DVDs In Brief: June 20, 2012  
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DVDs In Brief: June 20, 2012  

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DVD round-up

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David Wain’s Wanderlust (Universal) had everything going for it: a clever, timely premise (disgruntled yuppies drop out of the rat race to explore their bliss at a hippie commune), a perfect lead in the peerless straight man and inveterate charmer Paul Rudd, Judd Apatow onboard as a producer, and a fantastic supporting cast that includes Joe Lo Truglio, Ken Marino, Justin Theroux, Kerry Kenney-Silver, and Alan Alda. But the film proved an underwhelming creative and commercial disappointment that favors broad, stereotypical squares-versus-hippie wackiness over more nuanced and satisfying character-based comedy…

Beating out the formidable likes of Breaking Bad and Parks & Recreation on The A.V. Club’s “Best Of TV” list for 2011, Louie: Season Two (Fox) was a significant advance on the show’s already stellar first season, as writer/director/producer/star Louis C.K. confidently expanded into new territory every week. Without a set format, C.K. could pivot from observational comedy about the trials of single parenting to a showdown with rival comic Dane Cook to an astonishing one-hour episode about a USO tour through Afghanistan. It’s the closest thing we have to true auteur television…

Big Miracle (Universal) may look like another adorable, family-friendly, ripped-from-the-headlines heart-warmer about adorable animals and the heroic folks that love them, but underneath the considerable cuteness (this is, after all, a film centering on plucky animal activist Drew Barrymore and trapped whales) lies a surprisingly sophisticated, nuanced, and cynical exploration of the politics of the oil industry, the Inuit people, whales, animal rights, the U.S. military, and international relations…

The Duplass brothers, Jay and Mark, have been inching toward Hollywood with each successive film since their mumblecore standard The Puffy Chair, and with Jeff, Who Lives At Home (Paramount), they try to reconcile studio convention with their shambling naturalism and offbeat comedy. It works for a while, thanks to Jason Segel’s performance as a basement-dwelling slacker who ventures out on an errand for his mother, but the film comes crashing down in a deux ex machina climax as egregious as the one mocked in Charlie Kaufman’s script for Adaptation

Project X (Warner Bros.) attempted to yank the found-footage concept away from horror films and apply it to teen comedies by way of a one-crazy-night story in which a group of teens wrecks a house by throwing the party to end all parties. It gets points for audaciousness, particularly in the almost-apocalyptic staging of its finale, but the demerits for obnoxiousness cancel them out and then some. 

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