Built-in Babysitter of the Week
The Lorax - Universal - 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD
Release Date: Mar 02, 2012
Director: Chris Renaud
Cast: Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White. Full cast + crew
Here's a pretty good litmus test as to whether or not the latest big-studio family film is worth owning: can it keep a kid's undivided attention. In the case of The Lorax, that's an absolute yes. The wild, eye-popping color palette and the funky Dr. Seuss-inspired character designs make this the kind of movie that youngsters just can't look away from. And that's great if you're a parent (like me) always in search of new movies for kids to discover.
Unfortunately, the latest from the Despicable Me team is also the kind of animated movie that isn't likely to hold the undivided attention of the adults in the room. Its pro-environmental message, as well-intended as it is, is exceedingly on the nose, and sadly there's not a lot going on below the surface there. This isn't, for example, a movie like WALL-E where the anti-pollution message is at least secondary to the story and the characters. It's everything here, which is fine for a message movie teaching kids about the perils of deforestation, but it's not exactly the most compelling or creative animated film to come along in years.
Special Features: Audio commentary; a pair of shorts featuring side characters from the film (each is just shy of five minutes); an interactive tour of Thneedville; a trio of games kids can play with the remote; a few other short and fluffy making-of featurettes (about 10 minutes in total).
Other New Releases
The Lorax is the only major new release of the week, but there are a few worthwhile indie and foreign gems making their way to shelves for the first time. The highlight on that front is Marley, a new documentary about Bob Marley's life and legacy. The focus here is on the individual and not his music, so if whatever reason you're only interested in Marley's tunes, do know this is not just a concert film.
Following that is Bel Ami, the Robert Pattinson-led period piece about a debonair playboy fooling around with women of all walks of life, the pro-faith indie comedy Blue Like Jazz, the Irish comedy Killing Bono about seeking the U2 singer's success (not assassinating him), and Warriors of the Rainbow. The latter is actually a sprawling, two-part Taiwanese epic produced by John Woo about the early 1900s rebellion of the Seediq people against Japanese occupiers. You can actually buy the more action-heavy part of the film on its own, or in both parts (as intended).
Rounding out the rest of the new releases are a quartet of straight-to-video films very few will actively seek out: a new Benji movie, Born 2 Race, Remains (created by Steve Niles) and Mr. Hush, a movie that's quite shamefully just ripping off the great Trick 'r Treat with its cover art.
Disc of the Week
Full Metal Jacket - Warner Bros. - Blu-ray, DVD
Release Date: Jun 01, 1987
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood. Full cast + crew
Full Metal Jacket remains as divisive today as it was upon its first release 25 years ago. Of course, the conversation surrounding it has evolved further away from its raw depiction of the Vietnam War and more concerns how the film ranks in Kubrick's filmography, but it's still the kind of movie that gets people riled up as soon as it enters the conversation. Thanks to Kubrick's grand style and demand for enormous set pieces and production design, FMJ's still aged beautifully.
Of course, this isn't the film's first trip to Blu-ray. The transfer here is the same stunning job previously included in last year's Kubrick Limited Edition Collection box set. It's got identical audio and video elements, but there are two crucial additions to the package that should certainly entice those who don't already own the film on Blu, and those who might want to double dip.
Special Features: A 48-page Digibook filled mostly with photos from Matthew Modine's peronsal collection; Stanley Kubrick's Boxes, a 60-minute documentary that's not actually about FMJ, rather Stanley Kubrick as eccentric filmmaker; commentary with screenwriter Jay Cocks and a mixture of the film's stars, each recorded individually. "Between Good and Evil," a 30-minute retrospective on the film's development from the point of view of Modine.
Adventures in Babysitting is the kind of late '80s cable mainstay that an entire generation will know by heart. It hits Blu-ray for the first time this week and we're sure anyone who saw this comedy of errors about one long night of babysitting repeatedly on HBO 20-odd years ago will be happy to own it in HD. Also getting a 25th-anniversary edition this week is Spaceballs, though it's been available on Blu-ray for quite some time already, so it's not exactly an elaborate homecoming.
New to Blu, however, are Clue (the best board-game movie adaptation ever made), the Wachowskis-directed erotic thriller Bound, and the largely forgotten '81 creature feature The Boogens.
Quite a few random comedies also arrive on no-frills Blu-ray discs this week. None are films that have been dying for the Blu-ray treatment, so it's really just a question of what you may want to replace any old DVDs with. My money would go to either Grosse Point Blank or High Fidelity. Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion and The Incredible Mr. Limpet are both plenty likeable (though for very different reasons), but they're both movies that don't scream HD upgrade.
And unfortunately the same can be said of the last three catalog titles of the week: Johnny Guitar, The Preacher's Wife and Evan Almighty. If you're a big fan of any of them, by all means track them down, but you might as well save your money for the next few weeks, which sees quite a few high-profile releases hit Blu-ray.
Follow along on Twitter: @PeterSHall and @Moviesdotcom.