Video Vault – Aug 1, 2018
MARK BURGER’S VIDEO VAULT
PICK OF THE WEEK
MR. DESTINY (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): The writer/producer duo of James Orr and Jim Cruikshank concocted this latter-day, high-concept “homage” to It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) as a vehicle for James Belushi, with Orr also directing.
Belushi’s Larry Burrows is the quintessential everyman who still rues the day when he struck out with the bases loaded during his high-school championship baseball game, even 20 years later on his 35th birthday. Enter the title character, a quintessential guardian angel named “Mike” (Michael Caine), who allows Larry to see what his life had been had he been the hero all those years before.
Needless to say, Larry begins to realize that he’d taken his “old life” for granted and wants nothing more to return to who he once was.
All of this is very predictable and overly saccharine, to say nothing of overlong, yet Mr. Destiny is buoyed by a friendly cast – some typecast and others miscast – that includes Linda Hamilton, Rene Russo, Courteney Cox, Hart Bochner, Jon Lovitz, Jay O. Sanders, Maury Chaykin, Pat Corley, Kathy Ireland, and Bill McCutcheon (in his final feature).
As Larry, Belushi is the personification of likability, and even in what amounts to an extended cameo, Caine effortlessly brings a touch of class to the proceedings. In addition, if some of the locations seem familiar to viewers, they should – as much of the film was shot in Winston-Salem.
Both the DVD ($11.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.95 retail) include audio commentary and original trailers. Rated PG-13. **½
ABOMINABLE (MVD Entertainment Group): Director/story writer Ryan Schifrin’s award-winning, star-studded 2005 feature debut stars Matt McCoy as a widowed paraplegic battling Bigfoot, backed by such genre favorites as Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace Stone, Lance Henriksen, Rex Linn, Paul Gleason, Tiffany Shepis and Phil Morris, with Schifrin’s composer father Lalo contributing a solid score. A nice try that misses the mark, but it kills time easily enough – especially for horror buffs. The special-edition “MVD Rewind” DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.95 retail) includes audio commentary, bonus short films, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes and bloopers, original trailer, documentary featurette, and more. Rated R. **
A.R.C.H.I.E. 2: MISSION IMPAWSIBLE (LionsGate): Michael J. Fox reprises his voiceover role as the title character, the world’s first computerized canine, in writer/director/co-star Robin Dunne’s family-friendly, PG-rated follow-up to his 2016 comedy, in which Archie joins the circus, available on DVD ($14.98 retail).
DOOM ASYLUM (Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment): Yes, they’ll make a special-edition Blu-ray ($39.95 retail) of just about anything – including director/story writer Richard Friedman’s loopy, low-budget 1987 slasher send-up, with Michael Rogen (in his screen debut) as a deranged, disfigured coroner who preys on young women – including Patty Mullen (in her screen debut, playing a dual role), Ruth Collins, and Kristin Davis (in her screen debut) – in an abandoned asylum. This eight-day quickie was actually filmed at an abandoned asylum in New Jersey. Special features include audio commentaries, retrospective and vintage interviews, and more. Rated R. *½
“GIRLFRIENDS” (Acorn TV): Miranda Richardson, Zoe Wanamaker, and Phyllis Logan star in this six-part ITV 1 drama series, created by Kay Mellor, in which they play friends depending on each other as they contend with the trials and tribulations of middle age, available in a two-DVD collection ($39.99 retail) boasting bonus features.
HURRICANE BIANCA: FROM RUSSIA WITH HATE (Wolfe Video): Writer/director Matt Kugelman’s flaky, flimsy follow-up to his 2016 comedy brings Roy Haylock back as wise-cracking high-school chemistry teacher and his brassy alter-ego, the titular cross-dressing heroine who takes the former Soviet Union by storm. Occasionally inspired by underwhelming, despite an enthusiastic cast including returnees Rachel Dratch (as Bianca’s nemesis) and D.J. “Shangela” Pierce, Cheyenne Jackson, Kristin Johnson, Dot-Marie Jones, Janeane Garofalo, Alicia Goranson, Wanda Sykes, Doug Plaut, and a slew of celebrity cameos, available on DVD ($19.99 retail). *½
ISMAEL’S GHOSTS (Magnolia Home Entertainment): Writer/director Arnaud Desplechin reunites with leading man Mathieu Amalric, who plays the title role of a struggling filmmaker whose wife (Marion Cotillard) unexpectedly returns after disappearing and being declared dead years before, which upends his relationship with current girlfriend Charlotte Gainsbourg and begins to influence his current film. Well-acted, well-filmed and highly theatrical, but meandering and overlong, with a second half that spins wildly out of control. In French with English subtitles, originally titled Les Fantomes d’Ismael, and available on DVD ($26.98 retail). Rated R. **½
THE MAN WHO SAW TOO MUCH (FilmRise/MVD Entertainment Group): Writer/producer/director Trisha Ziff’s award-winning feature documentary (originally titled El hombre que vio demasiado) explores the life and career of celebrated La Prensa photographer Enrique Metinides (best known only by his surname), who specializes in crime and catastrophes. Be warned: Some of the footage is quite gruesome – but is an integral part of the story. In Spanish with English subtitles, available on DVD ($19.95 retail). ***
MOSAIC (HBO Home Entertainment): Steven Soderbergh’s six-part, fact-based HBO mini-series dramatizes the New Year’s Eve disappearance of celebrated children’s author/illustrator Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone) in Park City, UT, and the subsequent investigation, with Garrett Hedlund, Beau Bridges, Frederick Weller, Devin Ratray, Jennifer Ferrin, Maya Kazan, James Ransome, and Paul Reubens rounding out the cast, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.99 retail).
