It’s a big week for new DVDs -mostly because I’ve actually seen two of ’em. Besides American Hustle (pictured above), there’s also Disney’s latest animated smash hit, Disney’s latest live-action stab at a prestige film, and even some movies not made by Disney. Besides the stars in the photograph above, we’ve got films starring Tom Hanks, Daniel Radcliffe, Idris Elba, Samuel L. Jackson, and Danny Trejo. We’ve got con-men and snowmen, we’ve got lady authors and gentlemen authors, we’ve got live-action superheroes and cartoon terrorists. We’ve got two movies that feature car accidents as their inciting incidents. All of that and even Jon Lovitz playing a scary loan shark!
Saving Mr. Banks
Kill Your Darlings
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Here Comes The Devil
20 Ft Below: The Darkness Descending
Achmed Saves America
Four of these movies are Oscar-nominated films, but only one of them actually took home a statue. Wondering which one it is? You’ll just have to continue -aw, to hell with it. It was Frozen, and you probably knew that if you bothered to stop staring at the banner image and actually gave any of these words a moment’s thought. When you’re done doing whatever you need to do in order to actually read words again, I’ll be waiting on the next page.
David O. Russell reunites with half the cast of his Oscar-winning film, The Fighter, mixes them up with half the cast of his Oscar-winning film, Silver Linings Playbook, adds two-time Oscar-nominee Jeremy Renner for the heck of it, resulting in his best film to date –and it went on to win absolutely no Oscars. To be fair though, it was a very strong year for Oscar-baiting films. American Hustle is loud and fun –in Vince’s “A-“ review he refers to it as, “Sexy People F*cking, The Movie”, whereas its competition for largely meaningless cinematic validation were true stories about slavery, AIDs, and panicky lady astronauts. Frankly, American Hustle never stood a chance. Still, it’s a great movie, and certainly more fun to watch than any of the films that actually triumphed over it in the 10 Oscar categories for which it was nominated. So if you’re a slave to the Academy, feel free to pop in The Great Gatsby and marvel at its Oscar-winning costumes (they were very nice), but for my money, I’d much rather watch Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams cat-fight and kiss while wondering just how many rolls of double-sided tape they had to use to keep Ms. Adams breasts from falling out of the barely-there tops she wears throughout the film. I’m guessing 10 rolls, because you have to assume her breasts would start to sweat and glisten under the hot lights they use on movie sets, and the tape would start to lose its stickiness, so between shots some young female production assistant would have to come up and reapply the tape. Adams and Bethany –that’s the assistant’s name, I’m assuming- would try to remain professional but they’d both end up giggling at the awkwardness while Beth carefully pulls Amy’s dress fully open and gently cups her –you know what? Never mind. Good movie, you should see it.
You’ve got to hand it to Disney: they did everything right with Frozen. In my estimation, this is their biggest (non-Pixar) success since The Lion King came out 20 years ago. Kids love it, parents love it, the critics love it, and toy retailers really love it. Hell even the Dove Foundation gave it a full 5-Dove Seal of Approval, despite it featuring a character with ‘unexplained magical powers’. It’s earned over a billion dollars and counting at the box-office, and that’s got to be peanuts compared to the money it’s making in merchandising. My wife and I took our daughter to see Frozen just after Thanksgiving and with both Christmas and her birthday happening since, she is now the happy four-year-old owner of a set of Frozen bed sheets and pillow cases, three Barbie-sized Frozen dolls (Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff), two dolls depicting toddler-aged versions of Elsa and Anna, a small plastic Olaf (the snowman) toy that collapses when you press the down on the base and snaps back to form when you release it, a Frozen toy camera, a Frozen toy cell phone, a Frozen tote bag, the official soundtrack -which has been dutifully loaded onto every iPhone and iPad we own (as well as being in semi-permanent rotation in both of our cars), and come Easter she will add a plush over-sized Olaf to her collection, courtesy of a grandma who went to the Disney Store every God damn day for two months hoping to find one. You know what, though? I don’t mind it a bit. As far as kid’s movies go, Frozen was pretty great. (Not The LEGO Movie great, but what is?) I liked it. Of course, it’s possible that I wouldn’t like it as much if I didn’t have a little girl sitting next to me absorbing it all and having the time of her life, but I do and she did so that’s that. I’d rather she engross herself in a movie with decent music from one of the folks who gave us The Book Of Mormon than have her shrieking at the top of her lungs to whatever Top 40 hit the Chipmunks of the Smurfs cover in their latest cash-in. Plus, and I’m being completely serious here, the whole female protagonist(s) not needing a man to rescue them thing is a big selling point.
And so I give in. Disney wins this round. Even though it pains me to say it, I’m gladly giving them more of my money. Look, at least I realize the whole thing’s not about my kid, but about the cash -trust me, I know. Every time she gets excited about seeing a new Frozen toy, or sings “Let It Go” quietly to herself while playing in her room, I feel like it’s money well-spent. Disney gets what it wants, but she also gets what she wants, so I guess I’m getting what I want, too. And she won’t be this young and innocent forever. Zeitgeists come and go, but I’ll always remember how much she currently loves Frozen. Especially because she saw it and loved it so before any of her friends saw it and told her to like it. Even if they had, it still wouldn’t matter because it isn’t about pop-culture or peers -it’s about her happiness. Maybe that’s why there’s no way she’s seeing whatever Disney’s next princess movie ends up being, because her happiness is expensive as f*ck.
Speaking of Disney and its ingenious ability to make a buck, Saving Mr. Banks is the story of how Mary Poppins became a film. In other words, Disney took a DVD special feature, hired Oscar-winning actors for the lead roles, and released it in theaters instead of as a supplement on the Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Blu-ray . Which, by the way, brazenly includes a special feature promoting Saving Mr. Banks. The film went on to garner a good bit of critical favor and earned over $100 million at the box-office, so congratulations to Disney are in order. The only question is, will this movie become such a beloved classic that it ends up getting its own theatrically-released making-of 50 years from now? I’m guessing not, but if it did, they should call it Paying Mr. Hanks. (F*ck you, that joke was awesome.)