By John Harding, email@example.com
October 11, 2011
Another week, another tasteless porno-comedy in search of mainstream audiences.
We suspect that "Horrible Bosses" (Warner Home Video/New Line Cinema, rated R theatrical and not rated extended cut, DVD $28.98; Blu-ray Disc $35.99) was green-lighted both on the strength of its outline and as a market play for "The Hangover" fans.
The basic story poses a timely question: How much extreme humiliation at work can be tolerated in light of today's lousy job market?
Three long-time buddies, played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, are suffering mightily under the flagrant mismanagement and manhandling of their abusive bosses, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston. The trio of overgrown gen-Xers can't quit, so eventually their desperation drives them to consider murder.
It's a serviceable comedy premise, but it has been pushed to grotesque excess in "Horrible Bosses." I suspect the crew arrived on the set and, between undocumented pharmaceutical breaks, got carried away with pushing the boundaries on big-screen vulgarity.
There's one long "comedy" bit by a supporting character who goes into protracted detail about the homosexual acts he is willing to perform on our three leads for cash. The homophobic impulse behind this comedy sketch is matched elsewhere in the script by the misogynism in the portrayal of Aniston as a predatory, potty-mouthed sex offender and by racism in a subplot that finds the men going to a black hangout in search of a paid killer.
I doubt that this material played well even to a dippy Hollywood preview crowd. The whole cast deserved better and so do home viewers.
The DVD comes with extras that might help explain why the filmmakers thought this was funny. A Blu-ray combo pack calling itself the "Totally Inappropriate Edition" includes all the bonus extras, plus a standard DVD and a digital copy for portable devices via a new Web-based downloading service known as Ultraviolet.
Also new on DVD
"Beautiful Boy" (Anchor Bay Entertainment, rated R, DVD $26.98; Blu-ray Disc $29.98). A suburban couple (Maria Bello and Michael Sheen) grapples with the death of their college-age son, who turns out to have been the shooter in a campus massacre. On the "heavy dramas" elements chart, this one weighs in somewhere below mercury and lead. Questions of loss, shame and guilt all overhelm the couple's tenuous relationship, though they never even consider seeking the help of clergy or mental health professionals. Still, the acting by the two leads is so meticulous and moving that it evokes empathy for all the forgotten victims of such tragedies. Bello and Sheen navigate the broiling white waters of emotion so well that you can't help but experience a catharsis worthy of their ordeal.
"Green Lantern" (Warner Home Video, rated PG, DVD $28.98; Blu-ray Disc $35.99; Blu-ray 3-D Pack $40.99). If this is what they mean by "green" jobs, let's hear it for fossil fuels. Ryan Reynolds was a less-than-inspired choice for playing the DC Comics super-hero on the big screen. The galactic backdrops provide the necessary sci-fi wow factor, but as the movie develops it proves mainly that Hollywood has forgotten two of its earliest lessons: What defines a hero and what makes for a good story? Giving a shallow, self-centered everyman a magic ring and a powerful enemy doesn't render him a super-hero, and it certainly doesn't amount to an intriguing plot. The Blu-ray that arrives in stores Oct. 14 brings us the theatrical version plus an "extended cut" that doesn't add anything of substance. It also has more than enough bonus extras to make you stop and question what you're doing with your life.
"JEM and the Holograms" (Shout! Factory, rated TV-G, DVD box set $59.99). This 1985 animated series will be fondly recalled by millions of young parents who might want to introduce their own kids to its unique mix of drama, music and romance. It finds lots of all three in the fashionable dual life of glamorous Jerrica Benton, co-owner of Starlight Music, and her pop star alter-ego, Jem, a lead singer with the all-girl band JEM And the Holograms, out to win fame over their arch rivals, The Misfits and The Stingers. This 11-DVD box set is the first-ever complete collector's edition, featuring all 65 episodes plus bonus new and archival material, including a video jukebox, interviews and vintage toy commercials.
"Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless" (Shout! Factory/Hasbro, rated TV-G, DVD $16.98, Blu-ray Disc $19.98). Taylor Swift's first headlining tour in support of her "Fearless" CD is wholesome, upbeat entertainment designed not to offend the mothers of her 10-year-old fans. Imagine a modern teen-age Shirley Temple as a country music singer and you pretty much understand her appeal. Her lyrics are easily graspable ("Hey, Steven, looks can be deceivin',") and although there is a sameness to the songs, she sells them with fresh-faced zest and happiness. This three-part, behind-the-scenes documentary interweaves interviews and concert footage for a two-and-a-half hour package that is sure to increase her fan base. The Blu-ray is especially clear and sparkling.
Also new on Blu
"Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" (Warner Home Video, rated PG, Blu-ray Disc $19.98). Pee-Wee Herman comes to high-definition! Yes, and what could be more thrilling than to finally see this icon of male fashion in perfect clarity? Savor for the first time the immaculate folds in his stylish bow tie and the splendid tailoring of his ankle-high trousers — not to mention the sleek technological precision of his trusty two-wheeler. The big adventure begins when the latter is bike-napped from its moorings outside a store and Pee-Wee traces it all the way to the Alamo! You may have heard this story before, but never have you seen it in such stirring detail and sound! Extras include a running commentary by Pee-Wee (Paul Reubens) and director Tim Burton, plus storyboards, cut scenes and an optional music-only track!