by Joel Smith & r & & r & The Vice Guideto Travel & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & his isn't your mother's Rick Steves' European Christmas. Vice magazine takes you to all the places in the world you'd pay to not visit -- the slums and hellholes and battlefields that never make it into the family slideshow. Their hosts take you to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro; to the wasteland of Chernobyl (where, at a deserted school, students' textbooks remain turned to the page they were studying on April 26, 1986); and to a crumbling, turn-of-the-century Nazi utopia in Paraguay called "Nueva Germania."
It's anti-travel. And who better to present it than the dogged contrarians at Vice, the magazine that was formed by three drug addicts in Quebec in 1994, and which has gained notoriety for reportage of defiant and questionable taste.
Some of it works. The exploration of Nueva Germania is funny and a little shocking, as pointy-haired hipster Derrick Beckles riffs sarcastically with the natives and makes fun of former resident Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi doctor. In another segment, Vice co-founder Suroosh Alvi uses family connections to get into the tribal areas of Pakistan, which even BBC reporters, he says, call "the most dangerous place in the world." Alvi pokes into Darra, where filthy children and old men spend all day manufacturing Kalashnikovs all day.
Elsewhere, the Vice crew come off as too cheeky. Or too superficial. Each segment lasts about 10 minutes and could use another 10 to delve deeper, back up its claims and mine the scene for more maudlin insight.
Luckily, the DVD also offers a host of extras -- including extra footage from several of the segments and a few short videos that don't entirely fit into the package's nightmarish theme -- like a lighthearted skip through Shanghai with Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes and comedian David Cross, and a boring music video for the Black Lips (filmed in Uganda). The disc also comes with a hit-and-miss, 66-page, hardbound companion book, which, at its best, fleshes out the depravity of Nueva Germania and teaches you never to say 'no' to an Iranian at a Bulgarian casino. (Not Rated)