This week on home video, the widest releases available also happen to be the lowest-rated films out. Well, perhaps not in the grand scheme of things, as we’re certain some of the direct-to-video titles could possibly be worse. But in any event, we’re bringing you the latest titles along with a smattering of classic reissues, a couple of indie films, and a new Criterion collection of two films from legendary Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. At least a couple of these are audience favorites, so here’s hoping there’s something here for you! Check out the full list below!



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The Bounty Hunter

Usually after a breakup one’s memories are more wholeheartedly nostalgic, but for Bounty Hunter, a half-hearted contortion of the old “remarriage comedy,” compliments are middling: The cast is beautifully tanned! If you look past the plot, the film’s fun to watch! Gerard Butler transparently fakes an American accent to play an ex-cop who disappointed his wife and his profession and had to turn to bounty hunting for a living. Jennifer Aniston, the ex-wife, is a crime beat reporter in NY on the lam because she knew too much about a murder trial. On the one hand, critics said Aniston was as charismatic as ever, which means her fans won’t be let down; but Butler fans expecting a relationship contribution more than half-assed (I’m talking about his accent again) could easily find better fish in the sea. The DVD boasts little to be proud of: a making of featurette, a featurette called “Rules for Outwitting a Bounty Hunter” (remarriage might be an option, just be warned) and another called “Stops Along the Road” about locations for the film.



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Greenberg

Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding, Kicking and Screaming) has made a name for himself as a sort of master portrait painter of ambivalent characters — his last dramedy, Greenberg, took from a lesser-known font of inspiration: mumblecore. Featuring Greta Gerwig, the princess of mumblecore, in what might be her breakout role, the story weaves in the manchild, the educated wayward son and the manic pixie dreamgirl as good as a $10,000 feature might. About a guy just released from an institution (Ben Stiller), Greenberg extends his hiatus by caretaking his brother’s LA estate, complete with personal assistant (Gerwig). While he’s there he looks up his long lost flame (director’s wife, Jennifer Jason-Leigh) who clearly remembers their relationship in a light different than Greenberg does, and his ex-bandmate (Rhys Ifans) who maybe kinda wants to jam with him. Stiller’s trademark angst isn’t strained for accessability here so his performance has been lauded, but none so much as Gerwig, who’s lackadaisicalness is near epic in scale. Now whether that’s your cup of milquetoast or not, it does have a value to it that uses its circumstances well: it neither sweats at the fringe nor sits in the mainstream and so gets at some ideas neither the fringe clinger nor the mainstream lounger can. Extras include Featurettes “Greenberg Loves Los Angeles” and “Noah Baumbach Takes A Novel Approach.”



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Chloe

Amanda Seyfried first caught the public’s eye as the na�ve and dim-witted member of Rachel McAdams’s Mean Girls posse, continuing on to play similarly sweet roles in films like Mamma Mia! and Letters to Juliet. Even in the horror-comedy Jennifer’s Body, Seyfried played the innocent foil to Megan Fox’s evil seductress. But earlier this year, Seyfried shed her good-girl image — and her clothes — to play the title role in the erotic thriller Chloe. Co-starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore, Chloe centers around a woman named Catherine (Moore) who suspects her husband David (Neeson) of cheating on her; in a dangerous and ill-advised ploy to test his faithfulness, she hires a prostitute (Seyfried) to make advances on David. As Chloe offers Catherine the sordid details of her encounters with David in regular meetings, something else begins to awaken within Catherine, and soon all three are embroiled in a complex web of deceit. Unfortunately, critics were lukewarm on Chloe, criticizing the film for failing to capitalize on its strong cast and titillating premise; somehow the film falls flat. However, if you’re looking for a psychological thriller with a star playing against her type, then this might work for you.



