by Hans ten Cate
Monday, 27 October 2003

Today is John Cleese's birthday, and what better way to celebrate the tall-one's b-day (bidet?) than by encouraging you, the loyal fans, to spend money watching films featuring him. Two DVDs featuring John Cleese were released in the United States recently - Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and George of the Jungle 2.

George of the Jungle 2

George of the Jungle 2, the sequel to the 1997 film staring Brendan Fraser was released on DVD and video on October 21. The 'new George' is portrayed by relative newcomer Chris Showerman and only Cleese and Thomas Haden Church reprise their original roles from the first film.

The story has George and Ursula finally married. They have a son and have made a home for themselves in the jungle. George must suddenly help his brother Ape (voiced by Cleese), now a Las Vegas lounge singer, who has run up a substantial gambling debt in Vegas. Ursula's former fiancé, Lyle Van de Groot (Church), shows up and has plans to win Ursula back by cheating Ape out of the deed to Ape Mountain so that he can evict George and win back his fiancée. To further his goal, Lyle teams up with Ursula's very mean mother, who is also determined to bring her daughter - and grandson - back to civilization.

DVD Features include:

  • Blooper reel
  • "Behind-the-Trees" featurette
  • Deleted scenes with commentary
  • Vine surfing game
  • Widescreen anamorphic format

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Also shipping October 21 is Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, the sequel to the summer hit from 2000.

The Angels go undercover to retrieve two missing silver bands which contain valuable encrypted information that reveals the new identities of every person in the Federal Witness Protection Program. When witnesses start turning up dead, only the Angels, using their expertise as masters of disguise and over-the-top kung fu, can stop the perpetrator, a mysterious fallen Angel (played by Demi Moore). Aided by their trusted colleague Jimmy Bosely, the Angels traverse the globe to catch their prey.

Exclusive to the unrated DVD:

  • Unedited material not seen in theaters
  • Turning Angels into Pussycat Dolls
  • Rolling with the Punches
  • XXX-Treme Angels
  • Full Throttle Jukebox

Also on the DVD:

  • Telestrator commentary with Director McG
  • Angel-Vision Trivia Track
  • Writer's Commentary
  • Full Throttle: The Cars of Charlie's Angels
  • Dream Duds: Costuming an Angel
  • Angels Makeover: Hansen Dam
  • Designing Angels: The Look of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
  • Learn why: There's no such thing as a "short shot," only an overworked producer
  • Music video: Pink featuring William Orbit "Feel Good Time"
  • Cameo-graphy
  • DVD-ROM: Animated Webisodes, Sony's exclusive Charlie's Angels X Online Game
  • Widescreen anamorphic format

Looney Tunes: Back in Action

Speaking of cameos, John Cleese will be appearing in Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes: Back in Action, due in theaters November 14. John can be seen in one brief scene, as a waiter, says John's assistant, Kim 'Howard' Johnson.

The first Looney Tunes film since Space Jam in 1996, Back in Action combines animation with live-action film. The film stars Brendan Fraser - once again Cleese stars in a film with Brendan - Jenna Elfman, and Steve Martin.

In the film, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the usual Looney Tunes gang leave the Warner Brothers backlot in search of Brendan's character's father and the mysterious Blue Monkey Diamond.

Around the World in 80 Days

If you can wait a bit longer, summer of 2004 probably, you can also catch Cleese doing a cameo in Around the World in 80 Days, starring Jackie Chan.

John Cleese will apear as a Scotland Yard Sergeant in Walden Media's adaptation of the Jules Verne classic novel. The film wrapped July 12 and John Cleese provided his cameo in Berlin this past summer.

Originally, Cleese was going to portray a French balloonist (a role which was apparently, and perhaps appropriately, handed to Richard Branson). By the time Cleese turned up in Berlin, he had been made a British policeman, which suited him fine.

The film centers around Passepartout (Jackie Chan), who must make it to China in order to restore a valuable jade Buddha that was stolen from his family's village. He seeks refuge with an eccentric London inventor, Phileas Fogg (played by Steve Coogan), who puts his reputation, fortune, and career as an inventor on the line in a daring bet to make it around the world in eighty days.

Here are a couple of fun film facts:

  • This film makes the third time a member of Monty Python has delved into the Jules Verne story. Michael Palin did it with his travel series and Eric Idle played Passepartout opposite Pierce Brosnan in the 1989 television-mini-series adaptation of the book.
  • Steve Coogan played 'Mole' in Terry Jones' live-action Wind in the Willows film for Disney. The film also starred Terry, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and John Cleese (the closest full-Python film since Meaning of Life. Coogan will next be seen in Ella Enchanted (a modern-day retelling of Cinderella), in which Eric Idle portrays the Narrator.

Wine for the Confused

This fall, Cleese is also planning to shoot a program for the Food Network in the United States, tentatively called Wine for the Confused. Aimed at both novices and experts, it will be shot in the wine regions of Northern California. According to Howard, John is both presenting and co-writing the script. Air date is uncertain.