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Chloe, The Crazies among new DVD reviews



THE BOUNTY HUNTER (2010). If nothing else, the soundtrack for The Bounty Hunter contains a delightfully eclectic mix of songs, from The Rolling Stones' "Hang Fire" and Run-D.M.C.'s "It's Tricky" to Frank Sinatra's "This Town" and Jerry Reed's "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)." And believe me, there's nothing's else. Honestly, what's there to say about a romantic comedy so generic that it might as well have been called Generic Romantic Comedy? As the title character, a slob who's been hired to find his ex-wife and haul her to jail for missing a court date, Gerard Butler builds on The Ugly Truth by playing another boorish chauvinist, once again demonstrating that his comedic instincts are roughly on par with those of a great white shark. And as the angry ex, a reporter who's on the verge of single-handedly cracking a murder case (in tight dress and heels, of course), Jennifer Aniston regrettably shows that she's only dependable when insulated by terrific indie casts (The Good Girl, Friends with Money) or co-starring opposite adorable retriever puppies (Marley!). Predictably plotted, poorly cast (the leads have zero chemistry) and painfully unfunny, The Bounty Hunter is yet one more imbecilic effort suffering from arrested development.

DVD extras include an 18-minute making-of featurette and a 12-minute piece on the film's location shooting.

Movie: *

Extras: *1/2

BROOKLYN'S FINEST (2010). Brooklyn's Finest certainly isn't Hollywood's finest. This tired police actioner picks up during its second half, but by then, couch potatoes may be too deep in slumber to be woken even by the constant gunplay, shouted profanity or blaring coincidences that clang against each other with Crash-like precision. Speaking of Crash, that film's Don Cheadle shows up for ensemble duty here as well, playing one of three NYC police officers whose lives will intersect at various points during this pedestrian picture. He plays Tango, an undercover cop who isn't sure if he can betray the crime lord (Wesley Snipes) who trusts him like a brother. Meanwhile, Sal (Ethan Hawke) is tired of trying to support his family on his measly salary, so he figures there's no harm in pocketing the cash found in the drug dens he helps bust. Finally, there's Eddie (one-note Richard Gere), a surly loner who has only one week to go before his retirement. Antoine Fuqua previously directed Training Day, but here he's tackling a script with training wheels, as Michael C. Martin can't escape the ghosts of cop flicks past. The only modest surprises occur at the very end – not everyone gets the fate that might be expected – but by that point, most viewers will be ready to walk a different beat altogether.

DVD extras include audio commentary by Fuqua; 32 minutes of deleted scenes; and four making-of featurettes totaling 28 minutes.

Movie: **

Extras: **1/2

CHLOE (2010). Despite the subject matter, Chloe (a remake of the 2003 French flick Nathalie) is still a relatively tame affair, but at least it's neither juvenile nor prudish, two qualities that taint the vast majority of homegrown flicks. Director Atom Egoyan (Exotica) and scripter Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary) are no strangers to combining carnal encounters with cerebral ruminations, and here their starting point is the longtime marriage of gynecologist Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) and professor David Stewart (Liam Neeson). With the passion and excitement long drained from their relationship, Catherine starts to wonder if David is having an affair with one of his students – the signs are certainly there. She hires a wide-eyed escort named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce her spouse and report back to her, but the good doctor is surprised to learn that the girl's graphic descriptions of their trysts are sexually arousing her. Is she excited by David's illicit activities, or is she turned on by Chloe herself? For a good while, Chloe hums along on the strength of its weighty themes, including the difficulties inherent in keeping a marriage invigorated, the ability of intelligent people to use words to blur others' perceptions of reality, and the manner in which pent-up desire can manifest itself in unexpected ways. It's a shame, then, that the film utterly collapses as it rounds third base: What had worked as a bracing character study of an aging woman afraid of losing everything (Seyfried may essay the title role, but this is Moore's show all the way) lamentably turns into a mopey melodrama with an obvious plot twist, as well as a second-rate thriller in which complicated people suddenly become one-dimensional and the spirit of Fatal Attraction hovers over the entire production. But hey, at least we're spared the boiled bunny.

DVD extras include audio commentary by Seyfried, Egoyan and Wilson; a 26-minute making-of piece; and two deleted scenes.

