DVD Dale Earnhardt
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DVD Dale Earnhardt
92 Minutes/ English/ REGION 1
Despite a limited TV budget and a tight 20-day shooting schedule, ESPN's 3 pays honorable tribute to NASCAR's greatest hero. Barry Pepper (the ace marksman in Saving Private Ryan) is perfectly cast as Dale Earnhardt, who rose from humble beginnings as a cotton-mill worker to legendary status as "the Intimidator," whose aggressive racing style was frequently controversial. While basing its drama on Earnhardt's relationship with his stern father Ralph (himself a fearless dirt-track champion), Robert Eisele's teleplay struggles with trackside clichés while functioning as both intimate portrait and highlight reel of pivotal races from Earnhardt's career. As directed by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander), the film succeeds as a blue-collar drama about a man driven by destiny--and ominous fate--who embodied the best (and sometimes the worst) of NASCAR culture, popularizing the sport like no driver before or since. All of the essential bases are covered, and the superb supporting cast includes Elizabeth Mitchell as Earnhardt's third wife, Teresa, J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man films) as Ralph Earnhardt, and newcomer Marshall McGee as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Titled after Earnhardt's black #3 Goodwrench Chevy, 3 is a conventional TV biopic, but it's essential viewing for those who loved--or even hated--the man who died too young, at age 49, on the final lap at Daytona in 2001.
Bonus features in this two-disc set are abundant and excellent, including an in-depth "making of" featurette, a definitive ESPN documentary on Earnhardt's life and career (featuring a virtual who's-who of NASCAR superstars), a generous archive of Earnhardt interviews, and extensive highlights from four historic races, including Earnhardt's controversial contact with Terry Labonte to win the 1999 Bush 500 at Bristol, and the Earnhardts' (Sr. and Jr.) 1st- and 2nd-place wins at IROC round 3 that same year. All in all, this is DVD heaven for NASCAR fans.