New in Home Entertainment – July 26, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

July 26, 2011

Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When a down-on-his-luck writer happens upon a drug that allows him to use 100% of his brain, he quickly becomes a rich and powerful man with enemies that want to use him or steal his drug from him.  Before Limitless, Bradley Cooper was a celebrity, but with this performance and the ensuing box-office receipts, he has become a true star.  The movie itself is a blast to watch and provides for a very fast paced and entertaining couple of hours.  The script is smart and sexy and so are the performances by the talented cast.  Sometimes the pic moves at such a rapid pace that you feel it is trying to overcompensate for something or cover up some holes, but at the end that just doesn’t matter when you’ve had such a good time.  A-

Source Code
Rated PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images, and for language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When a bomb goes off on a train, killing hundreds of people, a secret government agency attempts to discover who the bomber is by utilizing an agent (Jake Gyllenhaal) who can relive the last 8 minutes before the bombing, over and over, until the discovery is made.  While the premise is pretty far-fetched and truly in the world of some crazy science fiction, the movie itself is entertaining when its not mind-boggling.  The ending goes a little too far from the science they invented, but I’m sure that’s what they were going for.  Jake is at his usual very good self in his own little Groundhog Day adventure and the fast paced directing proves to be an effective tool in not allowing you to over-think the plot too much until the movie’s over.  B+

Donnie Darko: 10th Anniversary Edition
Rated R for language, some underage drug and alcohol use and violence
Available on Blu-ray

If you like Jake Gyllenhaal and Source Code isn’t far out enough for you, then definitely check out this psychological sci-fi thriller that made Jake a star.  The story revolves around a high school student and his demonic bunny advisor.  It’s like Harvey on acid.  Ranked 143 in the IMDB Top 250, the pic has definitely earned its place as a modern indie sci-fi legend.  This new set contains Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy of the film as wells as a boatload of extras including the director’s cut and multiple commentaries.  A-

New in Home Entertainment – July 19, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

July 19, 2011

Rated R for sexual content
Available on Blu-ray
French with English Subtitles

The French are well-known for their fine food, epic museums and innovative cinema (I won’t get into their negatives).  Among the best of their movies, especially when considering their more modern films, is this gem of a picture directed by the brilliant Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Hepburn doppelganger Audrey Tautou.  The Oscar-nominated screenplay tells the tale of a young French girl who upon committing random acts of kindness to others is finally allowed to fall in love.  Being ranked #46 in IMDB’s Top 250, I can honestly say that I’m not alone in thinking that this is one heck of a visionary film, and certainly one of my all-time favorites.  The colors, music, and imagination all run wild in order to produce this beautiful fantasy which will have you smiling big for two straight hours.  For me, this smile is due to the happiness I feel inside each and every time I watch it.  Also being released for the first time on Blu-ray by Lionsgate are Chocolate, Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  A+

Peep World
Not Rated
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Personally, I am a big fan of The Office, Dexter, and The Sarah Silverman Program.  That’s why I have a tough time understanding how the stars of each of these can get together and make such a lousy film.  Rainn Wilson, Michael C. Hall and Sarah Silverman are fighting siblings who are all bitter due to a book their brother, Ben Schwartz, has written about their lives.  The basic premise isn’t horrible, but the screenplay is dreadful and the energy is non-existent.  It’s like being distracted by a boring, uneventful, meaningless family fight while you’re trying to enjoy the movie you thought you were going to watch.  D

National Lampoon’s Animal House
Rated R
Available on Blu-ray

Setting the stage for the modern day raunch-com is this classic fraternity tale starring John Belushi in his most famous role.  It’s hard to imagine my college days without Animal House as I recall we used to memorize the dialog over beer and pizza on almost a weekly basis.  Does the movie need a blu-ray edition?  Not really, but if you are into updating your collection, this isn’t a bad one to put in there.  The one new feature that I love is the popular Scene It? Animal House Edition game.  Also being re-released on blu-ray this week is The Blues Brothers, another hilarious Belushi film that proves that while he has been gone for almost 30 years, he is still one of the greatest comedians to grace the screen.  A-

Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses

Starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis
Directed by Seth Gordon (Four Christmases)
Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material

    I’m sure that I am not alone in that I have had my fair share of really bad bosses.  While there are some great people out there in managerial roles, it seems that the bad far outweighs the good.  What makes a horrible boss?  That’s easy – it’s a simple disrespect for the people that work under you.  While the fantasy of killing a bad boss has never gone through my head – I wouldn’t have cared too much if one or two of them turned up missing, if you know what I mean.  

    So when I heard about this dark comedy about three guys who have such terrible bosses that they felt the need to take them out, I couldn’t help but be intrigued.  Are the bosses that bad?  At least two of them.  Kevin Spacey and Collin Farrell, in this film at least, are truly despicable jerks that shouldn’t even be allowed around other people, never mind being in a role of leadership.  Jennifer Anniston, as a sexually harassing boss, has a severe problem, but one that just needs a little correction rather than murder.  

    The script here is sharp as a tack and well acted by all.  The film does rely a little heavily on shock value, but that is understandable in this case since the whole premise is shocking.  The jokes hit hard and frequently and aside from Jason Sudeikis playing the part of the ultimate ladies man, everything seems organic.  

