Yeah, all PC and Mac laptop optical drives, and iMac optical drives, are crap. If you use them a lot they will go out in a short time. I always recommend making a copy of the movie with MacTheRipper or something and then watch it from the VIDEO_TS folder instead of cranking on the optical drive for a couple of hours.
Ideally you should get an external and use it when you can, especially if you burn a lot of discs. You can use the external to make the copy of the DVD too instead of the internal, to extend the life of the drive. If you travel with it you won't have to carry the DVDs then, just rip the ones you want to watch.
...and it's come back to life, after 2 restarts and a long sit powered down. This is how the previous ones died - not with a bang, but with a whimper. It makes amazing noises when it's not working - I'll have to see if I can get the mac to record itself:
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