Days of Thunder

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Drama;
$29.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13.’
Stars Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, Nicole Kidman, Michael Rooker, Cary Elwes, John C. Reilly, Fred Dalton Thompson.

Almost immediately upon its release in 1990, Days of Thunder was labeled by critics as a car racing version of Top Gun, a reputation that isn’t exactly unearned.

Days of Thunder shares the same production team of Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, the same director in Tony Scott, and also stars Tom Cruise, who plays another hotshot looking to fulfill his need for speed with reckless abandon.

In this case, Cruise’s character is named Cole Trickle, an Indy circuit washout looking to make a name for himself in NASCAR. He takes on the mentorship of a master pit crew chief played by Robert Duvall, but a devastating crash shakes his confidence.

Robert Towne’s screenplay (with Cruise sharing a story credit) throws not one but two rivals at Trickle. First is Michael Rooker’s Rowdy Burns, the top dog of the circuit whose career is cut short in the same wreck that impairs Cole. When they become fast friends due to shared misfortune, Rowdy asks Cole to take over his racing team, setting up the showdown with rival No. 2, another rookie driver named Russ Wheeler, played by Cary Elwes, whose blink-and-you’ll-miss-it introduction obscures a rise through the ranks so unexpectedly rapid that one wonders why the movie isn’t about him.

The requisite love interest, which like with Top Gun comes with professional complications, is Cole’s and Rowdy’s neurologist, played by Nicole Kidman, who was 22 at the time of filming lest anyone wish to question the likelihood of her character’s medical credentials. The swirling rumors of the day suggested Cruise became enamored with Kidman after seeing her in 1989’s Dead Calm and arranged for her to be in Days of Thunder so they could meet. When 1990 began he had been married to Mimi Rogers, but divorced her in February. Cruise and Kidman were married from December 1990, six months after Days of Thunder hit theaters, to 2001.

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For the most part, Days of Thunder comes across as a series of exciting racing scenes and establishing shots of NASCAR speedways strung together with a by-the-numbers plot and some perfunctory dialogue. Duvall is as good as he usually is, while Cole Trickle is such a stock character in the Tom Cruise mold that naming him is more a screenwriting formality than a necessity of the story.

This new edition of Days of Thunder is presented as both a standalone Blu-ray under the “Paramount Presents” label, as well as a 4K Ultra HD disc with digital copy. The 4K version doesn’t come with a separate Blu-ray Disc, which is something of a break from the industry norm of 4K/Blu-ray combo packs, so consumers will have to pick whether they want the higher-definition resolution of the 4K version or the fancy Paramount Presents slipcover with fold-out movie poster. The film looks great either way, particularly because the racing footage is so good.

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The new Days of Thunder Blu-ray seems to have avoided the fate of most of the other titles in the Paramount Presents line, which to this point has offered Blu-ray re-releases with most of the bonus materials from previous editions left out this go-around (it seems anything previously available only in SD got the axe, with maybe a new short retrospective featurette to replace it).  That’s because the previous Days of Thunder Blu-ray from 2008 had zero extras on it aside from the film’s trailer, so anything offered here is a step up. The extras, sparse as they may be, are the same on both the Blu-ray and 4K discs.

The new discs don’t include the trailer, but they do have a seven-minute “Filmmaker Focus” featurette which is essentially a retrospective interview with Bruckheimer interspersed with clips from the movie.

There’s also an isolated audio track containing just Hans Zimmer’s musical score, his first of many collaborations with the Bruckheimer/Simpson team. Zimmer’s music is a highlight of the movie, but compared with the rest of Zimmer’s works it comes across as one of the more generic efforts in a career built on establishing a baseline sound for reliable action cues.

‘Holmes & Watson’ Is Top Disc, ‘The Mule’ Top Digital Release on Redbox Charts

Sony’s Holmes & Watson took the top spot on the Redbox physical rental chart but lost out to Warner’s stubborn holdover The Mule on the digital chart for the week ended April 14.

The Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly comedy debuted in the No. 1 spot on the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, but the Clint Eastwood vehicle The Mule trotted up from No. 2 to No. 1 on the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks digital transactions, including both electronic sellthrough and streaming rentals.

Holmes & Watson, a sendup of the classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries, finished at No. 2 on the digital chart.

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Paramount’s “Transformers” reboot Bumblebee landed at No. 3 and the DC swimming superhero flick Aquaman floated at No. 4 on both charts.

Two other new releases entered the disc chart for the week. Sony’s A Dog’s Way Home, about the many lives of a reincarnating dog, sat at No. 5, while Universal’s Steve Carell starrer Welcome to Marwen, finished at No. 6.

 

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended April 14:

  1. Holmes & Watson (New) — Sony
  2. The Mule — Warner
  3. Bumblebee — Paramount
  4. Aquaman— Warner
  5. A Dog’s Way Home (New) — Sony
  6. Welcome to Marwen(New) — Universal
  7. Second Act — Universal
  8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Sony
  9. Mary Poppins Returns — Disney
  10. Instant Family — Paramount

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended April 14:

  1. The Mule— Warner
  2. Holmes & Watson— Sony
  3. Bumblebee— Paramount
  4. Aquaman— Warner
  5. A Dog’s Way Home — Sony
  6. Instant Family — Paramount
  7. Welcome to Marwen— Universal
  8. Second Act— STX
  9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Sony
  10. A Star Is Born (2018) — Warner

FandangoNow Offers Binge Bundle on Ferrell-Reilly Films

FandangoNow has released a new “Binge Bundle” of three films featuring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.

FandangoNow is movie ticketing site Fandango’s transactional video-on-demand service.

Holmes & Watson, Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby are available to rent or own in a bundle starting at $9.99 to rent or $19.99 to own. The films are available in 4K.

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‘Stan & Ollie’ Explores Friends’ Love Story

The comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy — who came to fame in the 1920s — helped make Hollywood the dream factory that it is today.

“They are the ones who created the dream,” said Stan Taffel, president of the classic film festival CineCon and member of the Laurel and Hardy fan club Sons of the Desert.

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Born in the silent era, the performing duo is the subject of Stan & Ollie, coming to Blu-ray, DVD and digital March 26 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film follows the team in the later years of their career as they toured and tried to get a new film project off the ground.

“It’s not about two old time comics and the history of their lives; it is about how you get along in life with the people that you know and you make the best of it that you can, and as long as you have friends you have everything,” said Taffel, who calls the film a “love story” about true friends.

Hollywood historian Stan Taffel discussed the legacy of Laurel and Hardy at the Hollywood Heritage Museum in Los Angeles.

It’s a story that hasn’t been fully explored until now, he said at a March 22 presentation at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, appropriately housed in Cecil B. DeMille’s barn, the building that birthed the Hollywood motion picture feature.

“I’m very excited about this film because you really do get to know more of their story,” Taffel said. “Of all of the books and the documents that have been written about these two boys, this film shows an area of their lives that is the least documented of all, the last years of their lives of professional performing. Oliver Hardy was not in good health. Stan Laurel could not secure a contract for them to do more films — the reason, let’s be fair, everybody had their day in the sun and they had their great day in the sun and they still had fans, but Martin and Lewis were the top comedy team at the time that they were touring, and Abbot and Costello were making films, but they weren’t quite as exciting and they had their disagreements. These two gentlemen were the only gentlemen that stayed together.”

As a testament to the affection between the two performers, Taffel noted that Laurel “wrote material for Laurel and Hardy even eight years after Ollie died.”

That connection between the comedy team is the core of Stan & Ollie.

“What this film does, it actually shows two people who really genuinely cared about each other, even at a time when they were not at the top,” Taffel said. “They really showed that Laurel and Hardy were magic.”

Taffel praised the performances in the film, especially John C. Reilly’s transformation into Hardy.

“I actually forgot I was watching John C. Reilly,” he said. Reilly picked up a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. Steve Coogan stars as Laurel.