    Having worked in the corporate world for so long, I found a real connection with Jason Bateman’s character as he is sure that sacrificing a decade of his life will all pay off in the long run.  In this regard, the writers did an excellent job of giving their characters each something that most of the audience will find an association with.  Whether the audience has a blue or white collar job, people will find something familiar in these three lead characters.  

    Do you have to hate your boss to appreciate this film?  Not in the least.  I haven’t had a horrible boss for a few years now and yet the film still came across as funny and relevant.  In a world where the economy is in the tank and management knows that you can’t quit your job for the fear that there are so many out there without work, this movie acts as a pleasurable excursion from reality.  B+

New in Home Entertainment – July 12, 2011

New in Home Entertainment

July 12, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer
Rated R for some violence, sexual content and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo

During the 90s we were fortunate enough to see a string of Grisham novels on screen, and most of them were pretty good.  There has been a very noticeable gap, though, since the last good legal thriller.  Then along comes The Lincoln Lawyer based on the novel by Michael Connelly.  Here, Matthew McConaughey plays a lawyer with questionable ethics who gains a new client, played by Ryan Phillippe, whose case smells a little fishy.  The phenomenal cast, which also includes Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, and Bryan Cranston play their parts well in this nifty little legal mystery.  While some of the plot points felt contrived, I found myself to be thoroughly entertained by the time end credits rolled.  A-

Rated PG for rude humor, language, action and smoking
Available on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo

When he gets separated from his owners during a road trip through the desert, Rango, a pet chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp, finds himself going from modern day conveniences to living in an old west town with a water deficiency.  Pretending to be a hero, he quickly becomes the town’s sheriff, bound and determined to uncover its corruption.  Last year I had three animated films in my top 10, but this year has seen a draught of great animated storytelling.  At the top of the list is this entertaining pic.  Even though many of its elements are lovingly stolen from such great films as Chinatown and Pale Rider, the film comes off as highly original.  The language is a little rough for young ears, so don’t be surprised when your youngins’ start repeating some choice new words.  B+

Entourage: The Complete Seventh Season
Rated TV-MA
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Setting up the 8th and final season of this hit HBO show finds Vince living truly on the edge while his friends and agent try to bring him under control.  With the last couple of seasons coming off as sort of wimpy, they went a whole new direction here with Vince doing tons of drugs and dating real life porn star Sasha Grey.  The turn seemed pretty contrived, but it did add a nice change-up to the happy-go-lucky lives we previously saw.  Now I can’t wait to see how they’re going to end this thing!  B-

Rated PG-13 for alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references
Available on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo

Of all the movies to remake, why they’d want to bring back this character is beyond me.  Russell Brand is the new Dudley Moore and here the spoiled young son of a billionaire who is informed by his mother that he must marry Jennifer Garner in order to stay rich.  The performances aren’t bad, but there is very little laughter here, just as in the original.  Sure, a stupid drunk can be charming for a few minutes, but it gets old quick, and while that might be the point of the film, that doesn’t make for good comedy.  C-  

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Patrick Dempsey
Directed by Michael Bay
Rated PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo

    It appears that in the 1960s an Autobot space craft crashed on the moon, thus giving the Americans and Russians the need to begin the space race.  When the Autobots discover the existence of their long-lost space craft on the moon, they bring back their leader from the ship that they thought had disappeared decades ago.  Unfortunately, the Decepticons, who got quite the beat down in the last two films, have other sinister plans for the Autobots’ new acquisition.

    Being one of the few critics who actually enjoyed the second film (a fact that filled my inbox with tons of threats of physical violence from a minority of crazies who hated the film), I am hesitant to even write this review.  But hey – it’s just a movie – right?

    Just like the last film, this one is packed with huge set pieces and massive special effects sequences.  Fortunately, there is a decent central plot in this third installment that at least gives a stronger backbone for the action than was present in the second.  But while the central plot works, the subplots are just silly.  With the very noticeable and highly publicized absence of Megan Fox, LaBeouf has a new British girlfriend played by Victoria’s Secret model Huntington-Whitely who is just way too pretty and dull to be in this movie.  At least with Fox there was pretty and damaged which seemed to be a good fit.  

    When producer Steven Spielberg was brought into the first project he wanted to make sure the film had a central theme: a boy and his car.  I guess this one went into the direction of a boy and his girl, and it suffers from it.  Having a girlfriend is one thing, but making it too important makes the film drag when it should be moving.  Proof is in the 157 minute running time which is simply too long for a film like this.  When my bladder and I began analyzing it, we found many, many places where this time could have been effectively cut down.
    The other subplots of LaBeouf’s job search and whatever the heck happened to John Turturro were only present for an unneeded overdose of comedy relief.   

    One thing I did enjoy is watching Chicago get the snot beat out of it.  The ending battle sequence was spectacular and watching Optimus Prime kick that much butt was a lot of fun.  That being said, with this many robots fighting for that long, the metal on metal melee seemed to melt together.  I’m glad they did a better job of giving the Autobots more color this time around so you could differentiate the teams, but I’m pretty certain a cut in the fighting budget would have helped the film along.

    Just like with number two, I am on the bubble here.  I think that there are some nice aspects to the film and some that are really annoying.  This time around the annoying struck me a little harder.  C+