THIS WEEK’S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
“The World’s End”: If you’re familiar with the work of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”), you can jump right in and enjoy “The World’s End” without any doubts as to its pedigree. If you’re new to the trio, you may have to sit back and be patient as the outrageous comedy unfolds and builds up to a delightful level of absurdity that is just out of this world (literally). The premise: Simon Pegg stars as Gary King, an alcoholic loser who never outgrew his adolescence, who cons his estranged four middle-aged friends to relive a night 20 years earlier in which they undertook — and failed — at an epic pub crawl through 12 bars. He literally Shanghais his friends back to their home town for the undertaking — a mile-long trek that’s to end at a pub called The World’s End — but once the quest begins, they find there’s something very wrong in Newton Haven — the town has been taken over by beings from another world. There’s plenty of bathroom and scatological humor, drunken dirty jokes, nasty repartee, and very, very, very funny sequences you just aren’t ready for. A masterful stroke of British humor that everyone can (and should) enjoy. This is the third and final film in the trio’s “The Ultimate Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy,” which includes the aforementioned hits “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” and which is being released to Blu-ray this week. Co-stars Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike. Extras include commentaries; several behind-the-scenes featurettes; “Signs & Omens,” a film clip montage highlighting all the hidden clues and hints throughout the film; “Edgar & Simon’s Flip Chart,” in which writers Wright and Pegg bring back the trusty flip chart to reveal their step-by-step process of creating the story; deleted scene, outtakes, alternate edits and more. From Universal.
“We’re the Millers” takes an interesting idea and ruins it: David Burke (former “Saturday Night Live” star Jason Sudeikis) is a small-time pot dealer who runs afoul of his supplier and has to smuggle a gigantic load of dope into the States from Mexico — in an RV. His plan: to create an all-American family to cross the border without suspicion. He recruits his neighbors — cynical stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), wannabe customer Kenny (Will Poulter), and tattooed-and-pierced streetwise teen Casey (Emma Roberts) — to become the Millers, and sets off on a Fourth of July weekend jaunt south of the border. There’s a couple clever set-ups but the ensuing trip strings together so many bad jokes and sequences that no amount of cleverness can save it. It’s kinda like a bunch of “SNL” sketches gone wrong. Co-stars Ed Helms, Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn. Extras include several behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, gags and outtakes. From Warner.
“2 Guns”: Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star in this lackluster action-thriller about a pair of undercover agents — DEA agent Bobby Trench and U.S. naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman, respectively — who have been serendipitously teamed up to take down a drug cartel … though neither knows that the other is a federal agent. When their scheme backfires and they discover each other’s true identity, they’re suddenly disavowed by their superiors and they go on the run together. It’s far-fetched — especially when the body count mounts, the escapes get more ridiculous, and the back-stabbing gets more and more complex. For those who like big blasts, smashed-up car chases and shoot-em ups, this film works — though in a very predictable way. Washington and Wahlberg try really hard to make a comedic buddy-picture team, but only end-up throwing wisecracks willy-nilly into the air. Unsatisfying to say the least. Co-stars Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden and Edward James Olmos. Extras include a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted and extended scenes. From Universal.
“Paranoia”: This run-of-the-mill and clichéd thriller takes place in the high-stakes, high-tech world of industrial spying — but you don’t need a smartphone to communicate how lame it is. When a savvy high-tech worker and his project team get fired for insubordination, Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth) strikes back by using his expense account to treat his friends to a night on the town. The next morning he’s charged with fraud by company CEO Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman), and forced to infiltrate Wyatt’s longtime rival’s (Harrison Ford) company to steal trade secrets. There’s the obligatory double-crossing, easesdropping, surveillance cameras, wire-tapping, and sex (with an Ivy League beauty, played by Amber Heard, who just happens to work for the company he’s infiltrated), and some physical threats, but none of it adds up in any meaningful way to give this unoriginal production any punch. As for the acting: Hemsworth is strictly a pretty face, Oldman and Ford telephone in their wooden performances, and Heard comes off as an imitation Scarlett Johansson. Skip it. Extras include a couple behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted scenes. From Fox.
“The To Do List”: Billed as a reverse teen coming-of-age comedy — with a high-school girl trying to lose her virginity — this raunchy sex-fest falls at the bottom of this week’s “to-watch” list. The film is set in 1993 and follows high school nerd and class valedictorian Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) who decides to shed her uptight image before going off to college and, to that end, she assembles a to-do list of all the risque extra-curricular activities she missed out on in high school. It’s rude, crude and just this side of soft-core porn — but without any redeeming qualities. The jokes fall flat, the bits — full of bodily fluids of one kind or another — are disgusting, and there’s a father-daughter repartee just short of incest. A flop at the boxoffice — and for good reason. Co-stars Andy Samberg, Clark Gregg, Connie Britton, Donald Glover, Rachel Bilson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Extras include several behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes and a gag reel. From Sony.
