THE COMPANY MEN (2010). The topic tackled in The Company Men — the alarming rate of downsizing in corporate America — was already handled perfectly in 2009's best film, Up in the Air. This lackluster drama, on the other hand, is a superficial look at this contemporary crisis, following a group of polished suits — shallow Bobby (Ben Affleck), panicky Phil (Chris Cooper) and introspective Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) — who find themselves shown the door at the conglomerate for which they've long toiled. Humbled and humiliated, the men are forced to make sacrifices like giving up their country-club golf memberships and trading in their Porsches — and, in the movie's most cringe-worthy moment, Bobby's son discards his Xbox for no discernible reason other than to bloodily claw at viewers' heartstrings. Luckily, Bobby's brother-in-law Jack (Kevin Costner), a salt-of-the-earth construction worker, is on hand to remind everyone that it's better to dance with wolves than finagle with stockholders, or something like that. With its unconvincing stabs at real-world misery and a contrived ending that's one degree removed from a deus ex machina, The Company Men can easily be ignored for more pressing business.
Blu-ray extras include audio-commentary by writer-director John Wells; a 15-minute making-of featurette; six deleted scenes totaling seven minutes; and an alternate ending.
JUST GO WITH IT (2011). Adam Sandler's most recent catnip for knuckleheads is based on Cactus Flower, a farce that's been the basis for a French play, a Broadway hit, and a middling 1969 film starring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman and Goldie Hawn in her Oscar-winning role. The base story — the usual formula about a man (in this case, Sandler's plastic surgeon) who spends all his time chasing the wrong woman (Brooklyn Decker's school teacher) before realizing that the Right One (Jennifer Aniston's office assistant) was by his side all along — is workable; there are a few genuine chuckles; and the child actors (Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck) have more personality than the usual plastic moppets. But any potential is negated by bad casting choices — not Charlotte-raised bombshell Decker, who fulfills the minimal demands of her role, but screen irritant Nick Swardson, a useless Dave Matthews and a slumming Nicole Kidman — as well as the typical Sandler concessions to fratboy humor. Whether it's a kid pooping on Swardson's hand or Sandler describing his own poop as "black pickles," these witless interludes destroy the film's raison d'être: its romcom convictions. After all, it's hard to snuggle with your sweetie on the couch when both hands are required to cover your nose and mouth.
Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by Sandler and Swardson; separate audio commentary by director Dennis Dugan; 16 deleted scenes totaling 17 minutes; 13 behind-the-scenes shorts with such titles as "Decker's Got Gas" and "Sneaky Kiki & Bart the Water Fart"; and a 5-minute gag reel.
A MAN CALLED HORSE (1970) / RIO LOBO (1970) / BIG JAKE (1971). Just as reliably as birds fly south for the winter, Hollywood releases classic Westerns on disc just in time for Father's Day. For this celebratory go-around, Paramount Home Entertainment has opted to debut three oaters from the early 70s on Blu-ray.
One of three prominent 1970 releases to largely center on Native Americans (the others being the magnificent Little Big Man and the so-so Soldier Blue), A Man Called Horse was successful enough to spawn a pair of sequels in 1976's The Return of a Man Called Horse and 1983's Triumphs of a Man Called Horse. Today, though, it's mainly remembered for only one sequence (more on that in a second); in all other respects, it's like a test run for Dances with Wolves, with Richard Harris cast as an English lord who's captured by Sioux warriors but eventually becomes an integral member of the tribe. Initially treated like an animal (hence the title), he soon proves his valor and, in order to marry the lovely sister (Corinna Tsopei) of the chief (Manu Tupou), must undergo the Sun Vow, a bloody ceremony that involves dangling from spikes thrust through the chest. This once-iconic sequence still retains some potency, as does the climactic battle between warring tribes, but much of the film is undone by what ultimately remains just a surface look at a different culture.
It's simply absurd that the man who directed (to name just a few of his classics) His Girl Friday, Rio Bravo, The Big Sleep and the original Scarface isn't as known to the masses as Alfred Hitchcock or Frank Capra, but that continues to be the tragic fate of Howard Hawks. The great filmmaker reportedly wasn't too pleased with Rio Lobo, his final picture (he would pass away seven years later, at the age of 81), yet while it clearly doesn't compare to his many masterpieces, it's nevertheless a pleasant and perfectly acceptable way to sign off a career. Frequent Hawks leading man John Wayne is typically larger-than-life as Cord McNally, a Union officer who teams up with two Confederate soldiers (Jorge Rivero and Christopher Mitchum, Robert's son) immediately after the Civil War in order to locate the man who betrayed his side during the skirmish. With a playful script co-written by Leigh Brackett (she not only co-wrote the earlier Rio Bravo but also The Empire Strikes Back) and a mischievous performance by Western vet Jack Elam, Rio Lobo is rarely meant to be taken too seriously. As the female lead, Jennifer O'Neill is simply terrible; as the secondary female character Amelita, Sherry Lansing is just passable, but after this picture, she had the sense to give up acting altogether and work behind the scenes, resulting in a spectacular career as the first woman head of a major studio and one of the guiding lights behind a string of massive hits (including Fatal Attraction, Forrest Gump and Titanic).
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