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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Due Date, Get Low, and Others on DVD This Week

This week, we seem to be at each end of the spectrum with our major DVD releases - first, the decidedly, and surprisingly, unfunny Due Date comes to shelves, and secondly, so does the tender and heartwarming Get Low. Other releases include Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Leaving (Partir)

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about a week like this on DVD is that it follows a week of spectacular releases, and also contains a separate singular release for a title on the 25th. Megamind comes out that day, and I'll be posting a full review for its release. I saw it quite a while ago, thoroughly enjoyed it, but didn't have the opportunity to review it. This week gives me that opportunity. So, look for that.

The saddest thing about a film like Due Date is that it ignores an eerily similar film that came out before it, much like The Roommate (I swear, I should get a dime for every time I mention that film this year) after Single White Female. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles did it first, and it remains uncredited as inspiration for this slacker comedy. Note - this isn't a comedy about slackers, mind you; it's a comedy about very hard workers caught in a dire situation, but... the people involved are slacking on the comedy part. Thus, it's a slacker comedy.

More after the cut --

Todd Phillips is the brilliant man behind Old School and The Hangover, and I have a feeling he's trying to walk in Judd Apatow's infinitely larger shoes - there are moments in Due Date that feel inspired by Apatow's Funny People and, moreso, Knocked Up. Fairly dramatic, but here they feel out of place where as in Apatow's film, they enhance the story and atmosphere. Plus, Apatow understands the humor in his depression. Philips just aimed for middle, it seems. Obviously no one aims for the middle, so that's a bit facetious, but, rather, he aimed high and just undershot.

Robert Downey, Jr. is immune to this film's criticism. He's good in everything he does. I've never seen him give a bad performance (a cookie to the first person who replies to this screaming "In Dreams") and I doubt I ever will. He's was perfectly adequate here. Zack Galifinakis, who was award worthy in The Hangover, is out of his league - or just plain bad - in this one. I'm going to assume he's just out of his league, as he is much better when he has a tempered script. Even in supporting roles like in Out Cold, he offers memorable work. He was in about all of ten seconds of Bubble Boy, and he's one of the only bits I remember. But, I can hardly recall his performance in this film. It's just flat and unnecessary. Like everything else. Except Downey, Jr. Michelle Monaghan co-stars, and is simply required to be pretty. She excels.

The DVD/Blu-Ray contain an unrated version of the film and a gag reel. Gag reels are almost stock features on these sorts of films, so that isn't a surprising inclusion.

Also, this week, a much funnier film - one where the drama actually works in the humor's favor - Get Low starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, and Lucas Black.

The film is about a man who wants to plan his funeral. Normally, this would be understandable, but there are two things that make this such an interesting film - one, he's a complete hermit who is feared by his town, and two, he wants to attend his funeral. So, rather, it would be more a celebration over his death, than a mournful event. The irony is stacked taller than the trueness of this tale. Supposedly the film is based on a true story, but I expect that's in the same way that Fargo is.

Outstanding are the performances - Oscar worthy, across the board, featuring a cast of mostly intense dramatic actors speaking fluently comedic dialog, even with the most dramatic atmosphere the director can conjure. It's a uniquely made film, that gives each actor their time to shine, more than once.

The special features on the DVD/Blu-Ray are as follows, from the film's Amazon page -

Commentary with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Director Aaron Schneider & Producer Dean Zanuck
The Deep South: Buried Secrets
Getting Low: Getting Into Character
Cast & Crew Q&A
A Screenwriter's Point of View
On the Red Carpet

It's a wonderful film; one that should certainly be sought out for great afternoon viewing. 

Also on DVD this week - 

Mesrine: Killer Instinct - A story, in two parts. Jacque Mesrine was the French gangster of the 60's and 70's. Told in a certain... 'Che' sort of way, the film series offers us an intense look into the man's life and influence on his culture. Vincent Cassell stars as Jacque Mesrine and Ludvine Sagnier and Gerard Depardieu co-star. This film is Part One, and has received glowing reviews across the board, especially for Cassell's performance as the gangster Mesrine.

Leaving (Partir) - Kristen Scott Thomas (a long-since favorite of this filmgoer) stars in this romantic thriller about a woman caught in a smoldering affair that threatens to destroy the lives of her family, and her lover, lest her husband destroy them in revenge first. I have yet to see the film, nor was I aware of its existence until not too long ago. But, I haven't ever been disappointed by a Kristen Scott Thomas performance, and I have a soft spot for these types of films. So, I'm picking it up soon. 

There you have it. You have a long week ahead of you; go pick up a movie. Leave a comment below and tell me what you're interested in seeing!

Personally, I'm going to pick up Mesrine and Leaving. A good French drama is always appreciated by me, and I love the actors. So, I'll be getting my money's worth.