Taffel runs a “tent” for the duo’s fan club, Sons of the Desert, named after a movie that they made in 1933. Members get together and show old films and imbibe, as Stan Laurel directed in the formation of the group in the mid-60s.

“Every tent of the Sons of the Desert is named after one of the films, so you will find a Babes in Toyland tent, you will find an Another Fine Mess tent, you will find a Big  Business tent. I made our tent Hollywood Party since I moved to Hollywood in 1997,” Taffel noted.

In honor of the home entertainment debut of Stan & Ollie, Taffel led a tour around Los Angeles visiting key movie locations from their films, including the famed Music Box Steps.

He also pointed out the various Laurel and Hardy displays at the museum, including the wax figures of the two and letters that Laurel wrote to Hardy.

It’s just a bit of a peek into a relationship that lasted a lifetime and is portrayed in the film — especially in one pivotal scene when Hardy is ill and can’t perform.

“Stan [Laurel] gets into the bed just to keep him warm and hold his hand and that to me is what that movie is about,” Taffel said. “It’s really about a friendship.”

Ralph Breaks the Internet

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/26/19;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $199.89 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some action and rude humor.
Voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, Flula Borg.

The original Wreck-In Ralph from 2012 got a lot of mileage from the nostalgia its audience would have for classic video games, as it told the story of video game characters wanting to be more than the parameters of their programming.

In particular, Ralph (voiced John C. Reilly), hated his reputation as a video game villain, but eventually came to accept his role in the game as the other characters realized that they couldn’t exist either without him.

In Ralph Breaks the Internet, it’s six years later and Ralph has settled into a content life alongside his new best friend Vanellope from the Sugar Rush racing game, whom he helped save in the first movie, embracing his day job smashing buildings while spending nights hanging out at other games in the arcade.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Vanellope, on the other hand, has grown bored with her racing game and longs for new tracks and hidden levels. She gets her opportunity for a new adventure when the steering wheel on her game breaks and, when the arcade owner balks at the cost of replacing it, she and Ralph head to the Internet to see if they can find the means to replace it themselves.

After a quick trip through eBay, the pair find themselves in an online game called Slaughter Race that offers new driving challenges that excite Vanellope. As she contemplates staying there, Ralph worries about losing his best friend and schemes to convince her to return to the arcade.

Ralph Breaks the Internet does for the World Wide Web what the first film did for video games, offering a steady stream of nostalgia, deep-cut references and sharp observational humor.

The film even gives Disney a chance to engage in some self-parody, as Vanellope visits a Disney website and meets all the Disney Princesses, allowing the filmmakers to poke fun at the tropes of a typical Disney film. They instruct Vanellope, who is technically a princess herself according to her Sugar Rush bio, that when the time is right, she’ll learn about her heart’s true desire through a song — leading to an off-kilter take on the traditional Disney musical number (and, taking the gag further, the Blu-ray includes a music video for a bubblegum pop version of the song, which has to do with Vanellope’s desire to play the aforementioned game with “slaughter” in its title).

On the other hand, the various references to mega-successful Disney properties such as the Princesses, Pixar, “Star Wars” and Marvel Comics could be seen as the studio basking a bit in its own dominance at the moment. (Perhaps we should be grateful they didn’t cram in a preview for the pending Disney+ streaming service). But, such meta-humor is the kind of thing the “Ralph” movies are in a unique position to get away with, as it practically comes with the premise (an early reference to Tron is particularly apt, all things considered).

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In all, though, the film delivers with some exciting action sequences that build on the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope, and a sentimental story about the evolving nature of friendship.

The making of the film is the subject of the Blu-ray’s 33-minute “How We Broke the Internet” featurette, which is segmented into the development of various story points and characters. A separate 10-minute featurette focuses on the film’s music.

The three-and-a-half-minute “Surfing for Easter Eggs” talks about some of the film’s hidden references, but seems more interested in providing cutesy narration than loading up on interesting information.

A two-minute “Baby Drivers — Slaughter Racing School” featurette is offered as a digital exclusive, available with purchases of the digital edition of the film or through redeeming the digital code included with the Blu-ray.

