View from the Rental Counter: 12/11/04

Pick of the Week
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Extended Edition)
Market: Folks, this is as close as we’re going to get to a full-scale epic in the digital age. There’s a reason for all the CGI in these movies: The story couldn’t be told any other way. Peter Jackson has strewn these movies with not only a wonderful and emotionally fulfilling plot (coming to a finish here) but with so many tiny grace notes that the movies bear up to as many repeated viewings as you can put them through. Everyone should enjoy this one and I’m looking forward to the 50 minutes of additional footage.

Mainstream
Collateral
MPAA: R (language and situations)
Budget: $65M
Gross: $100M
Market: Film lovers. Those people who pine not for the fjords but for more movies like Heat and Last of the Mohicans (both by Collateral director Michael Mann) and their stylized violence. Mann never accidentally points his camera anywhere. Each shot is always purposeful and meaningful.

I Robot
MPAA: PG-13 (violence and partial nudity)
Budget: $105M
Gross: $144M
Market: This is this week’s popcorn flick. Based on the marketing and reviews of this movie it’s not very heavy on the brain and is almost completely illogical. A good choice if you want to have movie on while you’re writing Christmas cards.

Mary Poppins
Market: Those of you who (like me) long for the days when Disney made sugary sweet movies but at least wasn’t actively pandering to the entire population like they are now. This 40th Anniversary release isn’t so much to present the movie in a new way but to look nice next to…

Princess Diaries 2 – Royal Engagement
MPAA: G
Budget: $40M
Gross: $95M
Market: Teenage girls and their parents who are looking to placate them. This rides the same wave the original started and which then spawned the Freaky Friday remake and such.

Meet the Parents: Special Edition
Market: Is anyone (aside from his accountant) really enjoying this phase of Robert DeNiro’s career? I can see the occasional dabble in comedy but when he said “yes” to Rocky and Bullwinkle then it was time for Scorsese to give him a call. Then again they both were in Shark Tale, so that may not have been the right person to talk DeNiro off the ledge. Anyway, this “Special Edition” is timed to tie into the theatrical release of Meet the Fockers.

Off the Beaten Path
Door in the Floor
MPAA: R (sexuality and language)
Budget: N/A
Gross: $3.8M
Market: Jeff Bridges hasn’t achieved nearly the kind of success or stardom that his acting ability warrants. If you enjoy Bridges, LA Confidential-era Kim Basinger or just emotional dramas as a genre then this may be worth a rent. I know I will be.

We Don’t Live Here Anymore
MPAA: R (language and sexual content)
Budget: $3M
Gross: $2M
Market: I haven’t been able to catch Six Feet Under but enormously enjoyed Peter Krause on Sports Night. This movie seems like it would appeal to anyone who also enjoys Neil LaBute’s or David Mamet’s movies.

Television & Box Sets
Ben Stiller Collection
Just a boxing of four of Stiller’s movies by Universal.

Family Guy – Freakin’ Sweet Collection
This collection contains the unedited versions of some episodes which wound up being cut on the full-season sets. Also is billed as creator Seth McFarlane’s “favorites”. Basically it’s a new package to put out now that the seasons are done.

Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica – Complete 1st Season
Take one blonde who realized she could make a lot of money playing brain-dead. Add one guy who is going to ride that train as long as he can until someone more famous comes along. Mix together in front of MTV’s cameras. Result is an inexplicable cultural phenomenon.

Quantum Leap: Complete 2nd Season
Great show while it was still great, before there started to be weird supernatural overtones to the whole leaping thing.

Rocky Anthology
The second attempt by MGM to package the Rocky series. This one, I believe does include anamorphic transfers on all five movies, unlike the previous release.

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