Video Verdict: New DVDs for June 17

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in "Fool's Gold."

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in "Fools Gold."

Humor is the word of the day because this week’s crop of video releases features a romantic comedy with ate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, plus titles from comedians Martin Lawrence and Jack Black. Drama fans needn’t sulk, however, because Clint Eastwood’s daughter is delivering a heartfelt tearjerker that’s better than all other releases.

 

Be Kind Rewind
2 1/2 stars (out of four)
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references
New Line
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray
Director Michel Gondry deserves credit for making a movie about videotapes in the DVD age, but guts alone don’t make a winning film.

Jack Black stars as Jerry, a junkyard employee who becomes magnetized and accidentally erases all the VHS tapes in his friend’s rental store. In order to make up for the mishap, he and the store’s lone employee, Mike (Mos Def), decide to tape their own versions of the damaged movies.

The films Jerry and Mike make are crude and poorly executed, but they’re also funny and have a lot of heart. So, against all odds, they become regional hits, and the popularity of their work revitalizes the rental store.

Because the plotting is so original and the actors so likable, “Be Kind Rewind” is an enjoyable viewing experience. It doesn’t, however, live up to its promise. While it’s fun to watch Mike and Jerry knock out goofy versions of “Ghostbusters” and “Rush Hour 2,” their antics are more entertaining than hysterical. That makes “Be Kind Rewind” amusing but highly inconsistent.

DVD extras are limited to the theatrical trailer and a brief feature on the making of the film.

 
Fool’s Gold
2 stars
Rated PG-13 for action violence, some sexual material, brief nudity and language
Warner Brothers
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray
Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey created cinematic treasure when they teamed up for the romantic comedy “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” and writer-director Andy Tennant was surely hoping to recreate the magic with “Fool’s Gold.” To some degree, he succeeded, as McConaughey and Hudson still have great chemistry. Alas, Tennant’s film has little going for it other than the cast.

McConaughey plays Ben “Finn” Finnegan, an easygoing treasure hunter who’s bright enough to find long-buried gems, but too dimwitted to partner with the right folks. His irresponsible ways even caused his beautiful wife, Tess (Hudson), to divorce him.

But, when Finn gets on the track of a legendary Spanish treasure, he draws Tess back into his web. Soon enough, they’re hunting for the loot with the help of a billionaire named Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland) and his socialite daughter (Alexis Dziena). Trouble is, plenty of folks are willing to do whatever it takes to nab the treasure before Finn and Tess.

Although “Fool’s Gold” sounds like fun, the winning cast is constantly undermined by a script littered with obvious gags and oh-so-predictable plotting.

The DVD is available in both full screen and widescreen versions, and extra features include a gag reel and a short on McConaughey and Hudson.

 
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins
1 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language and some drug references
Universal Studios
Available on: DVD
With the cast that writer-director Malcolm D. Lee assembled for “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins,” one would expect the movie to be good … or at least a passable entertainment. It is neither.

Martin Lawrence stars as the title character, a hotshot TV personality who returns to his childhood home after an extended absence. Although he’s a big deal in Los Angeles, it doesn’t take long for his large family to remind him that he was just a scrawny, regular Joe when growing up in the deep South. Add to that his reality TV-star fiancee, Bianca (Joy Bryant), who alienates everyone around her, and you have the makings for a nasty family reunion.

Lawrence and Bryant are likable and they’re joined by Cedric the Entertainer, James Earl Jones, Michael Clarke Duncan, Mike Epps and Mo’Nique. So, talent isn’t the trouble. Rather, it’s Lee’s script that sends things in the wrong direction. The entire story is built around Roscoe’s spats with various family members, and the material is rarely funny.

Plus, the movie says nothing new about family relationships. Instead, viewers get a seemingly endless string of predictable gags that do little more than allow Lawrence and his co-stars to mug for the camera.

The DVD is available in both full screen and widescreen versions and extra features include an alternate opening, deleted scenes and outtakes.

Rails & Ties
3 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, an accident scene, brief nudity and momentary strong language
Warner Brothers
Available on: DVD
If Alison Eastwood’s directorial debut is an indication of things to come, her father, Clint, won’t be the only Eastwood lauded as a genius. With “Rails & Ties,” Eastwood has crafted an intimate and engaging drama that should have attracted more attention when it hit theaters in limited release last year.

The story centers on no-nonsense train engineer Tom Stark (Kevin Bacon), whose life is coming apart at the seams. Not only does his wife, Megan (Marcia Gay Harden), have terminal cancer, but he’s dealing with the aftermath of a train accident that left a suicidal mother dead.

Because he’s the prototypical tough-guy male, Tom is closed off and reclusive, leaving Megan to suffer through her final days alone, even though he loves her. Then, his life is turned upside down when Davey Danner (Miles Heizer) — son of the woman he killed with his train — shows up at his doorstep for an explanation.

At Megan’s insistence, the Starks take the boy in, and Megan shows him the type of love that his drug-addled mother never could. But it’s Tom who has the most to gain from a relationship with young Davey, and as the boy opens up, he does as well.

The lead performances are wonderful, and Eastwood’s direction is pitch perfect, leaving viewers with one of the finest tearjerkers to hit theaters last year.

A collection of deleted scenes are included on the DVD.

 
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

“Under the Same Moon”: Family drama about a Mexican boy who crosses the U.S. border alone in hopes of finding his mother who is working illegally in Los Angeles. The movie is presented in both Spanish and English.

“The Sword in the Stone” — 45th Anniversary Special Edition: Disney rotates its classic, animated titles in and out of its vaults, meaning you can’t always find the one you’re looking for. So, fans of this 1963 musical about the adventures of a young King Arthur should probably nab this release.

“The Jungle Book 2” — Special Edition: This animated sequel to the original “Jungle Book” isn’t exactly a classic, but it still contains favorite characters, including Mowgli, Baloo the bear and Shere Khan the tiger. The movie also features a number of original songs and remakes of classics, including “The Bare Necessities.”

“Joy Division”: Rockumentary about the rise of the English band that inspired the title. The film includes rare footage of the group and bits from their videos.

“Californication” — Season One: If you’re yet to catch this David Duchovny dramedy on cable, here’s your chance. Duchovny plays a Los Angeles writer who’s trying to overcome a creative slump, and it doesn’t help that he’s still in love with his ex-girlfriend and drawn to self-destructive patterns that include drug and alcohol abuse.

“The Nude Bomb”: To cash in on the June 20 release of the new “Get Smart” feature film, Universal Studios is rolling out the 1980 picture that first brought secret agent Maxwell Smart to the big screen. Don Adams stars, and he’s charged with foiling a plot involving an explosive device that could destroy all of the world’s fabric.

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