If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Bad planning, a frantic schedule, and just plain ol' procrastination led to me not getting up the new "THIS JUST IN" post in a timely manner this week. There's ESPECIALLY no good excuse since there's barely any actual new releases for some reason (or, at least, none I got sent to review). The grand majority of releases are blu-ray re-re-releases with nothing added. Neither did there appear to be anything quite fancy or awesome enough to give it the top spot, the coveted 'pick of the week' position. However, in deference to Leon's love of the series, I hand over the top spot to him, where he as well helpfully provided a blurb with his feelings about the...
THE PJ'S: SEASON ONE (DVD)
After establishing himself as a HUGE movie star - even with a burgeoning string of flops- it seemed downright bizarre that Eddie Murphy was returning to Television in 1998; not in another SNL-inspired sketch comedy show or primetime sitcom, but as producer and star voice talent of a non-dinosaur-related Will Vinton Studios claymation cartoon series for Fox. 'THE PJ's' followed the adventures of Thurgood "Goody" Stubbs (Eddie Murphy), his wife Muriel (Loretta Devine) and the wacky denizens of a housing project on the southside of Chicago. It sounded like it was going to be one short-lived, racist trainwreck but instead 'The PJ's' ended up being the 'Everybody Hates Chris' of its day: It was surprisingly sharp-witted, made as many poignant statements about ghetto life just as much as it made fun of it, and made lots of callbacks to classic Black sitcoms like 'Good Times', 'The Jeffersons' and 'What's Happening'. But also like 'Everybody Hates Chris' it lost a lot of steam after that first golden season (Murphy left and the show moved to the WB), though even at its worst it was still never 'bad'. Not too much of a shock since it was produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment, along with Eddie Murphy, of course. As much his post-"Coming to America" movies were proving to be big disappointments, you could count on Eddie's cartoon voice work (Mulan, Shrek) to always be his best work. 'The PJs' is no exception.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The PJ's: Season One
...and then there's the rest...
BEING HUMAN: SEASON THREE (Blu-Ray and DVD)
The original British series about a ghost, a vampire, and now two werewolves who share a flat together never completely jelled for me. Maybe it was because I was expecting a comedy. Doesn't it sound more like it should be the premise for a comedy, rather than the incredibly heavy-handed, angsty, and sometimes downright whiny drama it ended up being? But, with all that being said, the show took an upturn about half way through season two, where the characters finally stopped having crying jags every damn episode and started to become moderately comfortable in their own skins, allowing arc-based stories to develop. In this season, the three (well, four, counting George the Werewolf's returned girlfriend Nina) find a much cooler place to live in South Wales, far away from the carnage that their resident vampire Mitchell left behind in Bristol, although he spends most of the season being incredibly paranoid about them ever finding out about his moment of bloody weakness. Nina turns out to be pregnant after a wolfy-love full moon love fest, the villainous vamp Herrick returns in a amnesiac form, and there's finally a zombie episode...a surprisingly touching (albeit extremely icky) zombie episode. All things considered, it's the best the show has ever been. It still suffers from occasional short-sighted writing (what exactly happened with George's fiancee from last season?), but it's nice to see the three acting more confidently and it's got one helluva wham-bam of an ending. For the first time since this show began, I'm actually kind of looking forward to seeing what happens next.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Being Human: Season Three [Blu-ray]
PENN AND TELLER'S BULLSHIT: SEASON 8 (DVD)
Showtime's series "Bullshit!", featuring comedy magician duo Penn & Teller as hosts, has long been a favorite of mine, mixing caustic comedy, their unique brand of rated-R magic, and good ol' fashioned critical thinking and skepticism regarding any number of institutions and brands of faith that desperately needed peg lowering. However, over the years, I've found my own reaction to the overwhelming load of bullshit out there has become more polite and less angry, at least on a personal level, as you're not going to be making people reconsider their belief systems by screaming insults at them. Not so Penn Jillette, who has become almost ridiculously rude and callous to the subjects of his half hour deconstructions where you almost can't help but feel a little bad for them. Add to that the insidiously creeping influence of the duo's libertarian beliefs, often turning the show into more of a platform for their political positions than the skeptic comedy it used to be, and it seems like the bullshit callers have become a victim of their own BS. Even so, there's, as always, a lot of good stuff here, if only to be able to hear a differing opinion on widely held beliefs. Season eight takes on Martial Arts, Cheerleading, Fast Food (easily the most egregious libertarian ranting of the season), Teen Sex, Multi-Level Marketing ("Easy Money"), Area 51, Old People, Self-Esteem, and, most importantly, Vaccinations. Because, and I can't say this strongly enough, if you're not vaccinating your child, you're not just putting them in danger but other children as well. Because it's a FACT, dammit.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Penn & Teller Bullshit: Eighth Season
THE GREEN HORNET (Blu-Ray and DVD)
This adaptation of the classic 1930's radio serial by acclaimed art director Michel Gondry has got to be one of the most frustrating films of the year. All I can hope for is that whatever movie that the producers agreed to finance for Gondry on condition of him making this big mess ends up being amazing. Because "The Green Hornet" feels like the work of an first-time out of the box film school graduate. I suspect that might have a LOT to do with studio interference, but either way, the film is wildly uneven. Seth Rogen plays the titular sort-of hero, a pampered rich slacker party-boy whose father dies and leaves him with his estate and newspaper empire. Left with a general sense of malaise and guilt, Rogen finds solace by teaming up with his father's mechanic (Jay Chou) to use his martial arts skills and gadget making abilities, and redefine themselves as the secret crime-fighting team The Green Hornet and Kato. While I'm sure the slacker superhero bit seemed funny on paper, as written by Rogen and partner Evan Goldberg, in practice it gets old almost immediately. Gondry does some nice stuff with some of the action, and there are some beautiful moments visually here and there, but it couldn't feel more out of place with the screenplay that does everything but laugh at it's own farts. Don't get me wrong: the film still manages to be entertaining, in it's own carefree, breezy, who-gives-a-shit sort of way. It's just not really what anyone wanted to see in a "Green Hornet" movie. Perhaps the 3D on the home release adds more than it did in the theater (it was hardly 'amazing' as the blu-ray case touts), but there's a nice collection of extra features, including a funny commentary track that might make this worth picking up for those who fell into the 'kinda liked it' crowd.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Green Hornet (Three-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD)
THE DILEMMA (Blu-Ray and DVD)
I want to be painstakingly clear on this: the only reason I'm including this title here is because it was sent to me, unprompted entirely by any request on my part. I feel I have to clear that up because IN NO WAY DO I RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS....'FILM'. Director Ron Howard's last foray into comedy, "EDtv" way back in 1999, wasn't that great, but it's practically "Casablanca" next to "The Dilemma" which made me want to punch in the face everyone even with tertiary involvement. Vince Vaughn and the whether-we-want-him-in-everything-or-not Kevin James play two long time best friends, married to two hotties (despite, you know, what seems plausible). When Vaughn spies James' wife (Winona Ryder) hooking up with a young hardbody (Channing Tatum) he becomes stuck with a problem of whether or not to tell his friend. Here's the shortform version of the solution to his puzzle: Yes, he should tell him. End of movie. But no, the film designs patently false and self-serving ethical quandaries for it's protagonist as he twists in the wind because of his own lack of character. Not funny, charming, or featuring an ounce of dramatic realism, the only dilemma you should have this week is what ELSE to watch other than this piece of crap.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Dilemma [Blu-ray]