Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as Tim Burton’s deliciously gory operetta-turned-film spectacle comes to DVD, the critical superior to the CGI/live-action
Alvin and the Chipmunks
and Jake Paltrow’s dark romantic comedy

The Good Night
, starring sister Gwyneth, Martin Freeman, and Penelope Cruz.


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


Tomatometer:
86%

Tim Burton turns his delightfully macabre sensibilities to the tale of Sweeney Todd, the bloodthirsty London barber with the sharpest straight razor in town. Adapting Steven Sondheim’s Broadway play into an epic horror-musical feature film, Burton cast frequent collaborator Johnny Depp as the vengeful madman and his own baby mama, Helena Bonham Carter, as his meat-pie baking accomplice. Critics hailed the film as a lush, bloody affair true to both Burton’s flair for the gruesome and Sondheim’s original vision — just don’t expect perfectly polished vocals from its untrained leads. Pick up the 2-disc release for nine behind-the-scenes and filmmaker featurettes, a Moviefone Unscripted video with Burton and the Oscar-nominated Depp, and more.


Alvin and the Chipmunks


Tomatometer: 24%

The antics of lovable chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore have delighted generations of kids since their debut as a chart-topping gimmick group in 1958; now, critics say, the time for chipmunk love is no more. Updated as a family adventure blending live-action and CGI, the new pic finds the pop-singing trio helping a desperate jingle writer (Jason Lee) find a hit for the American Idol set – dismal stuff for grown-ups, especially those who look back with fondness on classic-era Alvin and the Chipmunks. Special features include an inside peek at Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, a conspicuous reminder that there are far better animated experiences out there than allowing oneself to get “Munk’d.”




The Good Night


Tomatometer: 24%

A former pop star-turned-has been Gary (Martin Freeman) finds more happiness with his ideal woman in his dreams (Penelope Cruz) than he does with his sourpuss girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow) in this dark romantic comedy. As his dreams increasingly blur with reality, Gary must choose which life he’d rather have. Gwyneth’s brother Jake makes his directorial debut with this Sundance entry, which the scribes say has plenty of interesting ideas unfortunately cobbled into somewhat of a snoozer. Eternal Sunshine fans may still find use of it; director Paltrow’s audio commentary is the disc’s lone extra feature.


The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream



Tomatometer: N/A

If you loved 1991’s The Cutting Edge, and you watched ABC Family’s 2005 sequel The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold, then you’ll be interested to hear of this year’s third installment, The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream. The cable-debuted trequel naturally follows the franchise formula of pairing a prim figure skater with a rough-and-tumble hockey player, but get this: the gender roles have been reversed, as a veteran male pairs skater (Matt Lanter) begrudgingly takes on a female Gretsky (Francia Raisa) to go for championship gold! Will the unlikely pair resolve their differences on and off the ice? Could — gasp! — romance bloom betwixt the two by movie’s end? Pick up The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream to find out!


That ’70s Show Season 8



Tomatometer: N/A

Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher may have left the show that made their careers in its eighth and final season, but the rest of that ’70s crew stuck around to wrap up the hit series. Back in Season One could we have guessed that Donna (Laura Prepon) and Eric (Grace) wouldn’t be together, that Jackie (Mila Kunis) would go for Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), or that disco would ever die? Twenty-two episodes, a handful of episode commentaries, a Season 8 in 8 Minutes featurette and plenty more extras comprise the four-disc release.

‘Til next week, Ave atque vale.

This week at the movies, we’ve got honeymooners (The
Heartbreak Kid
, starring
Ben Stiller
and
Michelle Monaghan
), teenage heroes (The
Seeker
, starring

Alexander Ludwig
), bookworms in love (The
Jane Austen Book Club
, starring
Maria Bello
and Emily
Blunt
), and fledgling rappers (Feel
the Noise
, starring

Zulay Henao
). What do the critics have to say?

