Nothing is as it seems in this week’s releases
A scene from ‘Superhost’ courtesy of RLJE Films
This week’s releases include a vacation rental nightmare; a magical puppy; an extreme exercise of faith; a difficult retirement; a widow in distress; and a pair of excellent hosts.
Clifford the big red dog (Blu-ray & digital copy)
When Emily (Darby Camp) discovers her little red puppy named Clifford has grown ten feet overnight, she turns to her eccentric uncle Casey (Jack Whitehall) for help. But when a mad scientist (Tony Hale) tries to capture the larger-than-life playful pup, it takes the whole neighborhood to hide Clifford as they cross town.
Much like the children’s books the film is based on, the concept of the story is adorable – and especially since that red puppy is more tangible than the one on the page. Emily doesn’t have many friends, so she establishes a strong and immediate attachment to Clifford which is tested by the entities trying to separate them. Of course, an oversized dog is just as funny as a bull in a Chinese store in almost any situation, so there’s plenty of fun to be had throughout their adventure to save the pup from being a science experiment. One of the film’s main surprises is the number of comedic actors in the cast, including John Cleese, Keenan Thompson, David Alan Grier, Horatio Sanz, Paul Rodriguez, and Russell Peters.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Part of the pack”; “Playing is for dogs”; “Bridwell’s Magic”; and “Tips and Tricks for Caring for a 10 Foot Dog”. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Finding Alice: Series 1 (DVD)
Shortly after moving into their newly completed dream home, Alice’s (Keeley Hawes) partner Harry (Jason Merrells) dies by falling down the stairs. Harry designed the house himself, so it’s weird, wonderful and impractical – and yet another disorientation for Alice to endure with her sense of loss and abandonment. Her beloved partner of 20 years is gone and now she can’t even find the fridge. To add to her problems, Alice discovers that Harry used to hide things he didn’t want to deal with, and his sudden death sets off a storm of secrets, debts and suspicions that Alice must contend with to move on. in his life.
It’s every loved one’s worst nightmare. As if one sudden death wasn’t enough, uncovering secrets that could ultimately destroy the lives of those left behind is devastating. Alice believed Harry had it all covered, but it turned out he was living like he couldn’t die soon, leaving her and their daughter, Charlotte (Isabella Pappas), standing precariously on the brink of ruin and despair. Neither paternal nor maternal grandparents are particularly helpful, although Alice’s father occasionally provides helpful advice. The unfortunate part of this narrative is that the season ends after just six episodes, ending with less of a cliff-hanger than an incomplete thought. Introducing a few new story elements in the final episode, the series suddenly comes to an end without properly setting up those storylines for next season.
There are no special features. (AcornTV)
Fortress (Blu-ray & digital copy)
Robert (Bruce Willis) is a retired CIA agent living in a secret compound in the woods. One day, his estranged son (Jesse Metcalfe) comes to camp for a visit – only to be followed by Robert’s old nemesis, Balzary (Chad Michael Murray). As the site is besieged by Balzary’s attack team, father and son retreat to a high-tech bunker. But are its walls of steel and advanced weaponry powerful enough to meet Balzary’s bloodthirsty plans for revenge?
Unlike Willis’ other retirement film (RED), this time his character is locked in a secluded house for senior agents with surprising levels of on-site security. Unfortunately, most of them are little or no match for Balzary’s successful team, which makes it possible to reach their target quickly. The film seems to struggle with its direction and the bizarre plot point that brings them all together in this otherwise insane action flick. Another TV alum also did the casting as Shannen Doherty plays a military officer who shares a past with Robert and was assigned to the secret location.
There are no special features. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Sainte Maud (Blu-ray & digital copy)
Maud (Morfydd Clark), a newly devout hospice nurse, becomes obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient (Jennifer Ehle) – but sinister forces and her own sinful past threaten to end her holy calling. .
Many stories of people who come to religion late in life portray fanatics – devotees obsessed with their vocation and convinced that there is only one way to live a righteous life. Yet Maud repeatedly indulges in sin when she feels distressed. She never really fitted in and has now taken on the responsibility of caring for the seriously ill, so even if they fail to fit in, it’s for a limited time. After meeting her latest charge, an aging former dancer still clinging to her vices, Maud becomes determined to save her soul. The result is not what she wanted, sending Maud into a spiral of madness and delirium, making her faith detrimental to her health. Writer-director Rose Glass creates a frenetic atmosphere for her debut feature, as Clark truly captures Maud’s quiet madness.
Special features include: commentary from writer-director Rose Glass; and “A Higher Call: The Rapture of Sainte Maud.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Teddy (Osric Chau) and Claire (Sara Canning) are travel vloggers who run a channel called “SUPERHOST”, where they share their experiences in and around vacation homes and, until recently, they had been successful in doing so. . With declining subscriber numbers, they find the perfect opportunity to create content people want to see when they meet Rebecca (Gracie Gillam), the host of their latest trip. Slowly they begin to realize that something is wrong with Rebecca, and as they investigate further, they uncover a horrifying truth. She doesn’t just want a great review, she wants something much worse.
This film begins in very familiar territory as many travelers use vacation rentals when away from home. Another recognizable field is vlogging, as everyone seems to be trying to cash in on online videos and reviews. Teddy and Claire seem like a fun couple, but their approach to their business is very different, creating occasional tension. Meanwhile, Rebecca is beyond eccentric, generally coming off as a total psychopath, which Gillam portrays in a tee shirt and serves as the film’s larger-than-life highlight. Barbara Crampton also has a small but interesting role in the thriller. Unfortunately, when it all finally hits the fan, Teddy and Claire’s poor choices drive the audience out of the film, which then ends in an utterly predictable display of cynicism and apathy.
Special features include: commentary from writer-director Brandon Christensen; behind-the-scenes featurette; “Shooting in the event of a pandemic”; “Superhost Visual effects”; “Scaredycats” Episodes 1 & 2; bloopers; and photo gallery. (RLJE Films)
Wayne’s World [30th Anniversary steelbook] (Blu-ray & digital copy)
The adventures of two amiably aimless metal friends, Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey). From Wayne’s basement, the couple aired a talk show called “Wayne’s World” on local public television. The show catches the eye of a sleazy network executive (Rob Lowe) who wants to produce a big-budget version, but he also wants Wayne’s girlfriend, a rock singer named Cassandra (Tia Carrere). Wayne and Garth must fight the executive to not only save their show, but Cassandra as well.
The film is based on a classic Saturday Night Live sketch of the same name and featuring the same actors. Despite their appearances, the duo are not necessarily stupid but very unconventional, which tends to give the impression that they lack intelligence. It’s hard to adapt a skit that’s usually a few minutes long into a feature film, but it’s one of the successes. Maintaining their catchphrases (“Schwing”) and personalities, the pair manage to keep audiences entertained for the duration of the film while delivering one of the most memorable scenes from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Lowe makes an excellent villain, acting in direct contrast to his comic counterparts, despite having a funny bone himself. It’s hard for comedies to stand the test of time, but this movie did it all right and remains humorous to this day.
Special features include: commentary from director Penelope Spheeris; and cast and crew interviews. (Paramount Home Entertainment)