Passions Play on DVD

This week’s home video release slate is highlighted by two controversial productions, one a biblical account of the crucifixion of Christ and the other an animated satirical take on the heated debates surrounding that film. Mel Gibson’s blockbuster, The Passion of the Christ, and the South Park episode "The Passion of the Jew" arrive on DVD and VHS.

The Passion of the Christ chronicles the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The film includes graphic depictions of his torture and crucifixion at the hands of the Romans and chief priests of Jerusalem, scenes made possible with visual effects work by Captive Audience Prods. This release offers nothing in the way of extra features. Those hoping for bonus material like director and cast commentary, historical featurettes and behind-the-scenes peeks will have to wait for a special edition version, which is likely to come. Until then, admirers who just want to own the film can do so for the list price of $29.98.

In South Park: The Passion of the Jew, Kyle questions his faith when he finally sees Mel Gibson’s movie, which has inspired Cartman to lead an anti-semetic crusade. The disc includes the bonus episodes "Christian Rock Hard," in which Cartman, Butters and Token for a Christian rock band, and "Red Hot Catholic Love," which has the gang taking a trip to the Vatican and endureing the real-life challenges of a video game from 1982. The Paramount Home Entertainment release is not rated and lists for $19.99 on DVD.

Both The Passion of the Christ and the South Park spoof are intended for mature audiences, but for the younger set, there’s The Animated Passion, which Anchor Bay released on home video on August 17. This kid-friendly account of Christ’s sacrifice is available as a 90-minute single DVD/VHS featuring the 30-minute stories Worthy is the Lamb and He is Risen, as well as seven sing-along songs with animated activities. The release is also available as part of a trilogy three-pack DVD, which includes a third animated story titled Kingdom of Heaven. This direct-to-video title is produced by NestFamily and lists for $14.98 on DVD.

Also arriving on disc and tape today is All Grown Up: Lucky 13, a Rugrats special that debuted on Nickelodeon over the weekend. In the episode, Angelica plans the biggest 13th birthday bash ever, deliberately excluding her cousin, Tommy, and his preteen pals. Trouble looms, however, when arch-rival Savannah decides to throw a spring bash on the same day. Despite being snubbed, Tommy and the rest of the crew rally to make sure Angelica’s party is the event of the season. The Paramount Home Entertainment release also includes the episode "Tweenage Tycoons," as well as the bonus episodes "Truth or Consequences" and "Thief Encounter." Fans of the series can pick it up for $16.99 on DVD. Read our interview with Cheryl Chase, the voice behind Angelica Pickles, here:

Rugrats followers can also today purchase the Rugrats Holiday Celebration Gift Set, featuring the episodes "Curse of the Werewuff," "Ghost Story," "Aunt Miriam," "Sleep Trouble," "Spike’s Nightscare," "Babies in Toyland," "The Turkey Who Came to Dinner," "The Santa Experience," "A Rugrats Kwanzaa" and "A Rugrats Chanukah." The two-disc set retails for the suggested price of $19.99.

Paramount keeps the holiday theme going today with the release of Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Halloween. The title features the episodes "Boo!" and The Missing Piece," as well as bonus installments "To the Monkey Bars" and "The Big Storm." There’s also Dora’s Halloween Hunt Game and a Nick Jr. Baby Sneak Peek. The DVD lists for $16.99.