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The Greatest

Similar to Chloe, here’s another small, independent drama about a couple whose lives are unexpectedly interrupted by the presence of a young woman. Again, we have two established actors in the roles of the couple and another up-and-coming young star as the girl who shows up and changes their lives. The couple in The Greatest is Allen and Grace Brewer (played by Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon), who have recently lost a son in a car accident. In the midst of their grieving, a young woman named Rose (recently Oscar-nominated Carey Mulligan) shows up at their home and informs them she is pregnant with their deceased son’s child. The Brewers agree to take Rose in, and though she is at first simply a reminder of what they have lost, she soon brings the family together. Sound like a bit of melodrama? That’s what the critics thought too, awarding the film a straight-up 50% on the Tomatometer. But despite the plot’s predictable turns, most felt that the performances were strong enough to warrant a watch. The film opened in very limited release earlier this year, so if you didn’t see it (and chances are that you didn’t), you can check it out on home video this week.



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Our Family Wedding

Movies about weddings are easy to relate to because all of us have either been to one or been involved in one in some capacity. When you throw in the added drama of two very different families suddenly finding themselves linked to one another, the story becomes even more personal; who doesn’t have that overbearing in-law no one can stand, or the crotchety grandparent who disapproves of everything, or some variation of the sort? 2010’s Our Family Wedding sought to capture that very phenomenon, mining cultural differences in hopes of striking comedy gold. Unfortunately, critics saw right through the scheme, and the film, about a young interracial couple (America Ferrera and Lance Gross) and their dueling alpha dads (Carlos Mencia and Forest Whitaker) came up nearly empty, registering only a 13% on the Tomatometer. Though critics saw some promise in the cast and the initial premise, they found that it was executed poorly, with contrived situational comedy and a mirthless script. You could probably do better if you’re looking for a romantic comedy, but if you enjoy watching grown folks yell at each other and engage in silly pratfalls, this was made for you.



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Insomnia (2002) Blu-Ray

Christopher Nolan’s Inception is just around the corner, and the buzzmeter for the film is currently off the charts. So it’s not surprising that Warner Bros. would decide to release one of Nolan’s earlier hits on Blu-Ray this week; the hit in question is 2002’s Insomnia, a remake of the Norwegian film of the same title from just five years prior. Nolan’s Insomnia stars Al Pacino as Will Dormer, an LAPD officer sent up to Alaska to help investigate the murder of a 17-year-old girl. Dormer himself faces some turmoil, as his partner Hap Echkart (Martin Donovan) is set to testify against him in an Internal Affairs investigation accusing Dormer of planting evidence on a suspect. As Dormer and Eckhart close in on the Alaskan suspect, things go tragically wrong, and the murder suspect himself (played by Robin Williams) ultimately ends up with a piece of incriminating evidence against Dormer. The film co-stars Hilary Swank, bringing the number of Oscar-winners in the cast to a whopping three, and critics felt that the performances reflected this pedigree. At an impressive 92% on the Tomatometer, Insomnia is Certified Fresh; it’s a smart and riveting psychological drama that’s now available on Blu-Ray for the first time. Though the bonus features are simply ported over from the standard DVD, fans may want to pick this up anyway, just for the hi-def quality.



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In Bruges Blu-Ray

The early part of the calendar year leading up to the Summer is typically thought of as the studio dumping ground for films they don’t expect to win any awards. There are exceptions, of course, as well as surprise hits, like David Fincher’s Zodiac, which opened in March of 2007 to overwhelmingly positive reviews. Another similar sleeper hit was 2008’s In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as a couple of hitmen hiding out, well, in Bruges. The story centers on Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson), who have just come off a hit-gone-wrong in London and have been ordered by their boss (Ralph Fiennes) to spend some time in the Belgian city until things blow over a bit. As they spend their days touring the city — Ken loves it, but Ray constantly complains — they come face-to-face with increasingly bizarre local encounters until it all culminates in a final order from their boss that leaves them a little lost. First-time writer/director Martin McDonagh was an award-winning playwright before turning his talents to the big screen, and his knack for witty dialogue shines in the script. On top of that, both Farrell and Gleeson turn in great performances, making this an effective blend of dark comedy and genre crime thriller.


Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu – Criterion Collection

Cinephiles and film buffs who love international cinema need no introduction to legendary Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, probably best known for his 1953 masterpiece Tokyo Story, which is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made. Known for his poignant portrayals of family dynamics and generational conflict, he began his career during the silent era of film and saw continued success all the way up until the time of his death in 1963. This week, Criterion releases two of his early films for the first time on home video, and both deal with the sort of relationship themes he later perfected throughout his career. The first of the two-film collector’s set is 1936’s The Only Son, Ozu’s first film in the sound era, which tells the story of a mother who goes to great lengths to ensure her son is provided with a proper education. The second film is 1942’s There Was A Father, in which actor Chishu Ryu (a frequent Ozu collaborator and one of the stars of Tokyo Story) plays a widowed schoolteacher whose devotion to his son only serves to separate them all the more. The set includes a few special features, like interviews with film scholars and essay booklets, but the very fact that they’re now available is the main draw here. You can pick up the set this week.

Written by Ryan Fujitani and Sara Maria Vizcarrondo

The Red Queen ruled once again as Disney’s Alice in Wonderland remained at number one for the third consecutive frame beating out another pack of new releases. Fox’s tween comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid beat expectations to open in second place while Sony’s Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler vehicle The Bounty Hunter enjoyed a solid debut of its own close behind in third. But Universal’s new action entry Repo Men flopped in fourth with a miserable showing. The overall box office was up over 2009 for the fourth straight weekend.

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Audiences lined up again for some 3D fun with Johnny Depp with Alice in Wonderland easily defending its crown with an estimated $34.5M in its third round boosting the 17-day cume to a stellar $265.8M. It was Disney’s first three-peat at number one since Depp’s megahit Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest from July 2006. Staying atop the box office chart for this long is rare these days. Outside of Avatar, the last film to spend three weekends in first place was Tropic Thunder from the summer of 2008.

Alice smashed the $250M mark on Saturday after only 16 days and looks headed for the $350M mark. The Tim Burton pic is already the second highest-grossing film to ever open in the January-to-April corridor trailing just The Passion of the Christ which hauled in $370.3M in 2004 after a late February debut. This weekend, Alice also joined the list of the Top 50 all-time domestic blockbusters sitting at number 45 between Shrek ($267.7M) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($262M).

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Fox posted brawny numbers for its kidpic Diary of a Wimpy Kid from 3,077 playdates for a strong $7,085 average. Based on the popular middle school-set book, the PG-rated film had no stars but instead capitalized on a built-in audience of fans attracting an impressive amount of business considering how Alice in Wonderland is still playing well to kids of all ages. With a budget of under $20M, the studio should not only see a healthy profit from box office and DVD sales but will also have a new franchise since there are still three more books in the series that can keep the cash coming in. Studio research indicated that 59% of the audience was under 25 and 51% was female. Fox is expecting upcoming spring and Easter school closings to keep the film going.

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Opening close behind in third place was the battle-of-the-exes film The Bounty Hunter which seized an estimated $21M from 3,074 theaters for a solid $6,831 average. The PG-13 pic starring Gerard Butler as a bounty hunter assigned to capture his bail-jumping ex-wife played by Jennifer Aniston catered to an audience of adult women. Studio research showed that 58% of the crowd was female with the 50/50 age split at 30 instead of 25. The opening was almost identical to the $21.6M debut of 2008’s Fool’s Gold starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. Both were battle-of-the-sexes action-comedies directed by Andy Tennant with poor reviews that were sold on the starpower of the beautiful people on screen. Gold, which enjoyed a holiday on its second weekend, ended with $70.2M and Bounty could approach the same vicinity which would be an encouraging performance given the budget that was in the low $40M range. Overseas potential looks solid as Aniston has been a bankable draw and Butler has seen his star wattage rise in the last year.

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The new sci-fi actioner Repo Men failed to capture any meaningful business in its first weekend with a poor opening of $6.2M, according to estimates. The ultraviolent R-rated pic starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker averaged a wimpy $2,440 for Universal from 2,521 theaters. Critics panned the futuristic film.

