One of the best aspects of DVD/Blu-ray is the ability to catch up on movies and shows that you may have otherwise missed when they first hit theaters. The best of this week’s releases fall into that category as small films that never quite got the exposure they deserved. Movies like Ceremony and Happythankyoumoreplease are fantastic celebrations of love, laughs, and life and should not be missed on DVD like they were in theaters. And while this week’s Pick is well known to its fans and others who grew up in the nineties it’s new to me on DVD and one of my favorite releases of the week.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
Rocko’s Modern Life: Season One
Rocko is a wallaby who’s moved from Australia to the United States and along with an oddball group of friends, acquaintances, and strangers struggles to make it through life’s absurdities. This is one of Nickelodeon’s most beloved shows from the 1990s and it’s finally hitting DVD in an official, complete season format.
I had never seen the show prior to this DVD release and seeing as I never understood the love for Ren & Stimpy or Spongebob Squarepants I expected a similar reaction here… but this show is hilarious. The writing is sharp, effortlessly moves between parody and scatology, and most impressively, it walks the fine line between writing for kids and writing for adults. Children will find much to love in the animation, effects, and gags, while adults get to enjoy all of that plus some stellar innuendo and side references. Great stuff, and I’m already looking forward to Shout! Factory’s release of season two.
Pitch: First love can be a bitch…
Why Buy? Max (Michael Angarano) is a young man in love. Unfortunately, it’s with a woman (Uma Thurman) who’s about to marry someone else. Best friend (Reece Thompson) in tow, he heads to the wedding with a plan to win her back, but life has a funny way of giving you what you need more often than it gives you what you want.
The film is fun, loose, and smart, but the biggest reason to check it out is what deserves to be a star-making performance by Angarano. He perfectly encapsulates the courage, fear, stupidity, and hopefulness of love. Thompson also knocks it out of the park as the best friend with issues of his own. Check out my full review here.
The Adjustment Bureau
Pitch: Makes Sidney Poitier’s adversity to love feel like small potatoes…
Why Rent? A man (Matt Damon) meets and falls for an attractive ballerina (Emily Blunt) but soon discovers a mysterious group of men determined to keep them apart… because the universe says the two shouldn’t be together.
George Nolfi’s directorial debut takes on a short story by Philip K. Dick and fares pretty well. The concept feels a bit stretched by the end of the film, but Damon and Blunt sell the love story and the stakes enough to make the trip worthwhile. Check out Robert Levin’s full review here.
Pitch: Don’t go in like I did expecting a comedy and you should be fine…
Why Rent? Ed Helms plays a small town insurance salesman sent to a convention in the sprawling metropolis of Cedar Rapids. His sheltered life is shaken up dramatically by an obnoxious but friendly John C. Reilly, a seductive but friendlier Anne Heche, and an immense pressure to succeed. The whole exaggeratedly dim-witted leading man schtick is getting old, but Miguel Arteta’s follow-up to the much funnier Youth In Revolt still manages to find a few solid beats and moments. Check out Robert Levin’s full review here.
Pitch: If I told you it was yet another sweet and funny indie comedy about twentysomethings in NYC, would you still watch it? Yeah, I don’t blame you…
Why Rent? Young New Yorkers struggle with the ups and downs of life, love, and child abduction in this truly funny and sweet ensemble comedy. Josh Radnor (How I Met And Subsequently Banged Your Mother) goes the multi-hyphenate route here as writer, director, star, and caterer, and he delivers on all fronts. Well, I can’t vouch for the food. The film avoids most of the usual pitfalls of the genre and finds real heart and humor in the characters and their situations. Check out Neil Miller’s and Levin’s full reviews here and here.
Living In Emergency: Stories Of Doctors Without Borders
Pitch: It’s like a real-life, unfunny, traumatic, mundane, and depressing version of Scrubs…
Why Rent? This doc follows a quartet of physicians who spend much of their lives in war zones tending to the wounded and the dying as part of Doctors Without Borders. It’s a hectic and emotionally scarring life that often leaves the doctors drained and running for the exits. But it’s also rewarding, and as evident in some of those profiled here it’s an experience that can become very difficult to walk away from. The film’s pace isn’t as exciting as the stories told though, so be prepared for some slow going at times.
Louie: The Complete First Season
Pitch: It’s the anti-Seinfeld in more ways than one…
Why Rent? Louis C.K. plays himself in this slice of life show that mixes his stand-up act with short narrative segments. The love for this series and Louis’s comedy is immense, but I just don’t see it during his act. What does work though are the “real world” bits where he interacts with friends, his daughters, and strangers alike and mines some fantastic comedic observations. He’s also not afraid to push buttons on serious topics at the expense of laughs and comes up with some edgy conversations.
Medium: The Final Season
Pitch: The most consistently employable Arquette finally reaches the end of her seven-year TV run…
Why Rent? Allison Dubois (Patricia Arquette) is a psychic who works with the police to solve crimes, catch bad guys, and constantly have to prove herself again and again. Seriously… every episode I caught over the years sees her sharing a dream she’s had, her friends and co-workers doubting her, and the dream coming true. The woman earned the benefit of the doubt years ago people! Arquette lacks the mountainous attractions of her Ghost Whisperer competition (Jennifer Love Hewitt), but the show is fun and always features some well-written family interactions. And the series’ final episode is done in an interesting way.
Pitch: Why do people insist on upsetting Liam Neeson? Fools…
Why Rent? A man (Liam Neeson) awakens from a coma to discover his memories no longer match reality. His wife has a different husband, there’s no record of his existence, and another man is walking around with his name. Far from the Taken clone the ads wanted you to believe, this is still a fun but ultimately ridiculous thriller with some crazy twists that make little sense but entertain nonetheless. Check out my full review here.
Pitch: When you think erotic cinema, think Germany…
Why Avoid? A filmmaker brings two strangers together to make a movie featuring explicit sex, but ideas, arguments, and fornication gets in the way of the movie. This German flick opens with the meeting of a mouth and a dick and goes downhill from there. The sex is fine and interestingly/attractively shot, but the dialogue scenes and silences between never capture the attention or interest. It’s like 9 Songs without the musical intermissions to at least entertain the ears. Skip it and go watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks instead.
Pitch: If bald eagles were this bland I wouldn’t care that they were endangered…
Why Avoid? A Roman Soldier (Channing Tatum) heads into enemy territory on a quest to find the golden emblem that his father lost years earlier. Director Kevin Macdonald’s film is visually arresting at times but suffers from a script that plays it safe and a lead actor that would bore the shit out of fresh paint. Jamie Bell is good, but he’s not given nearly enough to do here. Check out my full review here. Skip it and go watch Centurion instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Diary Of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules
Kiss Me Deadly (Criterion)
Mega Python vs Gatoroid
Mister T: The Complete First Season
The Romantic Englishwoman
A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy
The Women In Cages Collection: The Big Bird Cage/Big Doll House/Women In Cages
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?