New in Home Entertainment – February 22, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

February 22, 2011

Due Date
Rated R for language, drug use and sexual content
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When father-to-be Robert Downey Jr. gets booted off of a plane for an altercation with Zach Galifianakis, the two end up on a cross-country road trip trying to get back home to Los Angeles in times for his child’s birth.  While the setup doesn’t make a lot of sense, the film itself works well as a buddy road comedy, mostly because of Galifianakis turning in a hilarious performance.  Downey is fine, but could have been played by anybody, and the role might have been better served had he and co-star Jamie Foxx switched characters.  As is, though, the film is still really funny at parts and worth the watch.  B

Les Miserables: The 25th Anniversary Musical Event of a Lifetime
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

I have a special place in my heart for Les Mis since it is the musical that made me a Broadway junkie.  Before seeing this show, I had no interest in musical theater, but then I saw this in Oklahoma City in 1992 and it blew me away.  Since then I’ve seen it five or six times but have craved a version that I could just pop in the DVD or Blu-ray player and enjoy anytime.  So needless to say I was excited to get a chance to review this new concert event.  Putting together one of the most amazing group of singers you could imagine with a huge orchestra and a choir made up of various talents from West End theater, this production had me as happy as I could get in front of the TV.  The only flaw in the event is the addition of Nick Jonas from the Jonas Brothers in the role of Marius – most likely as a ploy to get young folks to see the show.  For me it was like Garth Brooks playing baseball: sure he sold some tickets and it was fun to see him in the uniform, but once he picked up the glove or bat you know it wouldn’t be pretty.  Rather than singing from the diaphragm, he has a throaty, poppy voice that stands out badly with the rest of the brilliant cast.  But don’t let that stop you from checking this out because not only do you get Lea Salonga and Matt Lucas, but in the role of Jean Valjean is one of the most lovely voices I’ve ever heard, performed by opera sensation Alfie Boe.  A

Rated PG for action and some language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Will Ferrell lets loose in this animated film about an evil mastermind who loves to do battle with his superhero nemesis, Metro Man.  But when he accidentally kills Metro Man, he discovers that his life is worthless without someone to battle.  While the film is kind of clever at times and Ferrell has his moments, the movie overall is pretty stale.  Maybe it’s because there was a movie about the bad guy earlier this year with Despicable Me.  Or maybe it was because it felt more like a lame parody than an original picture.  Whatever it was, the movie wasn’t as entertaining as I would have hoped.  That being said, Dreamworks crammed in the special features in on the blu-ray edition and you get a lot of bang for your buck with the set.  Also, I can see kids liking the film, although I would feel kind of weird with my young children singing the soundtrack that includes AC/DC, Ozzy and Guns N’ Roses.  C+

Fish Tank: The Criterion Collection
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When an angry fifteen-year-old girl begins to fall for her young mother’s boyfriend, a twisted series of events changes her life.  This piece-of-English-life art film by Academy Award Winning short filmmaker Andrea Arnold shows a lot of Mike Leigh influence, and for most American audiences – that ain’t a good thing.  This is a tough, uncomfortable story that is engaging enough but relies more on in-your-face realism than a strong narrative.  I much prefer An Education which is very similar in theme to Fish Tank, but tells a better story where you actually feel empathy for your heroine rather than wishing she wouldn’t be such a screw up all of the time.  While this is one of the few Criterion titles that lacks a commentary, they did include some nice features including the director’s Oscar-winning short film Wasp.  B-