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Universal found more bad news in fifth place as its other March action title Green Zone tumbled 58% to an estimated $6M for a weak ten-day total of only $24.7M. The studio did what it could to hide the film’s Iraq setting and pushed it instead as a film from the Jason Bourne guys but audiences didn’t buy into it. With a production cost of more than $100M, Zone will end up with a domestic take of just $35-40M. The early overseas tally is $20.4M with many markets still to open, but recovering production and marketing costs internationally will also be a challenging task.

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Paramount claimed the next two spots with the comedy She’s Out of My League which grossed an estimated $5.9M and the thriller Shutter Island which took in an estimated $4.8M. The R-rated laugher declined by only 40% in its second round and upped its ten-day sum to $20M with a $35M final likely – not bad for a low-profile and inexpensive pic that is sure to do even better on DVD. The Scorsese-DiCaprio flick dropped 41% and has banked $115.8M to date.

Avatar spent its 14th weekend in the top ten with an estimated $4M, off 39%, and a $736.9M cume. Fox’s overseas total climbed to $1.937 billion making the global haul $2.674 billion. Fox Searchlight’s Our Family Wedding fell 50% to an estimated $3.8M for $13.7M in ten days. Fellow sophomore Remember Me crumbled 60% to an estimated $3.3M giving Summit only $13.9M to date. Final grosses will be near the $20M mark for each.

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In limited release, Focus scored the best average with its Ben Stiller pic Greenberg which bowed to an estimated $120,432 from only three sites for a muscular $40,144 average. Anchor Bay averaged a sturdy $17,500 from each of two locations for its Andy Garcia film City Island. The 45-minute IMAX science film Hubble 3D debuted to an estimated $453,000 from 39 large-screen venues for a $11,608 average. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo opened to an estimated $340,408 from 34 for a $10,012 average for Music Box. And Apparition earned a weak $3,295 average for its rocker girl pic The Runaways which debuted to an estimated $804,000 from 244 houses.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $111.2M which was up 19% from last year when Knowing opened in the top spot with $24.6M; and up 18% from 2008 when Horton Hears a Who remained at number one with $24.6M.

Happy Friday Harvest, a weekly round-up of the
best pictures, posters, and videos that have become available for
viewing/download on Rotten Tomatoes. Each section features the favorite or most
interesting item we’ve
added for the week, along with several other new highlights. Enjoy!


Pictures


Picture Gallery of the Week:

Your Highness

Fire up the synth electro remixes on iTunes, dudebros, it’s time for 80s
edition! First up is a pic from Your Highness, a fantasy comedy from
David Gordon Green that promises to pay homage to flicks like Krull
and Dragonslayer. Browse the gallery.

More New Pictures











Tron Legacy
New promo shots
The Bounty Hunter
Premire
Beastly
New pics
Cyrus
New Duplass Bros. flick
Neil Young
Trunk Show


Posters


Poster of the Week:

The Expendables

Dudebros, unite. Finally they put out a decent looking Expendables
poster. We all know all about the cast. We all know about how they’re
planning to shoot this action flick with minimal CG. We all know it’s
probably going to be awesome. View the poster.

More New Posters












Killers
First posters

After.Life
Poster
Oceans
New poster
Harry Brown
Michael Caine the Vigilante
Predators
First poster


Videos


Video of the Week:


Predators trailer

Dudebros, I’m actually all for the unusual casting of Predators so
far. Not only should they not be trying to mimmick the muscle-bound
characters of the original, having lanky guys like Adrien Brody and Topher
Grace up against these Predators makes the situation more terrifying.
Theoretically.
Watch the video.

More New Videos












Hubble 3D

Clips


The Bounty Hunter

Clips



Shrek Forever After

Trailer



Hot Tub Time Machine

Exclusive NSFW clip


Want to keep up to date on ALL the pictures, posters, and videos that are added to Rotten Tomatoes throughout the week? Then check out the
Trailers & Pictures page,
which is automatically updated as material is uploaded.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a scheming tween (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, starring Zachary Gordon and Steve Zahn); squabbling exes (The Bounty Hunter, starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler); and hazardous healthcare (Repo Men, starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker). What do the critics have to say?



