Living with DVD Extras

No wonder people have fallen in love with DVD extras. Increasingly, releases have a little something for everybody, going beyond the usual deleted scenes, commentary tracks, and "behind the scenes" documentaries to include games, Web links, and elaborate featurettes on things like costume design and special effects.

Several recent titles, including The Godfather Collection, The Phantom Menace, and Shrek, have made particularly good use of DVD's 9 gigabytes of digital real estate. Like funhouses on a disc, they introduce strangely fascinating diversions at every turn, educating and informing us while suggesting that we can expect even greater things from the format.

But for every DVD that pushes the extras envelope, there are at least a dozen others that fill the available space with needless, self-serving fluff. These latter discs tend to be easy to spot by their generic music videos and "making of" documentaries that don't reveal much more than you already knew before you saw the film.

Take the video of Shelby Lynne singing "Killin' Kind" on the Bridget Jones's Diary DVD. Beautiful, lean, and tan, Lynne lounges on what looks like a Greek island. In the movie, by contrast, Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is a plump young woman stuck toiling in a publishing house in foggy England. These singing-babe-in-an-exotic-locale videos receive a wonderful animated send-up, however, on the Shrek DVD. An extra called the Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party features Princess Fiona, in her ogress form, singing "Like a Virgin" while lounging seductively in a bog.