Ride Along Blu-rayComedian and actor Kevin Hart went from bit player to leading man over the last several months, starring in both Ride Along and About Last Night in a relatively short period of time. It’s the former that has made its way onto Blu-ray and DVD this week, telling a sort-of buddy cop story about a mysterious crime boss and cleaning up the streets of Atlanta.
Ride Along follows good-guy security guard Ben (Kevin Hart), a recent enrollee in the police academy who happens to have a gorgeous, likeable girlfriend (Tika Sumpter) and an almost brother-in-law named James (Ice Cube) who hates Ben’s rapid-fire dialogue and bumbling demeanor. To make matters worse, James is a detective, and he offers to bring Ben around for a ride along to show him how ill-suited he would be as a police officer. Of course, in this breezy, lesson-filled narrative, Ben has more to offer than meets the eye.
James might be a heavy hitter in the police department, but it’s clear from the beginning that this is Hart’s vehicle. Ice Cube is just along for the ride, willing to give Hart as many improvised moments as necessary and take a backseat as the straight man. Their relationship mostly works, providing a few funny and unusual moments in the buddy comedy canon. It’s Hart who is also impressive, playing the same fast-talking character we’re typically used to, but adding nuance to that performance as a chronic underachiever. He’s growing as an actor, and even if Ride Along isn’t the best vehicle to prove it, it’s still a reason to watch.
Best Special Feature:
It’s probably "Key & Cube’s Wild Ride". The featurette follows what basically amounts as a bromance between the two stars. They both bring something completely different to the table. Cube is a straight man. He’s stoic, forceful and intimidating. Hart is the exact opposite. He’s referred to as the Energizer Bunny because he never stops. The combination actually works quite well in the movie, and you can tell they realized that from the first day on set.
Other Bonus Features:
"An Explosive Ride"
"You Gonna Learn Today"
"Anatomy of the Big Blast"
"It was a Good Day: On the Set of Ride Along"
"Atlanta: The Character"
Feature Commentary with Director Tim Story
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Blu-rayThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a long time in the making, with early prospects involving the likes of Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg. Ben Stiller eventually attached himself to the project and the wheels finally started turning. With The Pursuit of Happyness scriptwriter Steve Conrad on board and a small but integral comedic cast, including Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott, Walter Mitty had all of the makings of a warm and witty holiday movie. What is more surprising is the film’s beauty.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starts in the lush and well-laid out space of the magazine Life, which is about to go through historic changes via a new, online platform. For many of the staff, including the titular Mitty (Stiller), job descriptions from copy editor to negative assets manager are on the line. It doesn’t help Mitty that he has a penchant for zoning out, daydreaming about his coworker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) and various personas that might impress her. But when an important negative by photographer Sean O’Connell (Penn) goes missing, Mitty steps out of his shell and into the world of the living, traveling to Greenland and beyond to find the important photograph. It sounds like the traveling sequences would be some of the most lively and beautiful, but Mitty’s imaginary world is so avid that the movie is graceful and engaging from beginning to end.
Delightful and charming but never too deep, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the perfect evening romp through parts of the world most of us can only dream of. You can find out for yourself by purchasing a copy over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature:
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s set doesn’t look like it is jam-packed with bonus content, but it actually is. The "Behind the Scenes" section constitutes a slew of short extras looking at Thurber’s original short story and how the movie eventually came together for the big screen. There’s some repeat between the segments and it’s frustrating that there is no "play all" option, but I still enjoyed the extra, as well as the photography treatment given to the menu page.
Other Bonus Features:
Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes
Behind the Scenes
"Stay Alive" music video by Jose Gonzalez
Philomena Blu-rayIn a clunky bit of exposition, we learn that government advisor Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) has been sacked and is looking for a new gig. Through a chance encounter, he meets the daughter of a woman named Philomena (Judi Dench), who has been looking for her son for nearly fifty years. After a little bit of cajoling, Sixsmith decides to return to his roots as a journalist and cover the "puff piece" that is Philomena’s life story.
Of course, it’s not really a puff story. Instead, it’s a story of convictions and of limited options, of a birth mother who signed an agreement to adopt out her child when she had no other place to go. It’s a story of traveling to a new country and seeing how children grow into adults, and it’s a story about two people who change and develop their lives in irrefutable ways. It’s the type of emotional but small budget story the Academy might love, and it’s no shock Philomena landed a handful of Oscar nominations. Philomena is familiar even in its most shocking moments, but writers Coogan and Jeff Pope put enough interesting flourishes on the adoption tale to keep audiences interested. All in all, Philomena looks crisp on Blu-ray and offers a few extras, including audio commentary, but if you are looking to purchase the flick, you should really do so for the story.
If comedy and awards nominees aren’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other releases this week. You can take a look at some more of this week’s releases, below. Unless otherwise noted, releases are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Other April 15 Releases:
Flowers in the Attic
Ripper Street Season 2
The Nut Job
Touch of Evil Blu-ray
Double Indemnity Blu-ray
The Invisible Woman
Stan Lee’s Mighty 7: Beginning
Date and Switch
Angor Management: Volume 3