This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Mad Men, Grown Ups 2, White House Down ...
This week: A big week for Jon Hamm with Clear History and Mad Men Season 6. Also: The White House gets attacked again, a longer Hobbit, and Grown Ups 2: Grown Uppier.
► After the masterpiece that was its fifth season, Season 6 of MAD MEN lets things simmer for a bit before the painful downfall of Don Draper kicks into gear. It’s grueling to watch, as both Don’s marriage and ad agency partnership seem to disintegrate at the same time, but six mostly brilliant seasons went into that pain. Elsewhere, showrunner Matt Weiner sets up the narrative chess pieces which will surely pay off in the upcoming final season, as the cultural change sweeping the country in the late ‘60s influences most every decision. As always, the radiant writing leaves no doubt why this will go down as one of the greatest series ever (calling it a mere ‘TV show’ seems insulting at this point).
► The ‘Grown Ups’ movies are really the ‘Cannonball Run’ flicks of their day – just an excuse for Adam Sandler and his buddies to goof off and get paid. GROWN UPS 2 has even less plot than the first, which is no easy feat, and probably half the laughs (or chuckles, if you prefer). Sandler’s character moves back to his Connecticut hometown, where apparently the hijinx never end. The gang takes on frat boys this time, and of course it all ends at an ‘80s theme party. If you wish really hard, they’ll announce ‘Grown Ups 3’ soon.
► The back end of this year's 'White House Gets Attacked' tandem, WHITE HOUSE DOWN plays the ‘Die Hard’ card virtually note-for-note. After 25 years of ripping off that classic, they aren't bothering with homages any more – this is practically a remake. Channing Tatum plays a Washington cop trying to land a job with the Secret Service. On the same day mercenaries attack the White House. The same day his daughter is taking a tour. Jamie Foxx plays the president, and there really isn't a surprising note in this whole movie. The fun is found in the bad guys (including Jason Clarke and James Woods) and the action set pieces, which do their jobs distracting you from how clichéd and regurgitated this all is. When Sony announced it lost nearly $200 million over the summer, this one got a lot of the blame.
► The upside to no ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ this year is that HBO’s CLEAR HISTORY is like a whole season crammed into 100 minutes. Larry David plays a guy who quits an electric car company, forfeiting his 10% ownership right before it makes billions. Ten years later, he’s hiding from the shame in Martha’s Vineyard when his old boss (Jon Hamm) moves into the neighborhood. David is basically playing himself again, from obsessing over cutlery in restaurants to whether his ex-girlfriend blew the band Chicago (a running joke that just gets funnier as it goes). Awesome cast includes Danny McBride, Michael Keaton, Kate Hudson, Amy Ryan, Eva Mendes and J.B. Smoove.
► It seemed like Stephen King was off the radar for years until 2009’s UNDER THE DOME had people buzzing again. Unfortunately, TV has continually butchered King, from ‘It’ to ‘The Stand’ to King’s own rancid version of ‘The Shining.’ ‘Dome’ is a more odd bird – an ongoing series based on a novel with a clear ending, meaning we could see years of characters dicking around until they wrap things up. Season 2 begins next summer, and I’m guessing it won’t take long for viewers to get as tired of that gigantic dome as the residents of Chester’s Mill.
► Of all the complaints logged about THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, ‘too short’ definitely wasn’t one. But Peter Jackson is going to give his new Middle Earth trilogy the same deluxe treatment as the last one, so here’s the extended edition with 13 extra minutes and nine hours of bonus stuff, including a 14-part (!) featurette on how it was made. If you bought the first blu-ray release earlier this year … I’m sure Jackson feels bad about that. But you won’t fall for it a fifth time, right?
► I was as surprised as anyone to realize Ricky Jay, who played Burt Reynolds’ trusty cameraman in ‘Boogie Nights,’ has been a kick-ass magician since the ‘50s, specializing in card tricks (he once set a world record by throwing a card 190 feet). DECEPTIVE PRACTICE: THE MYSTERIES AND MENTORS OF RICKY JAY traces his career from age 5, when he was the youngest magician to appear on TV. Includes footage from the ‘70s doing 3–card Monte with Steve Martin.
► Horn dogs everywhere celebrated the thought of Amanda Seyfried playing legendary ‘70s porn star Linda Lovelace. Unfortunately, LOVELACE plays more like the grungy second half of ‘Boogie Nights,’ when everything got depressing and the porn industry scumbags ruined the party. This isn’t inspirational stuff – Lovelace was an abused, troubled woman who made a measly $1,250 for ‘Deep Throat,’ which went on to make $600 million worldwide.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!