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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Walter Mitty, Ride Along, and More

Philomena, The Nut Job,

by | April 15, 2014 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got an ambitious project from Ben Stiller, a small Oscar-nominated drama from the UK, a surprise hit action comedy, and an underperforming animation, as well as the usual list of smaller films. Read on for the full list:



The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

51%

Ben Stiller has proven he knows what it takes to craft a memorable film; his first three feature directorial efforts — Reality Bites, The Cable Guy, and Zoolander — have all earned cult followings, and his 2008 action comedy Tropic Thunder was a smash hit with both critics and audiences. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, though? Not so much. Stiller plays the titular daydream-prone Life magazine photo manager, who embarks on a globetrotting adventure to track down an elusive photographer (Sean Penn) when he discovers the negative for a cover photo is missing. Can he secure the image and win the heart of his crush (Kristen Wiig) before Life shuts down for good? Critics acknowledged Stiller’s ambition in adapting the James Thurber short story and praised the striking visuals, but many of them felt there simply wasn’t enough substance behind all the razzle dazzle, leading to an underwhelming 49% on the Tomatometer.



Ride Along

18%

Tim Story’s odd-couple buddy-cop comedy Ride Along didn’t impress a whole lot of critics, but you know what? It made a lot of money, and audiences were much kinder to it, so he’s already been tapped for a sequel. Kevin Hart stars as Ben Barber, a spunky security guard and video game junkie who agrees to accompany no-nonsense Atlanta detective James Payton (Ice Cube) on a 24-hour ride along (natch) in an effort to convince him he?s man enough to marry James’ sister, Anglea (Tika Sumpter). When Ben unwittingly helps uncover a new lead in a heavy case James is working, the two must work together to survive. Unfortunately, critics found Ride Along too predictable and overly reliant on familiar genre mechanics to recommend it to anyone who’s seen any number of similar films. Kevin Hart’s manic energy helped pick up the pace from time to time, but even that couldn’t save the film from its 18% Tomatometer score.



Philomena

91%

Stephen Frears’ based-on-true-events story was the acclaimed director’s first hit since 2006’s The Queen, and it earned a multitude of accolades, including four Oscar nods in fairly hefty categories. Adapted from the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, the film stars Steve Coogan as journalist Martin Sixsmith, who takes it upon himself to investigate further when he learns the story of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), an elderly woman who was forced to give up a son for adoption fifty years prior. Together, Martin and Philomena travel from Ireland to the US in search of answers and closure. Critics largely credited the performances here — especially Dench, who was nominated for Best Actress — for the film’s charm and power, which helped elevate Philomena beyond your typical human interest drama, and the film earned a Certified Fresh 92% on the Tomatometer as a result.



The Nut Job

12%

It’s got talking animals, a celebrity voice cast, and a barrel of slapstick yuks, but The Nut Job failed do much of anything with all that. Will Arnett lends his gravelly inflections to Surly, a misfit squirrel banished from his park community of wild critters after an attempted peanut cart theft goes awry. Left to fend for himself, Surly happens upon a criminal plot to rob a bank and leave nuts in place of the cash, and, with the help of some friends, he plots his own heist to nick the nuts. Based on a short film called Surly Squirrel by director Peter Lepeniotis, The Nut Job drew groans from most critics, who found Surly too unlikable a character and the film’s story a paper thin facsimile of its source material that wears out its welcome fairly quickly. At 11% on the Tomatometer, this is one for the easily entertained little ones, but probably no one else.

Also available this week:

  • Mike Newell’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (66%), starring Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, and Ralph Fiennes.
  • Black Nativity (48%), starring Forest Whitaker and Angela Basset in a drama inspired by Langston Hughes’ stage play.
  • Quentin Dupieux’s ensemble comedy Wrong Cops (44%), featuring Marilyn Manson, Eric Wareheim, and more in a story about crooked cops trying to hide a body.
  • Ronald F. Maxwell’s Copperhead (22%), a Civil War movie about a Northern pacifist who is increasingly harassed for his views.
  • Better Living Through Chemistry (21%), starring Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde in a dark comedy about a straight-laced pharmacist who sheds his inhibitions after meeting a woman in his neighborhood.
  • And Criterion releases another updated Blu-ray/DVD combo pack: Lars von Trier’s breakout 1996 film Breaking the Waves (86%), starring Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgård.
  • Season 2 of period crime drama Ripper Street (100%).

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