I Want My DVD: Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston have a lust for wandering.

After two decades as a creator of big and small screen cult comedies like The State, Stella and Wet Hot American Summer, writer/director David Wain finally experienced a taste of mainstream success when his 2008 film Role Models became a surprise box office hit. His latest feature Wanderlust feels a tad calculated to extend that streak, packed with familiar comic actors (including stars Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, as well as Alan Alda, Malin Akerman and Justin Theroux) and a high-concept yuppies-go-hippie premise. Rudd and Aniston play a married Manhattan couple, who up and join a Southern commune after their big city lifestyle hits an economic roadblock. Unfortunately, Wanderlust wasn't greeted with the same enthusiastic reception as Role Models, which is a shame because it's frequently very funny, filled with razor-sharp one-liners and amusing bits of business (the scene where Rudd psychs himself up for some free love by delivering a pep talk to his reflection in the mirror is one of the standout moments of his career). At the same time, when placed alongside Wain's past films, it's nowhere near as inspired or consistently hilarious as Wet Hot American Summer or Role Models. Nevertheless, here's hoping Wanderlust makes enough on DVD to ensure that Wain gets another shot at crafting a comedy that balances mainstream appeal with clever cult comic flourishes.
Extras: The most significant bonus feature is a so-called "Bizarro Cut" -- a full-length alternate version of the film made up of different takes and gags. There's also a huge batch of deleted, extended and alternate scenes, a gag reel, a commentary track with Wain, a behind-the-scenes featurette and, last but not least, an episode of the director's web series Wainy Days that he filmed during the movie's production, using the same sets and cast.
Click here to read our original review

Project X
The makers behind the found footage comedy Project X set out to make the ultimate house party movie and they may have succeeded. It's certainly hard to imagine another cinematic house party pushing the boundaries of decency and good taste quite as far as this 90-minute blast of craziness. Eager to cast off their outcast status, three high school seniors transform an ordinary suburban home into a den of hormone-fueled teen hedonism where drugs, alcohol and sex flow like water. It's easy to admire and even enjoy the film's appetite for destruction while hating everyone onscreen at the same time; the best movies in this particular subgenre (which, for me, would be House Party, Superbad and, of course, the immortal Can't Hardly Wait) at least offer likable characters amidst the party hearty carnage. In contrast, the Project X kids are every adult's nightmare -- spoiled, sneaky and motivated purely by their own self-interest. (Parents be warned: your teenagers will probably pass this movie around like holy writ.) But there's no question that the filmmaker accomplished their primary goal: throwing a wild party that's hard to forget... no matter how much you might want to.
Extras: Deleted scenes, a featurette totaling the cost of the destruction and another shot doc about how the filmmakers pulled off some of the more outrageous stunts.
Click here to read our original review

Jeff, Who Lives at Home
The mumblecore-movie making Duplass brothers release their second studio effort, a low-key stoner comedy starring Jason Segel as the titular unemployed layabout with a serious case of arrested development and Ed Helms (in a very un-Ed Helmsish performance) as his personally and professionally frustrated brother. If you, like me, didn't care much for the siblings' previous picture Cyrus, you'll be glad to hear that Jeff is a more assured and confident film, particularly in the first half, which nicely juggles Segel's pot-laced quest with Helms's various humiliations. (A third storyline, which involves the duo's mother -- played by Susan Sarandon -- unexpectedly getting involved in an office romance, never quite comes together convincingly.) Unfortunately, the third act is a bit of a letdown, as the brother's push the previously random sequence of events more in the direction of a contrived "it's all connected" ending that deliberately echoes M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, the movie that Jeff refers to throughout. On the other hand, at least this film doesn't involve a depressed Mel Gibson taking a bat to water-hating aliens.
Extras: None.
Click here to read our original review

Seeking Justice
If ever a Nic Cage movie needed the batshit crazy version of Cage -- the wild and wooly star of The Wicker Man and Con Air who Andy Samberg so expertly spoofed during his SNL run -- it's Seeking Justice, a Death Wish-like thriller where Cage plays an ordinary New Orleans citizen who gets involved in a secret vigilante ring after his wife (January Jones) is the victim of a violent attack. Unfortunately, the Cage who appears here is the somnambulant, perpetually distracted Cage who put viewers to sleep in films like Knowing and Bangkok Dangerous. The star's lack of personality is par for the course in this bland Roger Donaldson-directed film, which tediously goes through the motions with little to no snap or energy. Methinks it's time for Cage and Neil LaBute to start work on that Wicker Man prequel...
Extras: A behind-the-scenes featurette about the making of the movie.
Click here to read our original review

Superman vs. The Elite
Adapted from a one-shot story that appeared in a 2001 issue of Action Comics (Issue #775 for all you collectors out there), DC Comics' latest direct-to-DVD animated feature pits the Big Blue Boy Scout against a new outfit of vigilante heroes that don't mind killing the bad guys they track down. Written by Joe Kelly, who also penned the comic book version, Superman Vs. The Elite hammers home its "heroes shall not kill" moral message a little too hard, particularly since it also takes such pleasure in depicting the carnage and chaos that results from these super-powered folks going head to head. Overall though, this is one of DC's better animated offerings of late, aided by those fluid battle sequences, a strong batch of villains in The Elite and a version of Superman who is both relatable and heroic. Here's hoping Zack Snyder is taking notes for his Man of Steel movie next year.
Extras: A commentary track with Kelly and DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza; a digital version of the comic the film is based on; two featurettes; a pair of episodes from the '90s Superman animated series; and a first look at the next DC animated feature -- a cartoon version of Frank Miller's immortal, The Dark Knight Returns.

Also on DVD:
Finally, a movie that asks the question "Where were you when that family of whales got trapped in the ice nearby the town of Barrow, Alaska?" This bit of recent history is recreated in Big Miracle, a well-intentioned drama starring John Krasinski as an enterprising TV reporter who first breaks the story and Drew Barrymore as a Greenpeace activist who makes saving the whales her cause célèbre. While not a particularly great movie, its PG-rating and "up with whales" attitude makes it a decent option for animal lovers and families looking for a tame Friday night rental. We'll always be fans of Blue Crush, but director John Stockwell's career has been on a downward slide ever since, culminating in Cat Run, a witless, thrilless action movie that's only worth seeing to gaze at the always lovely Paz Vega. Cult Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin releases his latest oddity Keyhole, which stars Jason Patric as a gangster who experiences a bizarre homecoming. Finally, a trio of movies celebrate anniversaries: Sister Act: 20th Anniversary Edition offers Whoopi Goldberg's popular 1992 in a two-disc set with its considerably less popular 1993 sequel; Madonna and Antonio Banderas headline Alan Parker's tuneless version of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Evita: 15th Anniversary Edition extending Weber's run of bad movie adapted from his stage musicals to three (after 1973's Jesus Christ Superstar and 2004's The Phantom of the Opera); and Anne Hathaway rose to fame a mere decade ago thanks to the modern-day fairy tale The Princess Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition, where she got to live out every young girl's dream by discovering that she's actually a real-life, genuine, 100%-authentic princess. And now she's all grown up and playing Catwoman. How time flies.

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