Welcome to this week in home video!
Pick of the Week
The Peanut Butter Solution [Severin Kids]
What is it? A Canadian nightmare for pre-teens.
Why see it? If you were a child of the 80s with a taste for the dark stuff the odds are good that you might have been mentally scarred by this slice of Canuxploitation. It’s about a kid whose dealings with bad folks leads to some hair troubles — he goes bald, his friend sees pubes grow down and out his pant leg, you know, the usual — and it all plays like a YA adventure by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It’s weird and playful, and it’s a great pick for Severin’s new “kid focused” line.
[Extras: Original Canadian cut & extended US theatrical cut, commentary, interviews, featurette]
Adopt a Highway
What is it? An ex-con finds a second chance in an abandoned infant.
Why see it? The execution here is as straightforward as the execution with the result being a calm, mildly inspiring tale about someone struggling to do right after so much wrong. The draw, though, is Ethan Hawke in the lead role. He’s an effortlessly relaxed performer making it easy to side with a character who’s a little rough around the edges, and the journey he follows leaves us engaged and onboard. If you’re not a Hawke fan you can skip it or wait for Netflix, but for the rest of us this is a film to see sooner rather than later.
The Gallows: Act II
What is it? A sequel to 2015’s underwhelming found footage flick.
Why see it? The sequel drops the found footage angle of the original but runs 15 minutes longer, so that’s a draw. The filmmakers clearly want this to go the Paranormal Activity franchise route, but their attempt to build a world falls flat at every turn leading to an end reveal that bleeds out its ass until it dies right before our eyes. That’s an unnecessary exaggeration, and I apologize, but the ending does land with a wet thud. There’s nothing here worthwhile, from the nonexistent scares to the unremarkable performances to the shitty script… meh.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette, deleted scenes]
What is it? A legend struggles in the twilight of her life.
Why see it? Judy Garland’s struggles are well-documented from the abuses she endured as a young star to the later troubles she inflicted on herself through alcohol, but for those of you who want to watch it all unfold in dramatic fashion this biopic might just check those boxes. It’s not great, or even all that good, but it’s perfectly okay and held aloft by a memorable lead performance by Renee Zellweger. She compels through Garland’s desperation and talent.
The Kill Team
What is it? A soldier is at risk when he challenges the cruelty of a superior.
Why see it? Brian De Palma’s Casualties of War remains both under-appreciated and a fantastic look at innocence lost in the moral quagmire of Vietnam, and while this film can’t touch it’s quality or emotional effectiveness it succeeds with a somewhat similar tale all the same. Nat Wolff is the young recruit who calls out bad behavior only to see it bite him in the ass, and the film delivers with solid drama and suspense.
[Extras: Featurette, deleted scenes, commentary]
What is it? A big game hunter faces off against a killer.
Why see it? Look, it’s Nicolas Cage as a badass hunter and adventurer trapped on a ship with incompetent people, a serial killer, and an escaped black panther. Is it high art? No, but it’s a fun ride for both Cage fans and movie viewers who appreciate enjoyable cheese. Kevin Durand plays the killer, but even he’s competing with hungry animals including a pack of malicious monkeys. It’s silly, but Cage is having a good time meaning you might too.
Also out this week:
Batman Beyond – The Complete Animated Series