This week: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up with a smartass alien, a young boy appreciates his mother more after a journey to the Red Planet and another stoner comedy from the creator of Pineapple Express.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost—real-life best buds and stars of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz—come together again in this road-trip comedy directed by Superbad's Greg Mottola that is a like a love letter to anyone who has ever nerded out over Steven Spielberg's alien movies or Star Wars. Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) have flown from England to geek out at Comic-Con in San Diego, but they are also in the States to take a pilgrimage in an RV to America's UFO hot spots. Along a desert road they encounter Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), a foul-mouthed alien who has escaped from the government and just wants to "phone home," so a stunned Graeme and Clive are game to help the little green guy to his rendezvous point. To get there, they will have to dodge hostile rednecks and relentless pursuit by Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman), who is under increasing pressure from a government directress referred to as the "Big Guy" (Sigourney Weaver) to capture Paul.
If the cutesy pictures of Paul that you've seen on the Internet or billboards gave you the impression that this was a kiddie flick, blow that thought out the airlock. Paul swears a lot, makes off-color jokes and smokes pot, making him the ideal travel companion in this R-rated comedy that is also available in an unrated version with six additional minutes on DVD and Blu-ray.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain bloopers, "The Evolution of Paul," "Simon's Silly Faces," "Who the Hell Is Adam Shadowchild?," commentary, galleries and more. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is "Between the Lightning Strikes: The Making of Paul" and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Verdict: Buy Me (if you already have your hotel booked for Comic Con 2012), otherwise Rent Me
Mars Needs Moms
The Red Planet might need moms, but this animated bomb needs to be avoided. The story—loosely and unofficially inspired by Where the Wild Things Are—is about a nine-year-old brat named Milo who frustrates his frazzled mom by feeding his broccoli to his cat and making it throw up. Milo wishes out loud that he never had a mom, which of course makes his mom cry and prompts Martians to come down and whisk her off to Mars. Milo, who stows away on the spaceship, meets an obnoxious man-boy named Gribble on Mars who went through a similar trauma back in the 1980s with his mom. He helps Milo rescue his mother and take on the evil Supervisor, who is using Earth mothers to program Mars' nannybots.
For as expensive as Mars Needs Moms is, the motion-capture work makes Milo and the other human characters look creepy, the animation is by no means out of this world and the painfully uninspired and simplistic story would be intolerable for anyone over the age of five.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain two behind-the-scenes featurettes; the BD adds extended opening and deleted scenes as well as "Life on Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience." There is also a Blu-ray 3D combo pack that has an additional alternate scene in 3D.
Verdict: Forget Me
All the marijuana on earth wouldn't make this buzz-kill stoner comedy starring Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel any funnier. The story—co-written by McBride—has an evil sorcerer named Leezar (Justin Theroux) kidnapping the beautiful would-be virgin bride Belladonna (Deschanel) just before she says "I do" to the lazy warrior prince Thadeous (McBride). Thadeous takes off with his dashing brother, Fabious (Franco), to rescue Belladonna before she is impregnated by Leezar and forced to birth a kingdom-destroying dragon. They join forces with the warrior woman Isabel (Portman), who is also hell-bent on revenge.
Directed by David Gordon Green who brought us the far funnier Pineapple Express, Your Highness goes up in smoke fast despite some surprisingly expensive-looking special effects. Franco serves up an extra helping of ham with his performance to make sure we know he is really a serious Oscar-nominated actor winking at the camera here, and Oscar winner Portman looks absolutely lost in this juvenile farce for the banana-peel-smoking crowd.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a commentary track, feature-length documentary, deleted scenes and a gag reel; the BD adds extended scenes, "Line-O-Rama," "Perverted Visions" and "A Vision of Leezar."
Verdict: Don't Put This in Your Pipe and Forget Me
Also New This Week: Dazed and Confused (BD), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (BD), The Fox and the Hound/The Fox and the Hound II, The Prophecy 3: The Ascent, Super, Dead Man, Tactical Force, Camp Hell and The Clinic