Video Verdict: New DVDs for June 3

Will Ferrell lines up a shot in "Semi-Pro."

Will Ferrell lines up a shot in "Semi-Pro."

There’s plenty of variety in this week’s DVD crop with a Will Ferrell comedy, a Jessica Alba thriller and a goofy parody of “300” competing for viewer attention.

Semi-Pro
2 stars (out of four)
Available unrated and in the theatrical cut, which was rated R for language and some sexual content
New Line
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

Will Ferrell has leveled his comedic sites on anchormen, NASCAR drivers and figure skaters, so he probably saw basketball as the next logical step. It wasn’t.

Although Ferrell is an immensely likable comic, he is at the mercy of his material, and the screenplay for “Semi-Pro” didn’t do him any favors. He plays Jackie Moon, a one-hit pop singer who traded the earnings from his music career for ownership of an American Basketball Association team. This is professional sports at its least romantic, meaning Jackie is not only the team owner, but the coach, dance team choreographer and power forward. Despite the multifaceted role, he keeps things rolling with clever promotions and sheer willpower … until it’s announced that the ABA is about to fold.

Jackie is devastated, but when he learns that the National Basketball Association will absorb the ABA’s four top teams, he sees a glimmer of hope. Trading a washing machine for an aging, former-NBA guard named Monix (Woody Harrelson), Jackie assembles what he believes will be his championship team. The only thing left is for the ragtag group of players to actually win.

“Semi-Pro” has moments but they don’t appear as consistently as in the recent Farrell comedies “Blades of Glory” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” What’s more, Ferrell’s typically raucous comedy is even cruder than usual thanks to “Semi-Pro’s” release into theaters with an R rating. Crude can be humorous, but the off-color gags in “Semi-Pro” were designed primarily for shock value. In other words, “Semi-Pro” is only semi-funny.

The movie is available on two-disc and single-disc editions. The latter contains only the R-rated cut of the film, while the two-disc version has the R-rated cut, an unrated version and a digital copy for mobile devices.

The Eye
2 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for violence/terror and disturbing content.
Lionsgate
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

Thought we’d seen the last American remake of an Asian horror film? Think again.

Because fresh ideas are at a premium, Hollywood studios continue to mine foreign markets for the next big idea, and that means movies like “The Eye.” Adapted from the Hong Kong picture “Jian Gui,” the film tells the story of Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba), a blind musician whose vision is restored by a corneal transplant. Since she’s been blind for decades, the emergence of a new sense is startling, and her discomfort is amplified when she begins seeing things that nobody else does.

At first, Sydney’s visions are chalked up to hallucinations, but she quickly realizes they are actually glimpses into the supernatural world. Directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud do a respectable job building tension and intrigue in the first couple acts, but the ending is so flat that it undermines the entire project.

The film is available on a single-disc release and as a two-disc special edition containing a digital copy of the film. Extra features vary by edition.

Meet the Spartans
1/2 star
Available unrated and in the theatrical cut, which was rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language and some comic violence
20th Century Fox
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

For a parody film to work, it has to be nearly as smart as the movies it’s satirizing, but “Meet the Spartans” is about as intelligent as gasoline is affordable.

Using the plotting of “300,” writers/directors Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg (“Date Movie,” “Epic Movie”) poke merciless fun at all things pop culture, including Budweiser commercials, Paris Hilton and “Spider-Man 3.” In fact, they’ve packed so many gags into their sub-80-minute feature that the odds favor at least some of them being good. Don’t let that fool you.

Despite decent production design and a competent technical crew, Seltzer and Friedberg have crafted a movie that is virtually laugh-free. “Meet the Spartans” is so unfunny , in fact, that it’s difficult to imagine anyone agreeing to finance it.

Not only is the screenplay terrible but the biggest names in the feature are Carmen Electra, who simply has to look hot, and Diedrich Bader, who was far better as Oswald on “The Drew Carey Show.” Since neither star is fighting off roles in prestige films, the “Spartans” paycheck probably looked good. Something had to.

The film is available in two different versions, one unrated and the other containing the PG-13 theatrical cut. Extra features vary by edition.

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: As Vaughn, star of “Wedding Crashers” and “Swingers,” tours the country performing with other comedians, the camera captures the action.

Flawless: Thriller starring Demi Moore and Michael Caine as put-upon London Diamond working bees who decide to relieve their company of its treasure. Directed by Michael Radford (“Il Postino”).

The Onion Movie: The newspaper famous for parodying current events brings its satirical look at the world to film with a direct-to-DVD effort that … well … parodies current events.

Mama’s Boy: Jon Heder stars as a man who is happily living at home with mother (Diane Keaton) until she brings home a new boyfriend (Jeff Daniels).

Mannix — Season One: The long-running drama starring Mike Connors as detective Joe Mannix gets its DVD debut.

Control: Feature film detailing the tragic life story of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis. Sam Riley and Samantha Morton star.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Video Verdict

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s