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    Jeff Dunham: All Over the Map (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 28th, 2014

    “How the hell did this happen? I mean, I’m on the other side of the planet, and people know who I am and they’re laughing at my jokes.”

    Despite his status as one of the biggest draws in stand-up comedy, Jeff Dunham really does seem taken aback by his success. On one hand, you wouldn’t necessarily expect a ventriloquist to be one of the hottest names in comedy in 2014. Then again, the hard work and precision he has put into his act is evident every time he takes the stage. For his latest comedy special, Dunham packed up his puppets and took his show on the road like never before.
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    Housebound (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 19th, 2014

    Laughing out loud and getting startled out of your wits are two of the most visceral reactions you can have as a moviegoer. For a director to elicit either reaction is challenging enough, which is why I was so delighted to be feeling both during the thrilling, funny finale of Housebound. It’s an even more impressive feat when you consider it was accomplished by a first-time filmmaker working on a shoestring budget.
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    Hot in Cleveland: Season Five

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 14th, 2014

    I had never seen a single episode of Hot in Cleveland before I sat down to review this season 5 DVD set. So why did it feel like I’d been watching this show my entire life? Turns out, it’s entirely by design. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like I’m the target audience for Hot in Cleveland: I’m under 50 years old, and I’m a man. But if you look beyond the plastic surgery jokes and geriatric humor, you’ll find a show that aggressively channels — and ultimately appeals to fans of — many of the classic, multi-camera sitcoms of the past. In other words, Hot in Cleveland feels like you’re watching re-runs of a show you’ve already seen…and still enjoy plenty.
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    Getting On: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 10th, 2014

    It’s noble work. It is useful. You are angels of mercy…I just never thought that I would end up here.”

    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. As a result, HBO’s comedy series Getting On isn’t exactly what I’d call a gut buster. But even though much of the humor seems hyper-specific to this particular circle of workplace hell, anybody who has ever been underpaid to do a hard, crappy job should be able to relate.
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    Life of Crime (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 5th, 2014

    This has been a review that has taken me a while to get to, not because it’s something I was dreading, but instead it had me revisiting some other Elmore Leonard adaptations to the screen.  There have been countless adaptions of Leonard’s work on the big screen as well as television.  Whether it’s his westerns 3:10 to Yuma, Justified or Hombre or his work on crime Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, and Get Shorty, there is a good chance at some point you’ve seen Elmore’s work, and those were just a handful of titles I mentioned.  I was a teenager when I first discovered Elmore Leonard
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    Behaving Badly

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 30th, 2014

    “Everyone in this story is guilty of something.”

    With the exception of bland do-gooder/ dream girl Nina Pennington (Selena Gomez), all of the characters in Behaving Badly seem desperate to live up to — or rather down to — the movie’s title. The plot revolves around strippers, nuns, dead Latin teachers, and Lithuanian mobsters, so it’s clear the filmmakers were going for mindless raunch. But instead of a gleefully debauched 97 minutes, we get “comedy” that lacks wit and laughs that feel totally uninspired.
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    “31 Days Of Terror” Life After Beth (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 23rd, 2014

    Imagine if you had a second chance to tell that loved one you lost how much you loved them, or were able to do the things you wished you had done the first time, but you hesitated because you didn’t take into account the fragility of life.   Life After Beth shows us the joys that can come with when getting that second chance while at the same time revealing the dark consequences that may come with this new opportunity.  There are numerous zombie films and series out in the market, but Life After Beth may be the most unique take on the genre in some time.
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    Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 22nd, 2014

    Billy Crystal has built a legendary career as one of the most multi-faceted entertainers in all of showbiz. He’s a successful actor, comedian, writer, producer and director. At various points, Crystal has been a major star on television, on stage, and at the movies. He’s entertained everyone from musicians to movie stars, thanks to his gigs as a three-time Grammy host and nine-time Academy Awards emcee. But what works best about his return to the stage in 700 Sundays — Crystal’s Tony-winning one-man show — is how it illustrates the idea that virtually every entertainer gets his or her first round of applause in the family living room.
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    2 Broke Girls: The Complete Third Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 14th, 2014

    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 3 brings a new pet (Ep. 3/“And the Kitty Kitty Spank Spank”) and briefly threatens to remove Max and Caroline from their home (Ep. 22/“And the New Lease on Life”). I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying things work out in the end. By now, the show’s crass predictability has become oddly comforting.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” Sharknado 2: The Second One (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 9th, 2014

    “You know what you just did, don’t you? You jumped the shark.”

