What to Watch prides itself on often offering a wide variety of material from TV seasons to On Demand exclusives to remasters of classic flicks. Not this week. All six of the New Releases that you may be drawn to in your favorite store or on your favorite service are movies, and all released in the last 18 months. But the variety within those movies is remarkable. A Best Picture winner, action flicks, a superhero, and two indie drams that waste talented casts. Pick your favorites. Here’s how we would rank ‘em.
CHICAGO – Will “Mad TV” get a cultural comeback? Once positioned as the first show that could really compete with “Saturday Night Live,” it never quite fulfilled its potential but I think it’s the kind of thing that audiences could find and respect in the future. It’s too bad that none of the “Mad” players became huge stars — movie fame helped propel the respect for those early days of “SNL” — but there were some undeniably talented players here and the show holds up better than you might expect. There’s a part of me that wishes it was still on, especially during this truly horrendous season of “SNL.” Lorne Michaels could use some competition.
CHICAGO – Now this is getting interesting. NBC has officially renewed three comedies — “Parks & Recreation,” “The Office,” and the very on-the-bubble “Up All Night.” Rumors of “Parks” only getting a 13-episode commitment have proven to be true but there has been no official confirmation that this means that the fifth season will be the program’s last.
CHICAGO- NBC has ordered full seasons for two of their new sitcoms: “Whitney” and “Up All Night.” “Whitney” has only aired two episodes and “Up All Night” has only aired three, but apparently the numbers and critical appeal was enough for NBC to give each show a shot at a full year.
CHICAGO – NBC’s “Up All Night,” debuting tonight, September 14th, 2011 at 9pm CST (before moving two hours earlier next week into its normal timeslot) is a very-promising new comedy largely due to the immense talent of its trio of stars and the relatable simplicity of its structure. As more and more people wait to have kids, how do the nights of wine tastings and social events transition to diaper-changing and bottle-warming?
CHICAGO – I SO wanted “Hall Pass” to be good. Not only do we need the men who made “There’s Something About Mary” and “Kingpin” back in prime form but the timing of their return seems perfect — who better to ride the wave of R-rated comedies inspired by the success of “The Hangover”? Sadly, “Hall Pass” is a hit-and-miss affair that falls too often on the wrong side of that comedy corridor. It’s a reasonable rental on a rainy night but not the return to form fans of the Farrelly brother’s greats were hoping for.
CHICAGO – The Farrelly Brothers’ “Hall Pass” is a near-miss for the directors of “There’s Something About Mary” and “Dumb & Dumber” that features enough laughs to remember when the boys were in their prime but ultimately doesn’t come enough together to get them back to it.
CHICAGO – After a brief hiatus, Bobby and Peter Farrelly are back with the comedy “Hall Pass,” starring Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, and Christina Applegate. Wilson and Sudeikis play a pair of married men longing for some time off from their marriages when they’re handed a week without repercussions. What would you do with a week-long hall pass?
CHICAGO – It’s far from a perfect comedy but considering the amazingly-broken state of the romantic comedy genre, the wasteland of horrendous films that have continued to give talentless stars like Katherine Heigl a career, “Going the Distance,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, is a surprisingly-effective flick. A somewhat-bizarre blend of “dude humor” with typical genre cliches may turn some viewers off but this flick is two things most romantic comedies aren’t — romantic and funny.
CHICAGO – At its rare best, “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” recalls Looney Tunes productions with their brilliant blend of slapstick humor, wordplay, and breakneck pace. And the odd collection of TV-caliber guest stars including Fred Armisen (“Saturday Night Live”), Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”), and Chris O’Donnell (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) along with a truly weird group of vocal performances that include Bette Midler and Nick Nolte of all people make for a film that sometimes resembles “Looney Tunes: Back in Action.” Sadly, resembling a funny movie does not make a comedy and this half-assed attempt at family entertainment should be sent to the pound.
CHICAGO – “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” is one of the most beloved comedies of the ’00s, a film that may have failed to crack $100 million on its initial release but has legions of fans who now know the entire script by heart after dozens of DVD and cable viewings. Like many comedy hits, Adam McKay’s directorial debut has been given the gift set treatment complete with collectibles and hours of special features. It’s exclusive to Best Buy for the next few months but we have a look at it for you now.