This week’s releases include: a teen action movie; a female Western; an X-rated comedy; a preview to Entourage’s charm; a holiday picture; a supernatural WWII anime; a family is forced to face their past; an ‘80s buddy picture; a daughter follows in her family’s footsteps; a quest for morality; and an adrenaline-fuelled anime.

Abduction on Blu-rayAbduction (Blu-ray & DVD combo pack)
After uncovering a deadly lie, Nathan (Taylor Lautner) is propelled on a lethal, no-holds barred mission to learn the truth. Aided by a devoted family friend (Sigourney Weaver), Nathan’s hunt for the facts pits him against ruthless assassins and questionable allies.

Lautner has already made a bit of a name for himself as an action heartthrob in the Twilight films. But in Abduction, he’s able to branch out to full-on action hero. What ensues is a high stakes chase in which a wily teenager is able to outrun, outfight and outwit the CIA and a group of international criminals with very little assistance. Nonetheless, Lautner proves up to the task, displaying some new moves and employing some of the ones he picked up playing a teen wolf. While the idea of an adolescent not specifically trained as an agent (see Hanna) accomplishing what Nathan does is far-fetched, the story remains an adequately interesting one. It maintains a good pace and the fight sequences are intense. The rest of the cast really doesn’t make a significant impact on the picture as they are all featured so briefly and at various intervals, they could have been portrayed by anyone. But this could definitely be the beginning of an action career for the 19-year-old.

Special features include: “Abduction Chronicle,” an on-camera production journal with Lautner; “The Fight for the Truth,” a making-of featurette; “Initiation of an Action Hero,” about Lautner’s stunts; and “Pulled Punches,” a gag reel. (Alliance Films)

Bad Girls on Blu-rayBad Girls (Blu-ray)
This is a Wild West story of four fallen women (Madeleine Stowe, Andie MacDowell, Drew Barrymore and Mary Stuart Masterson) on the run. Branded as outlaws, pursued by a posse and tracked by Pinkerton detectives, the four must ride together to stay alive. But when they’re double-crossed by a gang of ruthless desperados, the women decide it’s time to stop running and start fighting.

The ’90s were all about girl power and filmmakers decided to try to cash in with a female-driven Western. The result is a busty, and sometimes blustering, shoot ’em up that’s only real appeal is its novelty. Beginning in the only place women really had in the Wild West – a brothel – the women set out to prove they can settle land as well as any man; only to take up with men along the way. The actresses have fun with their roles, none of them taking their supposed step for womankind too seriously. It follows the established formula for the genre, but the new angle required a little more gravity.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star on blu-rayBucky Larson: Born to be a Star (Blu-ray)
Bucky (Nick Swardson) is a small town grocery bagger, going nowhere in life – until he discovers that his conservative parents were once adult film stars. Armed with the belief that he has found his destiny, Bucky packs up and heads out to LA, hoping to follow in his parents’ footsteps.

Special features include: “Laughter Is Contagious”; “Behind The Teeth”; “Gary: Tough Customer”; and “Bucky Sparkles.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Drive me Crazy on blu-rayDrive Me Crazy (Blu-ray)
Opposites attract with irresistible force in this comedy about two mismatched teens who scheme to make their exes jealous. Nicole Maris (Melissa Joan Hart) is a peppy preppy who performs the ultimate makeover on her scruffy next-door neighbour (Adrian Grenier) and discovers this former “frog” was really a prince all along. Featuring the ‘90s hit singles “Crazy” (Britney Spears) and “I Want It That Way” (Backstreet Boys).

In a sea of teen movies starring the “it” kids of the ’90s came a cheesy comedy co-starring the then-unknown, shaggy haired guy who would go on to become a sensation portraying a fictionalized Mark Wahlberg in the HBO series Entourage. Nonetheless, it challenged the norm of beautifying an awkward girl by making the boy next door the subject of a makeover instead. Of course, there’s no mystery as to how the movie will end, but the then-top 40 soundtrack made it a popular choice during its initial release.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Dutch on blu-rayDutch (Blu-ray)
Dutch Dooley (Ed O’Neill) is a working-class good guy who’s the new boyfriend of a wealthy big shot’s ex-wife. But when the woman’s spoiled son (Ethan Randall) refuses to come home from his Southern prep school for Thanksgiving, Dutch volunteers to pick the bratty boy up for a road trip back to Chicago that quickly goes wrong.

During the height of Married with Children, O’Neill extended the cynical persona of Al Bundy to this family comedy. Randall is a genuine little monster that tries Dutch’s patience in numerous ways. Of course, they eventually reach the expected understanding between a child and the stranger who is dating his mother, however strange it may be.

