This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray we take a trip to Louie’s house for a season worth of awkward moments, we get our Beat Beat moon boots on for some warfare in The FP and we run around with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston before joining a commune that worships the gun work of Paz Vega. It’s another busy week, so bring your wallets.

Blu-ray Pick of the Week

Louie: The Complete Second Season

The Pitch: Louis C.K. returns to stand-up, awkward dates and fending off a nervous breakdown.

Even though it lost a bit of momentum toward the end of its second season, Louie continues to be one of the simple pleasures that cable television has to offer. In his own Seinfeldian way, C.K. reminds us at every turn that being a divorced 41-year old man is not easy, even if you are a famous comedian with a steady gig. The show is best ingested, if you don’t watch it on FX, in a single marathon of episodes, making the Blu-ray release the preferred delivery method. It’s one of those shows that you’ll just want to keep watching until it’s over. And with only 314 minutes of show in its second season, it’s good for an entire afternoon. Repeat once a week until you’re appropriately satisfied with your own life. It should take only one or two viewings.

Extras Highlight: Several episodes of commentary is more than enough, as commentary from Louis C.K. is almost like watching a completely new episode in itself.

Blu-rays Worth Buying

The FP

The Pitch: In a land where Dance Dance Revolution is a warrior’s way, a hero must rise.

“You have to watch the first 20-minutes of this movie,” I was told emphatically several weeks prior to the film debuting at South by Southwest 2011. “No seriously,” they said. So I watched the first 20-minutes on a festival screener, thinking that I would get a complete experience. What unfolded before my eyes was a deep commitment to an absurd premise executed with skill and aggression. A turf war settled over a game called “Beat Beat,” a play on Dance Dance Revolution. It was silly, serious and seriously funny. Impressive in its commitment and verve, the rest of The FP plays equally as hard as it’s pre-credits scene. Jason Trost plays JTro, our hero. He’s got ridiculous moon boots, an arsenal of slang so laced with profane whiteness, and the power of love to guide him as he sets out to take back his psuedo post-apocalyptic, twisted corner of the universe. If none of this makes sense, you should see The FP. There’s a reason the minds at Drafthouse Films picked it up for distribution and have chosen it to be their first Drafthouse Films branded Blu-ray release. Shot and directed by Trost’s brother Brandon, who has served as DP on a number films from Neveldine and Taylor, The FP has ambition, creativity and a strong sense of just how serious silliness should be, yo. Brandon Trost’s camera work looks great in HD, elevating the film beyond just another low-budget indie comedy.

Extras Highlight: The Blu-ray release is not without some extras. Even though some of the audio timing on the behind the scenes featurettes seemed out of sync, learning about this very low budget effort is worth the price of a Blu-ray upgrade.

Wilfred

The Pitch: It’s about a man who has given up, completely breaks with reality and finds a friend.

Wilfred is an interesting experiment in televised comedy. It’s about a guy (Elijah Wood, former Hobbit) who, in a brilliant attempt to commit suicide with the aid of what appears to be Nyquil, has a break with reality. Now he can talk to his very attractive neighbor’s dog, who in reality is a man in a dog suit with an Australian accent (played by show producer Jason Gann). Everyone else sees the titular character as a dog. Ryan (Wood) sees him as a bowl-smoking personification of therapy. Taken for what it appears to be, this show is ridiculous. Under the surface, however, once you’ve given in to it’s absurd premise, it’s a perversely charming comedy that does not disappoint. Brisk and brilliant, with characters you’ll come to love almost instantly.

Extras Highlight: A ‘Life After Film School’ feature profile’s Jason Gann, who is just as brilliant in real life as his concepts are on screen.

Blu-rays Worth Renting

Wanderlust

The Pitch: Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston join a commune and both almost have sex with Malin Akerman.

Long have struggled with being fan of the work of David Wain, for one reason or another. Some of his previous works — including Role Models and Wet Hot American Summer — are absolutely brilliant. Others, including 2007’s The Ten, are unwatchable. Luckily, Wanderlust slips nicely into the company of the former. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston play an upwardly mobile couple from NYC who fall on tough economic times and must seek refuge with his irritating brother (Ken Marino) in Atlanta. Before they reach the dirty south, they happen upon a commune run by a hippy version of Justin Theroux, only to find themselves interested in the simpler life filled with nudist winemakers, a pregnant Lauren Ambrose and a wheelchair-bound Alan Alda. The honeymoon is shortlived, though, as they find roadblocks in free love, self expression and community bathrooms without doors. The film relies heavily on the charm of Rudd, who delivers in spades, and the oddity of its supporting players, who include favorites like Joe Lo Truglio (and Joe Lo Truglio’s full frontal nudity) and Kathryn Hahn. Malin Akerman also shows up as the poster girl for free love. Seriously, sign me up.

