‘Irresistible,’ ‘Rogue’ Top Slate of New Disc Releases, While ‘Beetlejuice,’ ‘Goonies’ Bow on 4K Ultra HD

The political satire Irresistible, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, and Lionsgate’s action thriller Rogue, with Megan Fox as a battle-hardened mercenary, top the slate of new disc releases available Sept. 1.

Written and directed by Jon Stewart, Irresistible features a cast headed by Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis and Topher Grace. Carell portrays a campaign strategist who runs a Democratic mayoral candidate (Cooper) in a small right-wing town.

The film, from Focus Features, was rerouted from a May 2020 theatrical release by the coronavirus pandemic and instead debuted in June on premium VOD. It became available through regular digital channels on Aug. 18.

Read John Latchem’s review of the Irresistible Blu-ray Disc here

Rogue finds Samantha O’Hara (Fox) leading a team of soldiers-for-hire on a daring mission to rescue hostages from their captors in rural Africa.  They wind up stranded and have to battle not only brutal rebels but also a horde of enraged lions.

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Also out Sept. 1 are 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions of the Tim Burton ghost movie Beetlejuice and the 1980s cult favorite adventure The Goonies, both from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Beetlejuice (1988) stars Michael Keaton as a ghost who helps a recently deceased couple played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis haunt their former home. The Goonies (1985),  based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg, follows a band of kids from the blue-collar “Goon Docks” neighborhood who set out to save their homes from foreclosure by following an old treasure map.

On the TV front, consumers as of Sept. 1 can buy, on disc, the complete third season of “Young Sheldon” (from Warner Bros.), the second season of “Magnum P.I.” (from Paramount/CBS), and the first season of “Blood & Treasure” (also from Paramount/CBS).

New digital releases include Guest House, from Lionsgate, and Breaking the Chain, from Virgil Films, the company headed by industry veteran Joe Amodei. Guest House is a comedy about an engaged couple whose new dream home comes with a slight drawback: a party animal who lives in the guest house. Breaking the Chain is an animal-rescue documentary that follows fieldworkers with PETA’s Community Animal Project as they visit impoverished areas of Virginia and North Carolina to give care to mistreated animals.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Irresistible

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/1/20;
Universal;
Comedy;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language including sexual references.
Stars Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, Will Sasso.

Comedian Jon Stewart returns to familiar ground from his “Daily Show” days with a biting political satire that takes aim at electioneering in America.

Stewart also reunites with his old “Daily Show” cohort Steve Carell, who plays Gary, a Democrat political operative on the outs following the 2016 presidential election. In an attempt to get back into the party’s good graces, he takes on the challenge of convincing a farmer and former Marine colonel named Jack (Chris Cooper) to run for mayor as a Democrat in a traditional Midwestern town, hoping a win will serve as a template for bringing a progressive message to other red states.

His involvement, however, attracts the attention of his opposite number from the Republican Party, Faith (Rose Byrne), who swoops into town to make sure the incumbent mayor keeps his seat.

The race quickly descends into a microcosm of a national campaign, with major party donors throwing big bucks at the candidates, allowing Stewart to throw shade at nearly all the tropes of an American election he made fun of for years on Comedy Central, from endless fundraising to disingenuous pandering to media manipulation. In keeping his crosshairs on the election process, Stewart veers away from partisanship for the most part, though he does overplay his own biases in a few of the jokes.

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Meanwhile, Carell has his eyes on Jack’s daughter, Diana (Mackenzie Davis), a fresh-faced farmgirl eager to help her father’s campaign. However, Stewart has more up his sleeve than just a simple underdog story, and there’s more to this sleepy downtrodden town than it would seem. The story delivers some nice twists and turns that, while clever, may limit the film’s rewatchability.

The Blu-ray offers a slew of deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, and three behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about five minutes each.

‘Irresistible’ Available for Sale Digitally Aug. 18, on Disc Sept. 1

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release the political comedy Irresistible through digital retailers Aug. 18, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Sept. 1.

Directed by Jon Stewart, the film stars Steve Carell as Gary Zimmer, top Democratic political consultant who sees an opportunity to win back voters in America’s heartland when a video of a passionate farmer and retired Marine colonel (Chris Cooper) goes viral. After a long, hard day’s work as a farmhand, Gary persuades the farmer to run for mayor of a small town in Wisconsin. However, he soon finds himself squaring off against his brilliant Republican counterpart, Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), as the election turns into an all-out battle between the national parties.

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The cast also includes Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace and Natasha Lyonne.

The disc and digital editions include more than 30 minutes of bonus content, including deleted and extended Scenes; a gag reel; and the featurettes “Campaign Comedy: The Cast of Irresistible,” “Taking the Lead: Jon Stewart” and the behind-the-scenes vignette “An Irresistible Story.”

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Little Women (2019)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Sony Pictures;
Drama;
Box Office $108.10 million;
$30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG’ for thematic elements and brief smoking.
Stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper.

The latest version of Little Women, masterfully directed and adapted by Greta Gerwig, manages to find the modern sensibilities of Luisa May Alcott’s signature work while retaining all the trappings of its mid-19th century period setting.

