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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: The Peanut Butter Falcon, Good Boys, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, Cobra Kai and more


Good Boys – I don’t know entirely what to think about Good Boys. On the one hand, it’s a semi-enjoyable comedy about three middle school boys skipping school, getting into trouble, trying to get out of trouble, and maybe growing up a little at the same time. On the other hand, it’s basically SuperBad with middle schoolers, and it serves as a shorthand for a lot of what I consider wrong with comedy these days. Like its spiritual brethren, the critically acclaimed Booksmart, Good Boys is part of the trend in comedy that thinks that just adding excessive swear words to everything makes it funny. Listen, I love a well-placed cuss word as much as the next guy, but it’s become a hallmark of lazy writing. “Hey, we don’t need actual jokes! We can just have kids drop the F-bomb and people will laugh!” Unfortunately, box office receipts have borne that out, as Good Boys was one of the surprise hits of the summer. It’s not a terrible film, but if they’d put as much energy into writing smart jokes as they did making sure there was an F-bomb every 3.2 seconds, the film would have been much better.

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Series – One of television’s most popular shows returns to Blu-ray and DVD for — presumably — the last time. I’m always amazed that this show was such a big hit, but it’s nice to see the geek culture get some love from the mainstream. I know that there are people out there who don’t like this show, but I’ve never quite gotten that backlash. I’ve always enjoyed it and this new home video collection is a perfect reminder why. The Big Bang Theory: the Complete Series is a brand new 25-disc set on Blu-ray or DVD that includes all 279 episodes of the hit show. It also gives you a digital copy of the complete series, which is one of the best bonuses of the set. It’s packed with extra features, including nice retrospective features of the whole show, and you get a nice full-color book as well as a cast pop-up book that’s a pretty cool little goodie. All in all, if you love this show and want to revisit it whenever you’d like, this one hell of a gift set. Bazinga!

The Angry Birds Movie 2 – In the “unnecessary sequels” file, I’d have to say Angry Birds 2 is pretty high up on the list. I enjoyed the first movie well enough, but it’s wasn’t exactly a creative juggernaut. It was a moderate hit, but I question the wisdom of pushing out a sequel to a movie that most people just liked, instead of loved. Still, the new movie is equally as likeable as the first one: again, it’s nothing overly great, but kids should find it fun and adults will get a few chuckles out of it. It’s just one of those movies that we didn’t really need and I doubt people were asking for. The Angry Birds Movie 2 comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD as well as Blu-ray and DVD. This is a terrific presentation, as the deep, rich color saturation really shines in animation, and image clarity is razor-sharp. The surround soundtrack isn’t going to break any records, but it’s a pretty solid effort that includes some nice of the satellite speakers. All in all, a strong A/V presentation.

Star Trek Discovery: Season 2 – I wasn’t a fan of Star Trek: Discovery in the beginning and I still don’t know if I qualify as a real fan, but at least the show is growing on me. Season Two brings the characters of Spock and Christopher Pike into focus, and the ties to the original franchise are much more clear now. The show still seems to get bogged down in trying to be “edgy” which I don’t think is doing it any favors, and I still don’t love the main character of Michael Burnham, but as a whole, the show is rounding out nicely and I don’t find it a turn off as I did in the early part of season one. This new Blu-ray collection (also on DVD) collects the entire second season, as well as some nice extra features, for those of you who don’t have CBS All Access, allowing you to watch the full second season for the first time. Let’s hope the third season continues to improve.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged – The first 47 Meters Down was a tight, claustrophobic little thriller about two girls trapped in a dive cage surrounded by sharks. It was character-driven yet full of suspense, and it became a sleeper hit at the box office. So of course, we get a sequel, in the form of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. It’s an apt title because there isn’t a dive cage in sight this time around. In this outing, we follow four teenage girls who get trapped in an underwater archaeological site that also happens to be inhabited by killer sharks. The character development is dialled down this go around, but the shark effects and action scenes are ramped up, and the end result is a shark thriller that’s not only a ton of fun, but also miles above anything you might see on SyFy. This is a properly budgeted creature feature, and it has jump scares and cool deaths and great-looking sharks and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. I’m an easy sell for movies like this, but I really enjoyed it.

