Sorry, What to Watch took a turkey day break as last week was really light on new product worth mentioning. This week? Pretty much the same but we don’t want you to miss us too badly. Here’s five recent Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming releases that may have caught your attention on new release shelves lately, ranked in the order we’d add them to our holiday wish list.
CHICAGO – Not only have I been a longtime fan of great children’s films like those produced by Disney and Studio Ghibli over the years but I’m now a parent and absolutely adore the feeling of passing along my favorite films like “Spirited Away,” “Dumbo,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Toy Story” along to my little ones. My children will never see “Escape From Planet Earth.” As someone who not only sees nearly every animated film in his profession but has a new appreciation for them given my being a parent, I feel qualified to say this is one of the worst children’s films of the last decade. It’s aggressively annoying with awful character design and a screenplay that is clearly trying to teach children a lesson about boredom.
CHICAGO – Do you miss “The Dating Game”? Long for more shows like “Baggage” in primetime? FOX has two, LONG hours for you in “Take Me Out” and “The Choice” — a pair of programs that seem designed to replicate what it’s like at a Wrigleyville bar at 1:45AM only you’re (probably) not drunk enough to find the nauseating banter and silly behavior entertaining.
CHICAGO – Blue Sky Studios’ “Rio” feels nearly designed for Blu-ray as the film’s strengths are amplified by the world of HD video and sound. With bright colors and Brazilian music, it’s easier to get sucked into the world of this so-so family flick, and a large number of special features makes it easier to overlook the unsatisfactory nature of the actual movie. The important thing is that the little ones in your family will be captivated by the talking, dancing birds with the colorful plumage, especially in 1080p.
CHICAGO – Big news in from TBS. After almost two years on the air, “Lopez Tonight” has been given the boot. The late night talk show that premiered November 9, 2009 isn’t just coming to a close; it’s more like a crashing halt.
CHICAGO – There is nothing wrong with “The Smurfs” that a thousand volts of electricity couldn’t cure. It is well made, looks good in the optional 3-D and has a competent cast trying their hardest. What it lacks is a spark, either of nostalgia or a fresh update, as it meanders with the seen-it-all-before template.
CHICAGO – Hilarity is back in the Windy City as the annual “Just for Laughs” festival comes to town to kick off summer. Over the next five days, Chicago venues will be rocking with comedy legends like Steve Martin, and the smaller clubs around town will also be featuring up-and-coming acts.
CHICAGO – “Rio” is a film that nearly defies critical review. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it and I can virtually guarantee you that the little ones in your family will be captivated by the talking, dancing birds with the colorful plumage. But it’s also a film that’s strikingly unmemorable. The characters, the jokes, and even the striking visuals – they all dissipate from the memory like a piece of candy that seems tasty in the moment but ultimately isn’t very filling. “Rio” isn’t a bad movie but with great family entertainment options out there, just being “not bad” isn’t good enough.
CHICAGO – How do complete disasters like “Marmaduke” get made? Shouldn’t there be some sort of quality insurance and when a studio sees that a film is this execrable, they are allowed to pull some sort of last-minute ripcord and make sure it’s never inflicted on paying customers? Wouldn’t that be a good use of our tax dollars?
CHICAGO – “The Spy Next Door” pairs a man who can’t speak English with three kids who can’t act. They’re forced to recite dialogue credited to three writers who are incapable of writing a single line of wit or originality. Worst of all, the film is directed by a man whose last halfway decent family flick was 1992’s “Beethoven.” Rarely has a mainstream release looked so much like Amateur Hour.
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
CHICAGO – Disney’s “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, now on Blu-Ray and DVD, is so generic and disposable that it’s easy for an adult to forget they’re watching it while it’s playing. It’s one of those movies that appeals to the little ones because talking animals naturally do so, but so little was done beyond the casting and the concept that adults are going to get bored quickly.