RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: A Serious Man, Couples Retreat, and More

Also, The Time Traveler's Wife, a Stepfather, and an artistic criminal.

by | February 8, 2010 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a handful of brand new releases, but once you cycle through those, there isn’t much left to be had. Sure, there are a few Blu-Ray reissues, but not too many that folks are chomping at the bit for, so as a result, we dug deep to find a couple of interesting items that may or may not be good conversation pieces. The most prominent release this week is the latest from the Coen brothers, the Oscar-nominated A Serious Man. Then, we’ve got a few misses with titles like Couples Retreat, Serious Moonlight, and The Time Traveler’s Wife. But hopefully our classic collection and off-the-wall wild card choice will be interesting enough to merit a look. See what we’ve come up with below!


A Serious Man

After crafting an Oscar-winning thriller in 2007’s No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers took a step back and returned in 2008 with a slightly wacky dark comedy, Burn After Reading. Though the latter didn’t wow audiences the way the former did, it seems the Coens found the proper balance in 2009 with A Serious Man, another dark comedy blending several themes into a story about a Jewish man dealing with the various failed circumstances of his life. Critics felt that this was a return to form for the Coens, and furthermore, that this could be their most mature and most personal film to date, rewarding it with a Certified Fresh 89% Tomatometer. In addition, the film has already won a handful of awards (including Best Original Screenplay wins from the National Board of Review Awards and the Critics Choice Awards) and has been nominated for a handful more, including a Best Picture Oscar. If you missed this potential Academy Award winner when it was in theaters, you’re in luck; it hits home video shelves this week.


Couples Retreat

It seems unfair to bring up A Christmas Story every time Peter Billingsley’s name is mentioned, but what can you do? He’ll always be little Ralphie with the BB Gun. Except now, he’s directing movies instead of starring in them. His debut effort was last year’s Couples Retreat, a tropical rom-com about a struggling couple who convinces three of their married friends to bring their spouses to an island resort. When they arrive, however, they all discover that the resort’s marriage therapy sessions are mandatory, and of course, hilarity ensues… or does it? The talented cast includes old pals Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, as well as Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, and Faizon Love, but for whatever reason, critics felt that they failed to elevate the picture past its convenient premise. What could have been an insightful and biting examination of relationships and matrimonial issues unfortunately devolves into rom-com formula and less than subtle attempts at humor, but again, it may work for some, so for those interested, it comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week.


The Time Traveler’s Wife

Time travel is a tricky proposition for any storyteller. Once you start futzing around with history, you have to take into account the consequences of your characters’ actions and how they shape the future, and things tend to get messy. Handled properly, however, the inherent loopholes in such plots may become moot, minor quibbles in otherwise compelling stories. Audrey Niffenegger’s novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, won a couple of awards and was praised for its treatment of its characters. Robert Schwentke’s film adaptation of the book, however, didn’t meet with such positive results, failing to garner much critical acclaim. The story revolves around a married couple who experiences some relationship difficulties because of the husband’s unique genetic disorder, which causes him to leap through time without warning. Unfortunately, most felt the story was too schmaltzy and illogical to elicit much emotion from its audience, but if you’re in the mood for a romantic drama with an unusual premise, this could be one to rent for V-Day.


The Stepfather (2010)

The original 1987 film The Stepfather was a moderate success, as far as slasher thrillers go, even earning its star, Terry O’Quinn (better known as John Locke on hit TV show LOST), an Independent Spirit Award nomination. It’s too bad, therefore, that the 2009 remake failed to live up to its predecessor’s reputation. The plot revolves around a serial killer who assumes new identities and forms new families, ultimately only to end up murdering them when his secrets begin to unravel. Whereas the original cult classic was a taut thriller with ample tension and some horror elements thrown in, the remake resorts to clichés and far too demanding suspensions of disbelief. It’s one thing to remake a bad movie in hopes of making it better, but Stepfather ’87 was a good movie, so one can only wonder how the makers aimed to achieve something above it.