The disc also includes the two-minute “BuzzTube Cats,” a montage of animated cat videos of the type used to populate background sites in the film.

There are five deleted scenes that total about 19 minutes, most of which are remnants of an earlier draft of the story but which reflect plot elements that did evolve into the final film.

Finally, in addition to the pop version of the Slaughter House song, there’s a trippy music video for the end-credits song “Zero” by Imagine Dragons.

‘Holmes & Watson’ Due Digitally March 26, on Disc April 9 from Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the comedy Holmes & Watson digitally March 26, and on Blu-ray and DVD April 9.

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly team for the third time after Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers in this farcical take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes character. Ferrell stars as the famous detective and Reilly plays his sidekick, John Watson, as they are tasked to solve a murder at Buckingham Palace before the Queen becomes the killer’s next victim. The cast also includes Rebecca Hall, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, Ralph Fiennes and Lauren Lapkus.

Home video extras include “Line-O-Rama” improv, 18 deleted scenes, and the featurettes “Will and John: Together Again,” “Seriously Absurd: The Cast” and “Mrs. Hudson’s Men.”

Sony Pictures Bringing ‘Stan & Ollie’ Home in March

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release Stan & Ollie on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally March 26.

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly star as the legendary slapstick comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as the film follows the pair through a farewell tour across the United Kingdom in 1953 as they attempt to re-connect with both their fans and each other.

Reilly received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy for his performance. The film earned $4.3 million at the domestic box office.

Home video extras include three deleted scenes and four featurettes: “Making Stan & Ollie”; “Playful Prosthetics,” about how makeup transformed the actors into their iconic characters; “The Dancing Duo,” a look at the complex working relationship of Laurel & Hardy; and a Q&A with the cast and filmmakers. as they explain the film’s genesis, tone, and intricate production design; plus three never-before-seen deleted scenes.

Disney’s ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Comes Home in February

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Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release the animated film Ralph Breaks the Internet digitally Feb. 12, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 26.

The sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph features the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson and Alan Tudyk.

The story involves video game characters Ralph (Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Silverman) traveling from the arcade to the Internet on a quest for a part to save Vanellope’s Sugar Rush game. The film features several pop culture cameos, including a scene featuring all of the Disney Princesses.

The film has earned more than $190 million at the domestic box office and $435 million worldwide.

The DVD, Blu-ray and digital editions will include the music videos for “Zero” by Imagine Dragons and “In This Place” by Julia Michaels.

The Blu-ray and digital versions will also include deleted scenes, the behind-the-scenes featurette “How We Broke the Internet,” a “Surfing for Easter Eaggs” featurette about hidden references in the movie, the featurette “The Music of Ralph Breaks the Internet” and a “BuzzzTube Cats” compilation.

The digital edition, which can also be accessed through the redemption code included with the film’s Blu-ray combo packs, will come with the exclusive featurette “Baby Drivers: Slaughter Racing School,” a look at the film’s artists learning how to drive race cars.

Digital bonus materials will vary by retailer.

‘Sisters Brothers’ Coming to Digital Jan. 22, Disc Feb. 5

The Western comedy-drama The Sisters Brothers will be released through digital retailers Jan. 22, and on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 5 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Based on the novel by Patrick deWitt and directed by Jacques Audiard, The Sisters Brothers is set during an 1850s gold rush and follows two brothers (John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix) earning a living as hired guns as they hunt down a chemist (Riz Ahmed) and his unlikely companion (Jake Gyllenhaal) who have stolen a valuable formula.

The Sisters Brothers premiered at the Venice Film Festival and earned  Audiard the Silver Lion Award given to the best director of the festival.

The film carries an 85% Fresh score on RottenTomatoes.com and earned $3.1 million at the domestic box office.

Bonus materials include the featurettes “Striking Gold: Making a ‘Modern Day’ Western,” “Brothers Forever” and “Wanted Dead or Alive”; a Q&A panel; a gallery; and the theatrical trailer.