Also due this week: “Planes,” which was unavailable for review.
This week’s best releases are things of the past, movies and TV shows that captured their time and place. First off is The Criterion Collection’s Blu-ray edition of “Tokyo Story” (1953), a profoundly stirring evocation of elemental humanity and universal heartbreak that is the crowning achievement of the unparalleled Yasujiro Ozu. The film, which follows an aging couple as they leave their rural village to visit their two married children in bustling postwar Tokyo, surveys the rich and complex world of family life with the director’s customary delicacy and incisive perspective on social mores. Featuring lovely performances from Ozu regulars Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, “Tokyo Story” plumbs and deepens the director’s recurring themes of generational conflict, creating what is without question one of cinema’s mightiest masterpieces. New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. In Criterion’s new Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition. Extras include commentary featuring Yasujiro Ozu scholar David Desser, editor of Ozu’s “Tokyo Story”; “I Lived, But …”, a two-hour documentary from 1953 about Ozu’s life and career, featuring interviews with critics and former cast and crew members; “Talking With Ozu,” a 40-minute tribute to the director from 1993, featuring the reflections of filmmakers Lindsay Anderson, Claire Denis, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Aki Kaurismaki, Stanley Kwan, Paul Schrader and Wim Wenders; trailer; and a booklet featuring an essay by critic David Bordwell.
“The Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection” is a four-disc set that celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Oscar winner’s birth with remastered editions of four classics — restored and digitally remastered in collaboration with the British Film Institute — made in England that helped lead David O. Selznick to reward her with the most coveted role in movie history: Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind.” The titles: “Fire Over England” (1937), “Dark Journey” (1937), “Storm in a Teacup” (1937) and “St. Martin’s Lane” (1938). On DVD and Blu-ray with a featurette with Leigh biographer Anne Edwards, a 16-page booklet with a new essay by Leigh biographer Kendra Bean, and original theatrical trailers. Not to be missed for fans of British cinema and Leigh lovers. From the Cohen Film Collection.
And now to TV for a spectacular DVD set that encapsulates the best of 1960s variety TV — that highlighted the pop and jazz greats of the era:
“Here’s Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection.” More than 50 years after it premiered on the ABC network, the variety shows “Here’s Edie” and “The Edie Adams Show” hit DVD and digital formats. This is the first time either television show has been seen in any format since their original broadcasts in 1962-1964. Unlike any variety show before or since, “Here’s Edie” was a tour-de-force for a female entertainer in the early-1960s. After the sudden passing of husband Ernie Kovacs in January 1962, Adams forged ahead with her own headlining show, showcasing her many talents. Adams hosts, sings, dances, acts, does comedy, takes an uncredited role of costumer Enke and also produces her own show. While much has been said of Adams’ preservation efforts of the Ernie Kovacs archive, she also left behind a stunning body of her own work that survives due only to her indefatigable preservation efforts. The “wow” factor of this box set resides in the eclectic guest stars Adams was personally able to secure for the show. Jazz fans will be able to see rare performance footage of such giants as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman and Al Hirt, among others. Popular vocalists include Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin, Johnny Mathis and more. Comedians include Bob Hope, Rowan & Martin, Soupy Sales along with Buddy Hackett, Dick Shawn and Terry-Thomas, who co-starred with Adams in the classic motion-picture “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963). Classical music fans can look forward to performances of Andrew Previn, Lauritz Melchoir and Laurindo Almeida. Additional guests include Allan Sherman, Spike Jones, Peter Falk, Sir Michael Redgrave, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Buddy Hackett and more. This 12-hour, four DVD set features a new digital transfer from original 2-inch videotapes of the entire 1962-64 run of 21 episodes (with her famed Muriel Cigar commercials intact), plus extensive bonus footage. Also included is a 16-page booklet packed with rare photos from the family archive, an essay from Edie’s son, Joshua Mills, and a show-by-show rundown from Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams curator and DVD co-producer Ben Model. A must-buy for $49.95 from MVD Entertainment.
