The Hangover Part II: Easily one of the worst movies released this year, for reasons enumerated here. In brief, it is puerile, racist, homophobic, devastatingly unoriginal slop with little to no redeeming qualities. The film represents the absolute worst of the American male psyche with audaciousness that would embarrass an energy drink manufacturer. Not worth the three cent discs it’s printed on. Starring Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper.
Special Features: Digital copy of the film, three featurettes, gag reel and an “action mash up”.
The Help: Set in the early 1960s Mississippi, inspired by the disappearance of the maid that raised her, a recent college graduate (Emma Stone) begins chronicling the experiences of the African American maids in the community that she grew up in. So for anyone who wasn’t one of the millions of people that made The Help one of the most successful movies of the year but maybe want to check it out on DVD, it’s a film that falls in the gap between revivalist weepie and well-intentioned but ultimately tone deaf race relations drama. And while the spectrum between Steel Magnolias and The Blind Side appears wide and diverse, when you see the film’s candy coated color scheme and the subtle depersonalization of its black characters, you’ll realize that both genres share a trait: to evoke a particular response from their audiences without consideration for the complexities of real human experience. So if you want to feel something wet and visceral and totally false, this is the movie for you. Also starring Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Special Features: Digital copy of the film, deleted scenes with commentary by director Tate Taylor, three featurettes, making of and a music video featuring Mary J. Blige.
Cowboys & Aliens:Daniel Craig stars in this po-faced genre mash up as an amnesiac who is the only hope for the small town of Absolution in the face of a way to convoluted alien invasion plot. Also starring in the incredibly expensive misfire is an offputtingly snarly Harrison Ford. Now on paper a movie starring Indiana Jones and James Bond from the director of Iron Man should have been the feel good hit of the season but in execution it’s oddly fun free movie. There’s no verve to Cowboys’ awkward series of genre clichés and it has a self-serious that it never manages to justify. You can do high concept science fiction with scowl but have to have likable characters and exciting presentation of your world. Otherwise you’ve just remade The Phantom Menace. Also starring Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Paul Dano.
Special Feature: Extended edition of the film, digital copy of the theatrical version, three featurettes and commentary with director Jon Favreau.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins: Jim Carrey stars as a harried single father who is able to reconnect with his children after inheriting six penguins from his father. There was highly acclaimed episode of South Park where the then unreleased Mr. Poppers’ was trailed along with a number of other terrible Hollywood summer movies but viewed through the newly jaded eyes of the series’ protagonists. In the cynic remix of the trailer for the film the penguins were replaced by excrement. At the time I wondered why the South Park people were going so hard on a children’s movie but I realized that they must have felt betrayed. Back in his prime, Carrey was one of the funniest men in Hollywood pumping out one hilarious film after the other and now he’s, well you can’t even describe it as slumming anymore, in this digital babysitter of a movie. For people who worshipped at the feet of Fire Marshall Bill, this bummed out divorced dad stuff has to be especially toxic. But, as ever, this is how people grow up. Also starring Carla Gugino, Madeline Carroll and Angela Lansbury.
Special Features: Seven featurettes, commentary by director Mark Waters, editor Bruce Green and visual effects supervisor Richard Hollander, something that be the description appears to be a commentary with the previous participants and the penguins, deleted scenes and a digital copy of the film.
The Debt:Helen Mirren stars as a former Mossad agent whose Nazi hunting past comes back to haunt her. With its cast, which also includes Tom Wilkinson and Ciarán Hinds, and subject matter it’s clear that The Debt was meant to be an early Oscar contender but it’s somewhat tepid theatrical release ($44 million grossed against a $20 million budget) and a painfully predictable plotline sort of deflated those hopes. The film isn’t one of those terrible overwrought prestige pictures but it’s a bit too solemn and obvious to have much of a lasting impact. Also starring Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas.
Special Features: Three featurettes and commentary with director John Madden and producer Kris Thykier
All of the releases mentioned here have links to their respective Amazon pages but you can also visit Cleveland area Blockbusters, Family Videos, and redboxes for these and other new releases.
Mario blogs regularly at A Polemic Killer Room.