OnVideo: OCTOBER's Top Movies
BAD TEACHERElizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is ruthless, wildly inappropriate and says exactly what's on her mind. She may be working as a teacher, but her real occupation is to find a rich man to support her and get her out of the middle school for good. When she's dumped by her fiance, she sets her plan in motion to win over a rich, handsome substitute (Jason Timberlake) -- competing for his affections with an overly energetic colleague, Amy (Lucy Punch), while disregarding the advances of the school's irreverent gym teacher (Jason Segel). Take one promising concept (a very bad teacher running amok in high school), add a fairly hot actress (Cameron Diaz) in the lead, give her a male and female foil, then mess it up with dumb situations, gratuitous sexual jokes and innuendo, and a lame plot twist, and you have a film that is never as funny as it should be. Remember how nasty 'Bad Santa' was? We had hoped that this film would be at least as nasty (based on the one-sheets and teasers) but -- despite Diaz's at times brazen performance -- we were let down. There is a good wet Cameron Diaz-car wash sequence, however, which might be worth the price of a DVD rental -- but just barely.
Director: Jake Kasdan. Stars: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, Lucy Punch, Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins, Thomas Lennon, Molly Shannon. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 92 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $97.513 million, Sony. Available: 10/18.
A BETTER LIFEHardworking single father and illegal immigrant Carlos Galindo lives life for a single purpose: to provide his teenage son with the opportunity for a better life. He starts a gardening business and buys a used truck and equipment, but when the truck is stolen, he and his son work together to recover it, reconnecting for the first time in years.
Director: Chris Weitz. Stars: Jose Julian, Demian Bichir, Dolores Heredia, Joaquin Cosio, Carlos Linares. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 98 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.754 million, Summit Entertainment. Available: 10/18.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGERAfter being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).
Director: Joe Johnston. Stars: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Hugo Weaving, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci, Neal McDonough, Dominic Cooper, Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Armitage, Derek Luke. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 124 min., Action, Box office gross: $173.459 million, Paramount. Available: 10/25.
FAST FIVEVin Diesel and Paul Walker lead a reunion of returning all-stars from every chapter of the explosive franchise built on speed. In this installment, former cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) partners with ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) on the opposite side of the law. Since Brian and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) broke Dom out of custody, they've blown across many borders to elude authorities. Now backed into a corner in Rio de Janeiro, they must pull one last job in order to gain their freedom. As they assemble their elite team of top racers, the unlikely allies know their only shot of getting out for good means confronting the corrupt businessman who wants them dead. But he's not the only one on their tail. Hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) never misses his target. When he is assigned to track down Dom and Brian, he and his strike team launch an all-out assault to capture them. But as his men tear through Brazil, Hobbs learns he can't separate the good guys from the bad. Now, he must rely on his instincts to corner his prey ... before someone else runs them down first.
Director: Justin Lin. Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Sung Kang, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Elsa Pataky, Gal Gadot, Matt Schulze. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 132 min., Action Thriller, Box office gross: $208.310 million, Universal. Available: 10/4.
GREEN LANTERNIn a universe as vast as it is mysterious, an elite, powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. Warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him the ability to create anything his mind can imagine. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds). Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal's humanity is one weapon no member of the Corps has ever had, and if -- with willpower, determination and the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) -- Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax ... he will save the Earth and all of humankind from certain destruction.
Director: Martin Campbell. Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Temuera Morrison, Jay O. Sanders, Taika Waititi, Jon Tenney, Geoffrey Rush (voice), Michael Clarke Duncan (voice). 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 114 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $115.601 million, Warner. Available: 10/14 .
HORRIBLE BOSSESFor Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), the only thing that would make the daily grind more tolerable would be to grind their intolerable bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston) into dust. Quitting is not an option, so, with the benefit of a few-too-many drinks and some dubious advice from a hustling ex-con (Jamie Foxx), the three friends devise a convoluted and seemingly foolproof plan to rid themselves of their respective employers ... permanently. Like in Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train," the men decide to kill each other's boss ... but their plans go ridiculously awry. A silly, vapid, nasty movie with bathroom humor, gratuitous sexual innuendo, and a waste of several talented actors.
Director: Seth Gordon. Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jamie Foxx, Donald Sutherland. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 98 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $112.574 million, New Line. Available: 10/11.
JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMERFeisty, fearless Judy Moody (Jordana Beatty) is looking forward to the most super-duper, double-rare summer vacation ever. The trouble is, her parents are called out of town and her BFFs are going away with their own families. That leaves Judy trapped at home with her pesky brother Stink (Parris Mosteller) under the watchful eye of Aunt Opal (Heather Graham). But with a little playful planning -- and a lot of imagination -- Judy turns a snoresville summer into the way-not-boring adventure of a lifetime. The first film adaptation of the children's book series by Megan McDonald with illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds.
Director: John Schultz. Stars: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham,, Jaleel White,, Preston Bailey, Parris Mosteller. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 91 min., Family, Box office gross: $14.959 million, Fox. Available: 10/11.
