Join us each week as Rob Hunter takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs. And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below.
This week sees several good releases, but only one worth buying (and I’m just as surprised as you that it’s an Adult Swim title). But there’s plenty worth a Rental for folks who don’t love foul-mouthed stop-motion comedy, including Date Night, Tapped, Death At a Funeral, Under the Mountain, The Good Heart, and more.
See all of this week’s relevant DVD releases after the jump…
Click on any of the titles below to magically head over to Amazon.com and pick up the DVD. And don’t forget to check out Neil Miller’s hilariously titled This Week In Blu-ray for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!
Titan Maximum: Season One
Pitch: “Sweet crackers! Nothing puts me to sleep like the sound of your voice. I take that back. Hand-jobs…”
Why Buy? Five heroes fly fighters that come together to form a giant robot, but time, greed, and ill-advised balcony parties cause unforeseen havoc. Think Voltron, but with stop-motion dolls instead of traditional animation. And think extremely crass and hilarious dialogue instead of dry story-lines that always end with the good guys winning. My dislike for most things Adult Swim is well documented in this column as many of their shows seem to be poorly written, shoddily animated garbage designed solely for the amusement of toked up college students. (A valid market to be sure, but these shows suck for the rest of us.) But the creators of Robot Chicken have delivered brilliantly with their new show both technically and creatively. It’s Team America: World Police with more consistent laughs and without the strings.
Extra Features? Commentaries, featurettes, alternate dub (that is incredibly funny)
Pitch: The film’s original title was Must See Movie…
Why Rent? A married couple spices things up on their weekly date and steals a reservation at a fancy restaurant. Hilarity based on mistaken identity, low expectations, and a shirtless Mark Wahlberg ensues. Steve Carrell and Tina Fey play the couple, and both of them show why they’ve been part of NBC’s Thursday night comedy block for the past few years. They’re funny people, and this light comedy continues that trend. In addition to the two leads and Wahlberg the movie milks some humor from James Franco, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, and others. The movie isn’t bust-a-gut funny, but it’s amusing, has some unexpected heart, and is well worth a rental. Check out my full review here.
Extra Features? Alternate scenes, featurettes, gag reel, PSAs
Death At a Funeral
Pitch: And they say Hollywood no longer has any original ideas…
Why Rent? A patriarch has died and as his friends and family gather for the wake the house fills with secrets, feuds, and highly medicated boyfriends. As is often the case, the blame for it all can be placed squarely on the tiny shoulders of a little person. So this is basically an at times very literal remake of a British film from just a few years ago. As you may or may not know, the official language of the UK is the Queen’s English, which explains why an American remake was necessary. Chris Rock still can’t act, Martin Lawrence is still funny when he tries, and James Marsden steals the movie. It’s a fairly funny flick overall even if most of the laughs are lifted directly from the original. Check out Neil Miller’s full review here.
Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes, trailer
The Good Heart
Pitch: Brian Cox is a brilliant actor. Paul Dano co-stars alongside him…
Why Rent? I kid! Dano stars as a slightly “off” young man taken in by a grumpy and old bar owner who decides to start grooming the kid as his successor. Cox is fantastic as the grump who may not be hiding a heart of gold but who is concealing a heart all the same. Dano has quickly carved a niche for himself in roles that make Michael Cera look like a smooth and socially adept player, and while he occasionally grates the film still manages to make you care for the two characters and their fragile friendship. Worth watching for a handful of laughs mixed in with the drama and character study. Check out my full review here.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: Thirty Helens agree, movies about depression and bi-polar disorder are real downers…
Why Rent? Ashley Judd stars here as a woman with a family and a job she loves who succumbs to depression. It’s not my kind of movie for reasons I’ll get to in a second, but I have to recommend it because Judd gives an amazing performance that deserves recognition. I have a general rule regarding depression and depressed people in real life. Basically, I avoid them whenever I can. I’m not being a completely insensitive tool here as my attitude is based on several years of personal experience that have pretty much scarred me for life. And that’s depression (from the outside) in a nutshell… a lack of humor, an abundance of melodrama and frustration.
Extra Features? Interviews
Pitch: A film about marketing that neglects to tease Amber Heard’s nude scene prominently? Shameful…
Why Rent? An attractive family moves into an upscale neighborhood and begins making friends while casually showing off all of their styling wardrobe, neat gadgets, and fancy cars. The catch is they’re not a real family… they’re actors in the role of marketing tool. David Duchovny is his usual charismatically droll self alongside Demi Moore, Ben Hollingsworth, and an occasionally nude Amber Heard. The movie has some sharp things to say about our culture of constant consumerism, but it doesn’t always hit the mark. Still, it’s an entertaining enough romp through modern-day suburbia to warrant a watch. Check out Robert Levin’s full review here.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes
Pitch: “There is enough water for human need, but not for human greed.” – Mahatma Freaking Gandhi…
Why Rent? This doc takes a look at the bottled water industry from almost every angle and in the process manages to inform, educate, frustrate, and depress. It basically highlights the deadly combination of corporate greed and public stupidity that leads to the 80 million single-serve bottles of water consumed daily… and the 30 million that end up in landfills. It does a fair job with the information, interviews, and statistics, but it loses a bit of focus during its brief, maudlin forays into illnesses possibly associated with the industry. One woman disses a plastics factory as the cause of hers and her husband’s cancer… and she does it while holding her pack of cigarettes. But the film’s main point regarding the waste, ecological damage, and social effects of corporate ownership of our water sources is both convincing and important.
Extra Features? Additional segments
Pitch: Colin Ferrell is a lovable scamp. And yes, that same pitch could be used for just about every one of his movies..
Why Rent? Ferrell plays a war photographer whose last assignment saw him injured and his best friend blown to bits. The ensuing trauma finds his memories of the event hazy at first and he finds it difficult to deal with those around him. Post traumatic stress can only be cured by one thing, and that’s Paz Vega. Luckily, Vega plays his girlfriend. Ferrell has always been a fairly underrated actor, and a role like this eschews vanity and showcases his talent instead. The movie doesn’t exactly sprint along, but the story is engaging enough for a single watch.
Extra Features? Soundbites, making of, b-roll footage, trailer
Under the Mountain
Pitch: You know it’s a fantasy film because it has redheads as the heroes…
Why Rent? An evil group of undertakers lives beneath New Zealand waiting through the years for a pair of psychic gingers that can help them destroy the world. With giant monsters. But Sam Neill won’t have any of that and instead helps shepherd the twins to safety and teaches them how to stop the soggy men in black using nothing but their freckles and some pet rocks. That’s an almost 100% accurate summation of this movie my friends. Almost. And while I’m not a big fan of the movie as a whole there’s enough to enjoy here to make it worth a rental. Neill for one, some fun effects courtesy of WETA for another, and some absolutely gorgeous shots of New Zealand round out the positives. Check out my full review here.
Extra Features? None
I believe this is the first time since I took over this column that I’m not recommending a single DVD for you to avoid. Instead I’ll be saving up that negative energy for next week when I’ll be giving a critical middle finger to Furry Vengeance, The Last Song, Cougar Town, and more!
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen it and review material was unavailable:
- Children Of Invention
- Crumb (Criterion)
- Graphic Sexual Horror
- La Mission
- Max Headroom: The Complete Series
- Multiple Sarcasms
- Sea Of Dust
- The Thorn in the Heart
- Trauma: Season One
In the interest of full disclosure, I received review copies of the following DVDs for this week’s column:
- Titan Maximum: Season One
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?