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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > High School > Documentary > Entertainment Industry > Drama > Animation > Stand-Up > Bad Teacher (2011/Uncut/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Captains (2011/E1 DVD)/Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011/Magnolia Blu-ray)/His Way (2011/HBO DVD)/A Little Help (2010/Image Blu-ray)/Mardi Gras: Spring Bre

Bad Teacher (2011/Uncut/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Captains (2011/E1 DVD)/Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011/Magnolia Blu-ray)/His Way (2011/HBO DVD)/A Little Help (2010/Image Blu-ray)/Mardi Gras: Spring Break (2011/Unrated/Sony DVD)/Smodimations: Season One (Shout! Factory DVD)/Too Fat For 40 (2011/Kevin Smith/Shout! Factory Blu-ray)/Win Win (2011/Fox Blu-ray)


Picture: B & C+/C+/C+/C/B-/C/C+/B-/B-     Sound: B & B-/C+/B-/C+/B/C/C+/B-/B-     Extras: C/C/B-/C-/C/D/C+/C+/B-     Main Programs: C/B-/B-/B-/C/C-/C/B-/B-



The latest round of comedy releases are better than usual.



Jake Kasdan’s Bad Teacher (2011) is here uncut and could have potentially been a real riot.  Cameron Diaz is not bad as the self-absorbed, almost pathological gal who will do anything to get ahead.  When her fiancée she is using anyhow turns on her thanks to an overprotective mother, she focuses on new ways in making money while being one of the worse substitute teachers in cinema history.  The film being foul is not an issue, but it being clichéd, formulaic and disappointing is another story, though it has a few goods moments and has done well so far commercially.  Justin Timberlake turns up as the sexually oppressed fiancée of a teacher hated by our title character and ever-unfunny Jason Segel shows up playing himself.  I wanted this to go further and find some new territory, but it plays it too safe, though the uncut version is more interesting and comparatively bold for a change.  Maybe they can improve with a sequel.  Extras include Blu-ray exclusive BD Live interactive functions, interactive movieIQ functions, Gag Reel, interactive yearbook and three behind-the-scenes featurettes, plus all versions have Outtakes, Deleted Scenes and two more featurettes.


William Shatner’s The Captains (2011) is his personal documentary about playing Kirk on Star Trek and interviewing all the other actors who have taken that chair in the various Trek TV spin-offs.  Though this gets to the point it is somewhat for fans, there are still some fine moments including Shatner at Trek Conventions and the way he handles fans, some interesting history and a particularly fun moment where he meets up with Chris Pine (who plays the younger Kirk in the recent Trek revival prequel film) in front of the Paramount entrance talking and arm wrestling.  It is a personal, interesting work worth a look with some laughs and a few other nice moments.  A making of featurette is the only extra.


Rodman Flender’s Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011) is a very funny, interesting look at how the longtime stand-up comic and writer dealt with his battle with NBC about messing with The Tonight Show (which they gave him) and then giving the show back to the host (Jay Leon, of course) who left it for his own 10PM show.  Both shows suffered and NBC came up with the saddest solution to the situation.  O’Brien decides to go on a comedy tour while his NBC contract (they paid him off) forbade him from being on TV and this runs up until his new show debuts on TBS.  I liked this too and best of all, besides an interesting behind-the-scenes look at show business, it shows how authentic and impressive he is.  O’Brien is not a phony and the support he gets in between shows speaks volumes.  Even non-fans should see this documentary.  Extras include Interview Outtakes, Additional Scenes, feature length audio commentary by O’Brien, Flender, Andy Richter, Mike Sweeney and Sona Movsesian and an on-camera O’Brien interview.


Douglas McGrath’s His Way (2011) is a look at the life and rise of Hollywood producer Jerry Weintraub, who started small and eventually became the promoter of major music tours for Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and many others, debuted as a film producer with Robert Altman’s classic Nashville (1975) and saw many ups and downs since.  He, family and friends are interviewed throughout as his amusing and sometimes amazing story unfolds.  At 86 minutes, it misses some things (like how bad that Avengers spy movie was) but it is more must-see viewing for serious film, music and entertainment fans.  The one extra is Weintraub talking about his first job.


Michael J. Weithorn’s A Little Help (2010) needed more help in the script department as this film tires to put Office (U.S.) star front and center in this unfunny romantic comedy (set in 2002 for some reason) where she starts to become interested in Rob Benedict as she becomes increasingly unhappy with cheating husband Chris O’Donnell.  Sounds boring?  Yup, it is!  I never laughed, barely chuckled and though I liked the actors and it has potential; (including that it was not outright stupid), it simply never worked.  Extras include a trailer, TV spot and actor interviews.


The silliest and lamest entry here (partly as it intends to be so) is Mardi Gras: Spring Break (2011) with Carmen Electra and a group of no-name actors who are much younger, this (sequel?) release is too self amused and silly to be taken seriously and even does not work when you don’t take it seriously.  If you watch, just try not to fall asleep.  Previews are the only extra.


Kevin Smith is back with two new releases.  Smodimations: Season One is an animated internet web series that is amusing, but repetitious and for fans only.  You might get some chuckles, but I did not get many.  Extras include excerpts from Hollywood Babble-On and Jay & Silent Bob Get Old.


Smith fares much better in his new stand-up concert Too Fat For 40 where he proves he can still talk with an audience and share what is on his mind.  This time though, he has more to say about the film industry than ever before and talks about his awful airline experience.  The showbiz talk goes from independent film and the indie scene (which he was a member) fading, why Zack & Miri missed commercially, the disastrous making of his big budget dud Cop Out and (by default even) one of the best insider looks at the industry lately.  It runs for a while, but is worth catching.  Extras include a Q&A Encore, New Intro and Behind-The-Scenes Featurette.


Finally we have Tom McCarthy’s Win Win (2011), one of the year’s better comedy/dramas with Paul Giamatti as a lawyer who is a good guy and family man, but starts to do things under pressure that are unethical.  Besides taking on a sick client personally to make money from him, he takes on a young man (Alex Shaffer) who turns out to be excellent at wrestling, which is what he is involved with at his local high school.  Though not every single moment works (and some moments we have seen before), the many better parts overcome the film’s limits and that is why people keep talking about the film.  Supporting work by Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Bobby Cannavale, Melanie Lynskey and a well-cast group are also a plus.  If you have not seen this film yet, see it!


Extras include a Music Video, Deleted Scenes, McCarthy and co-writer Joe Tiboni discussing the film, David Thompson at Sundance 2011, Family featurette and In Conversation with McCarthy and Giamatti at Sundance.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Teacher is the best on the list with solid detail, color, depth and performance throughout and its included anamorphically enhanced DVD is fairly good, but not great.  The same HD image on both Win (AVC @ 28 MBPS) and Help about the same and close seconds.  The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Fat and Stop are HD shoots and a little weaker too, but not bad considering it is a concert and the camera does not have to move around much.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 on Captains is on par with the Teacher DVD, but the same on Way and Smodimations is weaker than expected and the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 Mardi is narrowly the weakest of all here.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Teacher and (surprisingly) Help are the best here with warm, consistent and often active surrounds, followed by Win, Stop and the 2.0 Stereo on Fat with its Pro Logic-like surrounds.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the Teacher DVD is the best of those, followed by Captains and Way with their location interview audio and mix of stereo and mono footage.  That leaves Smodimations the weakest on the list.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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