RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Adjustment Bureau & Unknown

Plus, an underseen comedy, a kid-friendly sequel, and a Roman adventure.

by | June 21, 2011 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got an interesting variety of new releases, ranging from a thought-provoking thriller to a children’s film to a historical action-adventure movie. Then, there’s also a Certified Fresh comedy that flew under the radar, a Liam Neeson mystery, a quirky indie comedy from a TV star, and a few others, including a new Criterion release. So take a look and decide if any are worthy of your collection.

The Adjustment Bureau

71%

After writing the scripts for movies like Ocean’s Twelve and The Bourne Ultimatum, George Nolfi made his directorial debut earlier this year with a cerebral thriller, reuniting with Matt Damon for The Adjustment Bureau. Damon plays David Norris, a politician on the rise who falls for a ballet dancer named Elise (Emily Blunt). However, he soon realizes that greater powers are at work, and Elise is not meant to be part of his successful future. Will David defy the powers that be and risk his future by staying with Elise, or will he accept his fate and let her go? Critics found The Adjustment Bureau just a tad uneven in spots, but enjoyed the chemistry between its stars, which made the film worthwhile. At 72% on the Tomatometer, it sits just shy of being Certified Fresh, and its twisty plot, based on a Philip K. Dick short story, should satisfy both science fiction enthusiasts and fans of action thrillers.

Unknown

55%

Liam Neeson has been busy lately, and ever since he starred in the sleeper hit Taken, audiences are looking to see more of the veteran Irish actor in gritty thriller fare. Unknown looked as though it could be the one, featuring an experienced cast (Diane Kruger, Frank Langella, Bruno Ganz) and an interesting premise. Unfortunately, critics say that, while Neeson does give it his all and the ideas are indeed intriguing, the film is simply too derivative and implausible. The story focuses on Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson), who gets into an auto accident with his wife (January Jones) while in Berlin and wakes up to find that his wife no longer recognizes him and another man has taken his identity. Sometimes thrillers work, even when a great suspension of disbelief is required, and at 55% on the Tomatometer, Unknown wasn’t a bad time for everyone who saw it. This could make for a decent throwaway rental, or you might find yourself in line with those critics who thought it was engaging enough.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

47%

Children’s books have been Hollywood fodder for decades, but it seems lately that studios are looking to bank on franchises, rather than one-off films. Last year’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid was based on a bestselling illustrated novel, and while it didn’t wow every critic or bowl over audiences, it apparently did well enough to warrant a sequel, so earlier this year, we were given Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. This time around, Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) enters the 7th grade and must deal with his parents’ attempts to get him and his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) to bond. Critics felt that the film, witty at times and decently acted, was tame enough to appeal to the same audiences the first film won over. That said, it’s more of the same, and if you weren’t the target audience of the first, you probably won’t find much here for you either.

Cedar Rapids

86%

At first glance, Cedar Rapids looks like just another fish-out-of-water comedy about the naiveté and simplicity of the folks who live in the flyover states. But look again: this Certified Fresh comedy has a pretty unbelievable cast, including Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Rob Corddry, and Sigourney Weaver, among others. And critics say it’s a charming, heartfelt tale that’s also raunchy and hilarious. Helms stars as a small-town guy who’s sent to a big regional insurance sales convention, and soon, this babe in the woods is awestruck by the bright lights of the big city — and the carnal pleasures it offers. The Cedar Rapids: Super Awesome Edition offers deleted scenes, featurettes, a gag reel, and other funny supplementary stuff.

The Eagle

47%

There have been some attempts to rewrite historical events as genre spectacles (Valhalla Rising, Centurion), and The Eagle follows in that mold, telling the story of the famed disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion from the perspective of a soldier who embarks on a journey to discover the truth. Channing Tatum stars as Roman soldier Marcus Aquila, son to the commander who led the Ninth Legion, and Jamie Bell is Marcus’s slave Esca, upon whom Marcus must rely as he traverses Caledonia in search of his father. Critics felt that the film had all the trappings to be a rousing action-adventure, but Kevin Macdonald’s (State of Play, The Last King of Scotland) directorial effort left them cold, and Channing Tatum fails to stir emotion as the lead. If you’re looking for a stylish sword-and-sandal adventure, this might fulfill your craving, but don’t be surprised if the film overall leaves you feeling a bit empty and unsatisfied.

happythankyoumoreplease

43%

Josh Radnor is best known as Ted Mosby, lead character on the wildly popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother, but the actor has also had a successful stage career, and earlier this year, he made his feature film directorial (and writing) debut with happythankyoumoreplease. Also starring Radnor as aspiring writer Sam Wexler, happythankyoumoreplease focuses on the relationships and young adult struggles of a handful of twenty-somethings and features other up-and-comers like Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan, and Malin Akerman. Unfortunately for Radnor, critics didn’t take to the film all that well, decrying its sitcommy feel and superficial ruminations on the nature of true happiness. Those who did like the film felt it had enough charm — and a couple of decent performances — to keep it watchable, but at 39% on the Tomatometer, it probably isn’t the breakout big screen hit for Radnor that it could have been.

Elektra Luxx

24%

Possibly the most telling thing that one might notice if one were to do a little bit of research before watching Elektra Luxx is that its director, Sebastian Gutierrez, has never been involved with a film project that earned any higher than a 45% on the Tomatometer… and that score was for his 1998 directorial debut. This film, unfortunately, does nothing to break that trend. Starring Carla Gugino as the title character, Elektra Luxx is a sex comedy about a retired (and pregnant) adult film star-turned-sex ed teacher who’s commissioned to seduce an old acquaintance’s fiance in exchange for some lyrics stolen from her baby’s daddy, a late rock star. Sound convoluted to you? Well, yes, it is, and critics noted this as one of their criticisms of the film, which they found just a little too muddled in subplots and a little less funny than they had hoped. Still, the supporting cast is decent (Joseph Gordon Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Emmanuelle Chriqui), so it might induce a chuckle or two for some.

Ceremony

41%

Uma Thurman is not quite the star she used to be, and she hasn’t made a Fresh film since her collaborations with Quentin Tarantino in the Kill Bill films, but that isn’t to say she doesn’t still have something left to offer Hollywood. In Ceremony, Thurman plays a famous filmmaker’s fiance who once indulged in a May-December fling with a young man (Michael Angarano). Now, however, that young man is stalking her at her fiance’s beachside estate, with plans to sweep her away from her impending wedding. First time writer/director Max Winkler’s (yes, son of “The Fonz”) dramedy didn’t quite resonate with critics, who thought it was derivative and wasteful of its stars’ talents, and it earned a mediocre 36% on the Tomatomter. Don’t expect to be blown away by this one, but if you’re a fan of Thurman and you tend to like these quirky romances, this might be your thing.

Kiss Me Deadly – Criterion Collection

98%

Remember the mysterious glowing briefcase in Pulp Fiction? Quentin Tarantino got the idea for that from Robert Aldrich’s tough-as-nails noir Kiss Me Deadly, which finds Mickey Spillane’s legendary private dick Mike Hammer up to his neck in Cold War intrigue. Ralph Meejer stars as Hammer, who’s often as amoral and violent as the crooks he investigates. One night, he picks up a woman hitchhiking (Cloris Leachman, in her debut), and soon he’s battling sinister forces in the search for a mysterious box. The new Criterion disc is loaded with bonus stuff, including a video tribute from Alex Cox, a couple documentaries, an alternate ending, and an essay from Village Voice critic J. Hoberman.