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    Getting On: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 16th, 2015

    The geriatric care wing of a hospital — where the employees are undermanned and overworked, and many of the patients are in a near-catatonic state — is not the most obvious sitcom setting. That’s partly the reason it took me a while to warm up to the first season of HBO’s Getting On, an adaptation of the British series of the same name. The biggest drawback, however, was that those initial episodes didn’t seem very interested in shaking the grim specter of the original show. But what a difference a year makes!
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    Batman: The Complete Third Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 9th, 2015

    Why, this is getting more farcical by the moment!”

    It’s easy to point at the 1960s Batman TV series and laugh. For Dark Knight loyalists who insist their hero be gritty and tortured, the show is (at best) a campy amusement. At worst, it’s an embarrassing atrocity. The two most important things to note are 1.) the show is very much a product of the Swinging Sixties time period in which it was made, and 2.) the series is *supposed* to be funny. (Batman picked up an Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy nomination during its run.) Keeping those two factors in mind is crucial to enjoying this entertaining, monumentally bizarre run of episodes.
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    The Little Death (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 21st, 2015

    “Whatever happened to good old-fashioned, run-of-the-mill sex?”

    On its surface, The Little Death looks and sounds like the glossy, crowd-pleasing romantic comedies Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail) used to make. But it becomes apparent rather quickly that no one in this funny, insightful, uneven Australian comedy is having “run-of-the-mill sex.” The movie’s jazzy, jukebox-y score also made me occasionally think of Woody Allen films, which is fitting because Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) easily could’ve been an alternate title for The Little Death.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 17th, 2015

    Oh Hell No! is the cheeky subtitle for the latest entry in SyFy’s made-for-TV Twitter Sharknado franchise. Coincidentally, “Oh hell no!” was also the response the creators of the first film got from everyone they approached about starring in it a few years ago. Flash forward to 2015, and things have changed dramatically. Now Sharknado auteur Anthony C. Ferrante needs a stick to beat away the washed-up actors, reality stars, and politicians(?!) angling to serve as chum for some comically unconvincing sharks.
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    South Park: Season 18 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 8th, 2015

    “Listen, my friend. This is going to be very hard to comprehend, but none of what you are seeing is real.”

    Of course it’s not real. It’s not really that hard to comprehend at all. This is an animated show, after all. And the figures look like cut-out pieces of construction paper. Of course, we’re talking about South Park. What is hard to comprehend, however, is that we’re talking about the 18th season of South Park. Few television shows last this long, and only The Simpsons has been around longer when it comes to scripted animated shows running today. That’s rare air, indeed
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    Spy (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on October 6th, 2015

    I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews. It’s a struggle when the film experience was joyless and then to have to go back and relive that. I also don’t enjoy reading reviews by other critics that get everything completely wrong. It’s even worse when almost all the critics get it wrong. Even worse than that is when I see critics dumping on a film that’s actually good, but that’s a story for a different day. How can I say Spy is so bad? Because I had to sit through the movie. I can get some enjoyment out of even the worst movies, and that’s true here, but I would not recommend it to unsuspecting viewers.
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    Jane the Virgin: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 1st, 2015

    “Jane’s life was now the stuff of telenovelas.”

    As someone who grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, I have a love-hate relationship with telenovelas. Most of the time, I can appreciate — and heartily laugh at — their inspired, over-the-top campiness. But sometimes I honestly feel a little embarrassed that this broad, ridiculous junk easily represents the most visible outlet for stories featuring Hispanic actors/characters. I’m also insulted by the implication that Hispanic audiences don’t want more nuanced TV options. The great thing about The CW’s Jane the Virgin is that it works both as an outrageous nighttime soap and a sharp, good-hearted satire.
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    The Last Man on Earth: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 28th, 2015

    I just realized that having other people around is what makes life worth living.”