    People have been mocking SyFy original films since the days when the network spelled its own name properly. But staying home on a Saturday night to “MST3K” your way through flicks with D-list actors and Z-grade visual effects has been replaced by Twitter, which practically blew up when the impossibly campy Sharknado premiered last year. SyFy recognized that social media has made it possible for anyone with Internet access to trade yuks and one-liners on a global scale; more importantly, it has allowed the network to be in on the joke in an unprecedented way.
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    Key & Peele: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on September 30th, 2014

    It’s been quite some time since The Chappelle Show went off the air, and it would appear Comedy Central has finally found its replacement.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say the show is on the same par, but what Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele bring to the small screen is something that has piqued my interest and shows some potential.  Both Key and Peele got their big break from working on the sketch comedy show MADtv, and it would seem they are taking their talents and what they learned to bring us something that is a little familiar but still fresh and keeps its audience laughing.
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    South Park: Season 17 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 18th, 2014

    “Oh boy, zombie apocalypse!”

    No, it’s just South Park. But it has invaded pop culture as much as zombies have over its amazing 18-year run. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been walking a tightrope for over 18 years now, and it just doesn’t get old. One of the reasons the show doesn’t grow stale is their ability to make such a quick turnaround on current events.
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    Big Bang Theory: Season 7 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on September 18th, 2014

    In case you’ve been hiding beneath a rock the past few years, The Big Bang Theory isn’t just a hit TV show, but instead it’s a show that has ingrained itself into pop culture.  You can go out to most major retailers and find shirts with “Bazinga”, and I’m willing to bet at least one of your Facebook friends has posted a GIF on their feed about the show.  It’s a show I told myself I wouldn’t get caught up in because I was so sure it was nothing more than a fad.
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    Richard Lewis: Bundle of Nerves

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 11th, 2014

    Some of the most iconic stand-up comics of all time have famously wrestled with personal demons while simultaneously mining them for material on stage. Few have done so more successfully — and for a longer period of time — than Richard Lewis. His neurotic, self-flagellating act earned Lewis his “Prince of Pain” nickname, but his longevity is just as impressive. The fact is a lot of great comics don’t last as long as Lewis because they lose that battle with their demons too soon. So it’s great to see that, at age 67, Lewis finally gets his due with a DVD set that covers some of his most seminal work.
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    They Came Together (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 3rd, 2014

    “It’s kind of a corny, romantic comedy-type story.”

    Even those of us who actually enjoy a good romantic comedy have rolled our eyes or groaned about some overused cliche in the genre. Well David Wain and Michael Showalter — who last teamed up to satirize summer camp movies in 2001’s Wet Hot American Summer — have gathered many of their famous, funny friends to make They Came Together, an alternately hilarious and uneven spoof that lovingly skewers rom-com tropes.
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    Portlandia – Season Four

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 1st, 2014

    Oregon may have been the 33rd state to join our union — and Portland may be its most populous city — but Portlandia is a (beet-eating, Bigot Parade-hosting, 3D printer-buying) state of mind. And four seasons into lovingly mocking upper middle class indulgence along with the denizens of the Pacific Northwest, the show — created by stars Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein and director Jonathan Krisel — continues to feel more like a fully-realized destination than ever.
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    Blended (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 27th, 2014

    Adam Sandler took a bit of a beating with Blended. His previous, non-Grown Ups outing (That’s My Boy) was Sandler’s first comedy in a while to severely underperform at the box office, suggesting audiences might be tiring of the comic’s (critic-proof) brand of humor. Then came Sandler’s pre-release admission that he makes movies based on where he’d like to get paid to vacation. Blended went on to underwhelm at the box office, at least by the reliable standards of Sandler comedies. (It brought in $123 million worldwide on a reported $40 million budget, though only $46 million of that came from the U.S.) Maybe it was the lowered expectations, but I kinda liked Blended.
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    Muppets Most Wanted (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 11th, 2014

