The Muppets’ latest comic adventure and a documentary from Disney about “Bears” lead this week’s DVD and Blu-ray movie releases.
“Muppets Most Wanted” (Disney/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG, theatrical version, extended version, featurettes, music video). Comic bonus features highlight this home-video release of the movie that was in theaters in March, including “The Unnecessarily Extended Cut” (12 minutes longer), “The Statler and Waldorf Cut” (less than a minute, though at the end they say, “It’s still too long”), bloopers, etc.
The film itself isn’t up there with 2011’s “The Muppets,” but it’s an amusing romp, if overlong (and adding 12 minutes doesn’t help). The story has the Muppets on a European tour, during which they unwittingly provide cover for a series of burglaries. The crooks are Constantine, a Kermit lookalike that switches places with him, and the Muppets’ duplicitous agent (Ricky Gervais). Meanwhile, Kermit ends up in a Russian Gulag (run by Tina Fey).
It's funny stuff, and virtually all the Muppets participate. Movie buffs will likely laugh loudest at seeing such veteran cinema villains as Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo singing, dancing and pulling faces in hilarious fashion.
“Bears” (Disneynature/Blu-ray, DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, G, featurettes, music video). Unlike previous Disney Earth Day releases, this 78-minute documentary adds a silly narration by John C. Reilly, apparently aimed directly at very young children. It’s beautifully shot, with sometimes startling footage, which nearly makes up for that misstep.
“Escape to Grizzly Mountain” (Timeless/MGM/DVD, 2004). This DVD reissue is also a movie with bears and aimed at a young audience, albeit with a time-travel component. A young boy runs away from the circus (how’s that for a twist?) after a bear cub is mistreated, finds a cave that is a portal to the 1800s and brings a mountain man (Haggerty) into the 21st century to help.
“Decline of an Empire” (Lionsgate/DVD, 2014, R for violence, featurette). Constantine joins the Roman army while searching for a girl who was kidnapped from his village when both were children. After he rises to become Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Constantine discovers her kidnapper and learns her whereabouts, which leads to war. Peter O’Toole has a supporting role in his final film.
“Locke” (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, R for language, audio commentary, featurette). Tom Hardy delivers a sturdy performance in this one-character yarn, which unfolds in real-time as he makes phone calls while driving to London to be with a woman who’s having his baby. Among those he calls are his wife, to whom he confesses his infidelity, and his boss, with whom he discusses an important concrete job he’s supposed to oversee. Melodrama ensues.
“Frankie & Alice” (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2014; R for sex, language, drugs; featurette). Halle Berry throws herself into this variation of “The Three Faces of Eve” as Frankie, a black stripper who discovers she has two other distinct personalities that sometimes surface and take over, a 7-year-old child called “Genius” and “Alice,” a Southern white racist. Co-stars include Stellan Skarsgard and Phylicia Rashad.
“Hateship Loveship” (IFC/DVD, 2014; R for drugs, sex, language; trailer). Kristen Wiig stars in this awkward melodrama about a reserved woman who becomes housekeeper to an aging man (Nick Nolte) and caretaker to his teenage granddaughter (Hailee Steinfeld). After a visit from the girl’s estranged father (Guy Pearce), the teen plays a cruel prank on Wiig with phony correspondence to make her think Pearce has a romantic interest.
“Sol Lewitt” (Icarus/DVD, 2014, not rated). Documentary filmmaker Chris Teerink tackles the work of conceptual artist Sol Lewitt in this 72-minute film, but there’s not much of the artist himself, who is conspicuous by his absence. Lewitt died in 2007 and was famously abhorrent toward fame, but Teerink does a fine job of putting the artist’s aesthetic work, theories about art and creations (which certainly speak for themselves) on display.
“Boredom” (Disinformation/DVD, 2014, not rated, featurettes). This hourlong documentary on the title subject uses research from the Boring Institute to explore why we are still bored in this modern technological age, using re-enactments and asking such questions as, “Can a person really be bored to death?” By filmmaker Albert Nerenberg, whose earlier films include “Laughology” and “Stupidity.”
“Breathe In” (Cohen/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, R for language). Guy Pearce stars in this melodrama as a restless married New York high school music teacher who begins an affair with a British exchange student (Felicity Jones) who comes to live with his family, including his wife (Amy Ryan) and their teenage daughter (Mackenzie Davis), who is the same age.
“Summer in February” (Cinedigm/DVD, 2014, not rated, featurette). True story of romantic rivalries developing among the bohemian artist colony the Lamorna Group in 1913 England, focusing on Sir Alfred Munning (Dominic Cooper) before he gained fame as an equestrian painter. Co-stars include Emily Browning and Dan Stevens (of “Downton Abbey”).
“Proxy” (IFC/Blu-ray/DVD, 2014, not rated, featurettes, trailer). A pregnant woman in her ninth month is attacked in an alleyway, causing her to lose the baby. Depressed, she attends a support group and is befriended by a woman with similar issues, though her claims may not all be true. Odd politically incorrect horror.Comment on this story
“Kilimanjaro” (Virgil/DVD, 2014, not rated). This offbeat urban comedy-drama is about a stifled New Yorker (Brian Geraghty) who hates his job and is abandoned by his longtime girlfriend. He decides to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, though he has no climbing experience. Co-stars include Abigail Spencer, Jim Gaffigan and Brice Altman.
“Swelter” (Well Go/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, R for violence and language, featurettes, trailer). This Quentin Tarantino wannabe has five thieves robbing a Las Vegas casino, then four are captured and one gets away with the money. A decade later, the foursome blasts out of prison to find their old partner, who is now sheriff of a desert town with no memory of his past. Cast includes Alfred Molina and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
“A Haunted House 2” (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014; R for sex, nudity, language, violence, drugs; deleted/extended scenes, audio commentary). Marlon Wayans co-wrote and stars in this raunchy off-the-wall horror spoof, a sequel to last year’s “A Haunted House.” Essence Atkins and Cedric the Entertainer return; Jaime Pressly and Gabriel Iglesias join in.