This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Buy It

TRICK ‘R TREAT
Shunned by Warner Bros. after two years of sitting on the shelf, Trick ‘r Treat is finally being made available for viewer consumption now that it’s been slapped with the direct-to-video treatment. As much as the film may have deserved a theatrical release, where it very realistically could’ve become a sleeper hit, I feel as though I should harbor more resentment than I actually do. Reason being, I have now been given a reason to care about Halloween. Writer/director Michael Dougherty has given movie buffs everywhere a gift, not just in terms of crafting an excellent film (one that’s assuredly destined for cult classic status), but in granting us the opportunity to surprise the hell out of all of our friends on Halloween night with a trippy little horror flick that they know nothing about. Dougherty strikes a tone here unlike any horror film I’ve seen before, playing on our nostalgia (intentionally or not) by mixing elements of childhood horror favorites like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps alongside more gory, gooey old-school horror, and then injecting it all with a sadistic, darkly comedic edge that constantly plays on your expectations and reminds you why you should never trust little kids with balloon-shaped heads. I’ve heard reviews describe Trick ‘r Treat as an anthology of different horror tales, a la Creepshow–a fitting comparison given the comic book inspirations in both–but that description may also be misleading. Instead of merely telling each story separately, Dougherty sees fit to find clever and creative ways to interweave each of the stories as they unfold over the course of one Halloween night, making the chronology of the film more akin to, say, Pulp Fiction and Go. It’s this type of ingenuity that puts Trick ‘r Treat in a league all its own, bringing back to the horror genre the one thing that it’s been so sorely lacking outside of Sam Raimi’s efforts: a sense of fun.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A “Trick ’R Treat: Season’s Greetings” feature (with optional commentary by writer/director Michael Dougherty). Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as an audio commentary with the director, additional scenes, a special effects comparison, and another featurette on the legends of Halloween.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$22.19 $14.99 $19.99
Amazon – $14.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$30.59 $27.99 $29.99
Amazon – $24.99

Rent It

YEAR ONE
I suspect the pitch meeting for Year One yielded one of the fastest greenlights in studio history.
“Jack Black and Michael Cera… in biblical times!”
“…that it?”
“Yeah.”
“Sold.”

As far as comedies go, it’s not particularly ambitious; hell, as far as movies where a main character eats poop goes, it’s not particularly ambitious. It’s the type of half-assed, sketch-style comedy that only those who are already inclined to get a few laughs out of the film based solely on its premise–and aren’t terribly demanding of films that don’t demand terribly of themselves–are likely to truly enjoy it for what it is. And, well, as it so happens, I am one of those people. I love Michael Cera‘s awkward, deadpan mannerisms, and I get a kick out of Jack Black‘s over-the-top persona, and I even enjoyed seeing the duo bumble their way through numerous events detailed in the Bible, anachronistically reimagined here with twice the amount of circumcision and urination jokes (the Bible has those, right?). While the concept itself may hold potential for something much more witty and rewarding, the movie never aspires to reach the heights of classic comedies before it (with Monty Python’s Life of Brian obviously coming to mind). But judging the film purely on how well it accomplishes the admittedly little it attempts to do, there are enough amusing moments littered throughout to make for a pleasant viewing experience. Even the aforementioned poop/piss jokes, which may not be inherently funny on their own, are made funnier by how blatantly they’ve been put there to test the boundaries of the PG-13 rating, as well as the audience’s gag reflex. If you can appreciate the humor in that, and are perfectly content with seeing Michael Cera once again play Michael Cera and Jack Black once again play Jack Black, then Year One will likely satisfy your comedic cravings. Everyone else, steer clear.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – A commentary with director Harold Ramis, Jack Black,and Michael Cera, extended and alternate scenes, an alternate ending, a Line-O-Rama, a Year One: The Journey Begins featurette, a gag reel, and 2 additional features (“Sodom’s Got ‘Em!”, “Leeroy Jenkins: The Gates of Sodom”).

