January winds down with a new slate of Blu-ray releases that span the age ranges from a kids’ flick to a comedy for old folks, with plenty in between. How many of these movies are actually worth buying? Well, that’s for you to decide.
‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2‘ – The first ‘Cloudy’ was a wonderful surprise, one of those rare children’s films that has plenty of hilarious humor to charm adults as well. Unfortunately, writers/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller could not return for the sequel. (They’re stretched a little thin between ’21 Jump Street’, its sequel, and the upcoming ‘The Lego Movie’.) Most reports say that ‘Meatballs 2’ is a respectable follow-up, but not quite as good as the original.
‘Last Vegas‘ – A quartet of actors who really ought to be able to do better (Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline) go slumming in this PG-13 geriatric knockoff of ‘The Hangover’. The trailers looked horrendous. Your parents will probably think it’s “cute” when they run across it on cable in a few months, then forget about it five minutes after the credits roll.
‘Rush‘ – No, this isn’t the undercover narc drama with Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Am I the only one who gets really annoyed when unrelated movies reuse titles like this? Anyway, this is Ron Howard’s bio-pic about Formula One racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt. When it was released in September, reviews were positively effusive, promising Oscars for everyone involved. Then the movie tanked at the box office and the Academy voters forgot that it ever existed. Our Blu-ray reviewer Kevin was less enthused, and several readers have already sided with him in the forum thread. I’ve been burned enough by Ron Howard that I approach anything he touches with extreme skepticism. He could direct the greatest movie of all time tomorrow and I still wouldn’t be able to forgive him for inflicting ‘The Da Vinci Code’ on me.
‘Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa‘ – Academy voters may have snubbed ‘Rush’, but they remembered to bestow the latest raunchy comedy from Johnny Knoxville and the ‘Jackass’ troupe with an Oscar nomination. Sure, it may only be in the Makeup and Hairstyling category, but still… the new ‘Jackass’ movie is Oscar nominated!
‘The Fifth Estate‘ – In the 875th movie he appeared in last year, Benedict Cumberbatch plays Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Reviews were unkind. Most complained that it’s next to impossible to make an interesting or suspenseful drama about a guy typing at a computer keyboard for two hours. I guess this bodes poorly for anyone making a bio-pic about my life some day.
‘Metallica: Through the Never‘ – It’s a concert film… No, it’s a fictional story… No, it’s a concert film… It’s a fictional story… Concert film… Fictional story… Apparently, the nonsensical title isn’t the only thing confusing about Metallica’s new IMAX 3D extravaganza. Whatever. It has a lot of Metallica concert footage in it, so if you’re a fan of the band, this might be up your alley.
‘Dracula – 3D‘ – One-time Italian horror master Dario Argento continues to slip into irrelevance with another inane cheesefest. Worse, this is not the first time he has directed his own daughter (Asia Argento) in nude scenes. Ick.
‘Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark‘ – If the title doesn’t sell you on this, I don’t think there’s anything I can say that will.
The newest addition to the Criterion Collection is Terence Davies’ 1992 nostalgic drama ‘The Long Day Closes‘. Meanwhile, Kino restores the 1920 silent version of ‘Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde‘, starring John Barrymore.
HBO’s ‘Treme‘ closes out its run with box sets for both the fourth season and the Complete Series.
Also in its fourth season (though likely not its last) is ‘Downton Abbey‘. Do the Emmys still call this a “miniseries” after four years?
Speaking of miniseries, the four-hour ‘Bonnie & Clyde‘ remake aired simultaneously on the A&E, Lifetime and History networks in December. I studiously avoided it on all of them. I’ll stick with the Warren Beatty movie, thanks.
I don’t think I’m buying anything this week, though ‘The Long Day Closes’ and ‘Dr. Jekyll’ will go on my ever-growing wish list, and ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ might be worth a rental. What say you?