The Hunt

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Thriller;
Box Office $5.81 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for some strong bloody violence and language throughout.
Stars Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Glenn Howerton, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Amy Madigan, Reed Birney, Justin Hartley.

While conceived as a political allegory, The Hunt works just fine on its own as a straightforward comedic action thriller.

The film, about a group of wealthy left-wing elites who kidnap conservatives to hunt them for sport, is like a modern version of The Most Dangerous Game, meshed with The Purge and The Hunger Games for good measure.

The film uses misdirection to put the audience in the position of those being hunted, constantly guessing about what is really happening. After a brief opening in which a group of friends jokes about looking forward to “The Manor,” an assortment of people awaken in a forest, their mouths gagged. They discover crates in a clearing filled with weapons and the means to free themselves. But the games begin in earnest with a deliciously bloody body count.

One of them, Crystal (Betty Gilpin of Netflix’s “GLOW”) seems to be a step ahead. She wants to find the ringleader, Athena (Hilary Swank) and put an end to these shenanigans once and for all.

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In the primary featurette on the Blu-ray, the five-minute “Crafting The Hunt,” producer and co-writer Damon Lindeloff discusses how the film is meant to satirize how political opponents get locked into assumptions about the other side, threatening to plunge into a never-ending war rather than attempt to get along.

Rounding out the sparse extras on the Blu-ray are two more featurettes running just over two-and-a-half minutes. “Death Scene Breakdowns” is a self-explanatory video about how the filmmakers staged some of the scenes of gory violence. “Athena vs. Crystal: Hunter or Hunted?” details the making of a key fight scene involving Gilpin and Swank.

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A Bad Moms Christmas

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 2/6/18;
Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $72.11 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some drug use.
Stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, Susan Sarandon, Jay Hernandez, Justin Hartley, Peter Gallagher, Wanda Sykes.

With the popularity of 2016’s Bad Moms ($184 million worldwide box office against a $20 million budget) all but ensuring a sequel, the writer-director team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore managed to have a follow-up produced and in theaters a bit over a year later. The quick turnaround is something of a throwback to the halcyon days of Hollywood, where quickie sequels were much easier to pull off.

Where the first film dealt with the rigors of balancing work, home and school, the sequel transplants the rowdy moms into a holiday setting, and cranks up the proverbial heat by bringing in their moms for a little added pressure.

I suppose the idea is to inform on what makes the core moms tick and possibly led them to snap in the first movie. While the story is driven by this newfound family angst, it often falls back on a string of sketches tied to family-related Christmas settings. The film offers a smattering of caricature and broad ruminations on the holiday season, with some gags that work better in concept than execution.

Christine Baranski in particular, as mom to Mila Kunis’ Amy, comes across like a less-intense version of Leonard’s mom from “The Big Bang Theory,” which may have been a primary reason they sought her out for this.

The best pairing is Susan Sarandon and Kathryn Hahn, if only because their characters are the ones with the fewest inhibitions — the apple not falling too far from the tree in that regard.

Fans of the raunchiness that set the original film apart need not worry, as the jokes are often as crude as they were in that one, if not more so.

Coincidentally, the same multigenerational premise was used for the guys in the Daddy’s Home sequel around the same time, with similar results.

The Blu-ray is rather sparse in its extras, offering a seven-minute gag reel, four minutes of alternate takes and a two-and-a-half-minute music video featuring the production crew dancing along to an R&B holiday song used in the film.