The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 6/21/22;
Lionsgate;
Comedy;
Box Office $20.3 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and violence.
Stars Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Sharon Horgan, Paco León, Neil Patrick Harris, Lily Sheen, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ike Barinholtz.

All hail Nicolas Cage.

Throughout a four-decade career, the iconic movie star has accumulated an enduring list of memorable roles by stamping each character with his unique blend of quirky charm and searing intensity, be it in comedy, drama or action.

In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Cage takes on the role he was born to play — himself.

The hugely entertaining film provides a meta commentary on Cage’s career, telling the story of an aging star, haunted by his past successes, who finds himself creatively refueled by the unlikeliest of circumstances.

As Cage proclaims several times in the film, “I’m back. Not that I went anywhere.”

The premise flows primarily from Cage’s public perception the past few years, taking on countless direct-to-video projects to pay off some financial hardships, while his more-eccentric performances became the stuff of meme legend.

Cage himself was unsurprisingly wary of the project, as he notes in the film’s behind-the-scenes materials, until he realized how much fun it could be to portray the younger embodiment of his self-image.

The film finds Cage playing a fictionalized version of himself, vowing to quit Hollywood after losing out on another role he really wanted, and failing to gain the respect of his teenage daughter (one of the main deviations from reality, as real-life Cage has two sons). Cage frequently has visions of his younger self, Nicky (also played by Cage with some de-aging CGI based on his Wild at Heart days), who taunts him for his failures.

Desperate for cash, he accepts a personal appearance gig for $1 million to hang out at a villa in Majorca for a billionaire’s birthday party.

Cage discovers his new patron, Javi (Pedro Pascal) is a huge fan, and the pair grow closer through a shared love of cinema. But it turns out the CIA suspects Javi of being the mastermind of a huge international criminal enterprise, and they recruit Cage with the hopes of using the actor to learn the whereabouts of the kidnapped daughter of a Catalan presidential candidate.

To learn the details, Cage proposes working with Javi on a new screenplay, and at this point Unbearable Weight’s fourth walls all but fold in on themselves as the film channels some of Cage’s quintessential movies and morphs through a variety of genres.

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The Blu-ray includes two deleted scenes that total about five minutes. The first is a bit of fluff about Javi’s Wifi password. But the second is practically a short film of its own — a four-minute battle between Cage and Nicky through several Cage films re-created in the style of the 1920 German expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which is mentioned throughout the movie by Cage as one of his favorite films.

The deleted scenes are available with optional commentary by writer-director Tom Gormican and co-writer Kevin Etten. The pair also provides an informative commentary track for the movie as a whole, usually alternating between stories of Cage’s contributions to the story and how COVID protocols affected the production schedule.

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The Blu-ray also offers about a half-hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes. The seven-minute “The Mind” delves into the creative process behind the film; the four-and-a-half-minute “Everybody Needs a Javi” spotlights the creation of Pascal’s character; the seven-minute “Second-Act Action” looks at the film’s action sequences in its latter half; the four-and-a-half-minute “Nick, Nicky and Sergio” deals with Cage portraying three versions of himself, while the five-minute “Glimmers of a Bygone Cage” shows some of the visual effects and film techniques used to create Nicky.

On the humorous side, “Cages 5 and Up” is a two-minute reel of a bunch of kids “auditioning” to play Nic Cage.

Finally, the Blu-ray offers a 16-minute clip from a Q&A of the cast and filmmakers at the SXSW Film Festival, though the discussion mostly veers into feting Cage.

First Episode of Apple TV+ Original Series ‘The Afterparty’ Available on YouTube

In celebration of the Jan. 28 global debut of the murder-mystery comedy “The Afterparty,” Apple TV+ has released the first episode on YouTube.

The first three episodes of “The Afterparty” are now streaming on Apple TV+, followed by one new episode weekly, every Friday through March 4. From Academy Award winners Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the eight-episode season stars Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson, Zoë Chao, Ben Schwartz, Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer, Jamie Demetriou and Dave Franco. 
 
The cast and creators will appear for a live watch party of the series on Twitter Jan. 28 at 5 p.m. PST (#TheAfterparty). Participants include Miller, Lord and Haddish.

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The series centers on a murder mystery at a high school reunion, with each episode exploring a different character’s account of the fateful evening in question, all through the lens of popular film genres and visuals to match the storyteller’s perspective. 

Thriller ‘The Card Counter’ Available Digitally Nov. 23, on Disc Dec. 14

The crime thriller The Card Counter was released through digital retailers Nov. 23, and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 14 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Executive produced by Martin Scorsese and directed by Paul Schrader, the film follows an ex-military interrogator turned gambler who is haunted by the ghosts of his past decisions. The film stars Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish and Tye Sheridan. 

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Bonus content on Blu-ray and DVD includes the featurette “A High-Stakes World,” in which Schrader discusses developing the characters and how the world of poker provided the perfect metaphor for William Tell’s predicament. The featurette also includes interviews with stars Oscar Isaac and Tiffany Haddish, as well as poker consultant Joe Stapleton.