MONTE CARLOA high-spirited high school graduate (Selena Gomez) vacations in Paris with her best friend Emma (Katie Cassidy) and uptight stepsister Meg (Leighton Meester) and despite the allures of the City of Lights, the trio have a terrible time. Just as the girls think their trip is further ruined when their hyperactive tour guide leaves them behind, Grace is mistaken for a wealthy socialite and the trio is whisked away to Monte Carlo for a thrilling week of glitz, glam, and unforgettable fun.
Director: Thomas Bezucha. Stars: Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, Leighton Meester, Andie McDowell, Cory Monteith. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 109 min., Romantic Comedy, Box office gross: $20.110 million, Fox. Available: 10/18.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDESJohnny Depp returns to his iconic role of Captain Jack Sparrow in this action-packed sequel. Sparrow crosses paths with the enigmatic Angelica (Penelope Cruz), a former lover and the daughter of the legendary pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), who's using Sparrow's name to mount an expedition to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. She forces him aboard the "Queen Anne’s Revenge," Blackbeard's vessel, and they embark on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn’t know whom to fear more: Blackbeard or Angelica. Along the way they encounter Jack's old nemesis, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), mermaids, all sorts of treachery, voodoo and magic. This edition of 'Pirates of the Caribbean' breathes new life into a franchise that -- by the time of 'At World's End' the series -- had degenerated into slapstick comedy and foolishness. With a sigh of relief, we can safely say that 'On Stranger Tides' has reverted back to the original's wit, sass and emphasis on adventure. Depp is surer than ever in his role as the amoral pirate (is there any other?), Cruz makes the perfect female foil for Sparrow, and McShane and Rush are as bad as pirate bad can be. Hoist anchor and enjoy this buoyant ride. And me hearties, shiver me timbers, they've left the door open for 'Pirates of the Caribbean 5.'
Director: Rob Marshall. Stars: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally, Sam Claflin, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Stephen Graham, Keith Richards, Richard Griffiths. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 136 min., Action, Box office gross: $$236,.250 million, Disney. Available: 10/18.
RED STATEThree teenaged boys are lured to the town of Cooper's Dell with the promise of a party. But instead of enjoying the night of their dreams, the teens are plunged into the nightmarish world of Pastor Abin Cooper (based on Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church) and the Five Points Trinity, a fundamentalist group with a stockpile of weaponry and a deadly moral agenda. When word of the teens disappearance reaches the authorities, a military task force is mobilized. With Cooper's Dell teetering between salvation and damnation, the ATF braces for a furious gun battle with Cooper and his heavily armed followers in this fever-pitched action thriller from writer-director Kevin Smith.
Director: Kevin Smith. Stars: Michael Parks, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Michael Angarano, Anna Gunn, Kevin Pollak, Kyle Gallner, Nick Braun, Kerry Bishe, Stephen Root, Ralph Garman, Jennifer Schwalbach. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: 97, R min., Thriller, Box office gross: $.851 million, SModcast Pictures/Lionsgate. Available: 10/18.
SCREAM 4Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. There she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale (Courteney Cox), who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). Unfortunately, Sidney's appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface, putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro, in danger.
Director: Wes Craven. Stars: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Marielle Jaffe, Mary McDonnell, Marley Shelton, Nico Tortorella, Lucy Hale, Shenae Grimes, Aimee Teegarden, Brittany Robertson. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: R, 111 min., Horror, Box office gross: $37.509 million, Weinstein Co./Dimension Films/Anchor Bay. Available: 10/4.
THE TREE OF LIFETerrence Malick, the acclaimed director of such classic films as "Badlands" and "Days of Heaven," uses stunning cinematography and raw emotional power in this hymn to life. Malick excavates answers to the most haunting and personal human questions through a kaleidoscope of the intimate and the cosmic, from the raw emotions of a family in a small Texas town to the wildest, infinite edges of space and time, from a boy's loss of innocence to a man's transforming encounters with awe, wonder and transcendence. This impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950s follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Through Malick's signature imagery, we see how both brute nature and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and families, but all life. Winner of the 2011 Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Director: Terrence Malick. Stars: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 139 min., Drama, Box office gross: $12.693 million, Fox. Available: 10/11.
ZOOKEEPERThe animals at the Franklin Park Zoo love their kindhearted caretaker, Griffin Keyes (Kevin James). Finding himself more comfortable with a lion than a lady, Griffin decides the only way to get a girl in his life is to leave the zoo and find a more glamorous job. The animals, in a panic, decide to break their time-honored code of silence and reveal their biggest secret: they can talk! To keep Griffin from leaving, they decide to teach him the rules of courtship -- animal style.
Director: Frank Coraci. Stars: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb and the voice talents of Cher, Nick Nolte, Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Judd Apatow, Jim Breuer, Jon Favreau, Faison Love and Maya Rudolph. 2011, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 102 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $76.771 million, Sony. Available: 10/11.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
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October 1, 2011