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Diary of a Wimpy Kid

It’s a (debatable) maxim that the book is always better than the movie. That certainly seems to be the case with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which critics say contains moments of insight and humor but never fleshes out its middle school characters with the same empathy as Jeff Kinney’s books. The movie stars Zachary Gordon as a kid who can’t catch a break with the popular crowd, so he tries out various activities in order to climb the social ladder — all the while chronicling his life in a journal. The pundits say Wimpy Kid accurately captures the uncertainties of the junior high years, but also features abrupt tonal shifts and a story that apes others of its ilk.



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The Bounty Hunter

Given the right material, Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler are charming folks. Unfortunately, critics say The Bounty Hunter is decidedly the wrong material — clichéd, shrill, and lacking an ounce of chemistry between its usually winning leads. Butler plays a former cop who’s now a bounty hunter, and his latest assignment is bringing in his bail-jumping ex-wife. Will these crazy kids bicker? Will they relight the spark that brought them together in the first place? Can we expect a little of both, perhaps? Yes, say pundits, along with a shortage of laughs and smarts. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Aniston’s best-reviewed films.)



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Repo Men

Alex Cox’s Repo Man is one of the 1980s’ wildest cult classics, mixing punk rock, aliens, and… Wait, wrong movie. Repo Men, critics say, is a satirical misfire that mixes slasher and sci-fi tropes but never makes the most of its unhinged premise. The plot: a corporation called the Union manufactures perfect artificial organs, but if transplant recipients get behind on their payments, “repo men” reclaim the organs by force. One such repo man is Jude Law, is Jude Law, who has trouble making his payments when he gets his own artificial heart… and… you can see where this is going. The pundits say Repo Men shows flashes of perverse wit, but ultimately squanders its cast on generic chase sequences and oodles of gore.


Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Vincere, a drama about the little-known first marriage of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, is at 100 percent.

  • Neil Young Trunk Show, a live document of the legendary rocker, is at 88 percent.

  • Mid-August Lunch, an Italian comedy about a middle-aged man tasked with entertaining his grandmother and her feisty friends, is at 86 percent.

  • Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, starring Ben Stiller as a fortysomething looking to break out of a midlife crisis, is at 83 percent.

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a dark thriller based upon Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novel, is Certified Fresh at 79 percent.

  • IMAX Hubble 3D, which showcases some stunning images from the space telescope, is at 67 percent.

  • The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning in a biopic of the pioneering girl band, is at 64 percent.

  • Red Baron, a biopic of the famous World War I flying ace, is at 28 percent.
  • Shutterbug, a thriller about a fashion photographer who suffers from hallucinations, is at 20 percent.

Jennifer Aniston

Making the jump from sitcom lead to film star is tricky — just ask former Friends stars David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, and Matthew Perry, all of whom have found that the big screen can be a rather inhospitable place. But there’s an exception for every rule, and although her filmography is not without its share of failures (Love Happens, anyone?), Jennifer Aniston has shown an impressive ability to balance commercial hits (The Break-Up) with critical winners (The Good Girl). With her latest effort, the action comedy The Bounty Hunter, hitting theaters this weekend, we took the opportunity to look back at the ten best-reviewed films from Hollywood’s favorite Friend. It’s Total Recall time!


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Cool, high-concept idea aside, Bruce Almighty isn’t a movie that tries to do anything out of the ordinary — it represented a return to safely top-grossing comedic form for Jim Carrey, who reunited with his Ace Ventura director Tom Shadyac, and both Morgan Freeman (who played God) and Jennifer Aniston (who played Bruce’s cutely exasperated girlfriend, Grace) played strongly to type in their supporting roles. Still, what works often works for a reason, and Bruce Almighty‘s outlandish $484 million gross demonstrated that sometimes, people just want to see their favorite stars do the stuff they’ve done well before. Most critics found Almighty less than heavenly, but that’s often been true of Carrey’s comedies — and some scribes found the humor in this tale of an ordinary guy who gets to run the universe while God’s on vacation, including Bill Clark of From the Balcony, who wrote, “Bruce Almighty is the kind of movie that Jim Carrey should stick to.”

