DVDs in Brief
Here's an equation to drive Hollywood accountants crazy: Make a sequel to a successful (though overpriced) studio comedy. In the process, remove one of the industry's most bankable stars, replace him with a bit player from the original film, but then spend more than twice as much on the movie. It doesn't take a calculator to figure out that the numbers don't add up. At $175 million, Evan Almighty (Universal) was most expensive comedy ever made. It was also the biggest flop of the summer, a McDonalds-ized Noah's Ark that spent approximately $58 million per laugh
28 Weeks Later (Fox) picks up half a year after the events in 28 Days Later, in a London that's allegedly been purged of the virus that turns people into wild-eyed cannibals. The sequel doesn't do as much as it could with the idea of a city struggling to revive under martial law, but that's only because the action comes quick and relentless, straight through to a horrifying final setpiece that has a couple of kids descending into a subway station full of monsters because the government won't help them escape. Choose your own metaphor—Katrina? Iraq?—but whatever it means, it's bloodcurdling
Poor Adam Sandler. Every time he tries to break out of the lowbrow, blue-collar comedy rut, nobody turns out to see the results. Had anyone bothered with Reign Over Me (Sony), they'd have witnessed a deeply strange performance, one that spins his eternally infantile act into affecting pathos in some scenes, near-catatonia in others. The only major problem with Mike Binder's drama is that it's about a man who lost his wife and daughters on 9/11, but the particular significance of that day is rarely made apparent
There are a lot of classy people involved in You Kill Me (IFC): Director John Dahl, whose work includes the neo-noir gems Red Rock West and The Last Seduction; Ben Kingsley in a starring role as an alcoholic hitman from Buffalo; Teá Leoni as a real-estate agent who finds she has a lust for the life; and first-rate character actors like Philip Baker Hall and Dennis Farina. And yet the film is curiously inert, perhaps because so many other hitman comedies (Grosse Pointe Blank, The Matador) have done it better.