Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Cameron Crowe is back after the disastrous Elizabethtown with the very charming, likable and sweet-natured family film We Bought a Zoo, starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. Damon is a successful but workaholic adventure journalist who, after the death of his wife, decides to make a change for his sunshiny daughter and gloomy son. Does he take them to Disneyland? No, he quits his job and buys a damn zoo, filled with quirky animals and even quirkier staffers. For the most part, We Bought a Zoo is wonderfully innocuous kids' fare, with a great message about animal preservation and all that jazz, but, like Elizabethtown, Crowe descends too many times into sitcom territory, introducing cartoonish characters that don’t seem to jive with the drama of the movie. It’s weird to watch, but hey, there are plenty of animals and plenty of hugs, and my copy came with a free ticket to a local zoo.
The third entry in the epic (not really) live-action (sort-of) Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise finds the titular CGI rodents, along with their feminine counterparts, the Chipettes, castaways on an island paradise filled with poisonous spiders, gold doubloons and a wacky girl who’s been stuck on the island so long she’s mastered the art of being most annoying human being on the planet. Meanwhile, the Chipmunks’ “father” Dave (Jason Lee, for whom I’m sure we all envisioned better things) and alternative-comedy sellout extraordinaire David Cross (in a plush duck suit) search for the gang and the meaning of responsibility, growing up and familial love. I may be hard on this movie, and little kids will absolutely chortle themselves to pieces over it, but if you’re over the age of, let’s say, 10, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is not for you.
A group of college friends that have become smug, self-centered dicks are reunited at the funeral of their millionaire daredevil friend in this “urban” dramedy from director Corey Grant and starring the eternally young (and forever crushable) Stacey Dash. The dead pal leaves the group a sizable sum of money in his complicated will, all under the condition that the friends come together stay in his house for a week. Old wounds open up, old flames flare back up and shockingly scandalous secrets threaten to tear the group apart. Featuring the acting debut of Terrell Owens, whom Wikipedia tells me is a football player of some sort, Dysfunctional Friends is a fully functional Big Chill-style flick that's wonderfully heavy on the dysfunctional, and thankfully light on the friendship.