    This lesson doesn’t come easily — or quickly — for Phil Miller, the Last Man on Earth. On the other hand, having other people around doesn’t do a heck of a lot for The Last Man on Earth, the dementedly inventive Fox comedy that becomes considerably less interesting the more people start to show up. That being said there’s plenty to like and admire here, starting with the show’s comedic, refreshingly non-bleak look at post-apocalyptic life.
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    Big Bang Theory: Season 8 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 23rd, 2015

    Finally a situation comedy for geeks. Ever since Urkel went from being a one-off character on Family Matters to the star of the show, the geeks have been looking for their own series. With The Big Bang Theory you get plenty of geek factor with a healthy dose of laughter. I honestly haven’t laughed this much at a situation comedy in decades. Meet Sheldon Cooper (Parsons). He’s a brilliant young scientist working at a Pasadena university. His field was string theory but now he’s shifted to dark matter.
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    The D Train (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 4th, 2015

    The D Train was not what I expected…and thank goodness for that. The film boasts that it’s from the “comedic geniuses who brought you Nacho Libre and Wayne’s World,” although the only thing those two movies have in common is that they’re both comedies with, um, people in them. Meanwhile, the glossy poster makes it look like an inspirational drama, which doesn’t exactly mesh with the phallic-sounding title. In other words, there’s nothing about The D Train that hints at the intriguing dramedy lurking underneath.
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    Easy Money / Men at Work (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 24th, 2015

    Today, the term “blue collar comedy” is likely to conjure images of rednecks and Larry the Cable Guy. However, this new double feature from Shout! Factory reminds us that wasn’t always the case. The heroes of Easy Money and Men at Work are, respectively, a sleazy children’s photographer and a pair of rebellious garbage men, so the label certainly applies. Let’s see how these two blue collar comedies hold up in their Blu-ray debuts.
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    2 Broke Girls: The Complete Fourth Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 17th, 2015

    Everyone on TV has nicer clothes and a bigger home than you do. And I’m not just talking about fictional doctors or lawyers. Even small-screen characters with relatively modest incomes manage to live in palatial apartments. Need proof? The 2 Broke Girls in CBS’s hit sitcom have an apartment that is literally big enough to fit a horse. (Hi, Chestnut.) Season 4 even manages to squeeze in a gaggle of Victoria’s Secret models (Ep. 6/“And the Model Apartment”), and the girls’ building gets a new tenant when lewd line cook Oleg (Jonathan Kite) moves in with larger-than-life upstairs neighbor Sophie (Jennifer Coolidge), leading to the one-liner “the booty call is coming from inside the house.”
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    Hot Pursuit (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 11th, 2015

    I realized Hot Pursuit was in big trouble during the sequence when intensely by-the-book Officer Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) accidentally ingests cocaine. The joke is supposed to be that the drug sends Cooper into a comically manic, frenzied state; the problem is the way Witherspoon behaves during this sequence isn’t all that different from the way she’s played Cooper up to that point. And that’s the problem with Hot Pursuit: it’s the movie equivalent of someone who types in ALL CAPS all the time. Even worse, it’s an unholy (and unfunny) mash-up of Midnight Run and Thelma & Louise that shines a blazing spotlight on its leading ladies’ worst qualities.
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    The Comeback: Seasons 1 & 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 10th, 2015

    What’s this? The Comeback comeback?”

    The most unlikely program to air on HBO over the last year didn’t feature dragons or detectives…it was the story of a diva. Obviously, The Comeback — the rare HBO show that wasn’t granted a second season — isn’t as lavish as Game of Thrones or as ambitious as True Detective. But even for a network with a sterling reputation for taking chances and thinking outside the box, the return of The Comeback as an 8-episode “limited series” was somewhat of a shock.
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    I Love Lucy: The Ultimate Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 4th, 2015

    I Love Lucy changed the fledgling television industry in the 1950’s. This was a time when network television was less than a decade old. Most folks had never heard of television just 15 years earlier. I Love Lucy defined the concept of a sitcom. The show was driven by the very strong personalities of the cast. Desi Arnaz was considered a charismatic Latin lover by American women. Lucy played the perfect foil and found a mountain of gold to mine in strong physical comedy. So many modern shows owe their roots to this classic that it would be impossible to mention them all here. Now CBS and Paramount are bringing the show back in brand-new high-definition restored image that will delight even the pickiest fans of the show.
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    Barely Lethal (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 4th, 2015

    “Who would ever suspect a kid?”

    When I glanced at the Blu-ray cover for Barely Lethal — with its groan-worthy pun of a title, girl power, and generous splashes of hot pink — I didn’t really expect it to be my thing. (Ok, fine…groan-worthy puns are *totally* my thing.) So while I may not be the intended audience for this independent action/comedy, I have to admit its charms snuck up on me the same way one of the film’s disarming young killers might catch a target by surprise.
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    Burying the Ex (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 4th, 2015

    Feel like your girlfriend can be a little clingy? You’ve got nothing on Max, the slacker at the center of Burying the Ex. The movie operates in a genre — mixing broad comedy and horror — that has been largely (and sadly) missing from the big screen for the better part of two decades. That’s why I was delighted to see that the man at the helm here is none other than Joe Dante (1978’s Piranha, Gremlins 1 and 2), who has made some of the best horror comedies of all time. Burying the Ex isn’t near that level, but it’s still a fun and welcome diversion.
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    What We Do in the Shadows (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 23rd, 2015

    “When you get four vampires in a flat, obviously there’s going to be a lot of tension.”