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Milo Ventimiglia stars in the latest tear-jerking dog-talking-to-the-audience movie, based on the hit book of the same name. The story is nothing new, following a guy and his car and his dog (voiced by Kevin Costner) and the girl who enters the picture. The dog narrates the film (and of course, because it’s Kevin Costner, he’s terrific) and the movie makes sure you laugh, cry, and feel every emotion in between The cast does a great job, and while the movie feels a little on the familiar side, it’s quite enjoyable and it will definitely be something the whole family can enjoy.

The Peanut Butter Falcon – Shia Labeouf and Dakota Fanning star in The Peanut Butter Falcon, a heartwarming little adventure tale that has been critically acclaimed, and for good reason. Zach Gottsagen makes a splashy debut as Zac, a young man with Down’s Syndrome who escapes the assisted facility living he’s in. He hooks up with Shia Lebouef’s troubled Tyler, who’s on the run from some of the small town toughs he’s run afoul of. Together, they end up on a road trip together, and Dakota Fanning plays the care worker out to return Zac to the home he escaped from, even though Zac has no interest in returning and just wants to make his way to wrestling school. Gottsagen is endearing in his role, but it’s Shia Labeouf who steals the show here. It’s easy to forget amidst all the social media memes and whatnot that Labeouf is a really talented actor, and his role here is award-worthy. He all but disappears into the role of Tyler, a reluctant guardian and friend. It’s a heartwarming film with humor, drama, and real characters, and I won’t be surprised to see it get some serious attention when Awards season rolls around.

Cobra Kai: Seasons 1 & 2 – Some thirty-odd years after we last saw Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), but this new series picks up with ostensibly more focus on Johnny, whose life has not gone the way he wanted it to. He re-opens the Cobra Kai dojo in an effort to find personal redemption, and some of the old rivalries are reborn with it. This time around, Daniel and Johnny work in mentor roles as we see a new generation of karate kids come of age. Originally released on YouTube premium, this new series has now been released on DVD (and sadly not on Blu-ray) and it includes both seasons one and two. It also comes packaged with a Cobra Kai headband as a physical goodie, and of course there are video extra features as well The show is fun, it’s well done, and it’s good to see Macchio and Zabka square off again, although in a much different way this time as adults. Fans of the Karate Kid movies should really enjoy this show.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • The Daytrippers – Greg Mottola (who brought us Adventureland, Paul, and Superbad) made his directing debut with 1996’s The Daytrippers, which now gets the Criterion Collection treatment. It’s a curious inclusion for me, because I don’t consider him to be a terribly talented filmmaker, as I’m not a huge fan of any of his films. Admittedly, I had never seen The Daytrippers before, so I thought maybe this might be a hidden gem of some sort. And while I really like the cast, which includes Hope Davis, Parker Posey, Stanley Tucci, Live Schreiber, and Anne Meara, the film itself seems very much in the Greg Mottola vein. It’s a comedic drama (or a dramatic comedy) and some of the jokes work, some don’t. As usual, the characters just never quite click for me, and while the film is pretty watchable, I never found myself fully engaged. Of course, being a Criterion release, you get the usual remastered and restored sound and picture, and a very generous complement of extra features, meaning this is a great release for fans of the film or the director.
  • Spirited Away: Collector’s Set – I’ve covered my general dislike for Studio Ghibli films many times in this column, so I’m not going to espouse on that too much. Suffice it to say that Spirited Away is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s most well-loved and critically acclaimed films, and also suffice it to say that I most definitely not agree with those opinions. At all. However, that said, this new Spirited Away: Collector’s Edition is the latest box set featuring a Ghibli title. You get the film itself (and all of the corresponding extra features) on Blu-ray, as well as a soundtrack CD and a lavishly illustrated booklet in a slightly oversized box. I may not be a fan of the film, but Shout Factory has produced three or four of these now, and there’s no denying that it’s a terrific release for fans.