Special features include: theatrical trailer and TV spots. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

First Squad on blu-rayFirst Squad (Blu-ray)
Set during the opening days of World War II on the Eastern Front, its main cast is a group of Soviet teenagers with extraordinary abilities. The teenagers have been drafted to form a special unit to fight the invading German army. They are opposed by a Schutzstaffel (SS) officer who is attempting to raise from the dead a supernatural army of crusaders from the 12th-century Order of the Sacred Cross and enlist them in the Nazi cause.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

The Happiness of Others on DVDThe Happiness of Others (DVD)
In addition to being dumped by his girlfriend on his 29th birthday, Sylvain finds out during his birthday dinner that his father Jean-Pierre is expecting a baby with Evelyn, his new, young girlfriend. For Sylvain’s sister Marion, who’s been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for the past 10 years, the news comes as a shock – especially since she still hasn’t forgiven their father for leaving their mother 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Evelyn, whose parents strongly disapprove of her relationship with a man their age, starts to wonder if she isn’t about to make a mistake.

Everyone in this film is in the process of undertaking a major life change and none of them are coping well under the pressure; though some are doing better than others. The mother’s sexual awakening at the encouragement of her friend is unusual, but very symbolic of her regaining control. Jean-Pierre is oblivious to the feelings of the people around him and, as a result, continuously offends them with his insensitivity. Their children are both attempting to attain the unattainable, though one is more likely to give up before the other. The cuts between scenes are linked by the slightest connection, but it’s just enough to appear to be a fluid transition. In addition, the narrative is strong and the cast turn in engaging performances.

Special features only available in French. (Entertainment One)

License to Drive on blu-rayLicense to Drive (DVD)
For teenager Les Anderson (Corey Haim), the two most important things in life are getting his driver’s license and getting together with the hottest girl in school (Heather Graham). But when Les fails the exam, he ‘borrows’ the family’s prized ’73 Cadillac for his big date. An innocent girl. A harmless drive. What could possibly go wrong? Try a fearless best friend (Corey Feldman) with an insane plan, a high school hottie with too much to drink, angry drag racers, crazed militants, a police roadblock, a crash course in car theft, a very angry father (Richard Masur) and a very, very pregnant mother (Carol Kane).

Special features include: commentary by director Greg Beeman and writer Neil Tolkin; interviews with Haim and Feldman; deleted scenes; and theatrical trailers and TV spots. (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment)

Polish Wedding on DVDPolish Wedding (DVD)
Hala (Claire Danes) is as sassy as her mother (Lena Olin) and as sensitive as her father (Gabriel Byrne). It’s a winning combination, but when she falls for the neighbourhood cop on the beat, their summer romance stretches her family’s strength and support to outrageous lengths. Now the rush is on to plan the nuptials – despite an extremely reluctant groom and other hilarious complications.

The family dynamic in this film is its strength. They are crazy, but devoted to each other to a fault. Hala is young and wants nothing more than to escape until her knight and shining armour unwittingly shackles her with a ball and chain. She trades her freedom for the closest she can get to a fairy tale ending, though her prince requires a little more convincing. The story is folk-like and the performances are enchanting. The fire between parents and long-time marriage partners Byrne and Olin is highly entertaining. Danes is picturesque with a mischievous streak one only realizes exists after it’s too late. Her siblings are the stereotypical big brothers who are teasing her one minute and out defending her honour the next. There is a simple, endearing quality about this film that makes it an unexpected top pick.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

Project X on blu-rayProject X (DVD)
Jimmy Garrett (Matthew Broderick) is a screw-up Air Force jet jockey who is transferred to the ‘Experimental Pilot Performance Project’ where chimpanzees – including a remarkable young chimp named Virgil – are taught to operate flight simulators. But when Jimmy discovers the chimps will ultimately be used in a horrific experiment, he desperately seeks out the university researcher (Helen Hunt) who taught Virgil to communicate. The two unlikely heroes and an extraordinary group of apes try to defy the odds, escape the danger and end the top-secret terror of Project X.

Special features include: theatrical trailers and TV spots. (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment)

Redline on blu-rayRedline (Blu-ray)
Redline is the biggest and most deadly racing tournament in the universe. Only held once every five years, everyone wants to stake their claim to fame, including JP, a reckless daredevil driver oblivious to speed limits with his ultra-customized car. All the while, organized crime and militaristic governments want to leverage the race to their own ends. Amongst the other elite rival drivers in the tournament, JP falls for the alluring Sonoshee – but will she prove his undoing, or can a high speed romance survive a mass destruction race?

Though some of the characters are human, many of them are an odd array of alien creatures or human hybrids. Moreover, the mechanized people of Roboworld consider their home humanity’s last place of peace – though there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. The characters are quite engaging. JP, his manager and older mechanic are like a family of three generations of men all drawn to the racetrack. They bicker and have trust issues, both personal and professional, but always come through for each other in the end. The film itself is stunning; the colours are vibrant and the images are imaginative. The cars are distinctly styled, and the races are fast-paced and set to energetic dance music that booms over the loud engines.

Special features not available. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)

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