Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves working with NASA on a top-secret project designed to solve world hunger by making tofu cubes fall from the sky. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs. So join us each week as he 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.
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 column for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!
Pitch: The best adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew ever made. Seriously…
Why Buy? This is one of the best teen romantic comedies to come out of the nineties, and while it’s due to a lot of factors the main one is the stellar ensemble cast. Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Julia Stiles, and Larry Miller are all fantastic and help create a movie that’s sweet, funny, honest, and continuously watchable. FYI, this is a Buy recommendation with the caveat that you don’t already own a copy of the movie. The making-of is good, but the deleted scenes are actually only viewable as part of the featurette which is a slight bit of false advertising.
Extra Features? Commentary, featurette
Pitch: The somewhat true story of Donnie McBrasco…
Why Rent? Okay so the lead’s name is actually Martin McGartland and he’s more of an informer than an undercover agent, but the concept is still relatively the same. Jim Sturgess stars as the low-level criminal persuaded into joining the IRA as an informer for the British government. The movie does a fine job balancing the drama and suspense and creates an interesting portrait of a time and a place that many of us can barely imagine.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, commentary, featurette
Pitch: Who knew Mormons could be so entertaining…
Why Rent? I’m of the opinion that all religions are fairly goofy, but HBO’s show about the wacky adventures of one big Mormon family does a great job of making many of them real people with real situations. The acting is top-notch across the board, and even when the storylines grow more than a little ridiculous the performances manage to hold it all together.
Extra Features? Featurettes
Pitch: Much like our own Neil Miller, a Best Buy employee is dragged into the dangerous world of super spys…
Why Rent? I’ll be honest and admit that I gave up on this show about six episodes into the first season. The characters were engaging enough, but I wasn’t a fan of the action/comedy imbalance. After watching a few episodes of season two I can say with indifference that the uneven tone remains. A mildly entertaining diversion at best.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes, featurettes
Pitch: Who wouldn’t want dead animal flesh to fall from the sky…
Why Rent? Bill Hader finally gets a starring role and it’s in an animated movie. Ah well, he does a fine job voicing goofball scientist Flint Lockwood, and is joined by the likes of Anna Faris, Bruce Campbell, Neil Patrick Harris, and Mr. T! The disc doesn’t carry over the 3D aspect from theaters, but the animation still looks good. There’s more than enough laughs, colors, and action to keep the kids interested, and a fairly sharp script should manage to hold an adult’s attention as well.
Extra Features? Commentary, extended scenes, featurettes, games
Pitch: Imagine Green Card as a mildly suspenseful drama and without the fat Frenchman…
Why Rent? A young woman in an arranged marriage discovers the path to citizenship is lined with unsavory characters and unwelcome choices. Arta Dobroshi stars as the title character and manages to create a deceptively simple woman with hidden layers of depth and drama. Part character study, part indictment of the immigrant experience, and part suspense film, Lorna’s Silence is definitely worth a watch.
Extra Features? Featurette
Pitch: A hot lady trucker is forced to grow up when her baby’s daddy gets sick and drops their estranged kid in her lap…
Why Rent? I’ve always like Michelle Monaghan and she’s often been the only appealing thing in otherwise terrible movies (Eagle Eye, The Heartbreak Kid). This indie flick has raised her acting credentials among more than a few critics and deserves a wider audienc, and Nathan Fillion turns in a fantastic supporting performance as well. The movie itself is slow at times but remains worth watching for these two performances.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: Promises, promises…
Why Avoid? This series is the definition of diminishing returns. The original was unique and entertaining, the sequel wasn’t as good but still managed to be surprisingly fun and gory, and even the third installment had its moments. Which brings us to the most recent sequel. The 3D scenes are as gimmicky as you’d expect, but movie fails for one big reason… the splattery practical effects from previous movies are replaced with obvious and unimpressive CGI effects that. Skip it and go watch the guy get squashed by the window pane in Part Two instead.
Extra Features? Deleted scenes
Pitch: The only mildly attractive Girl Next Door gets her own show and quickly loses all appeal…
Why Avoid? My lady friend was a fan of E!’s “The Girls Next Door” and the few episodes I saw were appealing enough. But her solo show is dumb with a capital DD. Starting with one of the most annoying opening themes of all time the show proceeds to offer nothing but terribly uninteresting and scripted “reality” incidents. Skip it and go read a Playboy magazine instead.
Extra Features? Extra episode, bloopers
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?