Today’s DVD Releases: What are they Worth?

This is going to be my new weekly feature where I’ll weigh in on some new DVD releases, and try to explain which ones are worth your time and money.  It’s essentially a collective and timely version of my “Quick Thoughts” post.  Note: The DVDs are ranked by priority, with the ones most worth your time coming first.

Worth a purchase:

A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009)

With Michael Stuhlbarg and Richard Kind.

This is a movie made specifically for fans of the Coen brothers, and it probably doesn’t get made unless the men behind it have the type of success and reputation that the Coens do.  The plot, which I use in the loosest possible sense, centers around a Jewish man in 1967.  His life is turning to shit as the unfortunate events keep piling up on one another.  There is also a subplot involving his pothead son preparing for his Bar Mitzvah.  It’s a film that really aims to explore the meaning of it all.  It is thought provoking, but the Coens don’t slap you upside the head with what they want you to take away from the film like a lot of “soul-searching” type movies.  They leave the meaning of the film, and life in general, up to the viewer.  The ending shot is simultaneously haunting and beautiful, one of the most instantly memorable images I have ever seen.  Make sure you watch the featurettes on the DVD, as it is always interesting to hear the Coens trying to explain their filmmaking process.  I have a feeling this film will be a “grower” and I can’t wait to watch it a second time.

Rating: 8/10

RIYL: Magnolia, American Beauty, Burn After Reading.

Worth a rental:

The Stepfather (Nelson McCormick, 2009)

With Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward, Amber Heard and Penn Bagdley.

I watched this movie mainly because it stars Nip/Tuck‘s Dr. Sean McNamara Dylan Walsh.  It has been a while since I’ve seen him perform in a movie, but he plays a pretty good creepy villain here.  My main gripe with the film is that it makes no effort to explain the psychological background of the killer after dropping a few interesting hints early on.  I have never seen the original 1987 version so I have no basis for comparison, but this remake is a pretty good thriller with some suspenseful moments even if it offers nothing out of the ordinary.  Some glaring editing errors and lapses in general logic hold the film back from being a better than average horror flick, but The Stepfather is worth a once over if you are a fan of the genre.

Rating: 6/10

RIYL: Disturbia, My Bloody Valentine, Scream.

Couples Retreat (Peter Billingsley, 2009)

With Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis and Jean Reno.

I usually hate comedies like this with too many elements, relationships and storylines.  Couples Retreat did a pretty good job of devoting enough time for each of the four relationships to develop, and the movie held together nicely until the disastrous conclusion when the couples are finally separated from one another and awkwardly abrupt intercutting ensues.  Sure, Vaughn and Favreau are playing the same characters they always play but they are good for a few good laughs as usual.  Their interplay is probably the most entertaining part of the film aside from some exceptionally cute and funny moments from the kids of the Vaughn and Ackerman characters.

Rating: 6/10

RIYL: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up, The Break-Up.


The other big DVD release this week is The Time Traveler’s Wife, starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana.  I can’t speak for its quality, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to that point.

3 Responses to “Today’s DVD Releases: What are they Worth?”
  1. Peyton says:

    This movie was horrible, Kevin. It’s a 4/10. I could never recommend a movie this shitty to anyone.

  2. Leonard says:

    Shit ass movie WTF

  3. Kaitlyn says:

    He’s reviewed 3 movies here..which one are you referring to?

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