DVDs In Brief: February 29, 2012
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DVDs In Brief: February 29, 2012

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DVD round-up

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As an asthmatic boy from Little Italy who retreated into the fantasy realm of Alexander Korda adventures, Martin Scorsese must have seen a lot of himself in Brian Selznick’s The Invention Of Hugo Cabret, a children’s book about an orphaned 12-year-old who lives in a Paris train station in the ’30s and also retreats into mechanized wonders. The result is the enchanting family film Hugo (Paramount), Scorsese’s passionate tribute to silent pioneer Georges Méliès and movie magic in general… 

The world was certainly not crying out for a blandly innocuous James Bond spoof based on a series of popular credit-card commercials starring Rowan Atkinson, especially in a post-Austin Powers world. Yet that somehow didn’t keep the inoffensive, mediocre 2003 action-comedy Johnny English from happening or from inspiring a very tardy, even less essential 2011 sequel every bit as generic and forgettable as the time-waster that proceeded it. Though it did exceedingly modest numbers domestically, Johnny English Reborn (Universal) grossed $160 million worldwide, so don’t be surprised if Johnny English Reborn Again hits theaters eight years from now to entertain the franchise’s core audience of small children, the feeble-minded, the easily amused, and people who couldn’t get into more appetizing fare because it sold out. 

Four well-to-do middle-aged white guys gripe about their midlife crises over a drug-fueled weekend in I Melt With You (Magnolia), which is every bit as insufferable as its description makes it seem. Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, and Christian McKay play the douchebags in question, and director Mark Pellington turns their various misgivings into a Cassavetes-like trainwreck. Only an ’80s soundtrack with songs from Love & Rockets to U2 to The Pixies redeems it…

Set among teenagers in a Detroit suburb during the last day of summer, David Robert Mitchell’s lovely debut feature The Myth Of The American Sleepover (IFC) owes a clear debt to both American Graffiti and Dazed And Confused, but it doesn’t take place in any specific time period, and that’s a key distinction. There are no cell phones or Internet, and the cars on the road are nondescript; beyond that, the backdrop is a Detroit suburb where the kids mostly get around on foot and their problems and desires are generalized to the point where time and place are rendered irrelevant. It’s a film where the feelings and experiences of young people are highly specific in detail, yet fundamentally universal and timeless… 

Stand-up superstar Dane Cook wears a frowny face throughout the dreary low-budget indie drama Answers To Nothing (Lionsgate) as a depressed therapist locked in a loveless marriage. And he’s just part of an ensemble gathered for another forgettable variation on the Crash/Magnolia/Amores Perros “everything is connected” melodrama.

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