    The set-up for What We Do in the Shadows makes it sound less like your typical vampire movie and more like some kind of twisted season of The Real World. (Well…slightly more twisted than usual.) But besides finding a funny way to skewer bratty roommates and the mundaneness of everyday life, the movie works as a cheeky celebration of the classical cinematic bloodsucker.
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    Kill Me Three Times (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 14th, 2015

    “What you’re talking about is a one-way street, you understand? Once you start there is no going back.”

    Ah, but there is going back if you’re watching Kill Me Three Times. I don’t necessarily mean that you’ll want to watch the film over again (you might). Kill Me Three Times is a bit of a collection of vignettes that continue to circle back upon each other. Each time you get a different perspective or a bit of new information is unveiled. For those of you who insist on a linear logic to your films, this one’s not for you. In fact, those of you who insist on logic at all might not quite get this one.
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    Survivor’s Remorse: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 15th, 2015

    People you knew — people you forgot you knew — all ready to spend your money. And we got to be careful. We got to be smart.”

    We look at professional athletes who’ve hit the genetic jackpot and make unseemly amounts of money, and we assume that they’ll be financially set for the rest of their lives. Survivor’s Remorse, a Starz sitcom that follows a young basketball star who’s just signed his first big-money deal, gives us a frequently funny, consistently crass glimpse into why that isn’t necessarily the case.
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    The DUFF (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 11th, 2015

    “That’s your job as The DUFF…Designated Ugly Fat Friend.”

    Let’s just get this out of the way right at the top. The idea that Mae Whitman — or any other actress cast as the lead in a mainstream Hollywood movie — is “Ugly” and “Fat” is absurd. (Not to mention entirely subjective.) So it’s tempting to dismiss The DUFF as the latest bit of evidence that there’s no truth in advertising. But then you’d be missing out on a charming teen comedy that grabs the snarky underdog baton previously held by the likes of Mean Girls and Easy A.
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    Welcome to Sweden: Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 25th, 2015

    You move to Sweden…you have no friends, you don’t speak the language, and you don’t have a job.”

    If you think that potentially disastrous scenario sounds like the set up for a sitcom…you’re mostly right. On one hand, that is indeed the exact logline for Welcome to Sweden, a comedy set and produced in the titular country that eventually found its way to NBC. However, the impulsive move to Sweden also happens to be based on the real-life experiences of creator/star Greg Poehler.
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    Mortdecai (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 18th, 2015

    “A man of your age has no excuse for looking or behaving like a fugitive from a home for alcoholic music hall artistes.”

    Sound like anyone you know? Johnny Depp is one hell of a talented actor. There are few in the industry than can so completely inhabit a character. He has an uncanny ability to make you forget Johnny Depp the actor and lose yourself in his performance. He is a chameleon physically and expressively. Unfortunately, Johnny has had trouble finding box office gold lately. You see, he’s having a lot of fun at our expense. But it’s not just we who are footing the bill for his tomfoolery. The studios are handing out hundreds of millions of dollars for box office misses
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    The Cobbler (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 14th, 2015

    “To truly know a man, you must walk in his shoes.”

    On the lone special feature of any substance included on this Blu-ray, director/co-writer Thomas McCarthy admits The Cobbler was inspired by the well-known idiom listed above. I’m all for getting as many original ideas on the big screen as possible. But even if you don’t think basing a feature film on a popular saying is a shaky proposition, The Cobbler severely underwhelms because it totally fails to capitalize on its high-concept premise in an intriguing way.
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    The Rewrite (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 4th, 2015

    “It’s a comedy…hopefully.”

    It’s been six years since Hugh Grant teamed up with director Marc Lawrence. It’s their fourth collaboration. It doesn’t appear that Lawrence is willing to direct a film that doesn’t feature Hugh Grant, because he hasn’t. Let’s just say the fourth time wasn’t the charm. In fact, it wasn’t even all that charming. And the problem is that Grant and Lawrence have attempted to build careers out of making Grant charming. By now they’re just trying too hard, and the result is a poor showing that was in desperate need of a Rewrite.
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