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$15.99 $15.99 $15.77
Amazon – $15.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$26.99 $26.99 $25.77
Amazon – $22.99

ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT
I can understand why many filmgoers and critics have dismissed Assassination of a High School President as Brick ‘Lite’. The film, which much like Trick ‘r Treat regrettably missed out on a theatrical release, plays heavily with film noir elements to convey its high school-based story. Even so, while the comparison may be apt, it’s ultimately unfair, and a total mischaracterization of the film’s intentions. Whereas Brick was straight-up film noir that happened to take place in a high school setting, Assassination of a High School President is more along the lines of a John Hughes high school comedy, but with noir flourishes (and naughtier language). The tone that it strives for is decidedly more lighthearted. Once you manage to accept that difference, the film is great fun. Between the rapid-fire dialogue, slick direction, memorable characters, and intricately-detailed storyline, Assassination offers a look at a world that’s been crafted with such a sure hand and such confidence, it’s a shame that it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. I’d be lying if I said I was eager to add it to my collection any time soon, but it’s a film that I would’ve been happy to pay full price to see in theaters had I been given the opportunity.
Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: A filmmakers commentary, and deleted, extended and alternate scenes.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.99 $19.99 $17.99
Amazon – $18.99

ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL
The real-life counterpart to movies like This is Spinal Tap! and The Wrestler, Anvil! The Story of Anvil chronicles the later years of Anvil band members Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, who even after having influenced other heavy metal groups like Slayer and Metallica, never managed to find the success that those groups did. Now in their fifties, the duo continues to strive toward their goal of hitting the big time, despite the constant pitfalls along the way. Much in the way that you don’t need to be a fan of arcade games to appreciate the passion and dedication on display in The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, you don’t need to care for heavy metal music to appreciate those very same qualities in Anvil! Funny and moving in equal measures, documentaries just don’t get much more engaging than this.
Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: Audio commentary with Sasha Gervasi, Steve Kudlow, and Robb Reiner, deleted scenes, and extended interview with Metallica’s Lars Ulrich.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$17.99 $14.99 N/A
Amazon – $14.99

Not Screened

MY LIFE IN RUINS
Several months back, Nia Vardalos (the writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding) wrote an article about the marginalization of women in cinema, and her efforts to help purge the world of this injustice. She did this by encouraging that everybody check out her latest film, My Life in Ruins, which I can only assume is an intelligent, thought-provoking drama with themes of female empowerment and not a generic, unfunny piece of shit rom-com that holds an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. If I’m mistaken though, Nia Vardalos should probably consider shutting the hell up.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – An audio commentary with actress Nia Vardalos, director Donald Petrie and writer Mike Reiss, a Everybody Loves Poupi featurette, deleted scenes, and an alternate ending.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$15.99 $19.99 $19.99
Amazon – $19.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$25.99 $26.99 $29.99
Amazon – $26.99

IMAGINE THAT
This marks Paramount’s second attempt after Dance Flick at a Blu-ray exclusive retail release, with the DVD to eventually be released in a couple months time. I can’t say I like where this is heading, but as long as they keep this tactic firmly in the realm of “movies that nobody gives a crap about”, I’ll refrain from complaining. Side note: See Eddie Murphy‘s facial expression on the cover? That’s my reaction every time I think about the existence of this movie.
Blu-ray? Yes, available exclusively on Blu-ray.
Notable Extras: Audio commentary with Karey Kirkpatrick and Yara Shahidi, and eight featurettes (Yara Shahidi Set Tour, A Playgound of the Mind, Getting the Part, Star Blanket: Native American Influence, The King and His Jesters, What Were They Really Saying?, Johnny Whitefeather Outtakes, and Evan and Olivia Outtakes).

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$31.79 $29.99 $25.77
Amazon – $28.99

Other noteworthy DVD (and Blu-ray) releases this week…
Dance FlickBones (Season 4)Nip/Tuck (Season 5, Part 2)Medium (Season 5)The Gate (Special Edition)

Other noteworthy Blu-ray-specific releases this week…
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Diamond Edition)How the Grinch Stole ChristmasContactAudition (2-Disc Collector’s Edition)Mary Shelley’s FrankensteinWolf

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