THE SIMPSONS MOVIE
Fox DVD / $29.99
John Cleese once said that after putting together the first Monty Python compilation film, And Now for Something Completely Different, the comedy team learned that an audience won't keep laughing past the 50-minute mark if it doesn't care for the characters or become involved in a story. But the writers and producers behind The Simpsons Movie didn't need a warm-up film to learn that lesson: They created a classic screwball comedy right off the bat. This 90-minute carnival of a film contains more thrills and laughs than any combination of clowns, creep shows and animal acts. What sustains it is a deliriously intricate plot. Lisa's crusade for ecology, Homer's disdain for it, Marge's desire for an alert and loving husband, and Bart's need for a selfless, caring father thread into a crazy quilt that also contains Homer's love for a very non-Babe-like pig, an environmental disaster, monstrous mutations and the quarantining of the town of Springfield.
Paramount / $29.99
This tale of an English village that abuts a fairy land, and a star that falls to that fairy land as a beautiful woman (Claire Danes), is the most original, accomplished and charming of this year's nonfranchise fantasy films. Robert De Niro is hilarious as a pirate with a secret sexual identity, and Michelle Pfeiffer is spectacularly sly as a witch who needs to eat the heart of the star to regain her own beauty. She stands out in the blooper reel, too, as she delicately inspects a malfunctioning mechanical breast.