Overly Long Apatow Comedy of the Week
The Five-Year Engagement - Universal - Blu-ray and DVD
Release Date: Apr 27, 2012
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Mimi Kennedy. Full cast + crew
Either Judd Apatow movies are your particular bag of comedy or they're not. Yes, The Five-Year Engagement was produced, not directed, by Apatow, but it has all the staples of a movie with his name in the credits: a great cast, a simple story, plenty of laughs, and an abundance of runtime. It's that last bit that hurts movies made at the Apatow school the most. Cut 30 minutes out of The Five-Year Engagement and it'd be a lean, hilarious movie about a couple (Segel and Blunt, who have delightful chemistry together) and their ridiculous relationship. Unfortunately there isn't enough story or character development to span over two hours. Even with a few dry spells, though, it's still a charming, welcome R-rated comedy made for adults. It's just not as strong an effort as Segel and Nicholas Stoller's best collaboration, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Special Features: A commentary with Stoller, Segel, Blunt, Pratt, Brie and Rodney Rothman; a whopping 45 minutes of deleted scenes; a further 45 minutes of alternate takes; gag reels; nearly an hour of making-of materials
Full Disclosure Necessary of the Week
My Sucky Teen Romance - Dark Sky Films - Blu-ray and DVD
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Director: Emily Hagins
Cast: Elaine Hurt, Patrick Delgado, Lauren Lee, Tony Vespe, Devin Bonnée, Santiago Dietche
It's time for some full disclosure: I'm credited as an associate producer on My Sucky Teen Romance. However, do know that while I'm incredibly proud of the film, I was not creatively involved in the production -- I came on during post-production just to help it reach the finish line -- nor do I have a financial stake in its success.
Now, my bias is obvious, but I was a fan of this comedy about vampires at a geek convention before my name was even in the credits. I found it to be a genuinely funny, heartfelt film that both pokes fun at current horror trends while using them to tell a charming teen romance story, which is what prompted my extremely limited involvement in the first place. It's actually the third feature from young director Emily Hagins, who was a wee 18 years old when she directed the film. Its crew was comprised mostly of teenagers, so the film certainly isn't without technical problems, but even with a few rough spots, there's still plenty to be impressed by. The music is great, the script is punchy, and it's got personality to spare.
Obviously I don't expect anyone to take my word for it, but please do give it a shot. This is an indie film in every sense of the word; a refreshing find for people who want teen comedies to feature real teenagers acting and talking their age.
Special Features: A commentary with Emily Hagins and producer Paul Gandersman; blooper reel; behind-the-scenes featurette; deleted scenes; Cupcakes, a short film
Safe may just be the coolest action movie of the year that absolutely nobody has been buzzing about. Movies like The Raid and The Expendables 2 stole the spotlight, and it certainly didn't help that the trailer made it look like a sappy movie about Jason Statham fighting to protect a little girl he doesn't know. And yeah, that's pretty much the plot of Safe, but what the trailer doesn't show is that this is an insanely violent, balls-to-the-wall action movie. The body count here is enormous, while the ethics are egregious. Basically, if you thought Statham was the best part of The Expendables 2, you will love Safe.
Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3D was a gleefully demented movie that rode the fine line between being gratuitous and playful immaturity. Piranha 3DD, however, makes no attempt to ride that line. This movie from the people who brought you the Feast trilogy dives headfirst into gratuitous territory and makes no attempt to ever be taken seriously. I found its obsession with hideous plastic surgery and bodily fluids to be boring and forced, but if you're into it, dive in.
After those two theatrical releases, we head into the more random releases. There's the stoner comedy High School, the gangster-trying-to-get-a-fresh-start drama For the Love of Money, and Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day.
Arachnophobia is the kind of light horror movie that's hard to hate. Not only is it a benchmark for freaky films about spiders, but it's just an all-around good movie about a family dealing with trauma in the countryside. Some of the effects work on the spider looks a little dated by today's standards, but it only adds to the film's charms. Following Arachnophobia are a quarter of other genre offerings. Hocus Pocus is the odd title out in that bunch (though it's still a fun, family-friendly Halloween film), but it just proves there's something out for every genre fan this week. The horror hounds can enjoy Re-Animator in HD for the first time, while fans of more mainstream thrillers can get BD upgrades for both The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Cold Creek Manor.
And lastly the week ends with a smattering of random titles. The Child's Play hitting this week is not the '80s film about the killer doll, rather Sidney Lumet's drama about a private school for boys. If you do need your '80s fix, though, check out the cult favorite MegaForce. For some fast-paced Korean action, there's the aptly named Quick. And for the more refined film lovers out there, there are new restorations of Buster Keaton's The Navigator and Umberto D.
And finally, we have Sacrifice, a new Chinese epic from the director of The Promise and Farewell My Concubine.