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 the release of one sexy old lady’s finest hour (or twenty five hours) with Prime Suspect, as well as lesser fare like Solitary Man, the fifth season of Supernatural, MacGruber, Being Michael Madsen, the abomination that is Killers 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!
Pitch: Detective Jane Tennison is not a guff taker. She takes no guff…
Why Buy? As one of the few females on Scotland Yard’s investigative team, Detective Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) spends seven seasons (or ‘series’ as they’re known in the UK) fighting sexism, alcoholism, and her own body as she tracks criminals of all kinds. Mirren is fantastic at creating a believable and incredibly charismatic character. Don’t confuse that with likable though… Tennison doesn’t make it that easy for either her acquaintances or the viewers. Each season is strong on its own, but as a whole Prime Suspect is one hell of a series beginning to end.
Extra Features? Featurettes, photo gallery
Pitch: Imagine Being John Malkovich for the D-list crowd. And minus the trippy-ness…
Why Rent? Michael Madsen plays an actor named Michael Madsen who decides to get even when a particularly prickish paparazzo begins harassing him and spreading lies. Madsen is a bit of a one-note actor, but that doesn’t prevent him from being an entertaining and charismatic one. He goes a bit meta on us here in a storyline that sees him accused of murder and illicit sex before turning the tables not only on his accuser but also on an audience constantly hungry for more and more tabloid ridiculousness. It’s surprisingly funny and sharp, and co-stars Daryl Hannah, Harry Dean Stanton, Virginia Madsen, and David Carradine.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: The littlest Savage takes on middle school challenges like love, math, and hand-jobs in the stairwell…
Why Rent? Cory, his best friend Shawn, and his improbably named girlfriend Topanga explore life as teenagers. This show probably would have ended up in the Avoid category, but my lady friend persuaded me otherwise. She says all three seasons deserve a rental out of respect for her pre-teen crush on Rider Strong. I only know the guy from Cabin Fever and Pulse 3 (and maybe a handful of episodes of Boy Meets World that I’ve accidentally watched over the years), so I’ll defer to her opinion here.
Extra Features? Bonus episodes, commentaries, quiz
Pitch: “If deaf blind babies can laugh, maybe I can do it too…”
Why Rent? A journalist and his wife, depressed at the passing of her father, worry their newborn will be sad like them. And then the damn kid starts giggling. I don’t think the above line was meant to be funny, but it got the biggest laugh from me while watching this documentary on laughter. The rest of the doc isn’t nearly as funny, but it is an interesting look at something we all take for granted. The historical tidbits where people were warned that regular laughter could lead to bad teeth and death are ridiculous and fascinating too.
Extra Features? Featurettes
Pitch: Will Michael Douglas ever be too old to play the charismatic lech? Doubtful…
Why Rent? Douglas stars as a man who was once on top of the world, but greed, hubris, and an unrestrained libido take it all away. And that’s even before he sleeps with his girlfriend’s eighteen year old daughter. Equal parts humorous and sad, the movie also stars Danny DeVito, Susan Sarandon, Jenna Fischer, Mary-Louise Parker, Olivia Thirlby, Jesse Eisenberg, and the delightfully named Imogen Poots.
Extra Features? Commentary, featurette, trailer
Pitch: Egads, this marks two weeks in a row I’ve recommended renting a CW show…
Why Rent? Two brothers roam the countryside looking to find and destroy all the things that go bump in the night. I’m late to the party on this one, but as far as monsters of the week shows go this is actually one of the good ones. As an added bonus the underlying storyline about family dramas, god and the devil, and the impending apocalypse is fairly interesting as well. They’re no Mulder and Scully, but Sam and Dean are worth a watch all the same.
Extra Features? Featurettes, commentary, deleted scene, gag reel
Pitch: Clint Eastwood could learn a thing or two about manners from this angry old geezer…
Why Rent? An elderly man (Hal Holbrook) escapes his retirement home and returns to the only real home he’s known. When he arrives he finds another family has moved in headed up by a young man he remembers as nothing but trouble. The two clash immediately and soon the fuse is lit towards an eventual and possibly deadly confrontation. The entire cast excels here, but Holbrook and Ray McKinnon are standouts.
Extra Features? Featurettes, interviews, commentary, trailer
Pitch: Don’t they mean Jackie Chan Karate Master? No? I’m so confused…
Why Avoid? In the proud tradition of Sidekicks, this little movie (also known as Looking For Jackie) finds a young teen bullied at school and confused about life who decides to track down his martial arts mentor and become his student. Chan was apparently too busy to commit to a full Chuck Norris-like appearance, so he only manages a couple minutes at the beginning and end. Without him to enliven up the movie we’re left with a couple tepid fights and a bunch of wandering.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: With a cast like this I’d rather wait for the sequel, Killed…
Why Avoid? A woman meets a man, falls in love, and gets married only to discover he’s a secret agent. The woman is Katherine Heigl. The man is Ashton Kutcher. The comedy and chemistry are non-existent.
Extra Features? Featurette, deleted scenes, gag reel
Pitch: “If ripping throats gets that warhead back, I’ll suck as many dicks as I’ve go–I’ll rip as many throats as I have to…”
Why Avoid? A popular Saturday Night Live character gets his own film, and in the long history of movies born from SNL this is definitely the most recent. MacGruber is of course a comedic take on MacGyver, theoretically speaking at least, and it works in short form. As a feature though the comedy is sparse at best. The flick is R-rated, but I think that actually hinders the comedy here. Instead of working for legitimate laughs the movie constantly chooses the low road. Why be funny when you can say “f*ck” or threaten ad nauseum to cut someone’s dick off and shove it in their mouth?
Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scene, gag reel
In the interest of full disclosure, I received review copies of the following DVDs for this week’s column:
Boy Meets World: The Complete First/Second/Third Season
Supernatural: The Complete Fifth Season
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen it and review material was unavailable:
American Cowslip: A Redneck Comedy
A Call Girl
The Exploding Girl
Fable: Teeth Of Beasts
The Loss Of a Teardrop Diamond
The Norm Show: The Complete Series
Persons Unknown: Season One
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?