This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Aug. 21
This week: The Dictator is funny but it ain't for everyone. Also: Disney stalks a monkey; and the August boxed set bonanza continues with House, Mike & Molly and NCIS: Los Angeles.
► It’s only appropriate Sacha Baron Cohen’s THE DICTATOR is getting a ‘love it or hate it’ response: The best comedy often isn’t meant for mass appeal. ‘Borat,’ for my money, is one of the great comedies of the past 20 years, and it is despised by a whole lot of folks. Comedy is not pretty, as a wise (silver haired) man once said. ‘The Dictator’ doesn’t reach those same heights, but when viewed as a modern – and far more crude – take on Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator,’ it has some unforgettably brilliant moments. I haven’t seen a funnier scene this year than Cohen, as African tyrant Aladeen, helping Kathyrn Han deliver a baby. Directed by Cohen’s partner in absurdity, Larry Charles.
► Disney’s CHIMPANZEE might be the cutest ‘Planet of the Apes’ ever. Narrated by Tim Allen, it follows a newly-born chimp named Oscar (Named by who? His mom?) and his little monkey clan as they scour the jungle for food and fend off rival ape gangs. A kid-friendly documentary with some behavior (one monkey adopting another) never before filmed.
► Can you love pretty much an entire cast yet still hate their show? MIKE & MOLLY is like an all-star line-up slumming in the little leagues: Occasionally charming, funny at times, but about what you’d expect from the former head writer of ‘Two and a Half Men,’ Mark Roberts. Still, stars Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell, along with ace support from Katy Mixon and Rondi Reed, make the show far less painless than it should be. If you can still tolerate laugh track sitcoms (‘Friends’ was the last one I could watch every week), there are far worse shows than this.
► Robert De Niro – Oscar winner. Forest Whitaker – Oscar winner. Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson – guy who once sang “Don’t come on my leather, don’t stain my floor mats.” Together at last in FREELANCERS, which stars ‘fiddy’ as the son of a slain cop who joins the force and aligns himself with a team of rogue cops. And on it goes with De Niro, who has followed his ‘Godfather’ co-star Marlon Brando into the abyss of shit movies in his twilight.
► The final season of HOUSE finds our beleaguered doctor putting his life back together after a year in prison (crashing his car into Cuddy’s living room didn’t end well). He returns to the hospital to find some new faces, and the show quickly falls into its usual routine. But the final arc - with House’s FRIEND Wilson dying of cancer, and House about to return to jail – has some emotional pay off.
► Asghar Farhadi’s A SEPARATION finds an Iranian couple splitting because she wants to leave the country so her daughter can have a better life, while he wants to stay to take care of his Alzheimer’s-stricken father, which ultimately involves another couple and ends in court. This year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film.
► I know what you’re thinking: ‘Dark Knight Rises’ was good ‘n all, but it didn’t have any Chris O’Donnell. For that, you’ll have to settle for NCIS: LOS ANGELES, where the former nippled Boy Wonder plays the guy in charge of OSP (Office of Special Projects), whose specialty is undercover assignments and giving LL Cool J work. The first spin-off of ‘NCIS,’ which itself was a spin-off of ‘JAG.’ And yes, these shows are indistinguishable.
► After the headscratching mess that was ‘Halloween III,’ it was inevitable the next sequel would feature Michael Myers. Even so, it took six years to get HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS made, and when it arrived there was no Jamie Lee Curtis or John Carpenter involved. But it still had Donald Pleasance, who became the only reason to watch this increasingly lousy franchise. Ten years after the events of the first film, Myers returns to Haddonfield to torment his eight-year-old niece (Danielle Harris). Anchor Bay was supposed to include 30 minutes of deleted scenes on this Blu-ray but pulled them two weeks from release.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!