Apple TV+ Sets Jan. 28 Premiere of Murder-Mystery Comedy Series ‘The Afterparty’

The Apple TV+ murder-mystery comedy series “The Afterparty” will debut on the SVOD service Jan. 28.

From Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award winners Chris Miller and Phil Lord (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street), the eight-episode first season of the series will launch with three episodes, followed by one new episode weekly each Friday.

“The Afterparty” stars Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Like a Boss), Sam Richardson (The Tomorrow War, “Veep”), Zoë Chao (“Love Life,” Downhill), Ben Schwartz (“Space Force,” “House of Lies”), Ike Barinholtz (“The Mindy Project,” Neighbors), Ilana Glazer (“Broad City”), Jamie Demetriou (“Fleabag,” “Stath Lets Flats”) and Dave Franco (The Rental, The Disaster Artist).

Created and directed by Miller, the series is centered on a murder mystery at a high school reunion. Each episode explores a different character’s account of the fateful evening in question, all through the lens of popular film genres and unique visuals to match the storyteller’s perspective.

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In addition to directing, Miller serves as showrunner and is executive producing alongside Lord through the pair’s production banner, Lord Miller. Tony and Emmy-nominated writer, producer and performer Anthony King (“Search Party,” “Dead to Me”) will also executive produce the series. Lord Miller’s VP of Television Aubrey Lee is a producer on the series, which was produced for Apple by TriStar TV and Sony Pictures Television as part of Lord and Miller’s five-year overall television deal.

 

‘Here Today’ Headed to Digital July 20, Disc Aug. 3 From Sony

The comedic drama Here Today, starring Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish, will head to digital July 20, and to DVD and Blu-ray Disc Aug. 3, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, when veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz (Crystal) meets New York singer Emma Payge (Haddish), they form an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of love and trust.

Inspired by the short story “The Prize” by Alan Zweibel, Here Today is directed by Crystal and also stars Penn Badgley, Laura Benanti, Louisa Krause, Anna Deavere Smith and Nyambi Nyambi.

Special features include audio commentary with Crystal, Haddish and writer Alan Zweibel and interviews with filmmakers and cast.

Comedy ‘Like a Boss’ Due on Digital April 7, Disc April 21

The comedy Like a Boss will come out on digital April 7 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand April 21 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

In the film, best friends Mia and Mel (Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) are living their best lives, running their own cosmetics company until a villainous beauty mogul (Salma Hayek) conspires to steal it. When her devious plan drives the besties apart, Mia and Mel learn that sticking together is the only way to turn the tables and take their company back.

The film also stars Jennifer Coolidge and Billy Porter.

Bonus features on Blu-ray combo pack and digital (depending on retailer) include the featurettes “With Coworkers Like These, Who Needs Friends?” and “’Get Some’ with Ron and Greg and deleted scenes.

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The DVD includes the feature film in standard-definition.

Mob Drama ‘The Kitchen’ Due on Digital Oct. 22, Disc Nov. 5 From Warner

The female-driven mob drama The Kitchen arrives on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Oct. 22 and Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 5 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Based on the Vertigo comic book series from DC Entertainment, the film stars Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Tammy), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School) and Elisabeth Moss (TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” TV’s “Mad Men”) as three 1978 Hell’s Kitchen housewives whose mobster husbands are sent to prison by the FBI. The three women take business into their own hands by running the rackets and taking out the competition.

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The film, which earned $12.2 million in domestic theaters, is written and directed by Andrea Berloff, who was nominated for an Oscar for Original Screenplay for Straight Outta Compton.

Extras on Blu-ray include “Running Hell’s Kitchen,” “Taking Over the Neighborhood,” and a deleted scene. “Running Hell’s Kitchen” is included on the DVD.

‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Coming to Digital Aug. 13, Disc Aug. 27 From Universal

The family film The Secret Life of Pets 2 will debut on digital Aug. 13 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Aug. 27 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

From the studio Illumination (Despicable Me, Minions, Sing), the animated sequel features the pets and their growing families in a new chapter that explores the deep bond between them and the humans that love them. Again, the film answers the question: What are your pets really doing when you’re not at home? Terrier Max (voice of Patton Oswalt) is coping with major life changes after Katie’s marriage and the arrival of a toddler, Liam. Meanwhile, Gidget (Jenny Slate) tries to rescue Max’s favorite toy from a cat-packed apartment with a little help from her feline friend Chloe (Lake Bell), who has discovered the joys of catnip. And Snowball (Kevin Hart) believes, despite the other pets’ teasing, that he’s a superhero after his owner starts dressing him in superhero pajamas. But when Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), a fearless Shih Tzu, shows up to ask for Snowball’s help on a dangerous mission, he has to summon the courage to become the hero he’s been pretending to be.

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Other voice talent includes Eric Stonestreet, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Harrison Ford in his first ever role in an animated film as new farm dog, Rooster.

Bonus features on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital include two mini-movies — Super Gidget, featuring the film’s Pomeranian Gidget and her best friend Max, and Minion Scouts, starring the Minions. Also included are deleted scenes, making-of featurettes and drawing tutorials. An interactive Captain Snowball motion comic allowing viewers to direct the bunny hero on his next move is exclusive to the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray versions.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

 BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 5/7/19;
Warner;
Animated;
Box Office $105.73 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some rude humor.
Voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman.

