BLOGS

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott invite you to be their friends.

Friends With Kids
For her directorial debut, screenwriter, actress and off-screen partner of Jon Hamm, Jennifer Westfeldt, recruited half the cast of Bridesmaids (including Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd and Hamm) plus Parks and Recreation's Adam Scott to play the titular New York pals whose lives are forever changed when they enter into that strange new world known as parenthood. While two of the couples follow more traditional routes -- i.e. marriage -- platonic pals Jason (Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt) decide that they're going to revolutionize traditional family structures by having a kid together but not getting hitched, thus allowing them both to continue searching for "the one." Do I even need to suggest that they eventually come to realize that they think of each other as more than just friends? Before it ventures down that too-familiar rom-com path, Friends With Kids is an honest and funny depiction of the joys and pains of child-rearing with the crack ensemble cast (sans Westfeldt, who is a better writer than she is a romantic lead) doing some very good work. If only the film kept some of that honesty in its final act, instead of going for the typical Hollywood happy ending.
Extras: A commentary track with Westfeldt and Hamm; deleted scenes with optional commentary from the writer/director; a gag reel and a making-of featurette.
Click here to read our original review
Click here to read our Q&A with Adam Scott

Casa De Mi Padre
After a series of disappointing studio vehicles (The Other Guys excepted), Will Ferrell's choice to make a low-budget, Spanish-language spoof of telenovelas sounded like the kind of potentially awesome idea that might give his career a much-needed shot in the arm. Sadly, Casa de mi Padres proves much funnier in concept than in execution, although there are a few solid laughs to be found. Ferrell plays the well-meaning, but none-too-bright son of a prominent Mexican rancher whose n'er-do-well brother (Diego Luna) gets the whole family in trouble when he attempts to take on a ruthless drug lord (Gael García Bernal). It's a thin premise more suited to a five-minute skit than an 84-minute film and director Matt Piedmont's attempts to drag it out to feature length grow increasingly desperate as the movie plods along. While film buffs and Spanish soap opera fans may enjoy some of the gags that riff on the conventions of telenovelas and no-budget action movies, the majority of the audience will be left wondering when Anchorman 2 is coming out to restore Ferrell's comic luster.
Extras: Deleted scenes; a music video for the film's signature love ballad; a making-of documentary; and Ferrell and Piedmont yakking it up on a commentary track.
Click here to read our original review

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Adapted from a popular book by Paul Torday, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen tosses two likable British stars -- Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt -- into a sea of mildly pleasant, but ultimately forgettable mediocrity. Fortunately, they're both skilled enough performers that they're able to make it back to shore with their reputations intact. When a wealthy sheikh decides to construct a salmon run in his native Yemen, his no-nonsense consultant (Blunt) recruits fish specialist (McGregor) to bring his unlikely dream to life. Directed with maximum gloss by Lassë Hallstrom, Salmon Fishing is shamelessly manipulative (not to mention predictable) in the way it maneuvers Blunt and McGregor from being adversaries to lovers and borderline risible in its fanciful depiction of the Middle East. The stars do their best to make it go down smoothly, but its sticky-sweetness still gets stuck in your throat.Extras: A featurette about the making of the film and another that profiles author Paul Torday.
Click here to read our original review

Mean Streets
Martin Scorsese made two movies before Mean Street, but it was this 1973 semi-autobiographical crime story set in his childhood neighborhood of Little Italy that really kicked off his career as one of America's premiere director and a New York City filmmaking icon. Mean Street, which is making its first appearance on Blu-ray, is also notable for being Scorsese's first collaboration with Robert De Niro, whose own star went supernova after audiences got a look at his performance as small-time crook Johnny Boy, the pal of the movie's tortured hero Charley (another Scorsese regular, Harvey Keitel). While not as formally or narratively sophisticated as some of the director's greatest works (including Taxi Driver, which would stun audiences three years later), Mean Streets crackles with energy and verve. It's like a rough draft for Scorsese's future New York-set masterpieces.
Extras: A commentary track with Scorsese, his co-writer Mardik Martin and star Amy Robinson and a vintage '70s making-of featurette.

Also on DVD:
The Farrelly Brothers have been talking about making a Three Stooges movie for years now and, after various false starts, they finally achieved their dream. And guess what? The Three Stooges: The Movie is actually pretty funny, particularly when a certain Curb Your Enthusiasm star (whose name rhymes with "Shmary Bavid") unexpectedly pops up. Speaking of the Stooges, noted Larry, Moe and Curly fan Mel Gibson headlines the south of the border action picture Get the Gringo, which bypassed theaters for a VOD release in the spring. But if, like us, you're in the mood for a thrill ride that's not weighed down by the presence of Mr. Gibson, check out the Luc Besson-produced Lockout, which stars Guy Pearce as a one-man army who undertakes a suicide mission to break the President's daughter out of space jail. Sounds just ludicrous enough to be totally awesome. Another good choice for fans of preposterous thrillers is David R. Ellis's underrated 2004 flick Cellular, starring pre-Captain America Chris Evans as an ordinary schmoe forced to become a hero when he receives a desperate cell phone call from a kidnapped woman (Kim Basinger). We dug the Spanish time-travel thriller Timecrimes from a few years back, so we endorse seeking out director Nacho Vigalondo's sophomore feature Extraterrestrial, about a party-hearty guy who wakes up one morning to find himself in a deserted city with unidentified flying objects floating overhead. Hey, remember when Steven Segal was one of the world's biggest movie stars? Neither do we, but the Blu-ray release of 1990's Hard to Kill allows you to vicariously experience those bygone days from a distance. Michael Douglas plays a jilted husband who takes revenge on his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) and her lover (Viggo Mortensen) in A Perfect Murder, a slick remake of Dial M For Murder dripping with late '90s cheese. Turning to classic releases, the compulsively watchable 1956 sci-fi allegory Invasion of the Body Snatchers arrives in a new Blu-ray release as does one of the all-time great Westerns, High Noon. Last but not least, the timeless movie musical Singin' in the Rain: 60th Anniversary Edition turns 60 and celebrates its birthday with a lavish Blu-ray box set that includes four hours of extras (including a slew of documentaries and rare behind-the-scenes footage), vintage poster reproductions, a 40-page book and, believe it or not, a full-sized umbrella. It's enough to make you want to go singin' in the rain yourself.

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