Serious Moonlight

Critics didn’t know what to make of Cheryl Hines’ directorial debut. Onetime American sweetheart Meg Ryan plays a jilted wife who takes her husband (Timothy Hutton) hostage when she discovers him preparing a rose petal welcome for his young girlfriend (Kristen Bell). Unfortunately, the mix of comedy and tragic circumstances fails to blend very well, and the whole film comes across muddled and confused. Adding to the sadder elements is the fact that the film’s writer, Adrienne Shelley, who wrote, directed, and co-starred with Hines in 2007’s indie darling Waitress, was killed in her home shortly after Waitress was accepted at Sundance. Hines therefore felt very close to this project, so it’s unfortunate it wasn’t a stronger picture. If only to see what could have been, however, you can pick this up this week as well.



If you guessed that this film was a biopic, you’d be right. If you guessed that it was a biopic about the American actor arguably best known for his Death Wish movies, then you’d be wrong… mostly. In fact, this small British film chronicles the life and times of Michael Gordon Peterson, a notorious criminal who spent most of his time in prison and established a name for himself as a dangerously volatile inmate and a bare-knuckled boxer nicknamed “Charles Bronson” (yes, in reference to the actor). Though the film only opened in limited release on this side of the pond, it received widely positive reviews, earning a Certified Fresh 78% on the Tomatometer for its compelling and inventive retelling of Peterson’s story. Tom Hardy, who plays the titular anti-hero, is particularly notable for his portrayal, and most felt the film successfully delved into comedy, horror, and drama all at once. You can pick this one up on DVD or Blu-Ray this week.


The Running Man – Blu-Ray

During another week when quality home video choices are relatively few and far between, we’re happy that there are still some favorites being reissued on Blu-Ray. One such classic is 1987’s The Running Man, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and based on a novel by Stephen King. Let’s be honest here: there are few combinations theoretically more awesome than Schwarzenegger and Stephen King. The film itself, about a not-so-distant-any-more future in which criminals engage in death games on live television, is not universally loved by critics (63% ain’t all that bad either), but Arnie fans won’t even let you tell them that. As long as the Governator is spouting his one-liners and clearing out baddies (like Predator co-star Jesse Ventura) in tricked out roller derby uniforms, I think everyone’s happy. Pick this one up and you’ll also get two commentary tracks, two featurettes, and one of the original theatrical trailers.

David Lean Collection Box Set

When it comes to epic filmmaking, David Lean is a force that towers over most in cinema history. The man made Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Doctor Zhivago, for cryin’ out loud. Still, Lean’s work is by no means compromised when he works on a more intimate scale, which is why a brand new South Korean-imported box which contains several Lean pictures that have long been unavailable on DVD is such a treasure. The David Lean DVD Collection has several well-known classics, including the heartbreaking Brief Encounter and the moody, gothic Great Expectations — but it also sports some lesser known Lean works, including This Happy Breed, Blithe Spirit, and Madeleine. In all, the box gives a fascinating overview of a great director in his nascent years.

The People Speak

Howard Zinn was not everyone’s hero, but his influence on the American political psyche is undeniable. The People Speak is particularly timely, considering Zinn only passed away a couple of weeks ago, but this is no low-budget, small-scale production. Based on Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States book series, The People Speak is a collection of speeches, songs, letters, and other pieces written by various figures from America’s past but performed by a star-studded cast of musicians and actors. Some of the celebs acting and performing in the film include Matt Damon, Bob Dylan, Don Cheadle, John Legend, Morgan Freeman, David Strathairn, and Eddie Vedder, just to name a select few. As this is more a representation of historical documents than it is an examination of Zinn or his philosophy, even those who disagree with his politics may find this of interest.

Midgets vs. Mascots

If there’s no other indication that this week was a paltry one for new home video releases, let this entry be the proof. We found this one hidden waaaay down the list of new DVDs, and in all honesty, that’s probably where it belonged, but it was so bizarre that we figured it’d make a good discussion piece. There’s no mystery to the concept here; a title like Midgets vs. Mascots leaves very little to the imagination, and if you thought this was anything besides an inane combination of Jackass and Road Rules, then this is probably not for you. However, if the prospect of seeing Gary Coleman beating the snot out of everyone he can get his hands on, then yeah, this is right up your alley.

