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This week’s big release, hands down, is Silver Linings Playbook. Full of A-list actors, and lauded by critics and awards committees alike (with some disagreement, as well as some overlap), David O. Russell’s film about two dysfunctional individuals developing an intricate friendship under odd circumstances wowed at the box office, pulling in $232 million worldwide. Starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and featuring a supporting cast offering the likes of Robert DeNiro, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver, and John Ortiz, the film was eventually nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning one.
The Starz and Anchor Bay release is available on DVD and on Blu-ray in a 2-disc combo pack that comes with plenty of bonus features. Some are basic, including the deleted scenes and a featurette on the movie. However, some are a little quirkier, like the movie itself, including a “Dance Rehearsal” and a segment that teaches fans to dance like Pat & Tiffany.
While Silver Linings Playbook may be the bright spot in this week’s releases, there are plenty of other releases, from comedies to TV seasons, that may pique your interest. Read on to learn about some of April 30th's best releases, and maybe even a few that may have slipped under your radar.
The Guilt Trip Blu-ray
Director Anne Fletcher isn’t exactly known for making life-changing comedies. In The Guilt Trip she works outside of her normally romantic-oriented box to tell a road trip story featuring a mother and her son. Fletcher’s best decision was nabbing Seth Rogan and Barbra Streisand for the roles of inventor Andy and his overbearing mother, Joyce. The two are both good at chatting off the cuff, and have a familial chemistry you wouldn’t necessarily expect from the veteran actress and the young comedian.
The bonus features seem to think this movie is remarkable because Dan Fogelman’s script is based on a real-life road trip he took with his own mother. Most of the events in the film actually occurred, and while that’s a sweet story to tell in a bonus segment, I’m not sure following the same order of events helps The Guilt Trip, at all. The larger overarching plot follows Andy dragging his mother on this trip in order to reunite her with a love from her past, but this isn’t enough to supplement the lengthy on the road shots we must suffer through during most of the film. The plot needs to be zanier, or at least less car and weather-driven.
That isn’t to say The Guilt Trip doesn’t offer plenty of humorous moments. There’s an eating contest scene straight out of an episode of Man vs. Food and a moment when mom and son drive hours and hours out of the way in order to stop at the Grand Canyon, which doesn’t end up being the big event they had hoped. The rapport between Streisand and Rogan is extremely likable, and helps us to buy in to the idea that they are family members.
The Guilt Trip’s biggest problem is that it’s unpleasantly predictable. We know roughly where the film is going the entire way through and no amount of witty banter can change that fact. Because of this, The Guilt Trip is destined to never reach beyond an average film, but it also guarantees the movie is not terrible. If you like both of the film’s leads, The Guilt Trip is a pleasant comedy that is probably worth a rental or digital download. Some of the extras are great, however, so if you did like the film, it may be worth it to nab a copy over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: I’m a sucker for the “what-if” possibilities of alternate anythings, and I really liked the alternate opening sequences and, especially the alternate ending of the film, which teases a romance between Andy and “other Joyce” (Ari Graynor). I’m not sure introducing that new plot would have helped this film any, but I liked seeing Andy get his happy ending, just as his mother did.
Comedies usually offer some of the best bonus footage out there due to the improving comedy actors are usually good with. While some of the bonus features, including “Real Mother of A Road Trip” offer more candid filming experiences, some of them are just flat out there to offer laughs. You can check out the rest of the extras, below.
Other Special Features:
“Barbra & Seth”
“Guilt Trip: Real Mother of a Road Trip”
“In the Driver’s Seat”
“Not Really A Road Trip Movie”
The Notebook: Ultimate Collector’s Edition
Nick Cassavetes’ The Notebook was released all the way back in 2004, and in the time since, the film has been released on DVD and later Blu-ray in a slew of regular and limited editions meant to entice buyers to purchase or perhaps even re-purchase the film. This time around, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has put together The Notebook: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, which boasts a slew of keepsakes for major fans of the film.
The first thing you’ll notice about the set is that it is extremely heavy. The Ultimate Collector’s Edition comes in a box that is bigger than most TV sets and while the Blu-ray copy itself is fairly small, the set also offers The Notebook Journal, a leatherbound (well, at least fake leather) book with illustrations from scenes in the film drawn along the edges of its pages. Additionally, an envelope filled with quotes and film stills—including plenty of close-ups of Ryan Gosling—are available with the set. The crown jewel is the collectible, heart-shaped locket that is a versatile pendant necklace and is actually pretty cute.
The Notebook is based on a novel by the bestselling author Nicholas Sparks, and follows the sometimes tempestuous love story of Noah and Allie, a tale of forbidden love, of making adult choices, and for fighting for the people who mean the most. As most of the film is set in the past at the beginning of the couple’s love narrative in the 1940s, the lovely costuming and scenery helps to add depth and charm to the somewhat familiar tale.
At this point, The Notebook has probably wafted into your life at one point or another. Either you are the type of person who loves the simple and elegant nature of this sort of romantic story, or you are the cynical type who might scoff at the tale. This set isn’t for the latter person. It’s for the person who wants to come home after a long day at work or school and relax on the couch, dreaming about the potential of romance while eating a pint of ice cream.
All in all, if you are a fan of the romantic drama who already owns a copy of the film, it may not be worth it to re-purchase, but if you are a first time buyer or are ready to trade up for a Blu-ray copy, this is the route to go.
You can order The Notebook: Ultimate Collector’s Edition over at Amazon.
Best Special Feature: Most of the exciting extras are the aforementioned keepsakes. The necklace is stunning and the film stills are actually surprisingly well done, rather than cheesy (Alright, maybe a little cheesy, but I buy it). The actual extras on the set were created for other editions of the film, so if you already own a copy of The Notebook, it’s likely you’ve already seen them.
If you haven't come across in of the bonus footage, nine deleted scenes are available with the set and each of these is worth a watch. If I had to choose an extra, these were the most exciting for me, although the inclusion of Rachel McAdams’ screen test is also an interesting watch. Again, if you are buying this set, it should be for the Blu-ray film and the keepsake extras. If you’re not, I’m sure there are cheaper versions on the market.
Other Special Features:
Audio Commentaries from Nick Cassavetes and Nicholas Sparks
“All in the Family: Nick Cassavetes”
“Nicholas Sparks: A Simply Story, Well Told”
“Southern Exposure: Locating The Notebook”
“Casting Rachel and Ryan”
“Rachel McAdams Screen Test”
Other April 30 Releases
There is a strange proliferation of Blu-ray-only releases this week, with titles so numerous I didn’t even bother to list them below—that is, other than Funny Girl, because everyone deserves a little Audrey Hepburn in crisp High Definition in their lives. If you are into some oldies and goodies, this week’s Blu-ray releases include Cloak and Dagger, The Enforcer, The Lonely Trail, and much, much more.
Another title that may have flown under people’s radars is Not Fade Away, the first full-length film from The Sopranos creator David Chase. This project wasn’t a straight-to-HBO release this time around, but despite a large following for The Sopranos, Not Fade Away didn’t do all that well at the box office. The film had a substantial $20 million budget and didn’t make the most of it, but if you do get the opportunity to see it, maybe even through VOD, it’s an indie about young love and the British Invasion, and a charming film with a great soundtrack (that’s probably where a lot of the budget money went). You can check out some of the other releases this week, below.
Unless otherwise noted, all of the below titles are available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Silver Linings Playbook
Not Fade Away
Nova: Earth From Space
Friends: The Complete First Season Blu-ray
Friends: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray
The Wicked DVD
Funny Girl Blu-ray