On DVD & Blu-Ray: November 19, 2013

Contraband was an exercise in complete complacency for me. Director Baltasar Kormakur crafted little more than the standard action flick with the assumed hook of it centering around smuggling on cargo ships. The film mixed a few "family first" morality tales in there and sported a strong enough cast to help the material rise above something that would have otherwise been nothing more than a barely acceptable TV movie. The same could be said about Kormakur's follow-up, 2 Guns, but I had a lot more fun with this one than I can even remember plot points from Contraband. While the film fits squarely into the genre of shoot-em up, buddy action flicks 2 Guns doesn't allow itself to be restrained by the conventions while at the same time playing to the strengths of those kinds of films. Neither of these characters are cops and neither of them really care to be friends (though Wahlberg's Stigman is certainly open to the idea), but while it is the odd couple chemistry that keeps this train moving I was also impressed with just how far the movie was willing to go to try and avoid the standard cliche's of its genre while still being more than willing to include a Mexican drug cartel and scenes with massive amounts of gunplay rather than intelligent or calculated conversation. Beyond this there is nothing especially insightful to be said about the film, but for what it's worth there should be a level of congratulation here for the simple fact that it isn't horrible. Truly though, with such hot commodities as Wahlberg and Washington in the leading roles that was never an option. That there is the smallest amount of substance here that makes the experience all the more stimulating is a plus and reverts it from expectations that it might be one too many times Denzel has played a cop and there was no other fate for this than being dull. At the very least 2 Guns is entertaining and in reality that is what audiences go into this kind of movie for; that it offered this value in spades makes it nothing short of a success. Full review here. C+

The worst thing about We're The Millers is that it truly lives up to the mantra that we saw the funniest parts in the previews. The trailer for the film set it up well and gave us a sense of the raunch and conflict the movie deals with and how, but in the process if it doesn't give away every gag or quip that is memorable, it at least showed us the set-up. I was sincerely hopeful they might have used different takes, different improvised lines in the final cut of the film rather than the same ones in the trailer, but we are stuck with a limited amount of funny here and it is restrained to the over-abundance of material we were delivered in the trailers. Now SNL alumni Jason Sudeikis plays David Clark, a small scale drug dealer who lives in an apartment building with a nerd of a teenager whose mom doesn't care enough to check on him after being gone a week and a down on her luck stripper who David may or may not secretly have a thing for. Things are all well and good with no responsibilities for David to uphold until one night when Kenny (Will Poulter), the geek, intervenes in a fight between a few local punks and a homeless punk rock chick who stays outside their building. As Kenny stands no chance of scaring off the thugs pining for Casey's (Emma Roberts) iPhone David is forced to step in, they discover he's a small-time drug dealer due to Kenny's big mouth and he is robbed of his stash and all of his cash. This doesn't sit well with David's supplier, Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms), who gives David no choice but to cross into Mexico and bring back a shipment of pot if he wants to repay his debt and remain alive. David is of course opposed to the idea and has no idea how he is going to crossover from dealer to smuggler, but as you've seen in the trailer hits upon the brilliant idea of creating a cover with a wholesome, unsuspecting family scenario that doesn't stand a chance of being investigated at the border. Rounding up Kenny, Casey, and stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston) to be his wife and two kids David has his cover and the gang is ready to hit the open road. The final product is nothing particularly groundbreaking and some of the bigger laughs come from the gag reel during the credits, but taking the film at face value it is nothing more than a pleasant diversion you will forget about as soon as you hit the eject button. Full review here. B-

