Netflix has announced a new multiyear creative partnership with producer Liz Feldman for original series and other projects. Under the agreement, the dark comedy series “Dead to Me” created by Feldman will return to Netflix for a third and final season.
“Liz Feldman is a comedic force who brings her fresh and distinct point of view to every element of the creative process from inception through writing and producing,” Jane Wiseman, Netflix VP of comedy series, said in a statement. “We could not be more excited to expand our relationship with Liz and continue to work with her on ‘Dead to Me’ and future series to come.”
Produced by CBS Television Studios for Netflix, “Dead to Me” stars Christina Applegate as Jen and Linda Cardellini as Judy, a pair of women whose lives become intertwined through grief and murder after Judy and her ex-fiancé, Steve (James Marsden) accidentally kill Jen’s husband in a hit-and-run.
Executive Producers on “Dead to Me” include Feldman, Applegate, Jessica Elbaum, Christie Smith, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, with Cardellini as co-executive producer.
“From start to finish, ‘Dead to Me’ is exactly the show I wanted to make,” Feldman said in a statement. “And it’s been an incredible gift. Telling a story sprung from grief and loss has stretched me as an artist and healed me as a human. I’ll be forever indebted to my partners in crime, my friends for life, Christina and Linda, and our brilliantly talented writers, cast and crew. I am beyond grateful to Netflix for supporting ‘Dead to Me’ from day one, and I’m thrilled to continue our collaboration.”
Street Date 3/12/19; Universal; Comedy; Box Office $78.32 million; $29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $39.98 UHD BD; Rated ‘PG-13’ for thematic content, language including racial epithets, smoking, some violence and suggestive material. Stars Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Dimiter D. Marinov, Mike Hatton, Sebastian Maniscalco, Iqbal Theba.
Sometimes there is great value to be found in a straightforward story, simply told. It’s a lesson the filmmakers behind Green Book learned well, with the film taking home the Oscar for Best Picture at the recent 91st Academy Awards ceremony.
The win caused somewhat of a whirlwind of criticism regarding the film’s soft-shoe approach to dealing with racism in the 1960s, but that might stem from overanalyzing the film’s intentions — it exists as a way for co-scripter Nick Vallelonga to pay tribute to his parents.
The film tells the story of Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), a New York club bouncer with shady connections who is hired by African-American pianist “Doc” Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) to serve as a driver and bodyguard on a two-month concert tour of the Deep South in 1962.
Given the racial attitudes prevalent at the time, they must rely on the Green Book, a guide for black travelers to find lodging, restaurants and other business that would serve them. At several stops, Doc is denied service at the very restaurants where his musical talents are being celebrated, which only goes to highlight how dumb the segregationist attitudes were on the surface of it.
Doc himself is cold and aloof, and doesn’t identify with his cultural heritage. Tony is a stereotypical New York Italian thug who isn’t the most eloquent in terms of speech or thought. Along their journey they’ll learn to let go of some of the preconceptions each had about what the other represents to them.
In using the road trip format, the film establishes itself as an acting showcase for its two leads, and they deliver spectacularly with mesmerizing performances and infectious chemistry. Ali’s supporting actor Oscar for the role is well deserved, while Mortensen’s multiple nominations throughout awards season speak to the quality of his work as well.
Watching their interactions is the primary reason to pick up the Blu-ray, since the bonus material is rather thin, comprising just three short featurettes.
First is the four-minute “Virtuoso Performances,” a look at Mortensen and Ali’s approach to their roles. Next is the five-minute “An Unforgettable Friendship,” in which the filmmakers discuss the real-life relationship between Doc and Tony, which is interesting in light of the very public disagreement the Shirley family has had with how the movie portrays it. Finally, there’s the four-and-a-half-minute “Going Beyond the Green Book,” which focuses on the significance of the book that inspired the title of the film.
Lionsgate’s Summit Premiere will release the action-thriller Hunter Killer digitally Jan. 15, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Jan. 29.
Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Linda Cardellini, Common and Toby Stephens star in the story of an American submarine captain (Butler) who gets caught up in an effort to rescue the Russian president from a coup.
The film earned $15.8 million at the domestic box office.
Extras include a “Surface Tension: Declassifying Hunter Killer” featurette and an audio commentary with director Donovan Marsh.
The 4K Ultra HD combo pack will include Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release Green Book through digital retailers Feb. 19, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray March 12.
Directed by Peter Farrelly and inspired by a true story, the film stars Viggo Mortensen as Tony Lip, a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South in the 1960s.
Confronted with racism, they must rely on The Green Book to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. The cast also includes Linda Cardellini.
Green Book won three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy, Best Supporting Actor for Ali and Best Screenplay
Bonus materials include a “Virtuoso Performances” featurette with Mortensen and Ali discussing their characters; the featurette “An Unforgettable Friendship,” in which the cast and filmmakers discuss the friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip; and the featurette “Going Beyond the Green Book,” in which filmmakers and cast discuss the significance of The Green Book.
While a movie based on a dark mystery thriller novel might seem like an odd choice for a director known primarily for comedy, Paul Feig is able to deliver an entertaining adaptation of Darcey Bell’s A Simple Favor filled with plenty of twists and turns, driven by a pair of winning performances from his leading ladies, Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively.
Lionsgate; Thriller; Box Office $53.55 million; $29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD; Rated ‘R’ for sexual content and language throughout, some graphic nude images, drug use and violence. Stars Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Linda Cardellini, Jean Smart, Rupert Friend, Bashir Salahuddin, Joshua Satine, Ian Ho.
