DVD reviews: 'The Campaign' and 'Safety Not Guaranteed'
By Garrett Conti
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 8:57 p.m.
“The Campaign” (2012, R, 85 min., $28.98). The teaming of Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis is enough to boost most comedies, but “The Campaign” won't go down as either actor's best film. What viewers can expect from this election-centered picture is a collection of raunchy jokes that mostly miss the mark and a storyline that's not the least bit smart. Penned by Shawn Harwell, the writer behind HBO hit “Eastbound and Down,” and directed by Jay Roach, “The Campaign” gets some good stuff from its leads, but there's little even they can do in one of the biggest disappointments of 2012. The film plays out in North Carolina, as Congressman Cam Brady (Ferrell) looks to nail down his next term. After the congressman pulls off an embarrassing gaffe, a new face steps into the race. Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) is a quiet North Carolina native who's being backed by a pair of wealthy CEOs (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) who want him in their pocket. As Huggins begins to emerge as a legitimate contender, Brady rolls out the big guns, attempting to make Huggins look like a fool. However, the rookie politician has some of his own tricks, and it leads to a race that quickly descends down the drain. Much like the feature film, the special features aren't at all remarkable either. Consumers get more with the Blu-ray, including a gag reel, line-o-rama extra and an extended cut of the film. Deleted scenes are available in Blu-ray and standard DVD packages. 1 Star.
“Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” (2012, NR, $299.98). The best Blu-ray set of 2012 has arrived with “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection.” Fans of the Master of Suspense should be absolutely giddy, because this extensive package delivers in just about every way. Included in the set are 15 of Hitchcock's best films on 15 discs. The films are “Saboteur” (Robert Cummings, 1942); “Shadow of a Doubt” (Joseph Cotton, 1943); “Rope” (James Stewart, 1948); “Rear Window” (Grace Kelly, 1954); “The Trouble with Harry” (Shirley MacLaine, 1955); “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (Doris Day, 1956); “Vertigo” (Kim Novak, 1958); “North By Northwest” (Cary Grant, 1959); “Psycho” (Anthony Perkins, 1960); “The Birds” (Rod Taylor, 1963); “Marnie” (Tippi Hedren, 1964); “Torn Curtain” (Paul Newman, 1964); “Topaz” (John Forsythe, 1969); “Frenzy” (Jon Finch, 1972) and “Family Plot” (Bruce Dern, 1976). Each picture has been remastered for Blu-ray, and the transfers — handled by Universal — look excellent. Each picture looks and sounds much better. There also are enough extras to keep fans locked inside their houses until 2013. There are featurettes for almost every picture, as well as production photographs and more. Also, more popular Hitchcock pictures — “Vertigo,” “Rear Window,” “The Birds” and “Psycho” — are stacked with an incredible amount of extras. 4 Stars.
“Safety Not Guaranteed” (2012, R, 86 min., $30.99). One of the top independent films of 2012, “Safety Not Guaranteed” is a quirky picture that holds elements of comedy, drama and romance. Directed by Colin Trevorrow off of a script from Derek Connolly, the film-festival favorite follows three employees (Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni) of a Seattle magazine who head out to the country to investigate a man who's placed an ad in the paper looking for a partner for time travel. When they track down Kenneth (Mark Duplass), the man behind the ad, Darius (Plaza) is able to gain the time traveler's trust. She is taken through the steps with Kenneth, training for time travel and learning the specifics. In the process, she ends up falling for Kenneth, even though some information from his past doesn't add up and he has a couple of government officials following his every step. “Safety Not Guaranteed” is a subtle movie, moving slowly across its storyline, and it has some great monuments that are worth the wait. The movie is propelled by the smart Connolly screenplay and excellent performances from Johnson, Soni, Duplass and Plaza. The indie didn't do much business in theaters, but it does have the potential to achieve cult classic status on video. Here's hoping. Special features are decent for “Safety Not Guaranteed,” and the two featurettes — exploring production and elements of the story — are worth a look. 3 Stars.
“Ruby Sparks” (2012, R, 104 min., $29.98). Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the directors behind the 2006 hit “Little Miss Sunshine,” return to the silver screen for this smart romantic comedy that stars Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan and Annette Bening. The film follows an author struggling with writer's block who develops a character that comes to life.
“Elena” (2011, NR, 109 min., $29.99). An import from Russia, this piece of film noir tracks the movements of a wife desperate to keep the inheritance that she's due from a husband who despises her family. The feature film, written and directed by Andrey Zvyagintsav, was a big winner at last year's Cannes Film Festival.
“Americano” (2011, NR, 106 min., $24.98). Salma Hayek, Chiara Mastroianni and Geraldine Chaplin fill out the cast for this film from Mathieu Demy, who wrote, directed and stars. The drama follows a man named Martin returning to L.A. after his mother's death. As he wraps up the loose ends, he discovers a secret he won't soon forget.
“Coma” (2012, NR, 240 min., $38.99). Lauren Ambrose, Geena Davis, James Woods, Ellen Burstyn and Richard Dreyfuss headline a solid cast for this miniseries that made its debut on A&E. A remake of the 1978 film based on the novel of the same name from Robin Cook, it follows a medical student who makes a grisly discovery about the hospital she is working in.
“Night of the Devils” (1972, NR, 72 min., $19.98). Giorgio Ferroni directs this Italian horror film from 1972 that's based on Leo Tolstoy's “The Wurdulak.” The picture follows the travels of a mentally ill man found wandering around the woods in a state of dismay. Admitted into a psychiatric hospital, the man recalls his tragic encounter.
“Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection” (2012, PG-13, 115 min., $29.95). Tyler Perry's popular Madea character returns in a comedy that finds her tangling with a Wall Street CFO. When a banker (Eugene Levy) realizes his company's responsible for a mob-backed Ponzi scheme, he's forced into witness protection with Madea.
TV ON DVD
• “Metalocalypse: Season Four” (voices from Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell, two discs, 12 episodes, $19.98)
• “Meet the Browns: Season 7” (David Mann and Tamela Mann, three discs, 20 episodes, $29.98)
“Disasters Deconstructed: A History of Architectural Disasters” (six discs, $49.95)
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