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New movies, DVD and blu-ray releases for grownups in July feature Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon on a road trip, Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas as neighbors, a documentary on the iconic Roger Ebert, and some ape overlords just trying to peacefully raise their kids. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new in theaters and on DVD and blu-ray this month.
PHOTO GALLERY: July 2014 Grownups’ Movie, DVD & Blu-ray Releases
After losing her job at a burger joint and finding her husband in bed with another woman, Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) decides to hit the road with her hard-drinking, foul-mouthed grandmother (Susan Sarandon) in tow. From finding love in a bar to robbing a Toppy Jack’s in order to bail Pearl out of jail, this quirky adventure is sure to delight fans of the brilliant McCarthy, who’s proven her comedic chops in such films as “The Heat” and “Bridesmaids.” Ben Falcone (her husband) directs, with Sandra Oh, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Duplass and Kathy Bates filling out the impressive cast.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
Not Yet Rated; likely R | In theaters 7/02 | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels | Facebook | #DeliverUsFromEvil
Horror movies are an iffy proposition, requiring that something extra to elevate them above simple shock value. “Deliver Us From Evil” is right in co-writer/director Scott Derrickson’s wheelhouse, having helmed such scare-fests as “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “Sinister.” Here he teams with producer Jerry Bruckheimer in a 1980s-style buddy movie meets “The Exorcist” in which a troubled New York cop (Eric Bana) teams up with a priest (Edgar Ramirez) schooled in exorcism to confront a series of demonic possessions. They’ve not only spread across the city, they’ve also ventured into his home. Prepare to be frightened. Olivia Munn, Sean Harris and Joel McHale fill out the cast in this supernatural thriller.
EARTH TO ECHO
ET phone home? Maybe. In this family adventure from director Dave Green and Walt Disney Studios, Tuck (Astro), Munch (Reese Hartwig) and Alex (Teo Halm) are inseparable friends whose neighborhood is being destroyed by a highway construction project that’s forcing their families to move away. Just two days before they must part ways, the boys begin receiving a strange series of signals on their phones and team up with another friend, Emma, to figure out what’s going on. Turns out an adorable little alien is stranded on Earth and needs help to — you guessed it — get back home. Though comparisons to “E.T.,” “Super 8,” “Chronicle” and “Wall-E” abound, this is a cute family film.
Amateur singer-songwriter Gretta (Keira Knightley) gets stranded in New York when her rock-star boyfriend (Adam Levine) takes off on tour with his mistress. But she catches a break when drunken, desperate former record mogul Dan Mulligan (Mark Ruffalo) hears her sing and stakes everything on making an album with her, recorded live on location around the city. Writer-director John Carney knows something about creating films about musicians, having helmed the 2007 sleeper hit “Once.” The impressive cast for “Begin Again” also includes Catherine Keener as Dan’s ex-wife, Hailee Steinfeld as their daughter, and James Corden as Gretta’s best friend. The film gained steam at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, where it landed a distribution deal with The Weinstein Company. It also features a catchy soundtrack by Gregg Alexander, best known for fronting the band New Radicals.
Documentarian Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) is the perfect filmmaker to adapt the memoir of Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and American icon Roger Ebert. This film is funny and passionate, much like the subject himself, and is both a retrospective of Ebert’s amazing career and an intimate look at the end of his life — a life well lived with wife and soulmate Chaz. The film, produced by Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese, who also appears onscreen to discuss his friendship with Ebert, received standing ovations when it played at Sundance. Don’t miss it.
AND SO IT GOES
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements | In theaters 7/11 | Ok for Kids 14+ | Reel Preview: 4.5 of 5 Reels |
A self-absorbed real estate agent (Michael Douglas) is thrown for a loop when his estranged son saddles him with a granddaughter he’s never met. Will this narcissistic curmudgeon learn the value of family and giving, possibly with the help of kooky neighbor Diane Keaton? The answer is yes, especially under the direction of Rob Reiner (“Flipped” is one of my all-time favorite movies) from a screenplay by “As Good As It Gets” scribe Mark Andrus. We need more movies for grownups starring actual grownups, and this one delivers.
