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Mystery Team (R)

Lionsgate Home Entertainment

This debut feature is from the Derrick Comedy troupe, another one of those YouTube sensations. Damned if I'd ever heard of them before, but I found their new release, Mystery Team, to be hysterically funny. Led by Donald Glover (currently known as Troy on NBC's Community) the Mystery Team consists of typical neighborhood kid detectives, solving Encyclopedia Brown-level crimes, like capturing pie thieves. The problem, however, is that they're now all 18 and what was once cute is becoming, well, creepy. They get a chance at redemption when a neighbor girl asks them to solve her parents' murder, leading the team into the parodic Blue Velvet-lite underbelly of their small town. Absurdist and dirty, but with laughs and a lovable innocence, Mystery Team is headed for cult status. Get on the bandwagon now, YouTube not necessary. Louis Fowler

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Dear John (PG-13)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

All I can figure is that author Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) — whose book serves as the basis for this film — is a frustrated Hallmark writer. Soldier John Tyree (Channing Tatum), on pre-9/11 leave in North Carolina, meets cute college student Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) on her spring break. Of course after 9/11, John writes letters to Savannah from deserts and jungles and other not-North Carolina hellholes. Savannah sends letters to John describing her life, until the moment comes when ... Well, there's a reason the movie is called Dear John, and it cuts the legs out from under an already suspense-less story. Neither does it offer a single genuinely emotional moment, at least between John and Savannah. Instead, it's a sappy greeting card: "Sorry to hear your deployment in the Global War on Terror has got you down." And, inside: "At least it will always be there for you." MaryAnn Johanson

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Elektra: Director's Cut (Blu-Ray) (NR)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

I'm a pretty rabid fan of comic book-based cinematic adaptations, but somehow I forgot that Elektra, the Marvel Comics movie (and spin-off of Ben Affleck's Daredevil) even existed. Mostly I suppose, because in 2005, I found it flat and boring with a wholly uninspired script. However, five years later, in the post-Dark Knight era of heroic grit, I have to admit I enjoyed its watered-down exploits of the lesser-known female reanimated ninja-assassin a lot more. It's fun and fluffy, meant to piggy-back on the then-geek-adoration of Jennifer Garner, with this director's cut adding some needed depth and meat to a threadbare premise. What's unfortunate is that it has all the potential to be a fairly successful female-fronted superhero franchise, beating out Wonder Woman, but the studio apparently had no faith in that. I guess Elektra will have to forever remain a forgotten spin-off. Louis Fowler

High Anxiety (PG) / History of the World: Part I (R) / Robin Hood: Men in Tights (PG-13) (Blu-Ray)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Fox is slowly churning out its Blu-Ray catalog, now adding three random Mel Brooks-directed titles into the mix, a trio that can truly be described as good, bad and ugly. First up: the side-splitting Hitchcock homage High Anxiety, a dead-on parody of the Master of Suspense that I've never fully appreciated until now. Then we've got History of the World: Part I, a semi-successful outing with more misses than hits, although the Inquisition musical number is a show-stopper. Finally, there's Robin Hood: Men in Tights, originally released around the time — and I hate to say it — when Brooks pretty much lost whatever talent he didn't burn in the '70s. He was desperately trying to make a Blazing Saddles 2, but instead released a cardboard, cookie-cutter comedy that had about three good jokes. So, if you can only have one? High Anxiety, of course. Then again, maybe we should just wait until Silent Movie hits shelves? Louis Fowler

  • Mystery Team, Dear John, Elektra and more.


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