For Rhode Islanders, the work of
Bobby and
Peter Farrelly has long been a source
of regional pride; their best work (There’s Something About Mary,
Dumb
and Dumber
) deftly combined taboo-busting, gross-out yucks with an
undeniable sweetness. So it breaks the heart of this Ocean State native to
report that their latest,
The Heartbreak Kid
, isn’t generating all that
much warmth with the critics. Based upon
Elaine May‘s 1972 semi-classic, Kid
stars Ben Stiller as a recently-married guy who quickly learns his new bride has
much more baggage than he bargained for; on his honeymoon, he meets Miranda
(Michelle Monhagan), who just might be the right gal for him. The pundits say
that while the film does contain a smattering of raunchy laughs, they seemed
shoehorned into the film, undercutting character development and any kind of
message. At 48 percent on the Tomatometer, this Kid isn’t alright. It’s
certainly a cut below the original (at 89 percent).




The Village People recruits its seventh member.


If a compelling, magical fantasy world is something you’re actively seeking,
critics say you may want to avoid
The Seeker
. Based upon the Newberry
Award-winning book series, The Seeker is the story of a 14-year-old who
discovers he’s the last in a long line of noble fighters dedicated to battling
an evil force called the Dark. (Uh, so was Thomas Edison, like, the greatest of
those warriors? Just asking.) Critics say The Seeker is several notches
below the
Harry Potter
films in terms of emotional resonance and
filmmaking quality, and underutilizes the talents of
Ian McShane and
Frances
Conroy
. At 25 percent on the Tomatometer, The Seeker may not be what
you’re looking for.




They seek him here, they seek him there, his clothes are loud but
never square.


If your sensibilities run toward action flicks, you are likely prejudiced
against light comedies about smart people and their relationship troubles. In
the case of
The Jane Austen Book Club
, the critics say you might want to
swallow your pride. The film tells the story of a group of six women whose book
club assignment is for each to read one of Austen’s novels; they soon find
events in their lives eerily paralleling the texts they’re reading. The critics
say that what could have been a bland exercise in chick-flick-dom is elevated by
an outstanding cast that includes Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, and
Kathy Baker;
each of the principals plays her part with intelligence and warmth. If you’re so
inclined, The Jane Austen Book Club‘s 72 percent Tomatometer should offer
ample persuasion to check this film out.




"Okay, so you take a left after Northanger Abbey, and a right at Mansfield Park…"



Critics weren’t allowed to come on and
Feel the Noise
, perhaps because
it’s either too wild, wild, wild for them to understand, or it isn’t all that
good. Either way, this tale of an aspiring rapper who finds love and redemption
in the Puerto Rican Reggaeton scene was not screened before hitting theaters.
You know the drill: Guess that Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:
Lake of Fire
,
Tony Kaye‘s
expressionist, evenhanded documentary about the abortion debate, is at 100
percent; Desert Bayou, a doc about the plight of African-American
Hurricane Katrina refugees in Utah, is at 100 percent;
My Kid Could Paint
That
, a portrait of an artist who’s a very young girl (and may not be solely
responsible for her highly-valued canvases), is at 100 percent;
For the Bible
Tells Me So
, a doc that explores the Good Book’s teachings on homosexuality,
is at 89 percent;
Kurt Cobain: About a Son
, an impressionistic look at
the life of the Nirvana frontman, is at 82 percent;
Michael Clayton
,
starring George Clooney as a corporate whistleblower, is at 81 percent (check
out our review from the Toronto Film Fest
here);
Finishing the Game, a
mockumentary about an attempt to complete
Bruce Lee‘s
Game of Death
after
his untimely demise, is at 50 percent; and
The Good Night
, starring
Gwyneth Paltrow in the tale of a romance that takes place in a man’s dreams, is
at 46 percent.




Trivia question: which of these men has been around the world, from London
to the Bay?

Recent Ben Stiller Movies:
——————————–
44% — Night at the Museum (2006)
52% —
Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny
(2006)
25% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
55% — Madagascar (2005)
69% —
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

(2004)

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