This Week In DVD: February 8th

This Week in DVDThe FSR family is many things. Knowledgeable, opinionated, 99% white males… But the best thing about the collective writers here is their ability to turn my usual grinch-like personality into one that embraces the spirit of giving. I’ve given pickup lines to Robert Fure and written school papers for Landon Palmer. I’ve bought alcohol for Jack Giroux and comfortable shoes for Merrill Barr. I even gave Neil Miller the idea of actually turning his “weekly” Blu-ray column into a weekly Blu-ray column.

But now I’m finally getting something in return. I’ve stolen Miller’s brand new “PICK OF THE WEEK” concept as well as his idea of including titles I haven’t seen yet but still have an opinion about. Presumptuous? Probably. But you can handle it. If you can’t, feel free to give Cole Abaius a pruning with a pair of rusty shears.

Wild Target

Emily Blunt stars as a petty thief who rips off the wrong guy (Rupert Everett) and finds herself targeted for murder. The hitman (Bill Nighy) hired to kill her falls for her quirky criminal tendencies instead, and soon the two are on the run alongside a hapless ginger (Rupert Grint). This is lightweight entertainment to be sure and isn’t necessarily worth a purchase, but it’s still a lot of fun and doesn’t deserve to get lost in the DVD shuffle. It has a loose and casual spirit, Blunt and Grint get to cut loose and act zany, and Nighy is just fantastic as the aged hitman facing a quandary. And in a refreshing change from the usual, his moral dilemma is one of love not ethics.

Nothing worth buying this week! Take someone you love out to dinner instead.

High Lane

Pitch: A group of friends take a Wrong Turn while hiking in the mountains and end up as Cold Prey for a madman…

Why Rent? This French horror flick begins as more of a straight adventure, and it’s there that it has the most success. Some spectacular scenery combined with some truly suspenseful scenes make the first half pretty strong. The midpoint sees a shift more to a traditional survival horror flick, and while it’s okay enough, it feels like a slight letdown after the excitement that came before.

It’s Kind Of a Funny Story

Pitch: It’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for teens! Starring Zack Galifianakis as the mute Indian…

Why Rent? A confused teenager placed into psychiatric care finds solace and the answers to life in a motley group of fellow patients including a funny guy and a cute girl. Reviews were mixed on this dramedy from the directing duo behind Sugar and Half Nelson, but the cast which includes Galifianakis, Jim Gaffigan, Jeremy Davies, and more makes it one probably worth adding to the Netflix queue.

Middle Men

Pitch: Imagine a time before sex became synonymous with the internet…

Why Rent? The early days of internet porn is the subject here with a focus on Jack Harris, one of the major pioneers in cyber diddling. This movie is actually a couple years old, but the combined star power of Luke Wilson and Giovanni Ribisi… well, that wouldn’t go far at all. But I still want to see this one as it reportedly mixes some laughs with drama and mild suspense.

Ong Bak 3

Pitch: Half as good as the first one, twice as good as the second…

Why Rent? Tony Jaa’s swan song sees the story pick up shortly after the Peter Pan-inspired ending of part two, and while the fights remain of a high quality the plot and character work is just as absent and silly as in the last one. Jaa spends a bit too much time on Buddhist-inspired principles involving meditation and whatnot and not enough time doing back-flips off pachyderms, but when he does start fighting it’s still some pretty spectacular action.

The Romantics

Pitch: FYI, I am still open to a “friends with benefits” relationship with Katie Holmes…

Why Rent? A group of college friends reunite for the wedding of two of them, but drama and infidelity abound the night before the ceremony as secrets are revealed and clothing is loosened. Holmes takes the lead here, but the film is a true ensemble as each player brings something to the table. Josh Duhamel, Malin Akerman, and Adam Brody all shine, and Anna Paquin co-stars. It’s a dialogue heavy film, but the dialogue is good and the actors delivering it are attractive… so why not watch?

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

Pitch: You’ll come for the notoriety, you’ll leave due to boredom…

Why Avoid? A woman is raped, and then she takes revenge. Much like another notorious rape/revenge flick from the seventies (The Last House On the Left), this is not a good movie. It’s brutal in theory, but the events onscreen are presented so cheaply and amateurishly that none of it succeeds in the effect it’s aiming for. The assault isn’t heartbreaking. The retribution isn’t cathartic. The movie isn’t good.

I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

Pitch: Brian Salisbury says “I spit on this reprehensible piece of crap.” And he loves lots of shitty movies…

Why Avoid? A woman is raped and then she takes revenge. When this was first announced I was willing to give it a shot for the sole reason that the remake of The Last House On the Left turned out extremely well. But the marketing material as well as reviews like Salisbury’s have reversed my intention. From the sounds of it the filmmakers have achieved the same state of nothingness as the original source material, and if that’s the case there’s really no reason to sit through it is there?

Life As We Know It

Pitch: If you see only one Josh Duhamel movie on DVD this week, make it The Romantics

Why Avoid? Two strangers are thrust together when their mutual friends’ death leaves them as guardians of their baby, and the couple must learn something about responsibility and love. So it’s basically Raising Helen without the witty title and with Katherine Heigl. Need I say more?

Paranormal Activity 2

Pitch: If you’re going to install security cameras to record strange events, you might consider watching the goddamn recordings…

Why Avoid? This is a prequel of sorts to the first film and features a brief cameo from part one’s doomed couple with an expanded dynamic that includes a teen daughter and a baby boy. The setup is similar as strange events lead to the installation of security cameras with the remainder of the footage comprised of camcorder recordings, but the scares are far less subtle this time around. On the bright side the new family is far less annoying than in the first film, but it’s more visceral approach and less than fulfilling ending makes it one to skip.

Repo Chick

Pitch: For folks who miss the cutting edge green-screen effects unseen since The Seventh Guest

Why Avoid? A Paris Hilton-like LA “celeb” is disinherited and forced to find work with a repossession company, but when terrorists threaten to blow up the city if golf isn’t criminalized it’s up to her to save the day. Writer/director Alex Cox follows up his twenty five year old cult classic (Repo Man) with a highly stylized sequel filmed entirely against a green screen. That kind of production barely works in the science fiction genre (Mutant Chronicles for example), but in a film purporting to be basically the real world it comes off as an homage to The Seventh Guest and other old school CD-Rom games of the past. It distracts from the already hyper acting and zany plot.

You Again

Pitch: Poo again…

Why Avoid? A successful female executive (Kristen Bell) returns home for her brother’s wedding only to discover that he’s marrying the girl (Odette Yustman) who made her life hell in high school. Her mother (Jamie Lee Curtis) thinks she’s overreacting until she realizes the girl’s aunt (Sigourney Weaver) is her own high school nemesis. It’s like a comedic circle of life! Except they forgot to bring the laughs… everything here feels so forced, from the acting to the punchlines to the physical gags. The only real laughs to be found on the disc are in the outtakes.

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:

Alice In Murderland
America America
Beauty & the Briefcase
For Colored Girls
A French Gigolo
My Soul To Take
Still Walking (Criterion)
Tamara Drewe

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What are you buying on DVD this week?

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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