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Dead Like Me: Life After Death - television series DVD / sequel DVD / comedy DVD review
Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Ellen Muth, Callum Blue, Sarah Wynter, Jasmine Guy, Britt McKillip
Director: Stephen Herek   Distributor: MGM
DVD release: 17 February 2009   Runtime: 87 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
Features: Aspect ration 1.78:1, Audio tracks (English - 5.1 Dolby Surround), Subtitles (English), Audio commentary (dir. Stephen Herek and Ellen Muth), Back From the Dead: Resurrecting Dead Like Me

New to DVD, Dead Like Me: Life After Death is really all about the fans. While it is thoroughly entertaining, it is not a fully stand-alone film. It doesn't do any hand-holding and offers very, very little background to introduce new viewers to the storyline.

The shift from old (Rube) to new (Cameron) truly is as seamless as rumors had indicated. Rube's leaving is entirely in keeping with the already established lore of Reapers - though it's hard to swallow the loss of a presence like Mandy Patinkin. After a reasonably deft handling of his loss, the story proceeds mostly seamlessly into the new. Cameron Kane is slick and smooth, dripping with money and glamour, offering lies and breaking the rules without a twitch. Henry Ian Cusick, most recently Desmond on Lost, is ideal as a corrupt leader - taking advantage, leading them astray, and generally enjoying everything slimy within his power. While exploring this idea, the lives of the others are entangled in every chaotic way possible.

What happens, in the society of Reapers, when all rules are broken. How does that trickle into the real world? Very messily. From Jasmine Guy as Roxy needing personal glory and acclaim, to Mason's (Callum Blue) need for girls and funds, to Daisy's desire to be center-stage in everything, to George's inability to stay away from her family, they remain true to the original show. George finds herself particularly drawn to little sister Reggie, now all grown-up at 16 and struggling with driving, death and boys.

There is a tremendous amount of (believable) growth in George's character - five years later is a long time in the life of an early-twenty-something. Her clothing choices reflect her maturity, as does her growing need for taking the high and responsible road. The same old George is still there, however, in wise-cracking remarks and high levels of irritation. Ellen Muth falls back into that role, seemingly without a hitch. She is perfect. Britt McKillip played the original little Reggie when the show aired, and her reclamation of the role - keeping Reggie's personality while having grown up through the five-year gap - she might even outshine Ellen Muth's main character portrayal. The oddball antics of Delores Herbig (Christine Willes) fulfill expectations, while Reggie and George's mom is there to soak up drama and offer rants.

Most of the actors come back to reprise their roles from the series, and most fall in as if there was no break from then to now. The most notable change (other than their guiding leader) is the one portraying Daisy Adair, Sarah Wynters. While she does a fine job portraying the dramatic and egocentric Daisy of old, a few more shows really are needed to cement her. Even by the very end, one still expects the old Daisy to pop in and take her role back - by force, if necessary.

While it's just fluff and fun, the disc offers a great menu screen. The extras are a lot of fun, but a word to the wise: don't watch them before you see the movie itself as there are an awful lot of spoilers.

The real joy in this movie is that there is more humanity mixed in with the expected dark humor. They've stretched the limits a bit and found themselves beyond the boundaries of the show. Growth like that, in characters and in the plot, is satisfying. They remain very true to all the characters set out in the series while offering a small degree of healing to the characters who still struggle with personal woes.

Although the ending of the new Dead Like Me movie offers several different possible hypotheses to analyze (what does it all mean!), the ambiguous nature suits the film and the show. I have my own theories about the symbolic ending, but the most solid one leans towards the plausible hope that there may be more stories to tell in George's adventures. Here's hoping they'll pull it together several more times, for several more adventures.
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reviewed by Carolynn Evans
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