New in Home Entertainment – May 24, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

May 24, 2011

The Kids in the Hall: The Complete Series
Available on DVD

In the late 80’s SNL producer Lorne Michaels introduced America to Canadian sketch comedy with The Kids in the Hall.  Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson performed a unique style of comedy that while reminiscent of SNL and Monty Python, definitely stands out in its originality.  While the episodes look dated with an almost pastel hue, the laughs are still there in force.  Watching these guys go drag is simply hilarious and in their more masculine characters they are just as funny.  The great thing about a set like this is that the more you watch, the funnier it gets.  It sort of breaks down your defenses and puts you in the right mood to enjoy the silliness.  Also included in this set (as well as sold separately) is the 2010 eight-episode television series Death Comes to Town.  It’s not as great as the original show, but the comedy team proves that they still have it and their unusual style shines through.  The Kids In the Hall A; Death Comes to Town B

Gnomeo and Juliet
Rated G
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

While I can’t prove it, I’m generally certain that Disney’s Shakespeare-inspired tale started with the catchy title and then they attempted to put a story with it.  There are many problems with that though.  When they couldn’t get a good enough kid-friendly story, they chose to beef it up with a load of Elton John tunes.  I know Elton tells it differently, but I just can’t imagine another alternative.  First off, how do you screw up Romeo and Juliet?  First, you muck with the classic.  In an attempt to be clever, they throw in tons of puns, most of them unfunny.  And talk about boring.  This is the stuff of Saturday morning cartoons, not the follow up to the brilliant Tangled.  I know an animated tragedy doesn’t make the best kids flick, but maybe Disney shouldn’t be so worried about pandering to their perceived audience and instead elevate the material.  And if they think the themes would make that bad of a kids movie, then maybe they shouldn’t have made it at all.  I’ve seen many good modern variations on Shakespeare’s work,  but this sure isn’t one of them.  C-

Wartorn 1861-2010
Available on DVD

Executive producer James Gandolfini and HBO explore the world of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its link to military combat.  The disease has had many names since the Civil War, but the cause as well as the results are very similar.  The essential thesis of the film is that we turn our kids into killing machines and can’t handle the consequences when they aren’t deprogrammed back in the States.  This is a tough film to watch, but it is absolutely one of the best arguments I’ve ever seen for not sending our kids out to fight frivolous wars.  A-

I Am Number Four
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and for brief language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Several children are sent to Earth from a distant planet in order to escape assassination from a sinister alien race.  When the assassins get to Earth to wipe them out, they succeed in the first three.  Now Number Four and his protector must find a way to survive the impending attack.  While this sci-fi action flick was a critical dud, I have to admire the producers for putting so much money behind an original story like this.  Sure there is a lot of cheesiness going on, but the acting isn’t half bad (love Timothy Olyphant in almost anything) and the film is pretty entertaining overall.  B-

Rated R for violence, pervasive language, a scene of strong sexuality and some drug use
Available on Blu-ray

Before Tigerland, Colin Farrell was just a no name Hollywood wannabe.  This Vietnam era drama stars Farrell as a trouble-making soldier who specializes in helping misfits get discharged.  Preparing for war in hot and humid Fort Polk, Louisiana is his last stop before being shipped out to Vietnam.  It’s a well-told story with a star-making performance by Farrell.  If you are looking for a good war film this Memorial Day, you gotta check out this little gem.  A-