The unexpected box-office hit "Ride Along" leads an eclectic collection of movies released on DVD and Blu-ray this week.
“Ride Along” (Universal, DVD/Blu-ray/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, deleted/alternate scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). This year’s biggest surprise hit (so far) is this action comedy starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart (No. 3 on the 2014 chart, after “The Lego Movie” and “Captain America 2”). John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill and Laurence Fishburne are also on hand.
Hart plays a security guard newly accepted into the police academy who tries in vain to impress his girlfriend’s brother (Cube), a tough detective. So Cube takes Hart on a ride along as he tracks a dangerous criminal. Formula buddy-cop stuff with zero originality (and a bit too violent and vulgar for its PG-13 rating), but Hart’s popularity as a motor-mouth comic force of nature has apparently found an audience.
“The Invisible Woman” (Sony Classics, DVD/Blu-ray/Digital, 2013, R for sex, audio commentary, featurettes). Ralph Fiennes directed and stars as Charles Dickens in this melodrama based on Claire Tomalin’s book about Dickens’ secret affair with a younger woman (Felicity Jones), an actress whose memories of the relationship unfold as she reflects back on her youth now that she is married with children. Jones delivers an excellent performance and Fiennes directs with a sure hand (his second such effort after “Coriolanus”), though he doesn’t mind letting things develop at a snail’s pace.
“The Gabby Douglas Story” (Sony, DVD, 2014, TV movie). Lifetime cable-channel biography of the young gymnastics prodigy who became an Olympic champion, with Sydney Mikayla and Imani Hakim as Douglas at different ages, along with S. Epatha Merkerson as her grandmother and Regina King as her mother. Overcoming-the-odds story offers no surprises but it’s an uplifting story with sincere performances.
“Flowers in the Attic” (Lionsgate, DVD, 2014, TV movie, featurette). Remake of the 1987 theatrical fright film, this time for the Lifetime cable channel and more faithful to V.C. Andrews’ novel (to include an incest subtext). The story has four siblings and their mother (Heather Graham) moving in with their religious-fanatic grandmother (Ellen Burstytn), and when mom takes off, the kids endure horrible abuse while confined to the attic.
“Better Living Through Chemistry” (Universal, DVD/Blu-ray/Digital, 2014, not rated). Sam Rockwell stars as a worm that turns in this dark comedy, playing a small-town, henpecked pharmacist led down the path to degradation by a femme fatale (Olivia Wilde), which, as the title suggests, includes pilfering the pharmacy’s stock. An independent production that includes many familiar actors in support, including Michelle Monaghan, Ray Liotta and Jane Fonda (who narrates and appears up in a cameo). Unrated but in R territory.
“Copperhead” (Warner, DVD/Blu-ray, 2013, PG-13). Indulgent, unfocused, allegedly true story of clashes on the home front during the Civil War, a unique viewpoint to explore what is otherwise familiar territory. Billy Campbell is a civilian who opposes slavery but also opposes the war, which causes him to clash with an anti-slavery zealot (Angus Macfadyen) that riles up the community to drive him to ruin. Directed by Ron Maxwell (“Gettysburg,” “Gods and Generals”).
“Confession of Murder” (Well Go, DVD/Blu-ray/Digital, 2014, not rated, in Korean with English subtitles, featurettes, trailer). Offbeat Korean thriller about a memoir written by a serial killer after the 15-year statute of limitations has run out on the murders. (There’s a 15-year statute of limitations on murder?) This prompts the obsessive detective on the case to investigate but he becomes convinced the writer is an imposter, even as the victims’ families plot to kill him.
“Mobius” (Lionsgate, DVD/Blu-ray; 2014, R for sex, nudity, language; in English, and in French and Russian with English subtitles; featurettes, trailers). French/Russian espionage thriller without much action stars Jean Dujardin (Oscar-winner for “The Artist”) as a Russian spy who unwittingly recruits a CIA mole (Cecile de France) and then falls in love with her as they try to bust a Russian banker/mobster. Tim Roth is also here as a Russian tycoon. Convoluted, twisty script is confusing in places, but the film has its moments.
“Wrong Cops” (IFC, DVD, 2013, not rated, audio commentary, short film). Absurdist skit film owes something to “Reno 911,” as corrupt cops spend more time with their own bad behavior than solving crimes. A short film, “Wrong Cops: Chapter 1,” is included.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." Website: www.hicksflicks.com