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Labor Day Blu-rayLabor Day is a quiet movie about an extraordinary event that occurs as a young man is growing up and finding his way in the world. It’s a lonely movie, about a mother and her son who feel very out of tune with the rest of the world and who inexplicably begin to awaken once a stranger enters their lives.
We’re introduced to Henry Wheeler (Gattlin Griffith) through a lovely sequence narrated by Tobey Maguire that explains the young man’s relationship with his mother, Adele (Kate Winslet). Henry’s father, Gerald (Clark Gregg), left some time prior to the events of the film to start a new family. Because of this, Henry has taken on many of the traditional male household roles. When a known fugitive named Frank (Josh Brolin) enters their lives, his appearance during Labor Day weekend offers a breath of fresh air in a stuffy household, as well as an intimate look into life behind closed doors.
Labor Day was initially a book written by Joyce Maynard, and the novel’s setup makes for trouble in the film, with plenty of backstory. Tobey Maguire has to narrate the film so that we understand where the characters are coming from. Flashbacks have to be employed so we understand how the main characters used to feel and behave. Still, despite the oddball setup of the novel and its many troubled expository devices, Labor Day is a worthwhile venture.
Mostly the film works because its characters have emotional depth. Young Henry is bright-eyed and go with the flow, open to new changes in his world. It’s Kate Winslet who steals scenes playing an emotionally broken woman who learns to find joy in unexpected chances and moments. Poor Brolin has the most interesting character but is stuck playing second fiddle.
It’s not easy to pin Labor Day into a box and describe what kind of story it is. It’s a coming-of-age narrative and a romance, an awakening story and a drama. It’s all of these things and more. It’s not the best movie, you’ll see all year, but credit should go to Jason Reitman for trying his hand at something unexpected and more or less, pulling it off.
Best Special Feature:
The extras, like Labor Day itself, are quietly compelling. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but fans of Jason Reitman should enjoy the articulate way the director explains his ideas during the commentary, but especially the "Making of" segment. While the deleted scenes are mostly a bust, there is interesting information about the timeline of the film’s creation, as well as interesting input from the cast.
Other Bonus Features:
Commentary by Jason Reitman, directory of photography Eric Steelberg and first assistant director co-producer Jason Blumenfeld
"End of Summer: Making Labor Day"
The Legend of Hercules Blu-ray 3DThe Legend of Hercules’ low box office intake and laughable Rotten Tomatoes score might be enough to turn off potential viewers. However, if you do engage with the movie, you’ll find The Legend of Hercules is a knock-off of plenty of legendary movies in a format that looks cheaper than the average episode of Spartacus. If you like half naked men participating in the masculine rituals of yesteryear, you’ll probably believe The Legend of Hercules is a passable romp.
Interestingly, Lionsgate and Summit’s 3D set only comes with one disc. After sitting through the previews, your player will detect whether you have a Blu-ray 3D player or the regular 2D machine and will direct viewers to the appropriate menu. The whole set is laid out pretty nicely and should be a reminder that an ancient Greek story about Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) and Hercules (Kellan Lutz) could have been a nice moneymaker for the studio. Unfortunately, by the time Hera appears in disguise to declare the big prophecy that sets the "epic" story going, the graphics, action and acting should have already turned people off. The movie virtually had the same budget as the original 300, and it seems the studio was looking for the same sort of moneymaker, but it just doesn’t pan out.
You can check out some more of this week’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, sets are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Other April 28 Releases
Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed
Star Trek Enterprise: Season 4 DVD
Dynasty: The Eighth Season-Volume One DVD