    The Muppets debuted in 1955, and the late great Jim Henson’s creations have been delighting audiences (and fellow entertainers) of all ages ever since. They’ve made their mark on the small screen — most notably with The Muppet Show (1976-81) — and at the movies, starring in eight feature films across four different decades. However, 2011’s The Muppets was their first big-screen outing in a dozen years, and the movie spent most of its time wondering if the Muppets’ old-fashioned, irreverent charm still had a place in a more jaded pop culture landscape.
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    The Birthday Boys: The Complete First Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 7th, 2014

    It seems to me, if your ultimate goal is to get on television, there’s never been a better time to be a sketch comedian. Thanks to sites like YouTube — which thrive on the sort of bite-size videos that line up nicely with the rhythms of sketch comedy — funny folks can hone their craft online while building a big enough fan base to maybe compel a network to offer them a show. Comedy Central is the most obvious basic cable landing spot, but IFC has emerged in recent years as a haven for offbeat humor. That includes The Birthday Boys, which is characteristically uneven, but boasts an impeccable TV sketch comedy pedigree.
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    Lullaby

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 31st, 2014

    The impending death of a loved one tends to dredge up a complex mix of emotions. (Unfortunately, I speak from relatively recent personal experience.) In addition to the obvious sadness, there can be guilt, resentment, anger, relief, and other sentiments that combine to create a messy stew of feelings. Putting those feelings on the page or on a screen is an emotional minefield, since you risk veering jarringly from one tone to the next. The task becomes even trickier when you attempt to introduce humor into the equation. Lullaby stumbles over a few of those mines, but is otherwise a well-acted, modestly-affecting dramedy.
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    The Legend of Billie Jean: Special “Fair is Fair” Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 29th, 2014

    Don’t you ever get tired of vanilla?”

    There’s a special breed of ’80s movie that appears hopelessly dated on the surface yet remains impulsively watchable. (Insert your own, “So you mean *every* ’80s movie?!” joke.) The Legend of Billie Jean — with its hilarious-in-hindsight fashion and Pat Benatar theme song — certainly fits the “trapped in the ’80s” bill. However, the 1985 film — now making its Blu-ray debut courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment — still manages to entertain by tapping into the timeless spirit of teenage rebellion.
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    Angriest Man in Brooklyn (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 28th, 2014

    Robin Williams is one of those actors that I just wonder what happened to them.  Through the 80’s and 90’s Williams was simply box office gold with his comedic timing and great impressions, but I’ve always been more drawn to the more serious roles Williams delivered.  Awakenings, The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, One Hour Photo, these are just a few of his roles that have stuck with me over the years that made it easy to look past his cinematic missteps.
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    Tosh.O – Collas plus Exposed Arms

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on July 19th, 2014

    Here comes Volume four of this clip commentary comedy show (CCC could catch on as a sub-genre title couldn’t it?). This time we get two seasons worth of episodes; the “Collas” and “Exposed Arms” entitled seasons, as it were. Very little is different as far as format or new segments are concerned since the last time I wrote about this show.
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    Sinbad: Make Me Wanna Holla

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 3rd, 2014

    He’s old! How he gonna relate to me?!”

    For a good portion of his latest stand-up special, Sinbad playfully berates a 15-year-old audience member named Cory. It’s mostly standard-issue, old man, “back in my day” ribbing. But the most incisive observation comes when Sinbad points out that Cory would probably much rather be in the audience for a Kevin Hart show. The feeling that Sinbad is no longer the hot comic of the moment — and hasn’t been for a while — informs much of this inoffensive, baby boomer-friendly set.
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    Scavenger Killers

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 30th, 2014

    What happens when you splice together the killer-couple kicks of Bonnie and Clyde and Natural Born Killers with the ritualistic depravity of torture porn offerings like Hostel and Saw? I’m not really sure who — if anyone — was looking for an answer to that particular question, but that didn’t stop Scavenger Killers from going to extreme lengths to provide one. Unfortunately, this low-budget slasher flick/wannabe satire is entirely too clumsy and non-committal in its tone to pull it off.
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