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VHS Video

Slapstick Comedy

Monty Python and the Holy Grail [VHS]

Monty Python and the Holy Grail [VHS] Lowest new price: $2.00
Lowest used price: $0.05
List price: $14.07

Could this be the funniest movie ever made? By any rational measure of comedy, this medieval romp from the Monty Python troupe certainly belongs on the short list of candidates. According to Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide, it's "recommended for fans only," but we say hogwash to that--you could be a complete newcomer to the Python phenomenon and still find this send-up of the Arthurian legend to be wet-your-pants hilarious. It's basically a series of sketches woven together as King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail, with Graham Chapman as the King, Terry Gilliam as his simpleton sidekick Patsy, and the rest of the Python gang filling out a variety of outrageous roles. The comedy highlights are too numerous to mention, but once you've seen Arthur's outrageously bloody encounter with the ominous Black Knight (John Cleese), you'll know that nothing's sacred in the Python school of comedy. From holy hand grenades to killer bunnies to the absurdity of the three-headed knights who say "Ni--!," this is the kind of movie that will strike you as fantastically funny or just plain silly, but why stop there? It's all over the map, and the pace lags a bit here and there, but for every throwaway gag the Pythons have invented, there's a bit of subtle business or grand-scale insanity that's utterly inspired. The sum of this madness is a movie that's beloved by anyone with a pulse and an irreverent sense of humor. If this movie doesn't make you laugh, you're almost certainly dead. --Jeff Shannon

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The Great Outdoors [VHS]

The Great Outdoors [VHS] Lowest new price: $5.78
Lowest used price: $0.99

This hit-and-miss 1988 comedy pairs John Candy and Dan Aykroyd in a story of one family's summer vacation all but ruined by the uninvited appearance of another, more loutish family. Howard Deutch (Some Kind of Wonderful) directs from a half-hearted John Hughes script, which reduces Hughes's jokes-and-epiphanies formula (The Breakfast Club, Home Alone) to true gaudiness. On the other hand, Annette Bening makes her screen debut here. The DVD release has a widescreen presentation, production notes, trailer, optional French soundtrack, and optional Spanish subtitles. --Tom Keogh

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Vegas Vacation [VHS]

Vegas Vacation [VHS] Lowest new price: $4.00
Lowest used price: $0.01
List price: $4.44

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the casino, along comes the Griswold family from the popular series of National Lampoon's Vacation movies, raising a ruckus in the now family-friendly gambling capitol of the world. Clark (Chevy Chase), the bumbling Griswold patriarch, gets into his usual quota of trouble--especially on a sightseeing trip to the Hoover Dam (where puns on the word "dam" come fast, furious, and idiotic). Meanwhile, Mrs. Griswold (Beverly D'Angelo) gets to sing an ear-piercing rendition of "Lovin' You" on stage with her idol, Wayne Newton (one of the movie's comedic highlights), while son Rusty poses as a high roller and daughter Audrey trains as an exotic dancer. Randy Quaid reprises his scene-stealing role from the original Vacation movie, but let's face it--the series had already worn out its welcome, and this belated sequel earns a few good laughs but hardly qualifies as a worthy revival. Not bad as no-brainers go, but not up to par with the original film, and its better sequels like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. --Jeff Shannon

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Money Pit [VHS]

Money Pit [VHS] Lowest new price: $2.99
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List price: $9.98

run timke 1 hour 31 min.

Steven Spielberg produced this underwhelming 1986 effort at a slapstick spin on Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. The pre-Oscar Tom Hanks stars with Shelley Long as a married couple whose efforts to finish construction on their home are sabotaged by costly and sporadically funny accidents. The unfinished domicile becomes a metaphor for their troubled relationship, as evidenced by Long's character's attraction to a madman violinist (Alexander Godunov). Hanks is the only reason at this point to check this film out. Richard Benjamin (My Favorite Year) directs but with no flair or distinction. --Tom Keogh.