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Several months before Will & Grace kicked off its lengthy run, Aniston co-starred in the somewhat similarly themed The Object of My Affection, about a social worker who impulsively offers to rent a room to a new acquaintance (Paul Rudd) — and then proceeds to fall in love with him despite knowing he’s gay. It might sound like fairly standard rom-com stuff, with a potentially offensive twist — or it might just remind you of plot strands from My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Next Best Thing — and a number of critics did indeed dismiss Affection as, to quote Boxoffice Magazine’s Kristan Ginther, “forgettable.” For a surprising number of other writers, though, The Object of My Affection was simply too charming to resist. As the Boston Phoenix’s Peter Keough begrudgingly wrote, “When confronted with a film as relentlessly PC and romantically feel-good as The Object of My Affection, you eventually have to succumb.”

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One of Aniston’s earliest screen roles came courtesy of this small production, written and directed by Tiffanie DeBartolo. DeBartolo’s father was once an owner of the San Francisco 49ers, so it’s probably unsurprising that Dream for an Insomniac takes place in the City by the Bay — and given that this was the heyday of the chatty indie flick featuring quirky, gorgeous twentysomethings, it also shouldn’t surprise you that, in the derisive estimation of New York Times critic Stephen Holden, Dream “suggests a pale shadow of Armistead Maupin’s Tales From the City.” It never saw wide release, and never really developed much of an audience on DVD, but for critics like TV Guide’s Maitland McDonagh, it represented “A slight, sleekly polished debut feature propelled by a kinder, gentler Swingers vibe” — and besides, it offers film fans a glimpse of Ione Skye and Mackenzie Astin moving into Parker Posey and Craig Sheffer territory.

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To her credit, Aniston has played few of the ever-plentiful “supportive girlfriend” roles over the course of her career — but when you’re faced with the opportunity to grab second billing in a movie where Mark Wahlberg plays a working-class stiff who hits the big time, it’s hard to say no. Regrettably, 2001’s Rock Star wasn’t a Boogie Nights-sized hit, either with critics or the aging heshers who might have appreciated the way its storyline mirrors Judas Priest’s trendsetting decision to pluck its new lead singer from the ranks of a tribute band; still, plenty of writers raised their lighters to this inspirational drama, which returned Wahlberg to the arenas he hadn’t occupied since his days fronting the Funky Bunch — and gave formerly chart-topping hair metallurgists like Jason Bonham and Steelheart’s Miljenko Matijevic something to do in the bargain. Zertinet’s Steve Snyder was one of Rock Star‘s most ardent supporters, writing, “Just as it should be falling apart, its melodrama becomes more touching than ever, ultimately shaping a film about much more than any band and more poetic than any song on the radio.”

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Cute dogs and small children in the cast tend to be pretty solid indicators of a movie’s willingness to pander, and 2008’s Marley & Me has both — right down to a cuddly, bow-wearing puppy on the poster. But instead of ladling cheap sentiment on audiences, this adaptation of John Grogan’s memoir showed a surprising level of restraint and sensitivity, winning praise from critics and tugging filmgoers’ heartstrings all the way to a nearly $250 million gross (and a Teen Choice Award for Bromantic Comedy!). Though they were regularly upstaged by the titular yellow lab, Aniston and co-star Owen Wilson held their own, thanks to a script that allowed them to show a married couple growing together and making important transitions over time. As William Goss of Cinematical put it, “I’m fairly sure that the book and the film shared a common goal — to make its audience sit, stay, laugh, cry, then move on — and at those modest aspirations, the movie succeeds.”