“MURDOCH MYSTERIES”: SEASON 11 (Acorn TV): Yannick Bisson’s back on the case as early 20th-century, Edwardian-era Toronto detective William Murdoch in all 18 episodes from the 2017-’18 season of the award-winning Canadian mystery series (also known as “The Artful Detective”), based on Maureen Jennings’ best-selling novels, co-starring Helene Joy (as Murdoch’s wife), Jonny Harris, Thomas Craig and Daniel Maslany, with guest stars David Hewlett, Tamzin Outhwaite, Colin Mochrie, Peter Keleghan, and Jay “Christian” Reso, available on DVD and Blu-ray (each $59.99 retail).
MY LETTER TO THE WORLD (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): The producers of last year’s Emily Dickinson biography A Quiet Passion, including first-time director Solon Papadopolous, offer a leisurely paced documentary/companion piece to that film, examining the life and enduring legacy of noted poet Emily Dickinson (1830-’86), with Cynthia Nixon reprising her role in voice-over, reading selections from her work. Dickinson devotees have a big head start. The DVD, which includes bonus features, retails for $29.95. **½
“RUSTY RIVETS” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD selection ($10.99 retail) of eight episodes from the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon children’s comedy/fantasy series detailing the misadventures of the title character (voiced by Kyle Breitkopf) and the team of robots he’s created.
THE STEAM ENGINES OF OZ (Cinedigm): Sean Patrick Reilly’s animated adaptation of the Arcana graphic novel puts a new, not necessarily superior, spin on L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, set in an Emerald City ruled by a despotic Tin Man (voiced by Matthew Anderson). Mildly engaging but not a shade on the original, also featuring the voices of William Shatner, Julianne Hough, Ron Perlman, Ashleigh Ball, Geoff Gustafson, and Reilly himself, available in a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($19.97 retail). **
SUPER TROOPERS 2 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): After 17 (!) years, the Broken Lizard comedy troupe returns in this R-rated follow-up to their cult 2001 comedy, this time spoofing a border dispute between the United States and Canada. Broken Lizard regulars Jay Chandrasekhar (who also directed), Kevin Hefferman, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske are back on the beat, with Brian Cox and Marisa Coughlan also encoring, joined this time by Rob Lowe, Seann William Scott, Lynda Carter, Damon Wayans, Tyler Labine, Jim Gaffigan, and Emmanuelle Chriqui, available on DVD ($29.98 retail) and DVD/Blu-ray combo ($34.99 retail), each with bonus features.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS (Kino Lorber Studio Classics): Director Arthur Hiller’s 1990 farce stars James Belushi as an escaped convict who switches identities with uptight advertising executive Charles Grodin when he comes into possession of the former’s event planner. Originally titled Filofax, this overlong but breezy comedy gets a lot of mileage out of an appealing cast including Hector Elizondo, Veronica Hamel, Gates McFadden, Anne DeSalvo, Mako, Ken Foree, Stephen Elliott, John de Lancie, and Loryn Locklin. The first screenplay by executive producer J.J. (Jeffrey) Abrams and Jill Mazursky, daughter of executive producer Paul Mazursky. Both the DVD ($11.95 retail) and Blu-ray ($19.95 retail) include audio commentary and original trailer. Rated R. **½
WINDRIDER (MVD Entertainment Group): Hunky windsurfer Tom Burlinson falls for sultry songbird Nicole Kidman in this picturesque, if predictable, 1986 romantic drama that takes full advantage of spectacular Australian scenery. The special-edition “MVD Rewind” Blu-ray ($29.95 retail) includes audio commentary, vintage promotions, collectible mini-poster, original trailer, and more. Rated R. **
“WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN/TALE OF CINEMA: TWO FILMS BY HONG SANG-SOO” (Arrow Academy/MVD Entertainment Group): A self-explanatory Blu-ray double-feature ($39.95 retail) of acclaimed features made by the award-winning Korean filmmaker: 2004’s Woman is the Future of Man (Yeojaneun namjaui miraeda) and his subsequent 2005 film Tale of Cinema (Geuk jang jeon). In Korean with English subtitles, with special features including retrospective interviews, vintage featurette, and more.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. (Copyright 2018, Mark Burger)