DVDs In Brief:  October 7, 2009

DVDs In Brief:  October 7, 2009

With Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day) directing, the fine Abbott & Costello pairing of Jack Black and Michael Cera in the lead roles, a loaded cast of bit players (David Cross, Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt, McLovin), and a clever Old Testament premise, Year One (Universal) seemed about as close to a sure thing as comedies get. Alas, this is why comedies are never a sure thing: There are gags-a-plenty in this disastrous goof on history, but an alarmingly low hit-to-miss ratio… 

This is not Spinal Tap, but the first-rate documentary Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (VH1 Films) has earned unavoidable comparisons to Rob Reiner’s seminal mock-doc. The similarities are pretty uncanny: Obscure heavy-metal band that should have died out long ago still following the dream, an inept tour manager, a visit to Stonehenge, even a drummer named Robb Reiner (who doesn’t, fortunately, choke on his own vomit). But there’s real heart to the story of these good-natured Canadian dreamers and their delusional/inspiring misadventures… 

Nia Vardalos’ spinster-tourist-guide-finds-love-in-Greece vehicle My Life In Ruins (Fox) benefits tremendously in comparison to I Hate Valentine’s Day, the other Vardalos romantic-comedy vanity project released this year. Then again, any movie, including the complete oeuvres of Uwe Boll and Ed Wood, would benefit in comparison to I Hate Valentine’s Day. So while the film isn’t, you know, good by any stretch of the imagination, it’s at least sweet and breezy and features nice scenery… 

Fans of B-movies, drive-in fare, and other forms of lurid sleaze will find much to like about Mark Hartley’s zippy documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story Of OZploitation! (Magnolia), which looks at the strange free-for-all that was Aussie cinema in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Fueled by the combination of the government’s new “for mature audiences” rating and an influx of grant money, artists (and con artists) came out of the woodwork to produce some of the craziest films of the era… 

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