Rumors about this movie have been circulating in the film community since writer/director Richard Linklater started shooting it in 2002. Shot over the course of 12 years around Texas — with the cast convening for a few weeks each year — “Boyhood” stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as the divorced parents of a daughter played by Lorelei Linklater and a son played by Ellar Coltrane. The story centers on the son, Mason, following him and his makeshift family as they move from town to town. Along the way, we literally see him grow up on the screen. I dare any parent not to weep at least a little bit during this nostalgic time capsule, as they ponder the dizzying pace of childhood.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Ten years after the events of 2011’s “Rise of The Planet of the Apes,” the super-smart ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his followers come into conflict with the human survivors of a deadly virus. Who will win? Well, let’s just say the title is a dead giveaway. Director Matt Reeves takes over the reins from “Rise” director Rupert Wyatt, with a cast that includes Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Enrique Murciano, Kirk Acevedo, and Judy Greer. This film continues the franchise with impressive special effects and a dark storyline that’s sure to be a hit with moviegoers. All hail Caesar and his ape overlords.
In a near-future dystopia, Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, a lowly janitor who might also have a genetic claim on Earth. This doesn’t sit well with the King Of The Universe (Eddie Redmayne), who sends Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) to kill her. Then, of course, things get complicated. Written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski (“Cloud Atlas”), this is an ambitious film with similarities to “The Matrix” universe (a chosen one battles the forces of evil). Sean Bean, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Douglas Booth and Christina Cole also star.
THE PURGE: ANARCHY
In a world where all crime is legal for one 24-hour period of mayhem and murder each year, one nice young couple hasn’t figured out that taking a drive in an unreliable car right before Purge night starts is a really bad idea. They seek shelter with other innocent victims, including a man who’s planning to use his one night of law-free killing to avenge his son. This movie is everything found in your worst nightmares, and if you like that sort of thing, here you go. Writer-director James DeMonaco returns for this sequel, which stars Frank Grillo, Zach Gilford, and Kiele Sanchez. Producer Jason Blum has said he’s up for the idea of cranking out new “Purge” movies each year, as he does with his “Paranormal Activity” franchise. Because that’s what the world needs — more violence.
WISH I WAS HERE
Ten years after “Garden State,” Zach Braff returns to the director’s chair with another comedy-drama, thanks to a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign (yep, I threw in my $10). Braff stars as a struggling 35-year-old actor who’s married with children, but still trying to find a direction. While home-schooling his kids, he learns a little something about himself in the process. Reviews from the film’s Sundance debut were all over the place, with Variety’s Scott Foundas proclaiming it “a cloying compendium of follow-your-dreams platitudes, new-agey spirituality and mawkish, father-son deathbed bonding.” Harsh. If you’re a fan of Braff and don’t mind the naval-gazing, this film is for you. Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Jim Parsons, Joey King, Mandy Patinkin, Donald Faison and Ashley Greene co-star.
A MOST WANTED MAN
Not Yet Rated; likely R | In Theaters 7/25 | Reel Preview: 5 of 5 Reels
Here’s your chance to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last screen performances. In “A Most Wanted Man,” based on John le Carre’s novel, he plays a Hamburg intelligence agent, keeping watch on a newly rich Russian (Grigoriy Dobrygin) with terrorist ties. Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, and Daniel Bruhl fill out the cast of characters representing the weary faces of modern international policing. Le Carre seems to fall into that love-him-or-hate-him territory, but this film is directed by famed photographer Anton Corbijn, whose first two feature films, “Control” and “The American,” were stylish and quiet. Australian screenwriter Andrew Bovell loves using crime stories to explore deeply flawed characters, which Hoffman knew something about, both onscreen and off.
I do love Dwayne Johnson, but only the box office returns will determine whether he’s the actor to de-slump the Greek myth-inspired movie genre. Directed by Brett Ratner and based on the Radical Studios graphic novel “Hercules: The Thracian Wars” with a screenplay by Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos, this ensemble action film is a revisionist take on the classic myth, set in a grounded world where the supernatural does not exist. Haunted by a sin from his past, Hercules is a mercenary now who, along with five faithful companions, travels ancient Greece selling his services for gold and using his legendary reputation to intimidate enemies. But when the benevolent ruler of Thrace and his daughter seek Hercules’ help to defeat a savage warlord, Hercules must again become the hero he once was. Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, John Hurt and Rebecca Ferguson also star.
