This week in home releases, we have a Bret Easton Ellis adaptation (The Informers, which we present with an exclusive clip), a classy Criterion release (The Last Days of Disco), a complete set of a classic 1980s cartoon (Dungeons & Dragons: The Animated Series), some Stephen King horror that’s hitting high-def (Children of the Corn), and shirtless guys beating the stuffing out of each other (Fighting). In other words, there’s something for everyone this week. Keep reading for a guide your best DVD and Blu-Ray options this week.


The Informers

Movies based on Bret Easton Ellis books are always tough sells in theaters. The author of American Psycho, Less Than Zero, and The Rules of Attraction is adept at creating slick stories of debutantes and libertines behaving very, very badly. The Informers, a seamy, cynical peek into sex and glamor during the 1980s, is no exception. But critics were rough on this one; maybe audiences prefer to keep their anti-heroes on television. Judge for yourself with this exclusive behind-the-scenes look with director Gregor Jordan.



Director Greg Mottola’s Adventureland didn’t generate the same kind of box office his previous movie Superbad did, but they did both land a Certified Fresh 88% Tomatometer. Both capture different sides of adulthood, though Adventureland takes a more autobiographical bent: the story of James’s (Jesse Eisenberg) summer job at a carnival is reportedly inspired by Mottola’s own experiences with a similar job.


Sunshine Cleaning

Sometime in the past few years or so, someone in Hollywood decreed that all independent comedies had to meet a minimum level of “quirkiness,” but not all of them have succeeded the way 2001’s Little Miss Sunshine did. Luckily, Sunshine Cleaning manages to have more in common with Little Miss Sunshine than just part of its name and actor Alan Arkin; the story of two down-but-not-out sisters who begin a crime scene cleanup business is Certified Fresh. Pick it up this week and catch Amy Adams and Emily Blunt in a sweet and funny, if familiar, story about family.



On paper, Duplicity looked like a can’t-miss proposition. It’s a screwball espionage caper starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, supported by Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti and directed by Tony Gilroy, red-hot from the success of the Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton. And yet the film was something of a box-office disappointment and received mixed notices from the pundits. Still, they were generally positive, calling Duplicity a sophisticated, jaunty romp.



Hey kids! Do you enjoy seeing people get punched in the face? Well, have I got a DVD for you. It’s aptly titled Fighting, and it stars Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard as a hot young MMA prospect and his grizzled mentor, respectively. While the reviews for Fighting, at best, put the “mixed” in “mixed martial arts,” some critics praised the film for its energy and better-than-average performances, even if the whole is pretty formulaic. The DVD offers several deleted scenes; it’s also available in Blu-ray.


Rudo y Cursi

Carlos Cuaron’s Rudo y Cursi has sibling rivalry written all over it. Its two central characters are brothers who embark on separate careers in soccer, but what’s more, they’re played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, childhood pals in real life who were last seen on screen together in 2001’s Y Tu Mama Tambien, which Cuaron co-wrote with his brother, Alfonso. Despite its few sports movie clichés, Rudo y Cursi fell just short of Certified Fresh status at 72 percent and, buoyed by strong performances from Bernal and Luna, marked Carlos Cuaron as a potential rival to his more illustrious brother.


Children of the Corn

If the murderous teens of Gatlin, Nebraska weren’t scary enough for you in 1984, then maybe seeing them crucify grown-ups in high-definition now will do the trick. The 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn drops this week, packed full of regular goodies like audio commentary and production stills, as well as three brand new featurettes with the cast and crew. Make sure you put the adults to bed before you turn it on.


The Last Days of Disco

Whatever happened to Whit Stillman? In the early 1990s, he was carving out a nice little career with his offbeat comedies of manners; his films (which include Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco, out this week in a spiffy Criterion edition) paved the way for Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. Starring Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale, and Stillman regular Chris Eigeman, The Last Days of Disco tells the story of a group of young Manhattanites who suffer through their dull office jobs before hitting a Studio 54-esque club at night. The DVD features a restored transfer of the film, commentary from Stillman, Sevingy, and Eigeman, deleted scenes are more.


