This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Despicable Me 2, Fast & Furious 6, Doctor Who ...
Editor's note: Check out our new Video wrap-up below for more on this week's releases!
This week: Everybody just give the Minions your money.
► If it wasn’t for a certain shellhead’s third outing, DESPICABLE ME 2 would have been the biggest movie of the summer. At more than $366 box office in the U.S., it is the second biggest movie from Universal ever (behind only ‘Jurassic Park’), but taking into account its $76 million budget, it’s actually the studio’s most profitable film ever. Clearly, they found the magic formula Pixar used to have a stranglehold on – those Minions have replaced Buzz and Woody on a lot of pillow cases, and the stories in both films found that perfect mix of kid appeal and grown-up humor. But with a Minions spin off in the works, the overkill that ruined Shrek isn’t far off.
► It was beyond freaky to finish watching FAST & FURIOUS 6 last week only to go online two minutes later and read about Paul Walker’s death. The first instinct was to give this ridiculously bad movie a pass, but I can’t do it. I sincerely hope Walker finished enough scenes in Part 7 to go out on a high note, because Part 6 was a series low point for everyone involved. The franchise has gotten so far away from what it started out as, it renders Walker, Vin Diesel and every other star obsolete. It’s just stupidly over-the-top action sequences now, drowned in CGI and seizure-inducing editing. The Rock is back, recruiting the retired gang back into the fold to take down mercenaries who have a power-disabling doohickey for sale, and have Toretto’s supposedly dead honey Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) on board. Ah, good ol’ amnesia … solves so many plot holes. A huge step down from the equally ludicrous (but more fun) ‘Fast 5.’
► Broadcast simultaneously in 94 countries last month (a world record), DOCTOR WHO: DAY OF THE DOCTOR was a giddy gift to the show's hardcore fans, bringing back past doctors, the Daleks, and even the shape-shifting Zygons who haven't been seen in 38 years. Preceded by the two mini-episodes 'The Night of the Doctor' and 'The Last Day' (both included here), this was the show's 799th episode, and it's a doozie, rewarding longtime fans with a plot that alludes to five decades of continuity. Worldwide, cinema screenings of the episode generated $10.2 million - welcome to the future of 'event' TV episodes.
► Well isn’t this swell timing – just before the release of ‘Saving Mr. Banks,’ about Walt Disney and the making of ‘Mary Poppins’, here comes MARY POPPINS on blu-ray for its 50th anniversary. A time-tested (if somewhat freaky) family flick, this had state-of-the-art visual effects at the time and a truly great (and Oscar nominated) performance from Julie Andrews. Still the most Oscar-nominated film in Disney’s history.
► Billy Bob Thornton directs his first movie in 12 years with JAYNE MANSFIELD’S CAR, about a southern family in 1969 who clashes with a London clan gathered for a funeral. Thornton stars alongside Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon and Frances O’Connor.
► The ‘ewww’ factor is through the roof with ADORE, in which Naomi Watts and Robin Wright play best friends who start having sex with each other’s sons. “All my stories have an element of cruelty in them,” says director Anne Fontaine. No kidding. Though to be honest, this would have been a killer teen sex comedy in the ‘80s starring Sylvia Kristel and Tanya Roberts.
► Criterion turns its attention this week to the surreal 1976 documentary GREY GARDENS, about the reclusive aunt and cousin of Jackie Onassis living lean in an East Hampton mansion. Released in 1976, it made a bizarre celebrity and fashion icon out of Little Edie Beale. She and her mom were living in squalor in a once magnificent house infested with cats and raccoons, with no running water. Jackie O eventually intervened. Blu-ray includes commentary from the team of directors and the 2006 sequel The Beales of Grey Gardens.
► On the short list of most beloved ‘80s movies ever, Penny Marshall’s BIG is right up there. Who do you know that dislikes it? If so, why are you still talking to them? Not just Tom Hanks’ breakthrough role (and first Oscar nomination), but a movie that shocked the hell out of just about everyone – by 1988, the whole ‘body swap’ trend in movies was beyond tired. Marshall took it and made something that got to the core of friendship and childhood, and the inevitable drag of getting older despite the pay checks and bigger toys. The 25th Anniversary blu-ray includes the extended cut and Marshall introducing some deleted scenes.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!