Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
“The Odd Life of Timothy Green”
Writer/Director Peter Hedges knows how to do family films that don’t suck. He adapted the screenplay for “About a Boy.” He wrote and directed “Pieces of April” in 2003 and “Dan in Real Life” in 2007. Now, he takes on this heartwarming story about a boy grown in the garden. And he has to do it with Jennifer Garner. But Garner isn’t terrible and Joel Edgerton continues to be a dependable actor. Young actor CJ Adams really makes the difference as the title character and little hero of the movie. It’s what we reviewers call a “cute” film – usually cute means the kids liked it and we didn’t fall asleep. But this time, “cute” is better than watchable – it’s a family movie with heart, done with creative flair and worth a watch.
Christmas animation, a tradition that must go back to cave paintings, but at some point, you have to ask: Is it worth it to spend all that money making a movie that can only be watched once a year? Don’t misunderstand us, there’s been some great ones through the years, delivering real entertainment and not relying on the fact that we’re in a season of doe-eyed consumerism where anything bright and colored red and green will be gobbled-up. This film follows three generations of Claus men and how technology is making Christmas more efficient while taking the humanity out of the holiday. Bringing together a who’s who of British actors – James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy and Jim Broadbent – they give the British Christmas highbrow approach. And it works as a classic allegory of slowing down and looking at a situation from someone else’s perspective. But it also says change is not bad, as long as we care about others while we’re changing and never let gadgets get in the way of the ones we love. Worth a watch.
“Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day”
Here is the proof, in a full length film, of the surprise reunion concert Led Zeppelin did in 2007 at London's O2 Arena. Yes, Robert Plant’s voice isn’t what it used to be. Yes, Jimmy Page is still an awesomely sloppy guitarist. Yes, drummer, John Bonham is still dead and his son, Jason Bonham, doesn’t quite fill Bonzo’s drum stool. But John Paul Jones still hits every bass groove right on time and it’s so good to hear a different version of these songs live, and to see them performed is even better. Sure, they do the hits but they also do songs they’ve never done live and other songs that were meant to be done live. The sale of the DVD/Blu-ray benefits the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund, which is a music scholarship charity to maximize the potential of children musicians. It doesn’t include behind-the-scenes footage like a lot of rock documentaries do. But it does make for great entertainment for Zep fans that are sick of Christmas music – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge