Selected home-video releases:
Man is in the forest, again, as Walt Disney's animated classic debuts on DVD in a lovely digital restoration. The 1942 coming-of-age tale that follows a young deer's happy-sad journey to adulthood was a major inspiration for the "circle of life" themes in Disney's "The Lion King" half a century later. ("We completely borrowed from it in big heaping spoonfuls for 'Lion King,' and happily so," says "The Lion King" producer Don Hahn in a comprehensive hourlong documentary on the making of "Bambi.") The two-disc set also has interviews with Donald Dunagan, the voice of Bambi, and Peter Behn, the voice of the deer's bunny buddy Thumper, plus classic Disney animators and current studio overseers. Two deleted scenes are included, stitched together from newly discovered storyboard illustrations, and the set's games and pastimes offer a read-along tale featuring the further adventures of Thumper. DVD set, $29.99. (Disney)
"The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie"
The absorbent little cartoon hero jumped from television to the big screen with this cute family hit, which features the voices of Tom Kenny as SpongeBob, Bill Fagerbakke as his buddy Patrick, guest vocals by Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Tambor and an appearance by David Hasselhoff. The movie sends SpongeBob on a quest from his undersea home in Bikini Bottom to find King Neptune's stolen crown and prove his boss is innocent of the theft. The movie is accompanied by a making-of featurette, an animated segment with the voice of Stephen Hillenburg, director of the movie and creator of the TV show, and a couple of other background featurettes. DVD, $29.95. (Paramount)
"Classic Comedies Collection"
A must-have set for old Hollywood fans, featuring some of the bonniest comedies ever produced. Howard Hawks' 1938 classic "Bringing Up Baby," starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in the truly screwy romance of a ditzy heiress and a paleontology geek, makes its DVD debut in a grand two-disc set including commentary by Peter Bogdanovich. George Cukor's 1940 "The Philadelphia Story," a wedding farce with Hepburn, Grant and James Stewart, also returns in a two-disc set that replaces a previous bare-bones release. Debuting in single DVDs are four other terrific 1930s and '40s romps, "Dinner at Eight," "Libeled Lady," "Stage Door" and "To Be or Not To Be." The six films are available separately or in a bargain-priced boxed set. Boxed DVD set, $68.92; two-disc sets, $26.99 each; single DVDs, $19.97 each. (Warner Bros.)
"My Own Private Idaho"
Gus Van Sant's 1991 cult saga follows a narcoleptic male prostitute (River Phoenix) who hooks up with a big-city mayor's rebellious son (Keanu Reeves) who's slumming among a colorful assemblage of street hustlers. The film makes a stellar DVD debut in a two-disc package including a new interview with Van Sant by filmmaker Todd Haynes; an extensive making-of documentary; a segment featuring producer Laurie Parker and Phoenix's sister, Rain; and deleted footage. The film also is accompanied by a lavish 64-page booklet with interviews from Van Sant, Phoenix and Reeves and an essay on the film's Shakespearean undertones. DVD set, $39.95. (Criterion)
TV on DVD:
"The Brady Bunch: The Complete First Season" - The story of a lovely lady and a man named Brady is back in a four-disc set with the first 25 episodes of the 1970s family sitcom. Series creator Sherwood Schwartz offers commentary on the pilot, while Brady kids Barry Williams, Christopher Knight and Susan Olsen team for commentary on two other episodes. DVD set, $38.99. (Paramount)
"SCTV: Volume 3" - The great late-night comedy show returns in a five-disc set with the final nine installments from the show's first season on NBC, highlighted by such bits as the "People's Global Golden Choice Awards" and "Battle of the PBS Stars." Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short offer recollections in an interview segment. DVD set, $89.98. (Shout)
"Lost in Space: Season Three, Volume One" - The space family Robinson continues its wayward trek among the stars in a four-disc set with 15 episodes, the first half of the show's final season, which was jazzed up with a melodramatic opening-countdown intro and a more melodic new theme song. DVD set, $39.98. (20th Century Fox)
"Wonder Woman: The Complete Second Season" - A four-disc set contains the 21 episodes from year two of the campy 1970s action show, starring Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner in an adaptation of the DC Comics superhero adventure. A background featurette examines the story's transition from comics to TV screen. DVD set, $39.98. (Warner Bros.)
Other new releases:
"Exorcist: The Beginning" - This prequel to the 1973 modern horror classic could have been a worthwhile DVD release had Renny Harlin's awful theatrical cut been paired with Paul Schrader's unreleased version, which the studio shelved feeling it was not scary enough. It might have made for an interesting comparison, but the DVD has only Harlin's version, with commentary by the director. DVD, $27.95. (Warner Bros.)
"Flight of the Phoenix" - The remake of the 1960s James Stewart adventure crashes and burns almost at takeoff. Dennis Quaid stars as a pilot whose plane goes down in the desert, leaving he and other survivors with a longshot scheme to build a new craft from the wreckage of the old. The DVD has deleted scenes and commentary by director John Moore. DVD, $29.98. (20th Century Fox)
"Hoosiers" - Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper star in the wholesome, rousing sports flick from 1986 about a down-and-out basketball coach who leads a team of high school underdogs to the state championship game in 1950s Indiana. A new two-disc release includes 30 minutes of deleted footage with commentary by director David Anspaugh, who also offers remarks on the full film. DVD set, $29.98. (MGM)
"The Final Cut" - Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino and Jim Caviezel star in a lackluster sci-fi thriller about a man whose job editing deceased people's recorded memories for funeral services uncovers a dangerous secret. Writer-director Omar Naim offers commentary, and the DVD has deleted scenes. DVD, $27.98. (Lions Gate)