Movie: **1/2

Extras: **1/2

THE CRAZIES (2010). After a mysterious virus is accidentally unleashed on a small Iowa town and turns many of its inhabitants insane, the military arrives to quarantine the area and contain the threat. But it soon becomes clear that, to the unaffected humans, the soldiers are as hazardous to their health as their crazed neighbors. While this remake of George Romero's 1973 film is more smoothly realized than its predecessor, it's also been streamlined for mass consumption, removing all thorny sociopolitical subtext, avoiding a cruelly ironic conclusion (arguably the high point of the '73 model), and throwing in far too many cheap scares. The use of lowbrow shock effects (i.e. when someone suddenly jumps into the frame, or a loud noise suddenly fills the soundtrack; see the new-to-DVD The Wolfman for more examples) is a real shame, since the more effective moments suggest that director Breck Eisner could have built genuine suspense had he been given the chance: One character's encounter with an electric medical saw is both hair-raising and humorous, and an attack inside a car wash is effectively staged. More scenes like these would have truly goosed the proceedings, but as it stands, The Crazies is creatively too measured for its own good.

DVD extras include audio commentary by Eisner; an 11-minute behind-the-scenes featurette; a 10-minute discussion of Romero's influence on the horror genre; a 12-minute piece featuring makeup artist Rob Hall; motion comic episodes of The Crazies; and a photo gallery.

Movie: **

Extras: ***

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (2010). Viewers wary of getting burned in Be Kind Rewind fashion (clever premise, tepid results) would be well-advised to approach Hot Tub Time Machine in a cautious manner. That isn't to say the movie doesn't deserve its solid endorsement; it's merely to point out that, despite its irresistible hook, this isn't the ultimate 1980s tribute film that the world – well, OK, the '80s generation – has eagerly been anticipating. Director Steve Pink and his trio of writers create four distinct individuals to head up the picture: Adam ('80s player John Cusack), nursing a broken heart after his girlfriend leaves him; Lou (Rob Corddry), so obnoxious that even his few friends can't stand being around him; Nick (Craig Robinson), who suspects his wife is having an affair; and the much younger Jacob (Clark Duke), Adam's nerdy, couch-potato nephew. With Jacob in tow, the three 40-somethings return to the resort that figured prominently in their youth; it's there where they encounter a hot tub that transports them back to 1986, when leg warmers were the norm, C. Thomas Howell was a movie star and – kids, you may want to sit down for this one – MTV actually played music videos. Pink and his team could have coasted with this premise, but once viewers get past the obligatory raunch (a necessary salute, I suppose, to such atrocious 80s comedies as Private School and Porky's Revenge), they might be surprised to discover the level of genuine wit on display. Admittedly, Hot Tub Time Machine might play better to those with more than a passing familiarity with the era. More specifically, its target audience might best be summed up by this statement uttered by Lou after making a new friend: "We actually have a lot in common: We both love tits and Motley Crue."

The DVD includes both theatrical and unrated versions. Extras include 12 minutes of deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer.

Movie: ***

Extras: *1/2

A SINGLE MAN (2009). Fashion designer Tom Ford clearly tries too hard with his directorial debut, but I prefer his overreaching to the cookie-cutter approach displayed by cinematic neophytes merely aping their contemporaries. If nothing else, this adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's novel has a visual style that's clearly its own, and while some of the mise-en-scenes smack of pretension, most are quite beautiful and serve the overall mood of the piece. Set in Los Angeles in the early 1960s, the film casts Colin Firth (in an Oscar-nominated performance) as British professor George Falconer, a closeted homosexual still reeling from the death of his longtime lover (Matthew Goode, seen frequently in flashback). Falconer stumbles through a seemingly typical day fully intent on killing himself that evening, but before that's set to happen, he spends some meaningful one-on-one time with various people, including his lonely friend Charley (Julianne Moore) and Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), a sexually ambiguous student who wants to hear more of his teacher's philosophies. The ending, which would be considered a deus ex machina moment had it not been briefly (and clumsily) telegraphed toward the beginning of the film, is a major letdown, but everything leading up to it is pleasingly mature and understated.

DVD extras include audio commentary by Ford and a 16--minute making-of featurette.

Movie: ***

Extras: **

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