Not Yet Rated; Likely R | In Theaters 7/25 | Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels
Is there ever a good reason to make a sex tape? No, because even if you’re a devoutly married couple just trying to spice things up, rest assured that sex tape will accidentally get out there. Jay and Annie’s (Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz) ten-year marriage needs a little help in the romance department, so they decide to make a sex tape. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for an iPad recording in “the cloud” to escape into the world, and that’s just what happens here. Facing humiliation, they scramble to keep the video from being seen by their family, friends, and bosses, a task that, of course, involves doing cocaine and falling off balconies. With director Jake Kasdan (“Orange County,” “Bad Teacher”) and a screenplay by Kate Angelo, a writer and producer on sitcoms like “Will & Grace” and “The Bernie Mac Show,” this is a fun romp that gives the R-rated comedy genre a much-needed dose of intelligence. Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper and Rob Lowe co-star.
STEP UP ALL IN
The “Step Up” franchise moves merrily along with its fifth installment of the dance series that began in 2006. People love dance movies, albeit mostly for the dancing, as the plot is generally culled from a couple of basic premises — the “Big Dance Battle” and the “One Last Show to Save the Dance School/Community Center/Whatever. Of course, there’s the requisite love story/rivalry thrown in for dramatic tension. “Step Up All In” brings back actor-dancers from across the series, including Alyson Stoner as Camille, Ryan Guzman as Sean, Adam Sevani as Moose, and Briana Evigan as Andie. It’s directed by Trish Sie, whose experience in choreography, music videos (“Here It Goes Again”), and viral videos makes her a natural fit.
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT
Not Yet Rated; Likely PG-13 | In Theaters 7/25 | Reel Preview: 5 of 5 Reels
Sworn off Woody Allen movies? Not so fast! His newest film is a period comedy set on the French Riviera in the 1920s against a backdrop of impressive mansions, the Côte d’Azur, jazz joints and fashionable spots for rich people of the Jazz Age. He assembles his usual diverse and acclaimed cast, including Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, and Emma Stone, for a story that involves a British gentleman in France and some criminal shenanigans. Though last year’s Oscar buzz (and Best Actress win for Cate Blanchett) over “Blue Jasmine” reignited the (unsubstantiated) controversy over his personal life, there’s no denying that Allen is one of the best and most consistent filmmakers of this era.
Some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in cinematic history have come from the mind of writer/director Luc Besson — we’re talking “La Femme Nikita,” “The Professional” and “The Fifth Element” — so I’m super excited to see Scarlett Johansson kick you-know-what in “Lucy.” She plays a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal (what did they implant in her mid-section?!), but who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. The tagline says it all: “The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%.” Analeigh Tipton and Morgan Freeman also star in this action thriller from Universal Pictures.
NEW ON DVD | BLU-RAY:
Rated R for language and some sexual content | On DVD 7/08 | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan star in this exquisite little film as Nick and Meg, a long-married British couple revisiting Paris for the first time since their honeymoon in an attempt to rekindle their relationship. Our reviewer Vera Marie Badertscher said this in her review: “Maybe younger viewers won’t get it, but the over-60 crowd will understand that just because your knees rebel at climbing the steps to Sacre Couer with the same speed as in your 30s, life is not over.” Well said, Vera.
ORPHAN BLACK: SEASON 2
Rated TV-MA | On DVD & Blu-ray 7/15 | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
If you’re not familiar with this BBC TV series, catch up with season one on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu, then grab this set when it hits shelves. Created by screenwriter Graeme Manson and director John Fawcett, the show stars Tatiana Maslany (one of the best actresses working today) as several identical women who are revealed to be clones. The story centers on Sarah Manning, a woman who assumes the identity of one of her clones, Elizabeth Childs, after witnessing Childs’ suicide. The show raises issues about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning and its effect on issues of personal identity. And it’s just darn good.
WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION
Not Rated | On Blu-ray 7/22 | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
Screen legends Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton star in this brilliant courtroom drama that left audiences reeling from its surprise twists and shocking climax. Directed by Billy Wilder, scripted by Wilder and Harry Kurnitz, and based on Agatha Christie’s hit London play, this classic movie continues to mesmerize movie lovers until the final frame. When a wealthy widow is found murdered, her married suitor, Leonard Vole, is accused of the crime. Vole’s only hope for acquittal is the testimony of his wife, but his airtight alibi shatters when she reveals some shocking secrets of her own. Nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress, I’m so glad to see this on blu-ray.
THE WIND WILL CARRY US (15TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
Not Rated | On Blu-ray 7/22 | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
This 1999 Iranian film from director Abbas Kiarostami is deceptively simple. There are no A-list actors, special effects, or complex sets, and no massive ad campaign when it was released. Instead, this classic film employs simple cinematography that’s firmly anchored in the day-to-day human experience. A man from Teheran moves to a small village in order to do a job for his employer. His exact mission is unclear. He has hilarious trouble with his cell phone, flirts with a milkmaid, watches the slow and subtle rhythms of village life, and sometimes does nothing, while waiting for something that may or may not happen. And yet, this is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen.
HERZOG: THE COLLECTION (LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY)
Rated R | On Blu-ray 7/29 | Reel Preview: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
This 13-Disc set from Shout! Factory is a must-have for any Werner Herzog fan. He’s taken us places that no other director would dare go, and told stories in unique ways that others would never consider. These sixteen masterpieces, which blur the line between fiction and documentary, illustrate why Herzog is the most daring, visionary and dangerous filmmaker of this generation, and why both Milos Forman and Francois Truffaut have called him the greatest filmmaker alive today. This deluxe set includes, for the first time on Blu-ray: “Even Dwarfs Started Small,” “Land of Silence and Darkness,” “Fata Morgana,” “Aguirre the Wrath of God,” “The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser,” “Heart of Glass,” “Stroszek,” “Woyzeck,” “Nosferatu the Vampyre,” “Fitzcarraldo,” “Ballad of Little Soldier,” “Where the Green Ants Dream,” “Cobra Verde,” “Lessons of Darkness,” “Little Dieter Needs to Fly,” and “My Best Fiend.”
MIDSOMER MURDERS, SET 24
Not Rated | On DVD/Blu-ray 7/29 | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
The cozy villages of Midsomer County reveal their most sinister secrets in these contemporary British television mysteries. Inspired by the novels of Caroline Graham, modern master of the English village mystery, the series stars Neil Dudgeon (“Life of Riley”) as the capable Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby, with Jason Hughes (“This Life”) as his earnest, efficient protégé, Detective Sergeant Ben Jones. Guest stars include Martine McCutcheon, Cheryl Campbell, Maggie Steed, Kate Ashfield, and Julie Graham. This set includes: “Written in the Stars,” in which the death of an amateur astronomer during a total eclipse of the sun shines light into some dark corners of the star-gazing community in Midsomer Stanton; “The Sicilian Defence,” in which star-crossed lovers and championship chess intersect as the detectives search for a killer who leaves a chess notation at the scene of the crime; and “Schooled in Murder,” in which a series of gruesome murders appear to be related to secret plans to modernize the dairy that produces the famous Midsomer Blue.
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATERS 3000: XXX
Not Rated | On DVD 7/29 | Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels | Buy on Amazon
A favorite around this house, we’re very, very grateful that Shout! Factory continues to release titles in the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” collection. If you’re not familiar with it, the premise is simple: it’s a show about a guy and his two robot friends who live on a space ship and are forced by mad scientists to watch old, cheesy movies. To get through it, they make hysterical wisecracks during the movies. Now we can’t watch a movie — any movie — without going all MST3K. This set includes: “The Black Scorpion,” a fun little 1957 black-and-white monster film featuring the stop motion animation of “King Kong” creator Willis O’Brien; “Outlaw (of Gor),” a 1988 sequel to “Gor,” which stars no one of note except Jack Palance; “The Projected Man,” a 1966 British color film about a scientist who tests a matter transmitter on himself; and “It Lives By Night,” a 1974 film in which a doctor gets bitten by a bat and slowly transforms into a bat creature.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.