Gerwig takes Alcott’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel that was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, and expertly translates the classic tome into the language of cinema, eschewing the linear narrative of the book and previous adaptations in favor of a flashback structure that better contrasts the childhood and adult lives of its characters.

The core of the story remains centered on the lives of the March sisters — Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen) — growing up in Massachusetts around the time of the Civil War.

The film is filled with wonderful performances, anchored by Ronan’s confidence as Jo, and Pugh’s radiance as the bright-eyed Amy (both were nominated for Oscars). The exquisite period set design and (Oscar winning) costumes make for a film loaded with delightful visual touches that would make it worth viewing for those reasons alone.

But shifting the narrative back and forth between the two timelines allows Gerwig to focus on how the characters’ adult lives are practically responses to specific events of their childhoods, in a way that no doubt keeps the material fresh even for those who are fans of the novel or have seen the countless other adaptations of it.

Gerwig’s other spin on the material involves layering more elements from Alcott’s real life even more so than the original novel did. Historically, Jo is most often described as the most direct analog for Alcott in the story, as she’s the one who ends up writing about her sisters. And, as such, she remains the primary character of the film. But, according to Gerwig in the Blu-ray bonus materials, all the characters have some element of Alcott in them. In the very good nine-and-a-half-minute “Greta Gerwig: Women Making Art” featurette included with the Blu-ray, Gerwig relates that examining in her lifelong love of the novel in preparing to make the film, she realized that Jo was the hero of her childhood and Alcott is the hero of her adulthood.

Indeed, one of the best elements of the film is an ending that leaves much open to interpretation while honoring what Alcott once said was her original intent for some of the characters.

Gerwig’s script, while faithful to the original dialogue, plays up the artistic interests of its characters, emphasizing the struggles of the creative process, and how artists often face the choice of sacrificing the integrity of their visions for commercial realities (such as when a publisher declares to Jo that a novel with a female protagonist better see her married off by the end. Or dead.)

In crafting a screenplay that spoke to her as a 21st century female filmmaker, she suggests that this new film version becomes somewhat autobiographical for her as well.

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Other featurettes on the Blu-ray include the 13-minute “A New Generation of Little Women,” offering interviews with the cast and several of the filmmakers about the origins of the project, plus the nine-minute “Making a Modern Classic,” about looking at the story with a modern lens. The disc also includes a three-and-a-half-minute “Little Women Behind the Scenes” promotional video, and three minutes of hair and make-up test footage.

The best extra, in addition to the reflections from Gerwig, is undoubtedly “Louisa’s Legacy: Little Women and Orchard House” (labeled as “Orchard House, Home of Louisa May Alcott” in the menu), a 10-minute mini-documentary about Alcott’s real life and family. Hosted by Jan Turnquist, executive director of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (the family home where she wrote Little Women), the video discusses what aspects of the book are based on reality, and the impact of the family’s real-life stories on the film.

The video also details the story of Alcott’s house, an old country home from the mid-1600s that has been rescued from destruction at least three times, most recently in 2002 when the walls were shored up and the foundation completely rebuilt to stop the house from sinking into the ground (the pictures of the house being propped up over a giant hole in the ground is rather striking). The real home ended up serving as the basis of the March house in the film.

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Interestingly, while this is the seventh movie adaptation of Little Women, not to mention numerous television and stage productions of it, not as much attention has been heaped on Alcott’s further adventures of the characters. Little Women was the first of what would end up being a March family trilogy, followed by Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

There have been three movie versions of Little Men, two of which were notably made more than 80 years ago, and a handful of television projects. But to date, there hasn’t been a Jo’s Boys movie — only an obscure 1959 BBC miniseries, as well as part of a Japanese anime television adaptation of the trilogy in the 1980s and ’90s.

TV Miniseries ‘Lonesome Dove’ Riding to Blu-ray Steelbook July 9 From Mill Creek

The TV miniseries Lonesome Dove is coming in a special edition steelbook Blu-ray July 9 from Mill Creek Entertainment for its 30th anniversary.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Larry McMurtry and set in the late nineteenth century, the sprawling epic of the Old West is the story of the last defiant frontier, a daring cattle drive and an undying love. Augustus McCrea (Robert Duvall) and Woodrow F. Call (Tommy Lee Jones), former Texas Rangers, are partners and friends who have shared hardship and danger. Gus is the romantic, a reluctant rancher who has a way with women and the sense to leave well enough alone. Call is a driven, demanding man, a natural authority figure with no patience for weakness. He is obsessed with the dream of creating a new homestead. The two men could hardly be more different, but both are tough fighters who have learned to count on each other, if nothing else. Call’s dream not only drags Gus along in its wake, but also draws in a group of fearless wranglers, trackers and scouts. Through sandstorms, stampedes, bandits, floods and snow, these characters live on to become legends of the great American West.

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Winner of seven Emmy Awards, and one of the highest rated miniseries in television history, Lonesome Dove also stars Diane Lane, Danny Glover, Angelica Huston, Robert Urich, Steve Buscemi, D.B. Sweeney, Ricky Schroder and Chris Cooper.

Special features include a making-of featurette; cast interviews; on location with director Simon Wincer; original sketches and concept drawings; and an interview with McMurtry.