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Movie Renter's Guide
 

Number 129 - December, 2005

Staff

 


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Cinderella Man Mr. & Mrs. Smith
The 40-Year-Old Virgin Four Brothers
Into the Blue Today You Die

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Universal Studios

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 24 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Ron Howard


Starring Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Mild

"Cinderella Man"

Synopsis

In the late 1920's, James J. Braddock (Crowe) is a boxer in New York. He wins a few, he loses a few, and the Boxing Commission takes away his boxing license for no apparent reason.

Then the Depression sets in, and Jim, along with his wife Mae (Zellweger) and two children, suffer along with millions of other people. Jim takes whatever jobs he can to feed them.

After a couple of years, his old promoter, Joe Gould (Giamatti), signs him up for a small boxing match when one of the scheduled boxers can't make it. Jim is expected to lose, but he beats his opponent soundly.

So, he gets a second match, then a third, and a fourth, winning them all by knockout.

In short time, Jim Braddock gets his chance at the Heavyweight Championship of the World, facing champion Max Baer (Bierko), who has killed two men in the ring.

The results embed Braddock in the history books as the comeback king, or . . . The Cinderella Man.

Commentary

Unfortunately, Ron Howard delivers his usual weak direction, making the story rather dull and unmoving, in spite of the terrific potential. It comes off as Rocky - The Unexciting Version.

Zellweger gives a wonderful performance though, and the movie is worth a rent for an evening.

Extras

These include The Fight Card, Director's Commentary, A History in Boxing, Ringside Seats, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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20th Century Fox

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English DTS 5.1

 

Directed by Doug Liman


Starring Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Mild

Language

Bad

"Mr. & Mrs. Smith"

Synopsis

John (Pitt) and Jane (Jolie) Smith are assassins, working for rival organizations. Each is unaware of the other's job.

Funny thing is, they are husband and wife.

Everything seems to work until their latest assignment: each other.

Not in a particular mood to blow their spouse's brains out, they tease one another, until, having had enough of the whole thing, they take on their employers instead.

Commentary

The film is simply a vehicle to show off two of America's most popular and attractive stars. It did well at the box office because of that, and nothing else. The movie has almost zero entertainment value.

The whole thing is told as a quasi-flashback, as John and Jane are being interviewed by a marriage counselor.

OK for a rental, but only on one of the 99 Cents Value Nights. If your store does not have a 99 Cents night, forget it.

Frankly, Pitt and Jolie should have been fined instead of paid, for subjecting us to this nonsense.

Extras

These include Deleted Scenes, Making a Scene, Director's Commentary, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Universal Studios

2005, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 51 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Judd Apatow


Starring Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

No

Sex

Yes

Language

Terrible

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin"

Synopsis

Andy Stitzer (Carell) works as a stock room manager at a consumer electronics store.

He and his friends talk about all the usual things when they play cards: women, cars, money, booze.

During one of these card games, Andy admits that he has never had sex, even though he is 40 years old.

So, immediately, his friends set out to change that, by taking Andy to bars and instructing him how to pick up ladies.

Andy is not very comfortable doing this, because he does not smoke or drink, which are two of the things that many people do in bars.

Andy meets Trish (Keener) who runs a store across the street. While Andy's friends still try to set him up with other women, Andy begins to succeed on his own, with Trish.

Commentary

The movie was a sleeper, an Indie-produced film, released by Universal.

It has a novel plot, but the DVD should have been kept at the theatrical length, as the jokes get old in the extended version (17 additional minutes).

Extras

These include Blooper Reel, Date with a Porn Star, Bonus Footage, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Paramount Pictures

2005, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 48 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by John Singleton


Starring Mark Wahlberg, Andre Benjamin, Tyrese Gibson, Garrett Hedlund, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Fionnula Flanagan

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Yes

Language

Bad

"Four Brothers"

Synopsis

In Detroit, Evelyn Mercer (Flanagan) is murdered during an armed robbery of a local grocery store.

Her adopted sons, Bobby (Wahlberg), Jeremiah (Benjamin), Angel (Gibson), and Jack (Hedlund) come home to bury her.

They decide to go after the killers, whoever they are, and begin asking questions.

The suspect is a local drug lord, Victor Sweet (Ejiofor), but the police seem helpless. Someone in political circles is impeding the investigation.

So, the Mercer boys take vengeance into their own hands and dole it out unmercifully.

It turns out that Evelyn was the actual target of the apparent store robbery, and now the Mercers are intent on finding out why.

Commentary

This move reminds me of The Sons of Katie Elder, made in 1965, and starring John Wayne. It's much the same plot. Four sons come home to bury their mother, only to find that a local businessman has had her murdered so he can take the land.

The difference between Brothers and Elder is one of sympathetic characters. In Brothers, all the characters are nasty, including the Mercers (except for mom, of course).

Extras

These include The Look of Four Brothers, Director's Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Behind the Brotherhood, Mercer House Shootout, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Columbia Tristar

2005, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 50 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by John Stockwell


Starring Jessica Alba, Paul Walker, Scott Caan, Ashley Scott, Josh Brolin

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Mild

Language

The S word

"Into the Blue"

Synopsis

Sam (Alba) and Jared (Walker) charter their boat, but money is running out.

They decide to drown their woes by going on a nice skin diving vacation in the Bahamas, and take some friends, Bryce (Caan) and Amanda (Scott).

One afternoon, while anchored far off shore, they happen upon a downed aircraft about 30 feet deep. Inside, they find a huge load of cocaine, still watertight in their containers.

Nearby, they also discover the remains of a treasure ship, which had sunk in the 1700's.

Local drug lords find out that Jared and friends have the cocaine, and they try to force the vacationers to tell them where it is.

All the while, Jared and his pals want to keep them from discovering that they have found the treasure ship.

Commentary

This is basically just a harmless story, with healthy young people in bathing suits. Sort of like the Beach Blanket Bingo movies of the 1960's. Those older films were always tongue in cheek comedies. Too bad this one tries to be serious.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Making of, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Sony Pictures

2005, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 32 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Don FauntLeRoy


Starring Steven Seagal, Anthony Criss, Sarah Buxton

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Mild

Language

Bad

"Today You Die"

Synopsis

Harlan Banks (Seagal) is a thief who decides to go straight, so he takes a job as an armored truck driver (I guess there are still problems in checking employee's backgrounds).

Well, there is no escaping one's past, and Banks' partner has set up a 20 million dollar robbery.

The getaway goes awry, and Banks ends up with the money.

Now the crime bosses want their cash, so Banks has to fight for his life.

Commentary

I keep renting Seagal movies because they look like they might be good, and I keep coming up with one word: Garbage. And there are three Seagal movies on the Blockbuster current release shelves as we speak. This guy must be setting records for direct-to-disc productions.

The funny thing is that Seagal does have some acting talent along with obvious martial arts skills. And, yet, in each film, he looks the same: hair slicked back into a pony tail or broom-like mat that looks like a one foot section of fur peeled off of a Labrador Retriever, dark clothes, and a scowl on his face. The characters he plays are all the same too, usually an ex-CIA agent, and they are always unlikable, unsympathetic. Many times, I want the bad guys to beat the &^$* out of him, but I don't think that is ever going to happen in a Seagal movie.

I don't know why I am complaining. I will probably rent those other two new Seagal DVDs down at Blockbuster. Oh well, at least they shake the cockroaches out of my subwoofers.

Extras

None. The movie is bad enough. You want extras?

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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