PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Paul” (R) — While on a UFO-centric road trip through the U.S., two geeks (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) find Paul, a friendly little alien voiced by Seth Rogen. Movie references, snappy dialog and solid comedic performances drive the movie along for a fun ride.
For an alien, Paul has a firm grasp on Earth’s pop culture and makes wisecracks the whole way through. Pegg and Frost are a seasoned comedy duo and carry the leading roles well. The film also boasts a winning supporting cast and fine special effects. The movie gets an R rating for some over-the-top humor and Paul’s stoner antics, yet the movie has heart. Paul is the movie for anyone who fondly remembers the kid-befriends-alien story of “E.T.” and wants to be enchanted all over again, but this time with a ridiculous buddy-comedy.
“Super” (R) — When his beautiful wife leaves him and falls in with the wrong crowd, Frank (Rainn Wilson from TV’s “The Office”) turns himself into a real-world superhero and goes on a crusade against crime. However, the real conflict of this quirky-yet-dark comedy is whether Frank is a sympathetic underdog or a deranged lunatic assaulting perceived evil with a pipe wrench.
He’s both. It’s the madness that makes him lovable, and Wilson handles it well. Be warned; as the plot thickens, the violence increases exponentially. “Super” makes for a strange movie full of laugh-out-loud moments and awkward winces.
“The Battle of Algiers” [Blu-ray] (1966) — This black-and-white classic gives an unflinching look at war from both sides. “The Battle of Algiers” was recognized for its achievements in its own time, and still holds political relevance 45 years later. Depicting Algeria’s struggle for independence from France, the film follows the conflict from resentment on the streets to full-blown urban warfare. The battlefield is masterfully humanized through character vignettes and the tempo of escalating tensions. The Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection offers the chance to see a truly poignant and classic film restored.
DOG OF THE WEEK
“Mars Needs Moms” (PG) — No amount of space-age animation technology could turn this unlovable kid-movie flop into an engaging adventure. The story follows young Milo, a 9-year-old boy who doesn’t always listen to his mother. When Milo witnesses Martians kidnapping his mom, he finds himself on an outer-space journey to stop the Martian mom-napping campaign.
The plot is simple and goofy enough, but the script doesn’t really take it anywhere good, and the animation keeps anyone from getting comfortable. See, the motion-capture animation used in the film converts actors’ performances into unsettling computer animated characters. This leaves all the humans looking like demon-touched dolls struggling to adapt to humanoid expression. In a time when studios are raising the bar for animated family features, “Mars Needs Moms” fails to lift off.
“Oprah Winfrey: The Past, The Present and Future”
“Top Gear: The Complete Season 16”
“M.A.S.K.: The Complete Series”
“Webster: Season Three”
“Marvin Hamlisch Presents: ’70s The Way We Were”
“Yu Yu Hakusho: Season Two” (Classic) [Blu-ray]
“Doctor Who: The Sun Makers”
“The Wiggles: Ukelele Baby!”
(c) 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.