Extras Highlight: A ‘Line-o-rama’ includes Paul Rudd and co. riffing through several scenes worth of improve. The man is a national treasure.

John Carter

The Pitch: Sure, this has been out a for a few weeks. But I liked this movie.

Somewhere along its path toward releasing into theaters, John Carter became a movie marked for failure. A massive studio budget and a director working on his first live-action film, an unproven star and a marketing campaign that failed to inspire confidence. From any angle, this movie was dead in the water before anyone even saw the thing. Upon first watch, Carter presented itself as a creative, ambitious tale with scale. It’s got a few pacing problems and a tacked on first scene that does not set the tone of the film well. But when it settles in, John Carter is every bit the massive adventure it would promise to be. Taylor Kitsch isn’t the most charismatic lead, but he hits those action beats hard. And director Andrew Stanton finds the human moments, as he always does. It’s worth a watch.

Extras Highlight: Any time Andrew Stanton sits down for audio commentary, it’s worth taking note. The man has such infectious passion for the work he does and the John Carter commentary is no exception. Five minutes of this man talking about this movie and you’ll be sold on the movie itself.

Cat Run

The Pitch: Paz Vega is the hooker with a heart of revenge. And that revenge is fired from many guns.

The word “pulp” gets tossed around a lot these days, but Cat Run really lives that pulp classification. It’s poorly written beyond all recognition and filled to the brim with highly sensationalized violence and a scantily clad leading lady whose aim is better than her English. It’s sexy, stupid and inclusive of the villainy of Christopher MacDonald. It’s so bad that I would absolutely watch a sequel right here and now.

Extras Highlight: The Paz party gets additional time with some deleted scenes and a making of featurette that goes on for about 10 minutes more than is necessary.

Blu-rays to Avoid

A Bag of Hammers

The Pitch: Two guys, a kid and a waffle house.

Jason Ritter and Jake Sandvig, young veterans of the world of indie comedy, star as a pair of car-stealing friends who stumble into a relationship with a young boy whose mother, the tenant of a rental property they own, is guilty of serious neglect. With the help of their waffle-serving sister (Rebecca Hall) and their chop shop crime accomplice (Todd Louiso), they sort of adopt the kid, make him part of their life and get into all the trouble that comes along with randomly adopting a kid without filling out the necessary paperwork. Paced poorly, A Bag of Hammers falls victim to having too little story to tell and too much time invested in a story going nowhere. Dialogue is delivered with the soft touch of coarse grade sandpaper. Problematic is the story that slings the better qualities of two completely unlikable characters. Redemption, as it often does, comes too late in the game to make a difference.

Extras Highlight: The film’s distributor was kind enough to include a lone behind the scenes featurette and the film’s trailer, in case you need to buy the Blu-ray, then decide if you’d like to watch it.

Project X

The Pitch: Three high school cliches take throw a memorable party that probably should have ended with more senseless deaths.

It’s been a while since we’ve busted out the big whooping stick of an ‘In Regards to Your Movie…” article — something we only do when a film incites such anger in one of our critics that an F grade won’t cut it, and an open letter must be written. Brian Salisbury wrote one for Project X, the Todd Phillips produced film about suburban youths who decide to throw the end-all be-all of pool parties. In his letter, Salisbury said the film is “not just playing to the lowest common denominator, it’s playing to the lowest forms of life on the planet. With all its selfish, consequence-free vice, Project X is also a stomach-turning snapshot of all the reasons why so much of the world hates America.” He added, “I legitimately pray that the Taliban never sees your movie.” That pretty much sums it up with Project X. It’s aggressively unbearable, as if intendedly so. On Blu-ray, the party and the torture are extended with an “#XtendedCut” (complete with hyper-contemporary hashtag) that shows you several extra minutes of debauchery — should you desire such torment. There’s even an Ultraviolet copy included that you can save to your Dell Streak and take with you down to the Frat party you’re still attended well into your early 30s.

Extras Highlight: There’s a counter that tallies the film’s total destruction for you, just in case you’re deeply invested in and/or impressed by property damage.

Also on Blu-ray this week

Read about more home video releases with Rob Hunter’s This Week in DVD.


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