A Simple Favor exists in a strange Venn diagram where the dark mystery thriller aspects of Darcey Bell’s source material novel intersect with the broad comedic sensibilities of the film’s director, Paul Feig. The result is an oddly compelling mystery filled with its fair share of plot twists, intrigue and genuine laughs.
Anna Kendrick plays Stephanie, an all-too-sincere mommy blogger who runs a DIY video channel and seems to embody the usual quirks of a Kendrick character. Her worldview is suddenly challenged when she meets the bitchy Emily (Blake Lively), mother of her son’s schoolmate, and the two ladies unexpectedly hit it off over martinis.
One day, Emily asks Stephanie to watch her son after school, and promptly disappears. Days later, Emily’s body seemingly turns up in a lake near her childhood home, setting off all sorts of question about what she was up to. Stephanie, meanwhile, consoles Emily’s husband (Henry Golding), and as they grow closer, they seem to be haunted by Emily, who, it turns out, may not be so dead after all.
In his first directorial effort after the misstep of Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, Feig largely succeeds in maintaining a darkly comic tone throughout, buoyed by a strong cast. Kendrick and Lively give terrific performances as the unlikely friends. Lively in particular dominates the screen in her early scenes, establishing the kind of dominant personality necessary to draw out Stephanie’s meekness and force her to come into her own.
Feig’s intention to make a “fun thriller” ensures the film is never as dark or serious as similar fare such as Gone Girl. If anything, it could almost be seen as a parody of the absurdity of such stories if it weren’t taking itself just seriously enough. Still, in the various bonus materials in which Feig is quite ubiquitous he seems rather flippant about some of his directorial choices, none more so than his alternative to a big, Bollywood-style dance number meant to play during the credits.
The bonus section includes three separate commentaries, and Feig is involved in all of them. The first is the director by himself, relating his own experiences of making the film. The second is Feig with members of the cast, including Kendrick, Lively, Jean Smart (who plays Lively’s mom) and Bashir Salahuddin, who plays a detective. A third commentary finds Feig with screenwriter Jessica Sharzer, producer Jessie Henderson, cinematographer John Schwartzman and costume designer Renée Ehrlich Kalfus.
The filmmaker commentary obviously delves into more of the technical aspects of the production, while the cast commentary is more of a fun discussion about the making of the film, and thus is the more enjoyable of the three.
Having a comedic director such as Paul Feig adapt a mystery thriller novel seems like an odd choice
The disc also includes more than 16 minutes of deleted scenes, including the aforementioned dance scene that was cut for essentially trivializing a story about two strong female characters.
There’s also a three-and-a-half minute gag reel and eight behind-the-scenes featurettes running about an hour in total.
Street 2/20/18; Paramount; Comedy; Box Office $103.89 million; $25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $34.99 UHD BD; Rated ‘PG-13’ for suggestive material and some language. Stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Alessandra Ambrosio, John Cena, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson.
The first Daddy’s Home in 2015 proved to be a pleasant surprise, with the simple premise of a stepdad struggling to escape the shadow of the kids’ real father elevated comedically by the winning duo of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
By the end of that movie, Ferrell’s Brad and Wahlberg’s Dusty had largely reached an understanding of how to raise the kids, with Dusty having to deal with a stepfamily of his own. The sequel begins by taking that premise to the next level, touching on the confusion inherent in such criss-crossed families, where situations get repeated so all the parents can get a taste of their children growing up, with results that don’t always satisfy everyone.
In light of these potential tensions, Brad and Dusty decide that all the families should celebrate Christmas together. As if on cue, Brad and Dusty’s own parents show up to join in the holiday fun (which is basically the same premise the recent Bad Moms sequel did). Mel Gibson plays Dusty’s dad, while John Lithgow is Brad’s.
The grandpas inject their own flavor, and soon enough the merged families are off to a cabin in a wooded community where hijinx are free to ensue.
Throwing the elders into the mix is a fine idea in terms of the pairings, and on paper adds an extra layer to the story. But in practice it kind of gets in the way. The film ends up pursuing too many ideas that don’t really coalesce around the central theme, more often than not falling back on the same kinds of physical slapstick that fueled the first film and have been the bread and butter of these kids of comedies since Buster Keaton first allowed a building to fall down around him.
Beyond that, the movie has to get by on the chemistry of its cast and whatever charm they can muster from their performances, and luckily there’s plenty of that to go around. The film is at its most fun when all the comedic actors play off each other, and the premise doesn’t require the big players to stray much from their wheelhouses here: aww-shucks Ferrell, hothead Wahlberg, macho Mel and lovable Lithgow.
It plays for a time, until John Cena shows up for what is basically an extended version of his cameo in the first film, where he represents the threat to Dusty’s fatherhood in the way Dusty was a threat to Brad. That conflict is touched on briefly but kind of makes you wish the movie was more about that from the beginning, rather than the “everybody raising the kids together with the grandpas stirring the pot” thing they went for.
The female side of the equation gets its share of attention too, with a fun little subplot about Brad’s wife (Linda Cardellini) and stepdaughter idolizing Dusty’s new wife (Alessandra Ambrosio) and stepdaughter in different but illuminating ways.
But really, it all might be worth it just for a great riff on Liam Neeson action movies and Hollywood’s penchant for seasonal mayhem.
The Blu-ray includes a half-hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes, grouped by various topics: writing the sequel, reuniting the cast, the pairing of Ferrell and Wahlberg, bringing on Gibson and Lithgow, and some other surprises.
There’s also 11 minutes of deleted, extended and alternate scenes, and a four-minute gag reel.