This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Monsters University, R.I.P.D., Family Tree ...
This week: Pixar goes back to old glory with Monsters University; ghosts 'n stuff in R.I.P.D.; and rooting through the past with Family Tree.
► It must be a sign of how spoiled we are when we gripe about Pixar making sequels to movies we all love. It’s like we feel it’s beneath them. After the lukewarm ‘Cars 2’ - the company’s first dud, really - there was even less anticipation for MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. I can’t ever recall a Pixar movie with less buzz, which is a shocker after the days of ‘Up’ and ‘Wall-E.’ This was fine for what it was – the tale of how Sully and Mike meet in university, where they’re enrolled in the elite Scare Program. Some great side characters and the usual huge laughs, and yet the whole thing feels like Pixar biding its time until its next classic. Most frustrating? The company seems determined to make a sequel to everything except the one we really want, ‘The Incredibles.’
► It had to be the same reaction in every theatre after the trailer for R.I.P.D.: “Isn’t this just Men in Black?” Well, yes and no – the concept is virtually the same, but Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds were no Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Reynolds plays a cop killed by his partner who gets recruited in the afterlife by an agency for deceased officers. His new job is capturing spirits that don’t cross over and cause chaos back on Earth. Bridges plays his partner, an ex-U.S. Marshal from the 1800s. One of summer’s truly colossal bombs.
► Christopher Guest brings his mockumentary style to HBO’s FAMILY TREE, which has Chris O’Dowd as a recently dumped Londoner who goes through a box of mementoes left by a deceased aunt and decides to investigate his lineage. It eventually leads him to California. Much of the dialogue is improvised, and Guest’s style is always good for some huge laughs out of nowhere. Guest regulars like Michael McKean, Fred Willard and Ed Begley, Jr. are accounted for.
► Boobs, guns, explosions, cars … my dad has already declared BOUNTY KILLER the greatest movie ever just based on the DVD cover. After corporations take over the world’s governments, they have nothing better to do than fight each other. With society a mess, a group forms to wipe out all white collar criminals, hiring assassins competing for body counts to get the job done. Something this B-movie has to star Gary Busey. The lovely lass on the cover is Christian Pitre.
► Don’t know what’s more depressing – that they still make ‘Home Alone’ movies, or that Malcolm McDowell stars in them now. HOME ALONE: THE HOLIDAY HEIST was a made-for-TV entry last Christmas, with an all new kid named Finn (Christian Martyn) doing the same old crap. Believing his house is haunted he sets up traps for the ghosts, and instead deals with thieves. I realize McDowell’s gotta eat, but this is beyond sad.
► Besides teaching me the benefits of not selling wine before its time, Orson Welles did a lot of cool stuff. ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘Touch of Evil,’ ‘The Third Man’ … and, oh ya, he scared the shit out of the entire country the night before Halloween, 1938. PBS’s AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: WAR OF THE WORLDS revisits the night an already jittery nation (Great Depression, looming war) turned their radios on and assumed Welles’ broadcast performance of H.G. Wells sci-fi classic was actually happening. This is the crazy stuff America did before television.
► $67 for the entire run of DAMAGES? Grab this pronto, dear readers – someone at Christmas will thank you. Though it never enjoyed the rarified air (or ratings) of its dramatic peers like ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ this was a fantastic showcase for Glenn Close as ball-busting attorney Patty Hewes and Rose Byrne as her one-time protégé turned nemesis Ellen Hughes. All five seasons had stellar storylines, a few shocking deaths, and awesome villainy from the likes of Ted Danson, John Goodman and Martin Short.
► You’ve got to give it up for Marcello Mastroianni – when he wasn’t hound dogging it with Sophia Loren, he was biding his time with Monica Vitti, two of the most gorgeous Italian women in cinema history. LA NOTTE from 1961 has Mastroianni as a writer who confronts his miserable wife (Jeanne Moreau) while being tempted by a wealthy businessman’s daughter (Vicci). This one was a favorite of both Stanley Kubrick and Don Draper. Criterion edition offers a new digital restoration.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!