Monday, October 5, 2009

New movies to be released tomorrow on DVD

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2009) ***½ You have to wonder about a movie called Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Is the redundancy in the title self-mocking or just bluntly declarative? It’s a question that lingers around the movie itself, which is either an affectionate chronicle of a Canadian heavy metal band that never quite made it or else a deadpan mockery of the same band. But there is also a kind of sincerity that can seem to the jaded eye like self-parody, and the earnest, heartfelt striving of the two men at the center of Anvil, Robb Reiner and Steve "Lips" Kudlow, makes the band’s story more touching than comical. Mockery would be too easy and too mean, and the success of Anvil! The Story of Anvil lies in its ability to make you care about an enterprise you might initially have been inclined to laugh at. Mr. Reiner and Mr. Kudlow may not quite merit full-metal glory, but they don’t deserve oblivion either, and Anvil! The Story of Anvil makes both a case and a place for their band. Grade B+

My Life in Ruins (2009) **½ My Life in Ruins, Nia Vardalos’s first movie in five years, might as well be titled How Georgia Got Her Kefi Back — Georgia being Ms. Vardalos’s character, a Greek-American tour guide in the old country, and kefi being the Greek word for joy, high spirits, life force, whatever. Directed by Donald Petrie (Miss Congeniality, Grumpy Old Men) from a screenplay by Mike Reiss that is larded with stale 1970s-style sitcom humor, My Life in Ruins has none of the homey authenticity of My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which Ms. Vardalos wrote). Seven years after her breakthrough, Ms. Vardalos may be slimmer and more glamorous, but she seems less real. This move is not likely to spur much tourism to Greece. The sights, though impressive, are not photographed interestingly, and the citizens of the host country are less than welcoming. Grade: C

Year One (2009) **** "Comedy," Jerry Lewis or some other professional wisenheimer once said, "is a man in trouble." In Harold Ramis’s Year One, a thoroughly, sometimes gaggingly broad and sly conceptual laugh-in laced-with-jokes — about God, poop, circumcision, female underarm hair and the state of Israel — comedy is two men dressed in animal skins and neck deep in shtick. Set in what looks like a succession of B-movie studio sets, the film brings to mind a Hope and Crosby road movie, though only if Bob and Bing, after studying the Bible as children and reading Nietzsche as adults, were grappling with issues of faith. Filling Hope and Crosby’s clown shoes nicely in Year One are Jack Black and Michael Cera as Paleolithic tribesmen. Grade: A-

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