This Week in Home Video
Finders Keepers Is an Under-Appreciated Madcap Romp from the ’80s and New to Blu-ray
What’s good on DVD and Blu-ray this week? We take a look at the new releases for November 29th below ‐ you can click any of the titles to buy via Amazon and support FSR in the process!
Pick of the Week
What is it? Michael (Michael O’Keefe) is having a pretty bad day. When his female roller derby team chases after him for back pay he’s forced on the run and soon finds himself out of the roller skate-wearing frying pan and into the mistaken identity fire.
Why see it? Richard Lester’s (Superman II) madcap romp is ridiculous in the best ways, and while it hits some bumps along the way the ride is highly entertaining. The script starts things off fast and never stops moving, and beyond pure momentum and more than a few laughs the movie earns points for the intricate nature of its developing plot. So many pieces come into view and fall into place perfectly allowing for all manner of offbeat antics, and the result is an incredibly smart Rube Goldberg contraption. O’Keefe is joined by a foul-mouthed Beverly D’Angelo, Louis Gossett Jr., Ed Lauter, Brian Dennehy, and a ridiculously young Jim Carrey. All of them are game for fun and it shows.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Finders Keeper [Blu-ray]
What is it? Three young thieves are burgling homes and making off with jewelry, electronics, and other objects, and each is doing it for their own reason. Money (Daniel Zovatto) gets the tips on houses to hit and is a low-rent thug from his corn rows to the showy attitude beneath them. His girl, Rocky (Jane Levy), is a single mom trying to save enough money to get her and her daughter away from the city. The third wheel in the group, Alex (Dylan Minnette), harbors a not-so secret crush on Rocky and provides his friends with the means to commit their crimes by targeting customers of his father’s home security company. Their successful string of robberies comes to an end though when they target a blind war vet (Stephen Lang) living in an otherwise empty neighborhood and rumored to be sitting on a large sum of cash. These are the players, this is the game, and it’s not going to end how any of them expected it to.
Why see it? Fede Alvarez’s film offers a simple setup ‐ a fun twist on the usual home invasion thriller that sees the intruders realizing too late that the homeowner is a bigger bad ass than any of them could hope to be ‐ and executes it with welcome style and intelligence. A smart script is paired with the equally uncommon presence of strong performers resulting in added weight on both sides of the threat divide. Rocky and her friends are hardly the good guys, but Levy gives her character emotional purpose and a desperate, determined drive to survive that leaves viewers in her corner. Minnette does well with less character-wise and earns our empathy along the way, but Lang meanwhile is a force of nature ‐ helpless, weak old man man one minute and snarling, sinister brute the next. Just be sure to skip the first minute.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
Don't Breathe [Blu-ray]
Baked in Brooklyn
What is it? David (Josh Brener) works a bland cubicle job, but his life starts looking up when he meets Kate (Alexandra Daddario). Against the odds and without explanation she falls for him, and it’s not long before she moves into his room (and the apartment he shares with two others). When he loses his job he’s forced to improvise, and soon he’s selling weed online and delivering via bike to an increasing number of thankful customers. He’s also ignoring Kate and his friends in favor of his newfound success.
Why see it? Brener is an awkwardly engaging lead, and there are some laughs here, but the movie makes no attempt to explain Kate’s attraction to David. Daddario is well outside of his league ‐ something movies never do with the opposite configuration ‐ but even beyond that physical discrepancy there’s little about David that would appeal to anyone let alone someone like Kate. It’s a distraction marred further by the lack of much for Daddario to do beyond simply look good. She’s a strong actress given the right material, and this isn’t that.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? Sophie spends her days in an orphanage and her nights worried about monsters, but when a giant reaches in her window and carries her off to another land she discovers that not all monsters are monsters. The Big Friendly Giant introduces her to a friendship and family she never thought she’d know.
Why see it? Roald Dahl’s classic kids book comes to big, fart-filled life with Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair, but despite the budget and epic CG work there’s something missing here. The story simply sits with an odd lack of interest in real momentum, stakes, or personality. It’s debatable whether anything better could have been made from the slim book, but as it stands we’re left with an attractive but dull adventure.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Biggles: Adventures in Time
What is it? Jim Ferguson is a modern-day American living a normal life when he’s visited by an odd Brit (Peter Cushing) with even stranger questions. Minutes later Jim is zapped into the past alongside a World War I hero named Biggles. It seems the two are linked, and with Jim’s help Biggles is hoping to turn the tide against a new threat.
Why see it? There’s a Remo Williams-feel to some of this paired with a time-hopping adventure, and that means it’s a mix of fun and cheese. Director John Hough (The Legend of Hell House) has made far better and far more serious entertainment, but there’s an enjoyable mid ’80s playfulness here complete with questionable effects and a pulpy vibe. It was clearly designed as a franchise-starter, but it was just as clearly never going to become a franchise.
[Blu-ray extras: Interviews]
What is it? Pete loses his parents in a car accident as a boy that also leaves him stranded and lost in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. He’s not alone though as a large green dragon befriends him on his first night, and together the pair pass the next six years playing in the forest. The calm comes to an end when he crosses paths with some locals from a nearby town, and the two best friends find themselves stuck between a kind, new family and those who fear monsters.
Why see it? Like Disney’s other big release this week David Lowery’s big budget reboot of the live-action/animated hybrid classic fills the screen with beautiful landscapes and sharp CG. Once again though the heart of the story and characters don’t quite translate very well to the screen. The big problem here is the simplicity of it all ‐ the conflict feels utterly restrained, and while that alone isn’t an issue the film fails to fill the void with an engaging replacement.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary, bloopers]
The Undertaker [Vinegar Syndrome]
What is it? When people begin disappearing in a small town suspicion falls on the local funeral home director.
Why see it? Joe Spinell channels his murderous Maniac persona into a new killer, but while this undertaker is on the mad side Spinell plays him with an added bit of camp and “weirdness.” He’s still creepy, but he’s not all that unsettling. The film is equally fractured with seemingly random scenes of murder thrown together with the most bare bones of a plot. The real star here is Vinegar Syndrome as they rescue a forgotten slasher and give it an immense amount of love. That affection includes restoring six missing minutes ‐ albeit in less than ideal condition ‐ to present the most complete version of the film.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2k scan, commentary, interview, outtakes]
Also Out This Week:
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, Sacrifice! [Raro Video], White Girl, The Wild Life
Related Topics: Home Video