  • The Farewell – Actress and rapper Awkwafina (who made quite a splash in Crazy Rich Asiansand Ocean’s 8) finally gets a lead role in the dramedy The Farewell, and she proves she’s a force to be reckoned with. Loosely based on a true story, the film follows Billi, an Asian-American who returns to China to find out that her grandmother is dying, and in order to ease her passing, they decide to throw a huge wedding (that isn’t really real) to keep the truth from the elderly woman. It’s a film steeped in a cultural norm that is not common here in America, which makes it both fascinating and engaging. The film has some real emotions at play, but it isn’t afraid to work some humor in, resulting in a film that’s easy to get wrapped up in. And it’s rated PG to boot. While I won’t say it’s the kind of film I think kids would appreciate, it’s nice to see a film that doesn’t rely on R-rated material to try and get laughs or sell tickets.
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – Shout Factory has released a new Steelbook Collector’s Edition of the Andy Samberg vehicle Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. This is a film that was largely overlooked upon its release, but I was a big fan of it then and I’m a big fan of it now. Samberg basically plays a former boy band musician who’s struck out on his own, only to find that solo success isn’t a sure thing. The film is from the guys who are in The Lonely Island with Samberg, so you know what kind of movie you’re getting here. It’s a broad comedy, but it’s extremely sharp, with the humor dialled into the social media-driven world of pop music. The jokes hit and hit often, and while it’s pretty ridiculous and over-the-top, there are also some moments of real character involved. (Although mostly it’s jokes. Lots of jokes.) This new Collector’s Edition doesn’t include much new in terms of content, but it comes in a gorgeous Steelbook package with new artwork, and if you don’t already own the film, this is a great version to pick up.
  • The Wave/The Quake: 2-Film Collection – When I first saw the trailer for The Quake, I didn’t realize it was a direct sequel to The Wave, an extremely solid disaster film that came out of Norway a few years back. But it turns out it actually follows the family from The Wave (about a rogue tidal wave) which I guess makes them the most unlucky family in the world, as this time they’re in Oslo when a humongous earthquake strikes the city. With strong special effects and some seriously intense action set pieces, The Quake is a lot of fun if you’re a disaster flick junkie like me. I think I even liked it better than the first film, but maybe that’s because it doesn’t take quite as long as the first film to get to the disaster action. Now you can get both films in one Blu-ray collection with this terrific double feature, and it really is a nice way to spend an evening watching people die horribly. I love it!
  • Steven Universe: The Movie – I’ll be the first to admit that I just don’t get most of what Cartoon Network does these days. Maybe I’m old, maybe I’m out of touch, but you can name just about anything that’s been popular on Cartoon Network in the past decade and I’m generally not a fan. Steven Universe is, sadly, no exception to that. It’s not a bad show per se, I just don’t get what people are all excited about. This newest release is an actual Steven Universe feature-length movie, meaning you get more of… whatever the hell this show is about. If you like magical gem creatures and weird anime-influenced characters, then this is the show for you, and if you’re already a fan, this release is the perfect way to continue your collection.
  • The Swan Princess: 25th Anniversary Edition – While it was never a blockbuster smash it, The Swan Princess is nonetheless an animated film that has a pretty decent fan base. Amazingly, it’s been 25 years since the film came out, which means not only do we get a new version of the film, but it appears on Blu-ray for the first time, which should make fans happy. An updated retelling of Swan Lake for family audiences, the movie features a terrific cast including Jack Palance, John Cleese, Steven Wright and Sandy Duncan. I didn’t grow up with this film, so I don’t have the same nostalgia for it that some people do, but people who were kids 25 years ago might have their own kids now to introduce the film to, and this is the best version of it yet on home video to do that with.
  • Brian Banks – Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear, and Sherri Shepard star in this based-on-a-true-story biopic about – who else? – Brian Banks, a college football player who was wrongly convicted of a crime and was derailed from a football career. Through the help of the Innocence Project, Banks sets out to prove his innocence and make his way to the NFL career he was destined for before he was convicted. I won’t spoil the events from there (although perhaps you’re already familiar with them), but it’s a moving real-life story that unfortunately doesn’t quite get the treatment it deserves. The film is a bit heavy handed, with dialogue that doesn’t do the performances any favors. I think this is a good story to be told, I just wish it had been told better.