Dungeons & Dragons: The Animated Series

Dungeons & Dragons is one of those rare 1980s cartoons that holds up well. The animation and voice work is standard for the era, but the art design is a notch above most and the general storyline (a group of teenagers are trapped in a violent fantasy world) can be surprisingly affecting. An ornately-packaged series set was released a few years ago but has since gone out of print. This new package has all 27 episodes minus any special features, reducing it to normal DVD pricing. This is not a great purchase for a more devoted fan, but perfect for luring in casual audience.


Stunt Rock

At long last: Stunt Rock! This 1978 midnight movie tells the gentle tale of Grant Page, an Australian stuntman who travels to Los Angeles for a TV series. Quickly, though, this premise gives way for Stunt Rock‘s true purpose: jamming as much prog rock, pyrotechnics, insane stunts, adrenaline, and car wreckage into 90 minutes as humanely possible.

Written by Alex Vo, Ryan Fujitani, and Tim Ryan.

This week at the movies, we’ve got bare-knuckle bouts (Fighting, starring Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard), the wonders of nature (Earth, narrated by James Earl Jones), a musical friendship (The Soloist, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx), and some office intrigue (Obsessed, starring Idris Elba and Beyonce Knowles). What do the critics have to say?



Look, you pretty much know what you’re getting into with a movie called Fighting: lots of tough-as-nails dudes beating the stuffing out of each other. And the pundits say that while director Dito Montiel does his best to infuse interesting characterization and a sense of place, Fighting is still a shopworn underdog sports movie. Channing Tatum stars as a kid who’s just arrived in New York City from Alabama; after attempting to make a living on the streets, he falls in with a sketchy character (Terrence Howard) who realizes he may be a natural fit for the world of underground bare-knuckle brawls. The pundits say Fighting is a bit better than its setup would suggest, with a good deal of energy and a dash of gritty authenticity. However, others say the performances are a mixed bag and the script is ultimately weighted down by clichés. (Check out Terrence Howard’s Five Favorite Films.)



The popular award-winning BBC series Planet Earth offered some staggeringly beautiful images of life around the globe. If the small screen version was too limited to contain such visual majesty, now comes its multiplex companion: Earth, which critics say is a remarkable document with a timely message. Narrated by (who else?) James Earl Jones, Earth focuses on three mother/child relationships in the animal kingdom, following the exploits of polar bears, humpback whales, and African elephants. The pundits say Earth doesn’t offer a ton of insight, but the images on display are so gorgeous that viewers are unlikely to quibble too much. Plus, it invites audiences to reflect upon our place in the larger ecosystem. Earth is Certified Fresh.


The Soloist

The Soloist tells an inspiring true story, and its stars and director are Oscar nominees. But distinguished pedigree does not a movie make, and critics say The Soloist is too uneven to fully resonate. Robert Downey Jr. stars as Steve Lopez, an LA Times reporter who befriends, and writes movingly about, a homeless, profoundly mentally ill man named Nathaniel Ayers, who was once a virtuoso cellist. The pundits say all the elements are here for a moving tale, and Downey and Foxx give it everything they’ve got; unfortunately, that’s not enough to overcome the film’s lack of focus and maudlin stretches. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Downey’s best-reviewed films, and find out director Joe Wright’s Five Favorite Films).



It appears the folks behind Obsessed were dubious that critics would be, ahem, obsessed with their film. Hence, it wasn’t screened prior to its release. The movie stars Idris Elba as a successful asset manager who’s happily married — to Beyonce, no less — before an attractive, brazen office temp (Ali Larter) threatens to bring his world crashing down. Kids, it’s time to guess that Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

Finally, props to Brendan C. for correctly guessing Crank High Voltage‘s 63 percent Tomatometer.

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