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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Family > Holiday > Satire > Music > Pop > Rock > Melodrama > Christmas In Paradise (Blu-ray)/Clerks III (Blu-ray)/Summertime Dropouts (DVD/all 2022/Lionsgate)

Christmas In Paradise (Blu-ray)/Clerks III (Blu-ray)/Summertime Dropouts (DVD/all 2022/Lionsgate)

Picture: B-/B+/C Sound: B/B+/C+ Extras: C-/B/C- Films: C/B/C

Now for some new comedy....

Philippe Martinez's Christmas In Paradise (2022) is a leave-your-brain-at-the-door holiday comedy that brings together the interesting pairing of two very comedy-capable actors who land up having mixed chemistry together but are not awful here: Kelsey Grammer and the underrated Elizabeth Hurley, playing father and daughter. She has sisters and he has been dumped for the season. Can the holiday be saved?

Well, Billy Ray Cyrus shows up (???) so that's supposed to help (though he comes across better here than I ever expected, including a smarter-than-you-might-think send-up of his lone megahit: (''Achey Breaky Heart'') and the nearly 90-minutes somehow run smoother than the glut of such productions over the last few decades usually do. Those interested will want to give it a look, though Hurley steals most of her scenes.

A trailer is the only extra.

Kevin Smith brings the third and final installment in his Clerks Trilogy to a close with the triumphant, Clerks III (2022). Bringing back many of the key players from the first two Clerks films, Smith crafts a different kind of drama / comedy that he has been known for in this unusual filmmaking career with an emotional sendoff for the series that got him into making movies in the first place.

In real life, Kevin Smith had a heart attack a few years ago and it certainly opened his eyes to a more healthier lifestyle. In this film, Smith takes a page from his own life and throws it into the Clerks worse then Randal (Jeff Anderson) gets a heart attack and survives, coming back with an ambition to make a film of his own. Meanwhile, Dante (Brian O'Halloran) is dealing with the death of his girlfriend (Rosario Dawson, who doesn't let fame stand in the way of being in an independent film!), and the stoner geniuses Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith) who are in the center of all the action at the infamous New Jersey Quick Stop. The boys exchange words on movies, comics, the internet, society, and of course death.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Kevin Smith, Actors Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman and Austin Zajur

The Clerks III Documentary

We're Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today: 3 Decades of Clerks Documentary

Deleted and Alternate Scenes

and a Theatrical Trailer

I respect Kevin Smith as a filmmaker and feel like he did a really good job with Clerks III. A film I would recommend to any you are a fan of Smith's View Askew cinematic universe. If you are a big fan of Smith's work then you will catch a lot of subtle references here to some of his earlier projects, which always makes it fun.

Jhene Chase's Summertime Dropouts (2022) is a music comedy (featuring songs by a new band called Simple Plan) with the title referring to young people giving up a time in their life that could be the most fun to pursue their dreams. The unknown cast is not bad and the title is also the name of the fictitious band in the film. Of course, some people may become romantically interested in others and maybe they can get a hit, but what else does this offer?

Well, not much new, but I was constantly amused that the script, actors and makers play and approach this as if it is fresh and happening, which is actually better than the awful, over-budgeted Fame remake a few years ago and definitely wants to pick up where the hit TV show Glee left off in some ways, reminding us that we have not seen enough such stories of late. Guess COVID really messed us up in ways we're still fixing.

The makers here at least care about what they are making, which lasts 93 minutes and we might even see some of these actors later, but even if it does not work much despite not dragging much, at least they were trying and that is a small battle won right there. So many actual big screen musicals have been bad lately, so at least this does not make their mistakes. Those very curious should give it a look and who knows how this one will age, but it will be interesting.

Digital Copy and a trailer are the only extras.

Now for playback performance. Clerks III is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) lossless mix. In Clerks fashion, some scenes are in black and white in an effect to go back full circle to the first film, but most of the film is shot in color and looks and sounds fine here on Blu-ray disc. This is the best performer on the list.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Paradise is a little softer than I would have liked it, and not because it is trying to be 'soft and Christmassy' or something like that you could expect from such a production. It is just the limits of the HD cameras they are using, but the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless sound mix is more like it and at least has a consistent soundfield.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Summertime has consistent color, but is softer than even I expected for this older format and it is as if the makers do not realize this, as they just roll on as if they were shooting in 4K (they were not) but at least the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix (especially offering so much music) is more serviceable. Could this play better on Blu-ray?

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Clerks III)



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