full calendar of what's coming to DVD in the weeks ahead, click here.

Recently Announced

Releases worth marking on the calendar:

  • The brilliant-but-barely-watched first season of ""Friday Night Lights" aims to score points with an audience via an Aug. 28 DVD release.
  • The recently uncanceled "Jericho" also delivers its first season on DVD come Oct. 2.
  • The Shue family's soccer drama "Gracie" arrives Sept. 18.
  • And for those getting into the holiday spirit a little early, the Jason Robards 1972 TV movie "A House Without a Christmas Tree" makes its DVD debut Oct. 16.
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    PHOTOS: 'Extras' -- HBO/'Astronaut Farmer -- Warner Bros.

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