Fresh on Blu-ray: ‘SAVANNAH SMILES’ and ‘WENT TO CONEY ISLAND…” enter the MVD Rewind Collection

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

WENT TO CONEY ISLAND ON A MISSION FROM GOD… BE BACK BY FIVE

Rated R, 94 minutes.
Director: Richard Schenkman
Starring: Jon CryerRick StearRafael BáezIone SkyeFrank Whaley and Peter Gerety

This 1998 film, co-written by and starring Jon Cryer, is getting a special collector’s release and HD upgrade through the MVD Rewind Collection. If you haven’t seen this long-titled film about three friends (Cryer, Rick Stear and Rafael Baez) who grew up together in their youth and grow apart during their adult life, you’ll be surprised by how true it is to the human experience.

I’m a nostalgic person who often thinks about memories of my youth, so this film hit pretty close to home, because it’s all about friends trying to reconnect and reflecting on the past. It’s beautifully melancholic (like a Richard Linklater or Andrew Haigh film), especially when the film reaches a point when the characters realize that sometimes the people you want to save don’t want to be saved. It’s a hard realization, and the actors illustrate that feeling organically and remarkably.

The best thing about this particular release, aside from it including a quality film, is the package it comes in. The MVD Rewind Collection incorporates the love of video cassettes into its Blu-ray packaging. The cover includes a sticker to remind you to rewind or a clearance sale price, with some edge wear to complete the dated look. It’s really one of a kind and something that makes a great conversation piece when you show off your movie collection to guests.

Grade: A-

Purchase the film here through mvdshop.com.

Extras: A new introduction from director Richard Schenkman and co-writer/star Cryer (who’s now rocking a bald head and a beard), an audio commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a short film directed by Schenkman (“The Producer”), a photo gallery, original theatrical trailer and a collectible mini-poster.

SAVANNAH SMILES

Rated PG, 105 minutes.
Director: Pierre De Moro
Cast: Mark MillerDonovan ScottBridgette AndersenChris RobinsonMichael Parks and Peter Graves

Who would’ve thought a film about a little girl (Bridgette Andersen) running away from home and crossing paths with two escaped convicts (Mark Miller and Donovan Scott) would be so zany and heartwarming?

Somehow SAVANNAH SMILES succeeds.

While the 1982 film (restored through the MVD Rewind Collection) doesn’t exactly stand the test of time (it treats the subject of child abduction rather lightly), there’s a period charm and a sweet message about love conquering greed that gives it some staying power. Complete with a look and feel that resembles WHERE THE RED FERN GROW meets THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG, and some likable performances, SAVANNAH SMILES makes for a nice pick-me-up.

Grade: B-

Purchase the film here through mvdshop.com.

Extras: The MVD Rewind Collection’s release includes a comical “please rewind me when I’m done” sticker and a worn edge made to look as though a VHS tape is poking out of the packaging. The special features contain a brand new making-of documentary (very enjoyable), a featurette about the memories of Anderson (who passed away at 21), an interview with the film’s composer, the original theatrical trailer and a collectible mini-poster.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.