  • Aquarela – I had heard some strong critical acclaim about this film, but unfortunately what I got from it was apparently different from all those other critics. Aquarela isn’t a documentary but it has documentary trappings; what it really is is an art project about water with footage that wouldn’t be out of place in a documentary. We see water in it’s most beautiful and destructive forms: during a hurricane, as a frozen Lake Baikal in Russia, as a storm at sea, as icebergs and ice floes, as waterfalls. There’s no dialogue or narration save for any ambient sound (the film opens with people’s cars being rescued after driving through the ice on a frozen lake), and instead, it’s supposed to be a film about amazing imagery. But after a half an hour of staring at ice, it starts to lose some of the grandeur. Add to that some questionable shot composition choices; there are many times when majestic forms of water are shot so close-up that there’s no sense of scale, and the impressive nature of the imagery is lost until after many minutes, when the shot pulls out or re-frames so you can get a sense of the immense size of what you’re looking at. Yes, there are some incredible visuals during this film, but as a whole, it lost me fairly early on.
  • A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints – The MVD Marquee Rewind Collection has bringing out great new Blu-ray versions of cult classic films, and this week we get a new Blu-ray version of Dito Montiel’s A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, starring Channing Tatum, Robert Downey Jr., Shia Labeouf, and Rosario Dawson. Despite a terrific cast and a great title, this movie was just the first of a string of bad movies by Dito Montiel. I hope it has some fans out there because the cast is terrific, but the film itself is a huge misfire for me. Luckily, for those fans, this new Blu-ray is a real treat, featuring the film on Blu-ray as well as a slew of extra features, including an audio commentary, multiple featurettes, deleted and alternate scenes, audition footage, and much more.
  • The Weekend – Sasheer Zamata of Saturday Night Live fame stars in this comedy about a woman whose weekend away is interrupted by her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend and, as you can imagine, things don’t go particularly smoothly from there. There’s nothing earth-shatteringly original here, but Zamata makes a likable lead and there are some truly funny moments. The film is wide enough to keep it’s running time under 90 minutes, which means it gets to the good stuff without wasting too much time, although even with that said, I think the film gets better as it goes, really gelling in the second half. There are some awkward moments as well, so people who like cringe0inducing (on purpose) humor will find this an enjoyable watch.
  • Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles – Luis Bunuel is a surrealist filmmaker who you probably are familiar with if you’ve ever taken any film classes. If you haven’t, I’d be surprised if you’d ever heard of him although you might know his most famous film, Nanook of the North.) This new animated film is part biography, part drama and all unique, as it mixes clips from Bunuel’s film, Las Hurdes (Land Without Bread) in with the animation. This film is about the making of that film, and while it has its surreal moments (mostly in dreams) it serves almost like a documentary (but not quite). It’s a bit hard to explain, but that’s sort of the point of the film, I think. I can’t say I loved it, but I was quite fascinated by it, and I think fans of artier fare will really dig into this one.
  • Prey – A solid trailer had me intrigued about this film, which tells the story of a grieving young man brought to an island for a few days as part of an aggressive therapy solution, only to discover that he isn’t quite alone. It’s a lean, stripped-down thriller (that borders on horror territory), and it has a few genuinely creepy moments. But the film takes a little too long to get exciting, and the actors and characters are a little more subdued than I would have liked, leaving it hard for me to get really engaged in the action. I’ve seen worse, and horror fans might enjoy it, but it didn’t get me excited like I hoped it would.
  • Cross: Rise of the Villains – This is, I believe, the third film in the Cross trilogy, which is a super-low-budget series of superhero/supervillain flicks based on an independent comic book series. Brian Austin Green once again takes on the lead role of Callan, this time joined by a who’s who of B-movie superstar supporting actors (who have limited roles for the most part), including Danny Trejo, Vinnie Jones, Tom Sizemore, Lou Ferrigno, DB Sweeney, Jeremy London and Eric Roberts. The film does quite a bit on a limited budget, and like the first two films, it’s a certain level of fun, even if it’s also got some kind of cringeworthy moments. It’s fun to see so many familiar faces, though, so superhero fans who want something that isn’t Marvel or DC might have a little fun with this one.