Tag Cloud

adaptation halloween Rocky DGA animated TruTV El Rey Superheroes anthology Song of Ice and Fire E! Tumblr OWN Musical kids comic Travel Channel nature Star Trek Cannes WGN Acorn TV DC Comics SXSW docudrama YouTube Tarantino cooking Horror talk show biography Elton John AMC Toys supernatural Biopics cars Superheroe History X-Men 2015 discovery CNN adventure Awards spinoff GIFs 2018 renewed TV shows NBC free movies Mary Tyler Moore Fantasy Lucasfilm cats HBO dogs Holiday Box Office Crunchyroll Watching Series Year in Review TCA Amazon Studios Western Sneak Peek Amazon Prime Video universal monsters Ghostbusters mockumentary Pride Month Interview children's TV Food Network werewolf hispanic Marvel Studios GLAAD Paramount aliens Binge Guide Bravo Set visit TCM Peacock strong female leads Amazon Prime Black Mirror Hallmark BBC America Reality medical drama Musicals mutant New York Comic Con VH1 historical drama ghosts PaleyFest Tubi Super Bowl Endgame Sundance Now natural history American Society of Cinematographers Turner Adult Swim Film BBC politics Anna Paquin USA Lionsgate Comic Book TLC reboot psycho Winners Avengers dc The CW Valentine's Day San Diego Comic-Con Infographic social media The Arrangement FX on Hulu Disney+ Disney Plus 21st Century Fox Shondaland golden globes Drama ratings period drama Marathons unscripted Hulu DC streaming service blaxploitation OneApp Women's History Month toy story jamie lee curtis National Geographic Comedy TCA 2017 cartoon PBS book Chernobyl Mary Poppins Returns Schedule canceled TV shows name the review canceled Winter TV Election crime thriller Academy Awards RT21 2019 E3 Dark Horse Comics TCA Winter 2020 IFC screenings cancelled TV series witnail Marvel First Look green book Pet Sematary facebook joker boxoffice ITV Awards Tour dramedy CW Seed casting APB Tomatazos Oscars Sundance 45 007 theme song Kids & Family finale Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Trophy Talk LGBT movie Countdown transformers rotten movies we love reviews Cosplay Amazon cancelled television CBS spain Showtime TBS latino indie miniseries Brie Larson festivals Sony Pictures space Apple TV+ Rocketman MSNBC LGBTQ Character Guide romantic comedy Spike President Quiz Universal SDCC dragons travel IFC Films cancelled TV shows movies Turner Classic Movies Ellie Kemper foreign Netflix Christmas movies Paramount Network singing competition NYCC Black History Month Music Comics on TV YouTube Red Freeform Disney sitcom Rom-Com Warner Bros. Holidays See It Skip It Teen crossover TNT diversity versus TIFF Creative Arts Emmys HBO Max dceu romance 20th Century Fox TV renewals Shudder science fiction Sci-Fi Film Festival television Marvel Television Video Games hist Fox News Fall TV Star Wars YA Mindy Kaling psychological thriller Polls and Games Classic Film WarnerMedia Trivia TV Land cinemax Apple TV Plus Family game show Nickelodeon Syfy Arrowverse Premiere Dates Stephen King south america 71st Emmy Awards Emmy Nominations 24 frames Trailer FOX crime drama slashers Spectrum Originals 2017 Certified Fresh Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Spring TV crime independent DC Universe Pirates zombies documentary RT History based on movie TV sequel Columbia Pictures The Purge Calendar Animation award winner quibi 2020 comics batman zero dark thirty blockbuster Britbox Comedy Central Mary poppins ABC cops Reality Competition A24 elevated horror video Crackle FX true crime Pop richard e. Grant doctor who cancelled stand-up comedy vampires DirecTV Nat Geo Vudu Writers Guild of America political drama what to watch Photos thriller Emmys Funimation police drama SundanceTV spanish language scary movies Martial Arts Apple Summer Extras Masterpiece spy thriller sports GoT game of thrones A&E CMT spider-man Red Carpet Disney streaming service YouTube Premium Disney Plus serial killer Mystery justice league robots Nominations Ovation Podcast Esquire Rock Logo MTV Television Academy disaster MCU BET revenge Walt Disney Pictures franchise streaming Baby Yoda harry potter Heroines screen actors guild anime Action Pixar Best and Worst Mudbound breaking bad technology USA Network comiccon war ABC Family Lifetime Cartoon Network cults Opinion ESPN Country Sundance TV Starz tv talk teaser christmas movies Captain marvel Hallmark Christmas movies CBS All Access binge Thanksgiving Christmas Lifetime Christmas movies Netflix Discovery Channel First Reviews FXX sag awards zombie The Walking Dead Disney Channel series Pop TV 2016 Epix VICE composers Grammys The Witch directors