A Peek Into the future

Tomorrow’s Big New DVD And Video Releases
Some films that garnered some media attention but not much box office in theatres debut in the home formats tomorrow. Are they worth your time? Well, let’s look at these big name titles individually:
I AM SAM- I have no idea how writer-director Jessie Nelson managed to corral some of the biggest names in Hollywood for this painfully earnest tale about a mentally challenged father who might have his daughter taken away by the courts. The movie is so confused that during the climactic trial scenes, I couldn’t help thinking the little girl (a robotic Dakota Fanning) probably did belong with someone more capable of seeing to her needs. Still, Sean Penn is unerring – straightforward and unsentimental. He’s more hard-headed and interesting than the film could ever hope to be. It’s poor Michelle Pfeiffer who comes off badly. Her tough-as-nails lawyer who learns to be a better parent thanks to Penn is an embarrassing role that sinks this usually fine actress. Like the film itself, the use of songs by the Beatles is crushingly obvious: if the little girl is taken away, you can be sure they’ll cue up “She’s Leaving Home” – even though that song is about a daughter who wants to leave her parents and so is wildly inappropriate. Many of the covers are good, however, so buy the soundtrack but avoid the movie.
THE SHIPPING NEWS- In one word, this film is “Horrbile.” Contrary to popular belief the book is not always better than the movie. In this case the book is better. It really is! This is another poor film by director Lasse Hallstrom. But there’s no reason to be dismissive – this is clearly a bad movie made with good intentions. And it does offer some pleasures: Cate Blanchett delivers a jagged, messy performance in a brief turn, Judi Dench is always formidable and Kevin Spacey is acting again after a number of roles where he seemed to be coasting on his trademark quirks. Pity about the tired plot, though. And those accents?!??! If you think anyone in this film, with the exception of Gorden Pinsent, has an even close to being correct Newfoundland accent then you don’t know Newfoundland. I on the other hand know Newfoundland…
ORANGE COUNTY- With all of the dumb films that we are forced to sit through every year it is a treat when one of them is entertaining. Admittedly, I expected something a little more oddball than this conventional teen comedy. After all, director Jake Kasdan made his debut with the eccentric Zero Effect and writer Mike White wrote and starred in the terrific Chuck & Buck. This gotta-get-into-college romp, however, is thoroughly anonymous. The saving grace? Jack Black doing his shtick yet again. Sure, we’ve seen it before in High Fidelity, Jesus’s Son and so on, but it still works. And thankfully, no one tries to do a Newfoundland accent.