DVD reviews: Preparing for Valentine’s DayWritten by Michael Siebenaler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy every romantic comedy style this Valentine’s Day with big stars, high school hijinx, and an offbeat relationship comedy. All reviews range between one and four stars.
“Love Happens (Universal)”
“Funerals are important rituals. They’re not only recognition that a person has died; they’re recognition that a person has lived.”
Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart star couples who find solace and love amid life tragedies in this appealing romantic drama. Set in Seattle, Aniston plays a florist named Eloise who encounters an author named Burke, played by Eckhart. The emotional elements expand as Burke, a widower, offers seminar help for others while slowly realizing his own wounds have not completely healed. Burke’s encounter with Eloise leads to an unpredictable relationship, which injects some refreshing originality into the romance genre, with heartfelt comedy amid great cinematography, which also incorporates some special effects. Brandon Camp makes a great feature directorial debut while Martin Sheen, Judy Greer (What Women Want, 13 Going on 30) and Dan Fogler are great in the supporting roles. Bonus features include deleted scenes, commentary and a featurette on the special effects titled “Giving Romance a New Look”. Recommended (***) and rated PG-13 for language including sexual references.
“10 Things I Hate About You:” Two Disc Special Edition (Touchstone Home Entertainment)
An outstanding high school romantic comedy, which helped launch the acting careers of Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer) and featured memorable performances from comedian Larry Miller and Allison Janney. Originally released in 1999, this DVD set showcases a strong feature film ahead of its time with some joyful insight into film production and the kinetic chemistry on the set. Featurettes include the 35 minute “10 Things I Love About 10 Things I Hate About You: 10 Years Later”, which features archival interview footage from the main cast and recent comments from director Gil Junger and screenwriters Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz. The screenwriters also contribute to an energetic and profanity filled (remember DVD bonus features are not rated) audio commentary with supporting cast members. A separate audio commentary with Junger and main stars Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt would have been ideal and could have provided more information about more the filmmaking processes, though the bonus features cover these processes fairly well.
Other bonus features include screen test footage and deleted scenes plus great commentary and bonus footage surrounding the location shoots and set choices in Seattle. Musical performances from Letters to Cleo and Save Ferris make this 97 minute gem even more special. Options include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, widescreen format and French, Spanish and English subtitles and audio. Includes a digital copy. Highly recommended (***1/2) and rated PG-13 for crude sex-related humor and dialogue, alcohol and drug related scenes.
Mike Judge writes and directs this workplace/relationship comedy about Joel, played by Jason Bateman, an extract manufacturing plant owner/manager who encounters a life altering whirlwind effecting his marriage and career. Judge lets audiences see the entire scope of Joel’s life and personal relationships at work and home, which mainly involve his friend Dean, a bartender played by Ben Affleck, and wife Suzie, played by Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig, Wiig comedic talents are underused until the end while Affleck and Bateman carry several dialogue heavy scenes, which involve a key indecent proposal involving Suzie and a local man named Brad, played by young Dustin Milligan. Brian, played by J.K. Simmons, basically provides one line zingers as the plant’s co-manager. The story also involves a beautiful drifter named Cindy, played by Mila Kunis, who recently arrives in the local town looking for continuing opportunities.
Crime elements and infidelity are present, though they don’t create any dark tones within the film. The straight forward comedy gets an extra lift from David Koechner who plays Joel and Suzie’s nosy neighbor Nathan. Clifton Collins Jr., plays the most memorable and sympathetic character, Step, who has aspirations of becoming plant manager. An unrecognizable Matt Schulze (Transporter, Fast and Furious) has one memorable, yet psychotic scene as Willie while KISS front man Gene Simmons cameos as lawyer Joe Adler. The sole bonus feature, “The Ingredients For A Classic Mike Judge Film”, provides a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look with cast, crew and director Judge. Look for an additional scene during the ending credits. Recommended (***) and rated R for language, sexual references and some drug use.