Twenty years after attempting a legendary pub crawl five friends led by ringleader Gary King (Simon Pegg) head back to their hometown of Newton Haven and set out on a path to conquer the twelve pubs and finish what they started so many years ago. What is naturalistic about all of this is that, except for the energetic and frustratingly mad Gary, the rest of the crew isn't too sure about the idea of returning to their roots and going on a drinking marathon. Least of all is Andy (Nick Frost) who has moved on and become a lawyer with a wife and two children and hasn't touched a drink in sixteen years. When Gary makes his rounds to convince the guys that they should head out for one more go at the "Golden Mile" each of them are sure to ask if Andy is going and Gary dismisses the question time and again with a shrug of the shoulders and a definite yes. Andy and Gary were the core of the group though and this is clear from the opening monologue Gary gives us that describes each of his friends. The rest being made up of a plethora of British talent that includes Eddie Marsan as Peter, a squirrelly little guy who doesn't so much go after what he wants as he is simply thankful for what he gets. He was always the runt of the litter if you will and has remained working for his fathers car dealership where he makes plenty of money to support his wife, what's her name? Vanessa. Yea, that's right...and their two children. Marsan has always been a great character actor and though I usually see him placed in serious roles he is doing some pretty broad comedy here and he manages it perfectly. No stranger to comedy though is Martin Freeman (the original Jim Halpert or should I say Tim) plays Oliver, a straight laced realtor who has a hot sister (Rosamund Pike) both Gary and Steven would like a shot at. Steven, as portrayed by Paddy Considine (and one of many returning friends from throughout the Blood & Ice Cream trilogy), is the rival to Pegg's Gary. They were always equally cool, equally into the girls and probably as equally successful at everything they desired to put an effort towards. The difference being Steven grew up to be a well-off construction manager with a young, fit girlfriend and Gary, well, Gary didn't grow up at all. The World's End concludes the director Edgar Wright's trilogy with Pegg and Frost in fine fashion and is easily the best comedy of the year so far. Full review here. A

Walking into something like The To Do List it is hard to decide whether or not you are going to get a film along the lines of Adventureland or something more akin to an Adam Sandler comedy, but the cast would certainly suggest the former. That was my optimistic hope going into the film and while I never expected this to be the comedy of the summer (the film was originally scheduled to come out this past February) or even a kind of cult hit I did expect to find a rather low key dirty comedy with enough good bits to sustain its brisk running time. What we actually get is a great cast littered throughout a flimsy film that knows what it wants to be and has a clear agenda, but doesn't necessarily have the intelligence or originality to achieve its own aspirations. As this fact became clear within the first fifteen minutes of the film I was at least relieved to see so many funny people and even rather credible actors popping up in roles of all shapes and sizes whether it was cameos, supporting players, or main cast. As films such as this usually go there isn't enough substance or depth to the characters to justify the emotional journey the makers would like us to go on, but as far as staging crude and vulgar sex acts in awkward places between awkward people this movie hits the nail on the head. The title of "sex comedy" is a term tossed around loosely these days and used to describe pretty much any R-rated comedy that includes at least one boob joke, but The To Do List earns this branding with its head held high. I don't know if it was the fact I wasn't sure what to expect from the film or that it was so unabashedly blunt about its sexual awareness but the film is ultimately a mixed bag ranging from amusing sight gags to jokes as old as the time period in which it's set (sadly, this means 1993 was twenty years ago). While Aubrey Plaza has become known for playing the witty and extremely deadpan chick in films like last years Safety Not Guaranteed and TV's Parks & Recreation the actress takes small steps here to separate herself from that persona which should count for something, but ends up meaning very little when the project surrounding you really isn't that good. Full review here. D

As with this past summers R.I.P.D. the latest straight-up B-movie project from director Robert Luketik proves to be better than you might have heard while still proving to be a pretty spectacular failure for the level of talent involved. Paranoia was no doubt supposed to be young Liam Hemsworth's breakout solo role after serving a small, but critical aspect of The Hunger Games franchise and even moonlighting in The Expendables 2 last summer. With Paranoia though, we get such an obvious story and minimal acting from all involved that the film ends up feeling as half-hearted as it probably is. As if it were a throwaway script from some long forgotten 90's thriller, Paranoia has been updated to try and provide a social commentary on how the state of technology has left little room for anyone to spy on us but rather that we provide all the info anyone would ever need through our phones and other devices that feed our constant social media needs and incessant photo postings with tagged locations. Hemsworth's Adam Cassidy is picked up by Gary Oldman's Nicolas Wyatt to go undercover and obtain details concerning the latest product from his former boss and now rival, Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford). Of course, this is all very illegal and fairly shady but Hemsworth's character is more than game because he's been working his whole life to amount to something more than his security guard father (Richard Dreyfus) ever was and plus, he wants to know what it's like to live like the other half. The film suffers from many of the same problems of which Adam's personality suffers and that is despite having a solid exterior and all the seemingly necessary parts to make a solid film (or human being) there is still a level of immaturity and naivete that is striking and unfortunately stands out above any of its other shining qualities. There is also a love story subplot concerning Amber Heard which no matter what film she pops up in usually adds a kind of generic stench to the proceedings and there is no changing that here. This might serve as passable entertainment for a Friday night on the couch, but it is also unacceptable trash for the level of talent involved. D-

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