New in Home Entertainment – December 6, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

December 6, 2011

The Help
Rated PG-13 for thematic material
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

This year it was hard to find a room full of people where half hadn’t read Kathryn Stockett’s best selling novel The Help.  And when they discuss the book, they almost always compare it with the film and how they got it right.  Having not read the book going in, I was more than pleasantly surprised by this story of social injustice that takes place during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.  The stories of the workers are profoundly moving and it is a blessing that much progress has been made in the last fifty years.  While Emma Stone is essentially the glue that holds the group of women together, it’s Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain that all provide Oscar-worthy performances.  I can’t imagine anyone not loving this wonderfully entertaining drama.  A

Big Love: The Complete Fifth Season
Available on DVD

HBO’s hit series about a Mormon Fundamentalist that practices polygamy came to the spotlight this past year when a major raid upon a compound revealed the scary truths the show portrays.  I think we all knew after watching season four that it would be a bad idea for Bill (Bill Paxton) to come out as a polygamist once he won the Senate seat, but to what degree would be interesting to watch.  In this fifth and final season, HBO did a great job of putting this show to rest.  The writing is strong and the acting equally as powerful.  While I won’t miss the discomfort I get from watching it, I will miss the originality and the superb drama.  Also available in time for the holidays is a beautiful boxed set containing the entire series.  B+

The Hangover Part II
Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

After one of the funniest and most original comedies of the past decade, you would expect a fairly decent follow-up for the sequel.  While this should have been the case for the second installment of The Hangover, it unfortunately wasn’t.  I realize it would be difficult to duplicate the originality of the first, but it appears that they didn’t even try.  They just basically took the same plot and moved it to Thailand.  And then when they threw Mike Tyson in the mix in the end to sing a song, it was almost like they were making fun of the audience for spending over a half a billion dollars to go see it.  I laughed a few times in spite of its problems, but overall I couldn’t help but thinking what a waste.  C-

The Smurfs in 3D
Rated PG for some mild rude humor and action
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D

While not nearly as clever or well-written as The Muppets, The Smurfs does provide a nice trip down nostalgia lane without all of the annoyances an Alvin and the Chipmunks.  I like that they had the foresight to use such a cool iconic figure as Neil Patrick Harris in the lead, but I really wish there was a better story here.  It has obviously made most audiences happy in spite of poor reviews (it hit a world-wide gross of $560 million) and will no doubt be stuffed in many stockings this holiday.  If you do have a 3D television, the effects here are pretty decent.  Also, you should check out the Smurf-O-Vision feature when you watch it.  Sony has taken a cue from Warner Brothers and they are starting to really take advantage of the the blu-ray format and what is capable of.  C+

The Debt
Rated R for some violence and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

In 1966, an elite group of Mossad secret agents is sent to Berlin to track down and bring in a wanted Nazi war criminal.  Decades later, the three spies are confronted with the events of that mission, and the new task at hand.  The Debt is exactly what you want a spy thriller to be: exciting, sexy and smart.  The plot is complex without being confusing and the actors who play both the young and old spies do a bang-up job.  Jessica Chastain (who was also excellent in The Help) is a perfect counterpart to her older self played by Helen Mirren.  B+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *