Movie fans have plenty to look forward to this week with plenty of great titles arriving on Blu-ray. And it’s not just limited to the films featured below, either, because Criterion is releasing the horror classic “Rosemary’s Baby” for the first time on the format, and Universal’s “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” is finally coming to stores.
“Safety Not Guaranteed” is an amalgamation of everything that’s great about independent filmmaking – from its hugely original script to its wonderful cast of characters – but the one thing that it does better than anything else is create a cinematic experience that’s rich in both comedy and emotion. A lot of movies have tried to juggle the two in the past, but Colin Trevorrow’s directorial debut is one of those rare few that actually pulls it off. Though it can technically be described as a time travel movie, “Safety Not Guaranteed” is more about the characters’ relationships than the veracity of its sci-fi premise, and that’s thanks to Derek Connolly’s excellent script and the fantastic cast. All four actors click really well as a group, but they also deliver some great individual performances, especially Aubrey Plaza, who proves that she can do more than spout witty one-liners and mug for the camera. Though the movie didn’t enjoy as much success in theaters as it did on the festival circuit, it’s hands down one of the funniest and most sincere films I’ve seen all year.
Blu-ray Highlight: It’s not much, but “A Movie Making Mission” provides some good insight into the making of the film, with interviews from director Colin Trevorrow and the cast discussing the movie’s origin, shooting certain scenes and the time machine.
It’s been a while since Will Ferrell starred in a comedy that really made me laugh, and Zach Galifianakis isn’t as funny as his popularity would suggest, but “The Campaign” is better than I expected, even if it never fully takes advantage of its promising setup. The movie walks a fine line between silly and stupid, and although it veers into the latter far too often, it’s no surprise why director Jay Roach cast the two comedians, because they excel at playing these types of buffoonish characters. The film’s real MVP, however, is Dylan McDermott, who does more with a single look or line of dialogue than what Ferrell and Galifianakis are able to achieve in an entire scene. The duo still earns its share of laughs with their usual shtick, but while the movie’s goofball tone is successful to some degree, “The Campaign” would have worked even better as an edgier, darker comedy in the same vein as Alexander Payne’s “Election.” Roach has even had some success in recent years with the HBO election dramas “Recount” and “Game Change,” so it seems strange that he was afraid to push any boundaries here, because it was a big missed opportunity.
Blu-ray Highlight: There’s nothing of note worth discussing, but the two-disc effort does include an extended cut of the film, a handful of deleted scenes and a gag reel.
It’s been six years since Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ directorial debut “Little Miss Sunshine” took Hollywood by storm, and people were beginning to wonder whether the filmmaking duo would end up becoming just another one-hit wonder. The dreaded second album syndrome is something that haunts artists working in any medium, so it’s curious that Dayton and Faris decided to approach the subject head-on by making a film about that very thing. It may seem a bit presumptuous of Zoe Kazan to write the movie with herself and long-time boyfriend Paul Dano in mind for the lead roles, but it’s evident pretty early on that the two actors have great chemistry. Dano continues to impress in his second outing with Dayton and Faris, while Kazan, although solid as the title character, deserves more kudos for her debut screenplay, creating a charming and mostly original love story that doesn’t always go in the direction you’re expecting. Though it was only inevitable that “Ruby Sparks” would be compared to “Little Miss Sunshine,” the movie is a clever but flawed Woody Allen-esque comedy that proves that its directors aren’t just a one-trick pony.
Blu-ray Highlight: Fox’s Blu-ray release is a pretty disappointing affair. Although the bonus material includes five featurettes on a variety of topics like the story, the cast and filming in Los Angeles, they’re so brief that it feels like little more than an afterthought.