The Shelf: Super Tuesday Edition – “Ted,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Dick Tracy,” and More
by Brian Walton on December 11, 2012
Super Tuesdays are a grand tradition still around from the days of physically going to the store to buy your movies and music. Whenever there was a week that had multiple top-tier releases, department stores would tout a Super Tuesday event in their circulars featuring all the new albums and movies available. Today sees that tradition resurrected because the haul this week is quite something.
Seth MacFarlane brought Sam J. Jones back to the big screen in full Flash Gordon get-up to portray himself as a coke-fueled lunatic. For this alone, you should own Ted. There’s also plenty more to enjoy in this foul-mouthed, slightly crude, expertly sophomoric comedy. Listen, it’s a talking teddy bear movie; If that’s not your thing, I can’t help you. But when someone pitches you the raunchy comedy version of Child’s Play, you’re morally obligated to hear them out. Mark Wahlberg plays the disgruntled roommate of the magical teddy bear he wished to life when he was a child. Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) is also a walking analogy for fame and meaningless celebrity, but that’s only if you want a deeper meaning to your comedy.
A day our inner 8-year-olds have been hoping for has finally arrived: Warren Beatty’s 1990 comic book movie, Dick Tracy, has finally arrived on Blu-ray. This was the Sin City of its day, with Beatty creating the closest thing to a living comic strip of Chester Gould’s classic detective story. The winner of 3 well-earned Academy Awards including best makeup and best art direction, Dick Tracy is a movie that deserved more love. Although the disc contains no extras, we’re still jazzed to be able to finally see those vibrant colors in 1080p. And Al Pacino’s Oscar-nominated turn as the main villain, Big Boy Caprice, is so off-the-charts bonkers, only high-definition could hope to contain him.
The Jason Bourne saga is over (for now), but the story doesn’t end there. With The Bourne Legacy, writer-director Tony Gilroy introduces us to Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a different super-soldier who has actually benefited from all the drugs and brainwashing he’s been given. The problem arises when, after the program goes belly up, his livelihood is threatened. Joining him is a scientist (played by Rachel Weisz), also on the run for her life, who is his only key to maintaining his powers. Lots of high action and car chases.
Before he was showing the world the differences between Freaks and Geeks, Judd Apatow co-wrote and produced this classic coming of age comedy for the heavy set. Ben Stiller is spot on and over the top as a former fat kid that found success through self punishment. His character makes it his mission to change a camp for overweight kids trying to feel accepted to a weight loss retreat. The cast has some brilliant turns from some great character and child actors that didn’t make it out of the nineties (Karp from The Mighty Ducks, for one). Watching Heavyweights again is a friendly reminder of where some of our most talented filmmakers come from and also that the gap between family comedy and mature comedy isn’t really that wide. Stay tuned to Nerdist.com for more Heavyweights and Judd Apatow.
Long before Tom Cruise was running away from explosions and scaling the world’s tallest building, Mission: Impossible was American TV’s coolest spy action program. The show depicted the exploits of Peter Graves’ Jim Phelps and his team of covert, highly skilled espionagers, including Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, and Greg Morris, as they tried to carry out sensitive operations that would result in complete secretarial disavowal should they fail. It was pretty intense, you guys. Today, you can get the complete series on DVD, which includes the initial seven years from 1966-1973 plus the two revival seasons in the late ’80s. That’s 55 discs! It’s a mission more possible than you think. For more M:I, check out our interview with original cast member Barbara Bain.
All ten seasons of the ludicrously entertaining adventures of Navy lawyer Harm Rabb (Greatest name for an action lead character ever!) are now available in one box set. Not every episode is a winner, but the series serves as an odd time capsule in a way since JAG was a “ripped from the headlines” version of a military show. Billed as being a mix between A Few Good Men and Top Gun, the series has one strange situation for Harm to work through after another. One thing I didn’t remember about JAG was how many Star Trek references there were. Literally in the first 5 minutes of the pilot, there is a joke about painting a Romulun symbol on a TomCat to signify a kill. The geekiness of the show is personified through one Bud Roberts (He starts as an Ensign and ends the show a Lieutenant). One of the earliest positive role models for the modern geek on network television, Roberts was obsessed with Star Trek and other forms of pop culture (a trope which continues on with at least one character on every JAG spinoff). For more about Bud, stay tuned for our interview with JAG actor Patrick Labyorteaux.
Just in time for the world to end comes Volume 7 of Futurama. Compiling the 13 episodes from the most recent half-season on Comedy Central, this box set contains episodes about the apocalypse, robotic freewill, a presidential time paradox, and a big ol’ fight between spaceships and neanderthals. It’s pretty cool, all things considered. Also, Bender becomes a father and Hermes becomes a robot. This set proves the show is back in prime form after its extended hiatus (aka “cancellation”), and the laughs and nerdiness are at an all-time high. Check out our interview with David X. Cohen for more Futurama goodness.
Miami Connection – Drafthouse Films’ The F.P. was an ’80s tribute film that felt like it actually could have been made in that era (if Dance Dance Revolution had been invented); with Miami Connection, they’ve discovered an actual long-lost ’80s film that feels like a fake postmodern attempt to deliberately recreate period cheese. Loaded with terrible songs and awkward lead performances by Florida Tae Kwon Do master Y.K. Kim and some of his students, it’s one of those good-bad films that gets by purely on the enthusiasm of those involved, especially in scenes where they clearly think they’re doing some borderline Shakespearian emoting. Like Tommy Wiseau, Kim is clearly relishing his newfound spotlight any way he can get it, and Drafthouse is releasing a number of special-edition packages that include a VHS version, a 7-inch vinyl single, a “Dragon Sound” T-shirt and more. Bonus features include a commentary by Kim and costar Joseph Diamond, deleted scenes, the Dragon Sound reunion concert at Fantastic Fest 2012, and more.
Why Stop Now - Jesse Eisenberg stars as a piano prodigy that has to get his mom into rehab and audition for a prestigious arts school. When his mom is unable to get into a detox program because she is clean (but not sober), he partners with her drug dealer to get her high. Tracy Morgan is surprisingly human as Sprinkles and is the real draw of this movie, though Jesse Eisenberg is solid as ever. The movie’s positive message about hope and help coming from unlikely places makes for a compelling movie with an excellent moral.
Also Out This Week:
Superboy Season 2 and the Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman – Two of the campiest versions of our favorite superheroes make it to DVD today with both the 2nd season of Superboy and the pilot for the spy Wonder Woman that never came to pass. While the second season of Superboy has a little bit more to offer, the camp and cringe-inducing spectacle of Wonder Woman makes it a must-own. In this version of Wonder Woman, she’s a spy based on the brief mod version of the Amazon. I just wish it had come in a boxed set of stoplight pilots based on DC properties. You could include the failed Justice League pilot, Mercy Reef (the actually decent Aquaman pilot that never made it to series but got a release on iTunes), and the David E. Kelley Wonder Woman pilot that was so far off the mark you would think it was a Halloween episode of Ally McBeal. Grab some friends, grab some drinks and have yourself an MST3K TV night. Bonus points for having a sassy gay friend to watch the Wonder Woman pilot with.