RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Exporting Raymond & Rio

Plus, a heartwarming animated film for adults and some sword-and-sandal action.

by | August 2, 2011 | Comments

It seems like we’ve been saying this for quite some time now, but yet again, the home video market offers up precious little this week. There are some Blu-ray releases for relatively popular old movies, like the John Cusack comedy Better Off Dead, and then there are a handful of notable reissues for Westerns that have already seen a Blu-ray release (The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars). On top of that, there are some lazy two-packs newly available, like Gladiator/Braveheart and Godfather/Godfather II. But we won’t go into those, because for all intents and purposes, they’re not new releases. Instead, we’ll focus on a couple of highly rated animated films (one for kids and one for adults), an inspirational surfing movie, a funny documentary, and a couple of Schwarzenegger classics. See below for this week’s choices!

Rio

72%

Jesse Eisenberg’s star seems to be rising by the minute, and once you attain a certain level of prestige in Hollywood, it’s customary that your next big move is to lend your voice to an animated film. Okay, not really, but that seems to be the trend as of late, and Eisenberg follows that trend by voicing the main character in Rio, a bright, colorful film about a domesticated macaw named Blu (Eisenberg) living in Minnesota who believes himself to be the last of his kind. When Blu learns that his female counterpart exists back in Rio de Janeiro, he is flown to Brazil, where he meets and falls in love with Jewel (Anne Hathaway). Unfortunately, they’re both captured by bird smugglers, and soon they’re off on a rousing adventure to escape their captors. Critics found Rio charming, and its gorgeous visuals, catchy musical performances, and funny performances helped it to a Certified Fresh 72%. Animated fare has been hit or miss lately, but this one is likely a safe bet.

Exporting Raymond

72%

Phil Rosenthal is best known as the creator, producer and writer of the hit television sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, one of the most popular shows in recent memory. Foreign markets often adapt successful shows for their own audiences, and when the call came to create a Russian version of Raymond, Rosenthal himself traveled overseas to help with its production. What ensued was a genuine “fish out of water” story which saw Rosenthal lost in Russia, frustrated with his situation, surrounded by unfamiliar people with strange customs, and driven to the brink of insanity. The documentary Exporting Raymond chronicles Rosenthal’s efforts to create Everybody Loves Kostya and the various unforeseen misadventures he finds himself in, and critics mostly feel it’s a hilarious look at a frazzled man coping in a foreign land. The culture clash depicted in the film is often silly and nonsensical, but it’s all very real, and that makes it all the more entertaining for the rest of us.

Soul Surfer

46%

Inspirational sports stories will always have a place in our culture, because no matter how many times and in however many different ways we see the same basic storylines play out, sometimes we just like seeing the underdog come out on top. If the story being told is based on true events, even better. Such was the case for Soul Surfer, the story of real-life surfer Bethany Hamilton, whose left arm was bitten off near the shoulder by a shark when she was only 13. The film dramatizes the events of the tragedy and continues on to portray how Bethany (played by Annasophia Robb), a devout Christian, overcame all odds, embraced her new life, began surfing again, and inspired countless others. Unfortunately, critics weren’t entirely kind to the film, saying its amazing and uplifting “true story” origins were drowned in waves of Hollywood cheese, and that its spiritual messages were so watered down as to be an afterthought. If you’re a sucker for these kinds of stories, you may enjoy the film, but if not, at 50% on the Tomatometer, there’s no telling how you might like it.

My Dog Tulip

90%

It’s nice to know that, even in this age of computer-animated wizardry, there are still people out there willing to explore stories with traditional animation. Wait… What’s that? My Dog Tulip is, in fact, the first film ever to be hand-drawn and colored without using pen and paper (i.e. computer only). There is no polished sheen to this film, no eye-popping colors, no talking animals. But what does appear on screen complements perfectly the story, which is ostensibly about a middle-aged bachelor who adopts a German shepherd and forms an unlikely bond with her. Based on the 1956 memoir of the same name by J.R. Ackerley, My Dog Tulip features the distinguished voices of Christopher Plummer, Isabella Rossellini, and Lynn Redgrave (in her last role before she passed away in May of 2010), and it’s Certified Fresh at 89%. It’s an animated film made with adults in mind, and with its unconventional art style, it may not appeal to everyone, but a viewing of this is sure to be a heartwarming and meditative look at life in general.

Conan the Barbarian (1982)/Conan the Destroyer – Blu-ray

67%

Jason Momoa is all set to wreak havoc as the new Conan the Barbarian in just a couple of weeks, but just so we don’t forget who the “original” was, Universal is releasing both 1982’s Conan the Barbarian and its 1984 sequel Conan the Destoryer on Blu-Ray. For those unfamiliar, Conan the Barbarian was a character first created by Robert E. Howard in 1932 via a series of pulpy stories, which then led to several incarnations in fiction, comics, and film over the subsequent decades. But the most iconic portrayal belongs, of course, to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the two films mentioned above, which are huge favorites among fans of Ahnuld’s movies, even if Destroyer wasn’t as well-received as Barbarian. One more thing to note about this week’s Blu-ray releases of both films: while Barbarian comes with a decent helping of extras from previous editions, along with some new content (a short doc on swordmaking and on-set interviews with the cast), Destroyer doesn’t come with any at all. Somewhat puzzling, but definitely something to keep in mind if you’re considering either of these.

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