  • Go Fish (Out on November 19th) – It seems like every six months or so we get a new animated kids movie like Go Fish which is basically a new spin on the Finding Nemo/Shark Tale story. This time around, YouTube star iJustine takes on the lead voice role, supported by Mark Hamill and Ron Perlman (both of whom give the film some real heft.) The story focuses on a parrot fish who has to find and fix the source of a mysterious black goo infecting the ocean, and the usual underwater trials and tribulations ensue. As with so many of these independent animated films, it will probably appeal mostly to kids, without much to keep parents engaged. That said, if you have kids and you need something new for them to watch, you could do worse than this one.
  • Catalog Spotlight – We have a number of catalog titles getting spiffy new editions this week. First up is The Thing, the 2011 prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece. I maintain that this version of The Thing is actually a really good sci-fi/horror film, it just suffers for being attached to a film as beloved as John Carpenter’s is. If you watch it on its own merits, it’s a really fun, tense, creature feature thriller. This new Blu-ray edition features an upgraded picture quality over the original release, making it a real bargain at its low price point. Next up, we have a double feature of Little Women and Marie Antoinette, just in time for the new Little Women film in theater soon. This is the 1990s version, starring Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and Kirsten Dunst. It’s coupled with Sofia Coppola’s directorial breakthrough, Marie Antoinette, also starring Kirsten Dunst. Both are pretty solid films, and getting them both on Blu-ray for around 10 bucks is a pretty good deal. Next up is a pair of Sylvester Stallone two-fers, with Reach Me paired with Eye See You and Avenging Angelo paired with Shade. The first one is kind of an odd pairing, as Reach me is an ensemble cast drama that’s not bad right up against Eye See You, a serial killer thriller in which Stallone pays a weary cop that is… well, not that good. Likewise, Avenging Angel is a more traditional Stallone-as-enforcer actioner, whereasShade is an ensemble drama about the world of gambling. It would have made more sense to me to pair Eye See You with Avenging Angelo and Reach Me with Shade, but what do I know?
  • Indie Spotlight – We have a number of new independent releases out this week. First up is Yesterday Was a Lie. Apparently this is the tenth anniversary of the film, but I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of it, so that didn’t mean much to me. It’s a sort of mysterious noir film, and it’s most notable for starring a number of genre favorites including Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca in the Star Wars films), Chase Masterson (Deep Space Nine) and John Haymes Newton (TV’s Superboy.) Admittedly, I like my films a little more linear, but this one wasn’t a bad watch. I liked the cast, even if the film itself wasn’t entirely my cup of tea. Next up is Pretenders, directed by James Franco. The cover art features The Palace Theater, which is right in Albany, NY, and a large part of the movie was filmed there. It was nice to see a lot of familiar scenery in the movie, and the ensemble cast features supporting roles by Denis Quaid, James Franco, Brian Cox, and Jane Levy. The film itself, a drama with a love triangle with some mystery to it, is okay, if not spectacular. Heroes in Blue is a five-part miniseries about police officers and police outreach. This isn’t a show like COPS, but rather a look at how police have an impact on their communities. Each episode is an hour-long, and it’s nice to see a different side of the men and women in blue. Scared of Revolution is a documentary about Umar Bin Hassan, a member of The Last Poets, a group of performance poets who expressed the progressive spirit of the times starting in the late 1960s. Apparently Hassan was quite influential on the early hip hop scene, and this film looks deep into his psyche and his life. Luckily, it’s a brief 72 minutes, which helps keep it moving nicely, but I’ll be honest in that I didn’t have any real knowledge of Hassan and it isn’t the kind of thing I really get too interested in, so this one was just okay for me. Finally, Humble Pie: Life And Times Of Steve Marriott is a three-disc Blu-ray/DVD/CD combo set featuring a documentary about the little known Humble Pie, which counted Peter Frampton as a member. As a bonus, you get a recording of the band’s 1973 Winterland show in its entirety. Now, I’m not a huge fan of ‘70s music and I wasn’t familiar with Humble Pie, but I can see how this is the kind of thing a lot of people into that genre of music would get excited about, and I like that you get both the video and an audio soundtrack. Pretty cool.

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