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In 1996, Edward Burns was coming off The Brothers McMullen, Jennifer Aniston was riding Friends madness to a film career, and Cameron Diaz was, well, Cameron Diaz — taking those three and putting them in a movie with a Tom Petty soundtrack should have been a recipe for instant success. Alas, She’s the One went down as one of the more resounding commercial flops of the season, despite generally positive reviews and a likable cast that also included go-to crusty dad John Mahoney. As critics noted, One‘s storyline, which focused on the romantic dithering (and fraternal squabbling) of two New York brothers, bore more than a passing resemblance to McMullen, and although there are worse things than being compared with a Sundance winner, it wasn’t quite the coming out party Burns must have been hoping for. Still, the experience provided Aniston with her first film role since 1993’s Leprechaun, and the drama moved scribes like Aisle Seat’s Mike McGranaghan, who called it “A brilliant — and much misunderstood — romantic comedy.”

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A fair amount of the promotion for Friends with Money involved pictures of Aniston in the French maid outfit her character wears, but titillating stills aside, this feature from Lovely and Amazing writer/director Nicole Holofcener offered viewers an uncommonly smart and surprisingly deep take on female friendships and the way money can affect our relationships with one another. Not blockbuster material, obviously, but with a cast that included Aniston, Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, and Joan Cusack, as well as a typically sharp Holofcener script, Money was a low-key winner with most critics, including Karina Montgomery of Cinerina, who wrote, “If you are a woman, or if you love one, you should see it. You will see yourself somewhere, as with all her movies, and it will change the way you see yourself as well… Holofcener understands us better than we admit we understand ourselves.”

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All six Friends stars tried their hands at film careers in the ’90s, and while none of them were lucky enough to find features that eclipsed their television work, Aniston surfaced in theaters most regularly — at least in part because she seemed less concerned with finding star vehicles than simply signing on for the best possible scripts. Case in point: Her supporting turn in Office Space, the Mike Judge cult classic that crashed and burned in theaters in 1999, only to rise from the ashes on DVD. Aniston’s scenes as a put-upon waitress in a thinly disguised version of T.G.I.Friday’s may have served chiefly to give Ron Livingston something to do when he wasn’t plotting to destroy his corporate overlords, but they underscored Judge’s hilarious contempt for the vagaries of workplace culture, and reminded us that Aniston’s comic timing was just as sharp on the big screen. Wrote Jeff Vice of the Deseret News, “Anyone who thinks moviegoing can’t be a cathartic experience should see Office Space.”

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After paying her dues in a series of relatively thankless rom-coms and minor roles, Aniston earned her first chance to carry a movie with The Good Girl, a quiet, sometimes uncomfortably downcast drama from director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter Mike White, the creative team behind Chuck & Buck. As the aptly named Justine Last, a discontented retail clerk in a small Texas town, Aniston tamps down her natural beauty and comic effervescence to reveal dramatic chops that surprised anyone who still thought of her as Rachel from Friends. The plot eventually stumbles into some melodramatic places, and no matter how ordinary they’re made to look, Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal don’t really look like small-town losers, but The Good Girl had some poignant things to say about the weight of fading dreams — and the value of responsibility. As Josef Braun of Edmonton’s Vue Weekly noted, “Something in this film sticks to you more than you think it will while you’re watching it. And I think that something is the superb, jarringly resonant central performance by Jennifer Aniston.”

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Before he was the guy who brought you The Incredibles and Ratatouille, Brad Bird was the young director behind one of the most sadly undeserved animation flops of the ’90s: The Iron Giant. Adapted from Ted Hughes’ 1968 novel, with additional input from producer Pete Townshend, whose 1989 song cycle The Iron Man was inspired by the book, Bird’s film captivated its undersized audiences with its endearingly retro look and a Tim McCanlies screenplay that beautifully captured the essence of Hughes’ story about the unlikely friendship between a boy and a giant robot in 1950s Maine. As the boy’s mother, Aniston joined a strong (and refreshingly superstar-free) voice cast that included Harry Connick, Jr., Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, and Vin Diesel (as the Giant, natch). If you’re one of the many who missed out on The Iron Giant when it was released, do yourself a favor and check it out on DVD — it is, in the words of Matinee Magazine’s Chuck Rudolph, “A wonderfully made and emotionally touching film that takes its place next to Dumbo and Pinocchio as one of the three or four greatest animated films ever made.”

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