This week’s new films arriving on DVD include the raunchy comedy Good Luck Chuck with Dane Cook and Jessica Alba, biblical spoof The Ten with Paul Rudd, high school comedy Mr. Woodcock, the kid-friendly adventure The Last Mimzy, and the suspense-driven Fracture starring Anthony Hopkins.
Good Luck Chuck
The premise almost sounds like genius, but the film is about as far from smart as you can get, and perhaps that should be evident from the fact that it stars comedian Dane Cook. Playing the role of Charlie Logan, a cursed man who causes every woman he sleeps with to find true love the next day, the film is the usual gross-out comedy filled with sex and bad jokes. Jessica Alba co-stars as Charlie’s love-interest, who happens to be a clumsy zookeeper perpetually followed by mini-disasters.
Across the board, no matter which major critic you look at, Good Luck Chuck was one of the most resolutely unliked films of 2007. Avoid it at all costs. As Roger Ebert said in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Here is the dirty movie of the year, slimy and scummy, and among its casualties is poor Jessica Alba, who is a cutie and shouldn’t have been let out to play with these boys.”
This oddball little comedy takes aim at the Ten Commandments with a number of stars that seem to be slumming it for kicks. There’s Paul Rudd, Jessica Alba, Famke Janssen, Liev Schreiber, and Winona Ryder, to name a few, and together they take on the Thou-shalt-nots of the Bible with irreverent bliss.
If you compare this film to Good Luck Chuck, the critics certainly found a lot more to enjoy about The Ten. Still, more than a few pointed out that it’s really not that funny a movie. Some people still found it amusing though, with Pam Grady of the San Francisco Chronicle commenting, “It lives up to the one unbendable commandment of comedy: It’s funny.”
It is a little hard for me to believe that director Craig Gillespie, who went on to make the superior dramedy Lars and the Real Girl, could direct a film that looks and sounds as stupid as Mr. Woodcock. Starring Billy Bob Thornton as the abusive gym teacher Mr. Woodcock, the story follows former student John Farley (Seann William Scott) after he comes home to discover that his mother (Susan Sarandon) is going to get married. And you guessed it, it’s to the much-hated Mr. Woodcock.
Some of the key words that popped up in reviews were “juvenile” and “predictable”, but a few reviewers praised the performances. Marc Bernardin of Entertainment Weekly bashed one of the key factors that made the film tank, however. “In this post-Apatow-the-arrested-development-genius world, [Mr. Woodcock] can’t compete. The only thing worth watching is Sarandon, popping in from a classier reality.”
The Last Mimzy
For the kids, and families looking for an escape this week, you may be in luck since The Last Mimzy was one of the only films available that received more than a handful of positive reviews.
In The Last Mimzy two kids discover a strange box that ends up giving them powers that only seem explicable through an ancient symbol. The film had its share of bad reviews, but what stands out among almost every critic is that they praised how the film avoids talking down to kids. Likewise, the film has a non-preachy environmental message, and genuine performances from the two child stars.
And lastly, there is this week’s one true gem, the suspenseful thriller Fracture, starring Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, and Rosamund Pike.
Hopkins is Ted Crawford, a man accused of killing his wife, and is using the law to keep himself free from jail even as D.A. Willy Beachum (Gosling) tries to put him away.
There is little chance you’ll sit down and enjoy Fracture as a believable thriller, but Gosling and Hopkins have some great scenes together.
This week, TV on DVD includes a special edition of the Star Wars spoof episode of Family Guy: Blue Harvest, seasons 1 & 2 of the British comedy Extras, and collection 2 of the science-driven exploration series Mythbusters.