The good news: a slew of new releases await you this week on video shelves! The bad news: woefully few of them are Fresh. That said, you’ve got your pick of twisted horror (Saw IV), harmless star-driven comedy (The Game Plan, Sydney White), French period romance (Moliere), and more. Choose wisely!
Jigsaw is back — not for the first time, not for the last time — in the fourth installment of the Saw franchise, helmed by series vet Darren Lynn Bousman. Once again, the metaphor-loving killer pits his victims against themselves in the most meticulously-crafted death traps in movie history, but this time around there’s a twist: Jigsaw died in Saw III. Que incroyable! Gore-hounds will delight in the unrated DVD edition and bonus features like deleted scenes, Bousman’s audio commentary, and his behind-the-scenes video diary.
There was a time when The People’s Champion could inspire awe with an arch of the eyebrow; now, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson commands multiplexes with family fare like this Disney comedy, about a pro football player whose bachelor existence is threatened by the arrival of a daughter he never knew he had.
For more in the vein of lukewarm family-friendly fare this week, look no further than Sydney White, starring former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes. A retelling of the classic Snow White story, the college-set rom-com failed to impress most critics, due largely to Joe Nussbaum’s by-the-numbers direction and a predictable plot heavy on Snow White citations. Watch this if you crave 2 hours of lightweight movie watching, or take a leap and check out…
It’s French, it’s a period piece, it’s a romantic drama based on the life of a great artist. But Moliere, starring Romain Duris and Ludivine Sagnier, is also one of only a few of the week’s new releases that has garnered the praise of critics. Following his fortuitous release from prison thanks to the mercy of the rich Monsieur Jourdain, 17th century playwright Moliere comes to live in Jourdain’s house to teach him about the stage, so Jourdain can impress a lady while keeping it secret from his beautiful wife…whom Moliere begins to fall in love with.
Hunting war criminals seems an arduous enough task for military types, but for fame-hungry reporters (and filmmakers like Morgan Spurlock, whose upcoming doc chronicles his search for Osama bin Laden) it’s a career-defining challenge. In writer-director Richard Shepard’s black comedy, Richard Gere, Terrence Howard, and Jesse Eisenberg head to Sarajevo to find a man called The Fox, based on the real-life story of a group of journalists who tried to find and apprehend Bosnian Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic.
Audiences beware: Jessica Simpson is now a “movie star,” as evidenced by her first true starring vehicle. Produced by dad Joe Simpson, and featuring a slew of cameos and appearances by the likes of Rachael Leigh Cook, Luke Wilson, Penelope Ann Miller, Andy Dick, and (sigh) Penny Marshall, Blonde Ambition represents everything that is wrong with the movies — namely, that castmembers like the luminous, capable actress Rachael Leigh Cook are relegated to supporting roles while Simpson bounces her way around the screen as a small-town girl who falls in love with the mailroom boy (Wilson) while climbing unwittingly up the corporate ladder.
‘Til next week, happy renting!