Picking up directly where 2014’s The Lego Movie left off, the sequel finds the Lego characters under siege by the Duplo invaders for five years, eventually forming a post-apocalyptic settlement a la “Mad Max.”

When Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and a handful of other characters are whisked away in the latest invasion to a far-off planet in the “Systar System,” it’s up to Emmet (Chris Pratt) to try to rescue them, with the help of an adventurer named Rex he meets along the way.

Lego Movie 2 follows the same conceit as the first film that the adventures of the Lego characters are the manifestations of the imaginations of the children playing with them, with more puns about how real-world situations can threaten their existence (this time they fear ending up in the “Bin of Storage”). The film once again hints at the toys being alive, and idea it can only take so far before it starts to delve into “Toy Story” territory.

The war with the invaders stems from a sibling rivalry, as the little sister of the kid from the first film wants to play with her brother, only to be rebuffed. So, there’s a nice little message about sibling cooperation at the heart of the story for good measure.

The animation is as stylish and colorful as the first film, the story works in a few more catchy songs (many by YouTube star Jon Lajoie, who played Taco on “The League”), and the franchise continues to make smart and funny observations about its nature as essentially a Lego toy commercial. But after following up the first movie with “Batman” and “Ninjago” Lego spinoffs, the concept is a bit played out.

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The Blu-ray features the movie in an “Everything Is Awesome” sing-along mode that showcases facts about the movie, on-screen lyrics, trivia games and more.

There’s also a full-length commentary from director Mike Mitchell, writers/producers Phil Lord and Chritopher Miller, and animation director Trisha Gum.

Additional behind-the-scenes material includes the 9-minute “They Came in Pieces: Assembling The Lego Movie 2,” featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

The Blu-ray also offers 12 minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes, including some interesting footage showing parts of the story from the point of view of the kids playing it out.

Just as a reminder that these are toys you can buy at your local store, there’s a two-minute “Lego Sets in Action” video of animations of the new products featured in the movie, and a three-and-a-half-minute featurette that interviews Lego toy designers about the toys created for use in the movie.

The disc also includes four additional minutes of promotional material, including the actors talking about their characters’ minifigs.

On the musical side, there’s a music video for the “Super Cool” song by Beck, featuring Robyn and comedy team The Lonely Island.

Finally, there’s a three-minute Christmas-themed short film called “Emmet’s Holiday Party.”

Fox’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Champion of Redbox Charts

The Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody rocked the Redbox charts the week ended Feb. 17.

The 20th Century Fox film debuted at No. 1 on both the Redbox kiosk chart, which tracks DVD and Blu-ray Disc rentals at the company’s more than 40,000 red vending machines, and the Redbox On Demand chart, which tracks transactional video-on-demand (TVOD), both electronic sellthrough (EST) and streaming.

The critically acclaimed story of the lead singer of the rock band Queen received five Oscar nominations, including Best Actor for Rami Malek in the role of Mercury, and earned more than $212.2 million in theaters.

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The Grinch, the latest take on the classic children’s Christmas story from Universal Pictures, fell to No. 2 on the disc chart its second week in physical release. It landed at No. 4 (falling from No. 1) on the digital chart.

The only other new release on the disc chart for the week, Paramount’s Tyler Perry comedy Nobody’s Fool, debuted at No. 3. It came in at No. 2 on Redbox’s digital chart. The film, starring Tiffany Haddish, Tika Sumpter and Whoopi Goldberg, earned $31.7 million in theaters.

Fox’s heist-thriller Widows, starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo, slipped to No. 4 on the disc chart and to No. 3 on the Redbox On Demand chart. The film, which took in $42.4 million at the box office, gathered plaudits for Davis and Debicki, but it was snubbed in the Oscar race.

Sony Pictures’ action-thriller The Girl in the Spider’s Web, starring Claire Foy, took the fifth spot on both Redbox’s disc and digital charts after landing at No. 3 on both charts the week before. A sequel to the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the film earned $14.8 million theatrically.

Meanwhile, more than a year after its digital release, Universal’s Happy Death Day made an appearance on the Redbox On Demand chart at No. 8 as its sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, came out in theaters Feb. 13.

Also popping back up on the digital chart at No. 10 about a month after its release was Warner’s A Star Is Born, which has received eight Oscar noms. The 91st Academy Awards takes place Feb. 24.

Top DVD and Blu-ray Disc Rentals, Redbox Kiosks, Week Ended Feb. 17:

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody (New)
  2. The Grinch
  3. Nobody’s Fool (2018) (New)
  4. Widows
  5. The Girl in the Spider’s Web
  6. Hunter Killer
  7. First Man
  8. Night School
  9. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  10. Venom (2018)

 

Top Digital, Redbox On Demand, Week Ended Feb. 17

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. Nobody’s Fool
  3. Widows
  4. The Grinch
  5. The Girl in the Spider’s Web
  6. Hunter Killer
  7. Crazy Rich Asians
  8. Happy Death Day
  9. The Sisters Brothers
  10. A Star Is Born (2018)