Blu Tuesday: Midnight Special and More

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on social media with your friends.

“Midnight Special”

WHAT: On the run from the government, as well as religious zealots who covet his son Alton’s (Jaeden Lieberher) mysterious powers, Roy (Michael Shannon) enlists the help of his wife Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) and childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) to get the young boy to an undisclosed location on a specific date. He’s not sure why, other than that it will help Alton achieve his true purpose.

WHY: Director Jeff Nichols has a predilection for telling simple stories that focus heavily on character, but “Midnight Special” is almost too simple in execution, lacking the required substance to sustain its 112-minute runtime. Though the opening act is packed with tension and mystery, the story grinds to a halt in the middle as its characters become stuck in a holding pattern of sorts, only to eventually limp towards its disappointing conclusion. Nicholas has never been very good at sticking the landing, but “Midnight Special” contains his most uninspired ending yet. The movie is also mind-numbingly slow at times, weighed down by subplots that go nowhere and entire scenes where nothing happens. Fortunately, the acting is so good that it just barely manages to keep your interest, particularly Nichols regular Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton and Adam Driver as an NSA agent helping to track down the fugitives. It’s a shame to see this much talent wasted on such a mediocre film, because while there was certainly a great movie within reach, “Midnight Special” stumbles too often to fulfil its potential.

EXTRAS: There are profiles on the five main characters and a making-of featurette.


“The Brothers Grimsby”

WHAT: Football hooligan Nobby Butcher (Sacha Baron Cohen) has spent the last 28 years searching for his younger brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) after they were separated as kids, unaware that he has since become one of MI6’s top agents. But when Sebastian is wrongly accused of a political assassination just as the two brothers are reunited, Nobby teams up with him to clear his name and prevent a global terrorist attack.

WHY: Sacha Baron Cohen used to make movies that, while certainly dumb and juvenile, ususally had some deeper meaning. (“Borat” is obviously the best example, but even “Bruno” and “The Dictator” had something to say amid their idiocy.) “The Brothers Grimsby,” however, lacks the satirical tone of his previous work, catering to the lowest common denominator with wall-to-wall dick and poop jokes that never once warrant a laugh. There isn’t a word for how awful this movie is; it’s not just stupid and gross, but incredibly boring as well. Nobby doesn’t have the nuance, or quite frankly the cleverness, of Cohen’s past characters, while watching talented actors like Mark Strong and Penelope Cruz subject themselves to this level of humiliation is painful. Granted, Cruz doesn’t get it as bad as Strong (two words: elephant penis), but this is her second terrible comedy in as many months following “Zoolander 2,” and although “The Brothers Grimsby” at least tries to tell jokes instead of relying on cheap cameos, it still isn’t funny.

EXTRAS: In addition to a making-of featurette, there’s a behind-the-scenes look at filming the elephant sequence, alternate takes, deleted scenes and a blooper reel.


“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”

WHAT: When Maria Portokalos (Lainie Kazan) discovers that she’s not legally married to her longtime husband Gus (Michael Constantine), she exploits the situation in order to get the proper Greek wedding she was denied. In the meantime, Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) seek to improve their own love life while also coming to terms with their daughter’s (Elena Kampouris) imminent departure to college.

WHY: 2002’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is the kind of indie success story that you rarely hear about any more, but it’s also very much a product of its time, which is why it strikes me as odd that Universal thought a sequel no one wanted was a good idea. Arriving 14 years after the original, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” has to be one of the dumbest and most pointless sequels ever produced, doubling down on the obnoxious, “look at my wacky Greek family” humor in ways that must only be funny to those of Greek decendency. Worse yet, the main story focuses on two supporting characters from the first film that simply aren’t interesting enough to be front and center, while Nia Vardalos and John Corbett languish in the background with a clichéd subplot that goes nowhere. The movie is a complete rehash with nothing new to offer and an embarrassing lack of laughs, and in trying to remind audiences what they loved about the original, it only sullies that film’s memory instead.

EXTRAS: There’s a making-of featurette, a cast roundtable discussion and a gag reel.



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