Video Verdict: ‘I Love You, Man,’ ’17 Again,’ ‘Alien Trespass,’ ‘90210’

Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd, left) befriends Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) during his search for a best man in the comedy "I Love You, Man."

Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd, left) befriends Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) during his search for a best man in the comedy "I Love You, Man."

It’s a great week for new DVD releases, with movie studios rolling out everything from a raucous, mainstream comedy to an homage to classic science-fiction films.

 

I Love You, Man
3 stars (out of four)
Rated R for pervasive language, including crude and sexual references
Paramount
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

When Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) gets engaged to the woman of his dreams, Zooey (Rashida Jones), he discovers one unsettling fact. He’s always put so much energy into romantic relationships that he doesn’t have a best male friend.

Desperate to find a best man for his wedding, he begins a quest for the perfect bromance, only to discover that developing male friendships is almost as difficult as finding the right woman. What’s more, when Peter does find a friend, in the form of a laid back bachelor named Sydney (Jason Segel), the time they spend together puts pressure on his relationship with Zooey.

Co-written and directed by John Hamburg, “I Love You Man” is a clever film that tips the romantic comedy genre on its ear by telling a boy-meets-boy story without the slightest of homosexual undertones. The pacing is laid back, so it’s not a laugh-a-minute comedy, but it works when it really counts.

The movie has heart, outstanding lead performances by Rudd and Segel and some excellent moments by a supporting cast that includes Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jon Favreau and former “Incredible Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno.

DVD extras include deleted and extended scenes, a gag real, a making-of feature and a commentary by Hamburg, Rudd and Segel.

 

17 Again
3 stars
Rated PG-13 for language, some sexual material and teen partying
New Line
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Ever wish you’d made different choices in high school? As we stare down the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, you can bet there are folks nodding, “Yes.” And that’s the premise of “17 Again.”

On the verge of losing his wife to divorce and his kids to their terrible teens, thirtysomething Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) is given the chance to go back to high school and do everything over. The young Mike (Zac Efron) is initially stoked because, as a teen, he was a basketball star who was forced to set big plans aside after getting his future wife pregnant. But entering high school as an adult in a teen body isn’t a cake walk.

“17 Again” features straightforward plotting and the commonplace message that the grass isn’t always greener, but it’s also surprisingly infectious. Efron is a fine, young performer who seems to be having the time of his life in the role, and he gets outstanding supporting work from Leslie Mann, Melora Hardin and Thomas Lennon (of “Reno 911!” fame).

We’ve seen plenty of movies with the exact same theme, but not many have been this sweet and well executed.

The DVD release of the movie has no extra features, but the Blu-ray combo pack (which also includes a regular DVD) has several extras, including 13 deleted scenes, outtakes, a pop-up trivia track and two commentaries.

 

Alien Trespass
3 stars
Rated PG for sci-fi action and brief historical smoking
Image Entertainment
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

A movie like “Alien Trespass” is a tough sell because it’s designed primarily for classic movie buffs who are particularly fond of 1950s science fiction. Still with me? Then you’re probably the person director R.W. Goodwin is looking for.

Obviously meant as an homage to early era sci-fi efforts, the film is set in 1957 and considers what happens when a flying saucer crashes to Earth outside a small U.S. town. Shortly after the crash, a beast from within begins feeding on residents while an intergalactic lawman does his best to track him down.

“Trespass” has all the traditional character types: curious teens, a gruff police officer (Robert Patrick), a starry-eyed waitress (Jenni Baird) and a dangerously curious scientist (Eric McCormack). Fans of the genre will recognize these folks, as they will the movie’s rather basic plotting and intentionally low-rent special effects.

Unfortunately, folks who don’t know and appreciate old science fiction movies will likely find “Trespass” stilted and dull. As mentioned at the outset, this one’s for a niche audience.

DVD extras include interviews with Goodwin and McCormack, fake news reports and deleted scenes.

 

90210: Season One
2½ stars
Unrated
Paramount
Available on: DVD

Spun off from the 1990s television drama “Beverly Hills, 90210,” this late-night soap has its share of problems. The dialogue is often bad — particularly in early episodes — the characters frequently do things that go against type, and the series is even racier and more over-the-top than its predecessor. Yet, it’s surprisingly addictive.

Having grown up with the original “90210,” I had to give it a shot, and I’ll be darned if I’m not hooked. This reboot tells the story of a Wichita, Kansas, family that relocates to glitzy Beverly Hills, Calif., and is forced to quickly adapt to a new lifestyle.

For family patriarch Harry Wilson (Rob Estes), it’s a homecoming because he’s been hired as principal of his alma mater, West Beverly High. But the transition isn’t so smooth for his wife, Debbie (Lori Loughlin), and their two children, Annie (Shenae Grimes) and Dixon (Tristan Wilds). They aren’t used to the money and fast-paced life of the city, and there’s no escaping either at flashy West Beverly.

Although the Wilson family is at the heart of the action, a number of other high school students are key to the plotting, and they are portrayed reasonably well by an attractive and likable young cast. Also, long-time fans are thrown a bone with recurring appearances by original “90210” stars Jennie Garth, Shannen Doherty and Tori Spelling.

The plotting is pure melodrama and this isn’t great television, but I’d be lying if I said it was easy to give up.

The First Season DVD package includes all 23 original episodes, plus extra features ranging from set tours to making-of features.

 

The Class
2 stars
Rated PG-13 for language
Sony Pictures Classics
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Last year, “The Class” became the first French film in 21 years to win the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It also garnered widespread critical acclaim and landed in the Oscar race for best foreign language feature.

It did not, however, win the Oscar, which may be a result of both slow pacing and the fact that 80 percent of the movie takes place inside a classroom.

The story, directed by Laurent Cantet, is centered on an inner-city middle school in Paris, and most of the happenings are viewed from the perspective of a dedicated French teacher named François Marin (François Bégaudeau). As Marin goes about his business, viewers see how he conducts himself in class and how other teachers relate to him. They also get a taste of the rough environment he and his students face each day.

There’s no question that “The Class” provides one of the most realistic looks at the teaching profession put to screen, but it does so by spending scene after scene in limited school settings, and that — combined with a dialogue-heavy script — grows tedious.

There is a lot to like about “The Class,” including Bégaudeau’s terrific lead performance, but the film just doesn’t have the pizzazz or emotional impact I look for in great dramas. This is one case where the buzz surrounding the film is better than the work itself.

“The Class” is presented in French with English subtitles, and DVD extras include a making-of featurette and commentary tracks on select scenes.

 

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

“Katyn”: Polish director Andrzej Wajda’s look at the Katyn massacre, which saw Soviet secret police assassinate thousands of Polish military officers and intellectuals. The film was nominated for best foreign language film at the 80th Academy Awards. It is presented in Polish with English subtitles.

“London to Brighton”: Award-winning, 2006 British film about a prostitute named Kelly (Lorraine Stanley) who is coerced into recruiting an underage girl to have sex with a mobster. When things go from bad to worse, both Kelly and her 11-year-old recruit are forced to go on the run.

 

Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. E-mail him at Forrest@ForrestHartman.com

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1 Comment

Filed under Video Verdict

One response to “Video Verdict: ‘I Love You, Man,’ ’17 Again,’ ‘Alien Trespass,’ ‘90210’

  1. Hi Forest!

    Trying to reach you — left two messages for you at RGJ.

    Please respond ASAP please.

    Thank you.

    Martina

    Like

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