RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Three Stooges and Singin' in the Rain

Plus, a couple of prison thrillers, a few comedies, and some indie classics.

by | July 16, 2012 | Comments

After a couple of really disappointing weeks, we’ve got a handful of nice choices again. Of course, they’re peppered among a few more critical disappointments, but hey, we’re still miles ahead of the last two RT on DVD lists. Without further ado, let’s get right to it!



The Three Stooges

51%

A new film reviving the comedic trio of Larry, Moe, and Curly was far from necessary, but being that much of the Farrelly brothers’ (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary) comedy contains an element of slapstick, it wasn’t surprising. For what it’s worth, the film didn’t elicit nearly the amount of bile that most expected it would from critics, earning a mediocre (but not particularly terrible) 51% on the Tomatometer. TV stars Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Will Sasso play the stooges with surprisingly effective flair in a story about the trio attempting to save the orphanage where they were raised and landing a successful reality television gig. Not the best comedy to emerge this year, but — to everyone’s surprise — not the worst either.



Friends With Kids

68%

Adam Scott (currently best known for his role on NBC’s Parks and Recreation) and writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein) are best friends Jason and Julie who, feeling the pressures of age and social norms, decide to have a child together. Can a platonic friendship survive the realities of childbearing and child rearing? The story of Friends with Kids doesn’t tread any new territory, but it benefits from a talented cast (including Bridesmaids alumni Kristen Wiig, Chris O?Dowd, Jon Hamm, and Maya Rudolph) and some quirky ideas about parenting and romance. At 68%, it’s not as refreshing as it might have hoped to be, but it’s a decent rom-com with some good gags and a touch of heart.



Casa de mi padre

41%

Will Ferrell stars in a send-up of telenovelas about a Mexican farmer who becomes embroiled in a drug war involving his younger brother when he attempts to help save his father’s ranch. Oh, and he speaks phonetic Spanish for the film’s duration. Most critics agreed that while Casa de mi padre was fairly amusing as a two-minute trailer, the joke wears a bit thin over an 80-minute runtime. A certain affection for the genre it’s parodying is evident, but the writing isn’t quite strong enough and the laughs don’t come often enough; as such, it sits at 44% on the Tomatometer and will probably best be remembered as an interesting but mostly forgettable entry on Ferrell’s resume.



Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

66%

Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom has been working since the 1970s, and he’s earned two Oscar nominations (for 1985’s My Life as a Dog and 1999’s The Cider House Rules), but he’s nowhere near a household name, mainly because he sticks to small, indie fare like last year’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. This latest entry stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in a story about a fishery expert with Asperger’s syndrome (McGregor) who is called upon to help introduce, well, salmon fishing in Yemen. He soon forms a romantic bond with the sheikh’s consultant (Blunt) he’s asked to work with, and their faith is tested as they attempt an impossible feat. At 68% on the Tomatometer, Salmon Fishing is a quieter comedy, but a charming romance with some strong performances.



Lockout

37%

Guy Pearce is a solid actor, as he’s proven time and again, but even he can only do so much with a script that lacks depth and originality. Written by Luc Besson (director of The Professional and The Fifth Element), Lockout is a futuristic sci-fi thriller starring Pearce as former CIA Agent Snow, who is falsely imprisoned at a maximum security penitentiary; when the president’s daughter (Maggie Grace) is taken hostage by rioting convicts, it’s up to Agent Snow to come to the rescue. Critics found Lockout ultimately too derivative of the various sci-fi thrillers from which it borrows, and at 37%, it’ll probably only please those looking for a cheap and easy time killer.



Get the Gringo

82%

Speaking of prison thrillers, here we have one that earned mostly positive reviews. Mel Gibson has suffered from very public personal drama as of late, but in The Gringo, he recalls some of his grittier characters from the past to deliver a tough and slyly witty performance. Gibson is the titular character, aka Jack Sanders, who is sent to a Mexican prison for stealing. Once there, Jack adapts to his new surroundings, and after befriending a boy who has something a crime boss also needs, he sets out to save the boy and break free. Directed and co-written by Adrian Grunberg, who worked under Gibson on Apocalypto, Get the Gringo sits at a healthy 79% on the Tomatometer, due in large part to a striking performance from Gibson and some bloody, cheeky thrills.



The Turin Horse

88%

For current filmgoers, the works of Bela Tarr can seem less like movies and more like endurance tests. His spare, austere aesthetic is bold and uncompromising: Tarr’s shots can last for minutes at a time, and his camera moves at a stately pace, following haunted, exhausted people as they eat, work, and sometimes just sit in silence. (For some, Tarr’s greatest sin will be that he insists on shooting in black and white.) But if you give yourself over to his films — in particular, his latest and possibly last movie, The Turin Horse — you’re in for a hypnotic, evocative experience. It’s weighty, to be sure, but beautifully composed, sometimes darkly funny, and unlike anything else in contemporary cinema. The Turin Horse Blu-ray features an early Tarr short, 1978’s Hotel Magnezit, plus an audio commentary from critic Jonathan Rosenbaum and a discussion with the filmmaker at a 2007 screening.



Down By Law – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

90%

Jim Jarmusch is best known for his understated (and underseen) indie classics of the 1980s and 1990s, films like Stranger than Paradise, Mystery Train, and Dead Man. One of his most beloved films is 1986’s Down By Law, the unconventional jailbreak movie/character-driven caper in which Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni (who mostly speaks Italian throughout the film) find themselves on the run together; the reluctant partners are at odds at first, but an unlikely friendship develops between the three as they each find their way. This is Criterion’s first Blu-ray of the film, and it includes most of the extras from the 2002 DVD release, as well as new production Polaroids, location stills, and some commentary from Jarmusch on dubbing and Tom Waits’ video for It’s All Right With Me.



Mean Streets – Blu-Ray

96%

It isn’t talked about as often as, say, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, or even Goodfellas, but Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973) is no less a stunning film. A young Harvey Keitel plays ambitious Charlie, who hopes to impress his Mafioso uncle enough to run a restaurant, while an even younger Robert De Niro plays Charlie’s best friend, Johnny Boy, a good-for-nothing punk with a violent streak who owes a lot of people a lot of money. Together, Keitel and De Niro make an electrifying combination as Scorsese explores themes of urban sin and guilt, marking a breakthrough film for both the director and his stars. The first Blu-ray of the film to be released in the US, Mean Streets hits shelves this week.



Singin’ in the Rain – 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray

100%

To say that Singin’ in the Rain is one of the best movie musicals of all time doesn’t quite do it justice. To be sure, it’s a great movie, as its 100 percent Tomatometer will attest. But it’s also really fun — it’s got some of the most incredible choreography that you’ll see outside a Hong Kong action flick, and its songs (which include “Make ’em Laugh,” “All I Do Is Dream of You,” “Good Morning,” and the title tune) are infectious and exhilarating. Like The Artist, Singin’ is about cinema’s transition from silence to sound, and as such, it’s a bright, shiny love letter to the movies. It also contains what’s arguably the great Gene Kelly’s finest performance. The Singin’ in the Rain 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo contains more than four hours of bonus material, including commentaries from cast and crew members, making-of documentaries, outtakes, a 48-page book with rare photos, and even an umbrella.

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