The Bounty Hunter – Run, don’t walk, away from anyone who insists on wasting your night renting this utter failure of an action comedy, featuring Jennifer Aniston as a New York newspaper reporter who is on the run from her estranged ex, a bounty hunter (Gerard Butler) who took a contract to track her down after she skipped bail after a court hearing.
Aniston is game for the relentlessly silly script, but Butler proves beyond all doubt that he’s out of his element when he’s not King Leonidas. His badly forced Brooklyn accent goes in and out, but his lines are silk-smooth compared to the atrocious writing. I wanted to turn the movie off a half hour in, but persevered just to confirm that this is one of the worst movies of the year. For masochists there’s a digital copy and making-of doc included on the Blu-ray.
The Backyardigans: Operation Elephant Drop – Four episodes of the excellent Nick Jr. musical pre-schooler dramedy come on the disc. My 3-year-old is all over this one, especially the “Super Team Awesome!” episode, in which the talking animal pals pretend to be masked vigilantes who save the world from a lava guyser called Old Gushie. Guess you had to be there. Parents looking for an electronic sedative for their youngsters can do far worse than this.
Chloe – Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried slum it in a psychosexual thriller that veers into soft-core porn territory. Moore and Neeson play a couple on the outs, and Moore’s suspicious character hires Seyfried, an escort, to test her husband’s resolve not to stray in the marriage. What starts off as an intriguing premise veers off into crazytown in the third act, but the leads all put their hearts into it, giving top-notch performances that lift the material. Seyfried, director Atom Egoyan and writer Cressida Wilson provide commentary, and deleted scenes are also there.
The Marvel Super Hero Squad Show: Quest for the Infinity Sword, Vol. 1 – A fast-paced, free-wheeling take on the Marvel comics universe aimed squarely at the younger set, the show puts together an Avengers-like cadre of good guys, including Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine and Silver Surfer as they battle Dr. Doom and his minions. The writing is snappy and the stories, while routine, are entertaining. Marvel guru Stan Lee checks in with an interview as a bonus feature.
Greenberg – Ben Stiller goes deep, playing a mopey middle-aged burnout who tries to get by doing as little as possible. He strikes up an ill-advised relationship with a girl (Greta Gerwig) in her 20s, pines for his ex-lover (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and struggles to snap out of his self-induced paralysis. Noah Baumbach writes and directs the powerful, sadly-funny film, which has emerged as an early Oscar dark horse. The Blu-ray is packed with Baumbach commentary and has an informative cast interview.
Phil Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, is available on Amazon.