“Night of the Comet” (1984) was an unexpected pleasure when it hit the screens, adding zombies and survivalists to its sci-fi apocalypse scenario well before either became fashionable, without any pretense to be anything more than it was — a light-hearted look at the end of the world. A comet wipes out most of life on Earth, leaving two Valley Girls to fight the evil types (killer zombies and blood-seeking scientists) who survive. But first they do what all good Valley Girls do … they go shopping. Directed by Thom E. Eberhardt and starring Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran, Sharon Farrell, Mary Wornov and Geoffrey Lewis. Extras include commentary with writer-director Thom Eberhardt, commentary with stars Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart; commentary with production designer John Muto; “Valley Girls at the End of the World” interviews with Maroney and Stewart; “The Last Man On Earth?” interview with Robert Beltran; “Curse of the Comet” interview with special make-up effects creator David B. Miller; still galleries (behind the scenes and official stills) and the theatrical trailer. From Scream Factory/Shout! Factory … “The Mod Squad: The Complete Collection” (1968-73) is a 39-disc set of the classic 1960s TV series. While most popular shows of the era focused on the ideal American family (moms wearing pearls and baking cookies) or society’s mainstream heroes (mostly White, macho men), ABC’s “The Mod Squad” broke the mold. While solving crimes, apprehending heinous criminals and addressing social injustice, the youthful investigators — Julie (Peggy Lipton), Pete (Michael Cole) and Linc (Clarence Williams III) — fairly oozed cool. Not only were they counter-culture, but a female and an African-American protagonist made for ground-breaking TV. “One White, One Black, One Blonde” was the network’s promo line, targeting a youthful audience. Offered work fighting crime as an alternative to being incarcerated themselves, The Mod Squad’s three cops utilized their youthful, hippie personas as a guise to get close to the criminals they investigated. Being of the flower-child era, they didn’t carry guns (or make the ultimate arrests), but instead wore beads and mod clothing, peppering their dialogue with slang of the day — like “groovy,” “keep the faith” and “solid” — all backed by a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. The show portrayed a multi-cultural society, dealing with such controversial issues as racial politics, drug culture, anti-war sentiment, soldiers returning from war, student unrest, abortion, spousal abuse, child neglect, illiteracy and slum lords … all radical subject matter for TV at the time. Produced by Aaron Spelling and Danny Thomas. $219.95 from Visual Entertainment.
“Star Trek” fans will live long with the Blu-ray debut of “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 5 (1991-92), a s ix-disc set with 26 episodes, $129.99. Set in the 24th century, the exploits of the U.S.S. Enterprise continue with some of the most memorable episodes of the series, including Paul Winfield’s guest appearance as Dathon and Ashley Judd’s debut performance in the episode, “Darmok.” The set also includes the jaw-dropping opening scene portraying the destruction of the Enterprise in “Cause and Effect,” and “The Inner Light,” the critically acclaimed episode that garnered the series its first Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. In addition to all-new commentary tracks on select episodes with some of the franchise’s most notable names, deleted scenes and a gag reel, the high-definition collection includes the newly produced featurette, “Requiem: A Remembrance of Star Trek: The Next Generation.” This two-part documentary explores the making of the series’ fifth season and focuses on the effect the passing of creator Gene Roddenberry, which took place halfway through the season, had on the show as well as the production family. The tribute to the late creator includes key cast and crew members sharing their favorite memories of working with Roddenberry and bidding farewell to the Great Bird of the Galaxy. Also includes the epic two-part episode “Unification” (which has been spun off as a separate disc, see below) in which Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) pursues Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) into enemy Romulan territory on a heroic mission in an attempt to unify the Vulcans and the Romulans. Other extras include several “Archive Mission Logs,” commentaries, deleted scenes, a gag reel,and more. From CBS/Paramount … also for Trekkies is Blu-ray debut of “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Unification” (1992), the feature-length presentation of the fan-favorite, two-part epic adventure from the series’ fifth season. Over 25 million viewers tuned into the original airing of the episode, making it one of the most-watched of all seven seasons of the series. Extras include commentary, deleted scene, and a new behind-the-scenes featurette. $24.99 from CBS/Paramount.
And, last but not least, there’s “The Ultimate Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy,” a three-disc set with the three Simon Pegg-Nick Frost-Edgar Wright collaborations: “The World’s End,” “Hot Fuzz,” “Shaun of the Dead.” On DVD, $39.98 and Blu-ray Disc, $49.98. Extras include all the bonus features from all three films. The Blu-ray version adds interactive screenplays for all three films. From Universal … Scream factory/Shout! Factory offers up the Blu-ray debut of “Assault on Precinct 13” (1976), directed by John Carpenter and starring Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston and Laurie Zimmer. Isolated and cut off from the city inside a soon-to-be-closed L.A. police station, a group of police officers and convicts must join forces to defend themselves against the gang called Street Thunder, who have taken a blood oath to kill someone trapped inside the precinct. Extras include commentary with writer-director John Carpenter and cast and crew interviews.