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DVD Pick of the Week: The Joneses

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Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles, and what follows are not necessarily reviews, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

Note: Titles are available in both formats unless otherwise noted.

The Joneses. Sometimes movies have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it theatrical release. The Joneses is one of those movies. When it did hit the big screen this past April, I was not sure I wanted to see it. I am glad I did. The release is the first for writer/director Derrick Borte and he displays a good deal of focus and maturity for a first time feature director. David Duchovny and Demi Moore star as a fake married couple with two teenage children who move into a wealthy neighborhood, not with the intention of robbing them, but instead to do some sneaky marketing. You know, they’ll sport some fancy gadgets, nice clothes, and nice cars and the neighbors will want to “keep up with the Joneses.” There is more to it than that, especially when it comes to the interactions of the fake family members and the drama that develops. I highly recommend checking this film out as it is very good despite the lack of a snazzy description. I realized when I wrote my review that I could not write a synopsis that sounded interesting — don’t let that stop you.

Max Headroom: The Complete Series (DVD). It is interesting in that I remember the show, I remember Matt Frewer on it, I remember news broadcasts, I remember it being set in the future, and I remember the stuttering, plastic-looking character on the TV screen. Now, if you ask me any specifics, I will not be able to answer them without looking them up. I do also know that I would like to revisit it and see if it jogs any memories. Now, I know there are fans out there — anyone want to try and jog my memories?

Date Night. Steve Carell and Tina Fey are a fine tandem in this action comedy of mistaken identity. The two play a married couple stuck in the relationship rut of routine. One night they break the routine and the choices they make lead them on a wild adventure around New York City. It is a good movie not only for the comic misadventures, but in the way our lead couple are not some young couple just finding love, but a couple that have been together for a long time, love each other but have forgotten how to show it. Date Night is about them finding each other again as it is surviving the adventure.

Bugs Bunny: Hare Extraordinaire (DVD) and Daffy Duck: Frustrated Fowl (DVD). With the excellent Golden Collection series canceled, Warner Brothers is giving us a couple of single-disk releases featuring two of their top characters with cartoon collections filled with shorts that have not appeared on prior DVD releases. While I would love a return of the Golden Collections I will welcome these with open arms.

National Lampoon’s Vacation (Blu-ray). The Griswolds take a vacation which becomes a comic misadventure. This was made back in the era when Chevy Chase was still funny, not to mention when National Lampoon branded films were actually worth watching. It has been years since I have seen this and I look forward to what a cleaned up transfer may look like.

National Lampoon’s European Vacation (Blu-ray). Chevy Chase and the rest of the Griswold gang pack their bags and fly across the pond for another collection of misadventures while searching for that great family vacation. One of the highlights has to be the little dog on the Eiffel Tower. Yes, you know the scene I am talking about.

Death at a Funeral (2010). I have read that this was actually pretty good. I chose to pass on it when it was on the big screen, having seen the original Frank Oz film from just a few years ago. The story is set at the funeral of Chris Rock’s father where relationship troubles blossom and dark secrets are revealed. It does look funny, if a bit familiar. The cast includes Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, James Marsden, Zoe Saldana, Loretta Divine, Peter Dinklage, and Danny Glover.

Raw: The Beginning – The Best of Seasons 1 + 2 (DVD). I suspect my wrestling watching days are more or less behind me. Still, I think I would enjoy taking a trip back in time and watching this collection. There were some real good performers back in those days. Plenty of matches, promos, and clips in this multi-disk set, although there do seem to be a lot of Doink the Clown matches. Anyway, if you are a wrestling fan you will likely want to check out this set.

Sea of Dust (DVD). Makeup and gore effects legend Tom Savini is among the stars of this low budget horror film. I have not found a straight-up plot description of this film, but it does look like an homage to Hammer horror films from 50 years ago. The story concerns a village where Savini plays some sort of dark magician who is taking control of the townsfolk by putting them into a zombie-like trance. The trailer has an old school feel and appears to bring plenty of gore to the table, two things that I like.

Office of the Dead (DVD). Low-budget horror can be a very questionable proposition and Office of the Dead is no different. This horror/comedy is set at a tech company where they are working on something that will make people happy; instead it appears to turn people into zombies. A small group of office workers are left behind to fend off the attacks. Looks pretty funny to me!

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