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Down Periscope [VHS]

Down Periscope [VHS] Lowest new price: $4.22
Lowest used price: $0.01
List price: $9.98

Kelsey Grammer stars as the captain of a rust-bucket submarine who is fighting for his career by proving his skills in a contest against far more sophisticated ships. Rob Schneider provides comic support as an uptight ensign, and Lauren Holly plays an officer who has to fight her own will-they-accept-me-because-I'm-a-woman anxieties. The film didn't do well at the box office, but it is actually pretty funny, Grammer is enjoyable, and the above-the-water/below-the-water action sequences are as good as any in most submarine films. --Tom Keogh

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein [VHS]

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein [VHS] Lowest new price: $5.00
Lowest used price: $1.55
List price: $12.79

Universal Pictures made a great deal of money from its monster movies in the 1930s. In the early '40s, the burlesque team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello kept the studio's coffers full. When the two franchises were combined in 1948, the result was another windfall--despite the apparent oil-and-water mix of subject matter. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was the first of these summit meetings, although the title is a misnomer. Actually, Bud and Lou bump into most of the Universal heavy-hitters, including Count Dracula (played by Béla Lugosi himself), the Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr.), and the Frankenstein monster (veteran monster Glenn Strange). There's even a token appearance by the Invisible Man, whose disembodied voice is recognizable as that of Vincent Price. Sure enough, the film is funny, especially since it gives the portly Costello multiple opportunities to do his wide-eyed, quivering scaredy-cat routine. Audiences ate it up, and in future installments Bud and Lou would run into Boris Karloff, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, and the Mummy. But the first was the best. --Robert Horton

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The Shaggy Dog [VHS]

The Shaggy Dog [VHS] Lowest new price: $4.04
Lowest used price: $1.99
List price: $14.95

VHS movie about a boy who is spectacularly turned into a shaggy dog.

Flubber [VHS]

Flubber [VHS] Lowest new price: $1.71
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List price: $2.50
Brand: Walt Disney Home Video

"Brilliant but befuddled Professor Phillip Brainard (Williams) is on the brink of inventing a revolutionary energy source and missing his wedding to fiancée Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds--president of financially challenged Medfield College--for the third time."

Disney couldn't resist the temptation to remake 1961's popular comedy The Absent Minded Professor, so they cast Robin Williams as Professor Philip Brainard (a role vaguely related to the character originated by Fred MacMurray), and the result is a comedy that, frankly, doesn't fully deserve its modest success. It's admittedly clever to a point, and certainly the digitally "flubberized" special effects provide the kind of movie magic that's entertaining for kids and parents alike. The professor can't even remember his own wedding day (much to the chagrin of his fiancée, played by Marcia Gay Harden), and now his academic rival (Christopher McDonald) is trying to steal his latest and purely accidental invention--flying rubber, or ... flubber. The green goo magnifies energy and can be used as an amazing source of power, but in the hands of screenwriter John Hughes it becomes just another excuse to recycle a lot of Home Alone-style slapstick humor involving a pair of bumbling would-be flubber thieves. There's also a floating robot named Weebo and some catchy music by Danny Elfman to accompany dancing globs of flubber, but the story's too thin to add up to anything special. Lightweight fun, but, given the title, it lacks a certain bounce. Of course, that didn't stop Disney's marketing wizards from turning it into a home-video hit. --Jeff Shannon


  • VHS
  • clamshell case

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See Spot Run [VHS]

See Spot Run [VHS] Lowest new price: $1.99
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List price: $1.99


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Saps at Sea - Laurel & Hardy [VHS]

Saps at Sea - Laurel & Hardy [VHS] Lowest new price: $10.99
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List price: $5.99

"Horns! Horns!" Yes, this is that Laurel and Hardy film: Ollie suffers a nervous breakdown working at a horn factory; the incessant sound of the instruments nearly drives him mad. When his doctor recommends a quiet vacation at sea, he and Stan decide to set sail in a small boat. But they have an unwelcome passenger: bulldog-puss Richard Cramer (an L&H regular), as an escaped criminal who forces them to help him get away. Cramer is delightfully nasty as the bad guy, who outsmarts their plan to poison him with fake food by making them eat it first. --Marshall Fine

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