This week on home video, we’ve got a well-received adaptation of a classic children’s book character, P.T. Anderson’s latest film, and a handful of films with big stars that earned mediocre reviews. Luckily, there are also a couple of smaller films that are worth your while. Read on for details:
If you’re going to adapt a beloved children’s book character for film, you’d better do it right. Thankfully, almost everyone who saw Paddington approved. For the unfamiliar, Paddington Bear was created by British author Michael Bond in 1958, ultimately spawning dozens of books, three television series, merchandise, and more. Think Winnie the Pooh, but with a penchant for marmalade instead of honey. The film remains quite faithful to the character’s origin story, in which a talking bear from Peru with nowhere to go is adopted by a kind family who grows to accept him as one of their own. Conflict comes in the form of a taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) who wants to capture and stuff Paddington for her museum collection. Critics called Paddington an utterly charming family film and awarded it a Certified Fresh 98 percent on the Tomatometer, calling it a welcome update on the character that both respects the source material and provides some fresh laughs.
If you’ve met anyone who’s seen Inherent Vice and asked them to describe it, chances are you got a muddled mess of a story with lots of stops and starts and “Wait; lemme back up”s. This is because Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest ensemble drama-comedy, based on the eponymous novel by Thomas Pynchon, is a near indecipherable shaggy dog story full of dead ends, red herrings, and plain old wackiness. Joaquin Phoenix plays stoner P.I. Doc Sportello, who can’t refuse when his ex-girlfriend (Katherine Waterston) asks him to look into a possible abduction plot involving her new boyfriend’s wife and her lover. From there, Doc discovers what may be a much larger conspiracy that may or may not involve the LAPD, a missing musician, and a heroin-smuggling cult, among other things. Bolstered by a typically outstanding cast that includes Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, and more, Inherent Vice will satisfy fans of P.T. Anderson and the source novel, even if those expecting a more traditional, coherent narrative will probably find themselves scratching their heads.
Last Days in Vietnam (2014) (95 percent), a documentary covering the final days of the Vietnam War and the joint efforts of the South Vietnamese and American soldiers to save as many lives as possible.
Mommy (2015) (91 percent), Xavier Dolan’s drama about a single mother trying to raise her ADHD teen son with the help of a new neighbor.
The Gambler (2015) (46 percent), starring Mark Wahlberg and Jessica Lange in a remake of the 1974 James Caan film, about a lit professor with a gambling problem who owes the wrong people a lot of money.
The Wedding Ringer (2015) (28 percent), starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad in a comedy about an awkward groom-to-be who hires the services of a professional Best Man.
The Boy Next Door, starring Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman in a thriller about a high school teacher who has a one-night stand with a younger man who becomes obsessed with her.