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Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

One of the great recent casting miracles is the duo of Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk in this brilliantly funny horror film with a twist. The chemistry between these two guys, playing misunderstood rednecks, is so precious that it should be a new form of currency.

They play Tucker and Dale, two Appalachian rednecks heading out for a weekend of fishing at their new vacation home. On the way, they spy some fancy college kids heading to the same lake—and confusion ensues. To give anything else away would be criminal, although co-writer and director Eli Craig does let the cat out of the bag fairly quickly.

Casting is terrific across the board. Katrina Bowden is very sweet as romantic-interest Allison; she proves that there is more than one Marcia Brady lookalike walking the planet. I also liked Jesse Moss as one of the college kids with issues; he essentially has this film's Skeet Ulrich role.

The film works as both an effective horror film (Great gore!) and a comedy. I laughed harder at this movie than anything else this film year. Much of the credit for that goes to Labine and Tudyk, two guys who know how to make each other—and us—laugh.

This one may've snuck under your radar. I'm telling you now: If your Blu-ray shelf has a lot of space taken by stuff like Evil Dead, Dead Alive and Return of the Living Dead, this is your new favorite film. Waste no time in procuring a copy—and let the laughter begin.

I'm not saying I want a sequel to this film. I think it is the sort of thing that just needs to be left alone and not drawn out. But I would love to see Labine and Tudyk together again in something else, because they are a perfect comedy duo.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There's an excellent commentary featuring Labine, Tudyk and Craig. It's one of those commentaries you will want to watch all the way through. The outtakes reel is a blast, and there are a couple of featurettes dealing with the making of the film. You also get a gallery of storyboards. It's a great Blu-ray, for sure.

The Help (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Set in Mississippi during the '60s, a white college graduate (Emma Stone) interviews black women who have been working as maids and raising other people's children for many years. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are excellent as two maids dealing with rampant racism, including a crazy lady (a slightly overcooked Bryce Dallas Howard) who is leading an initiative to build separate bathrooms for the maids.

While not everything in this film works properly—it's full of stereotypes and overacting—Davis and Spencer make it worth seeing, as does Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life) as a rich Southern woman who actually treats her maid with great respect. Chastain almost steals the film, something she did a lot in 2011.

It's not a great movie, but certainly a good one. I thought it was a lock for Best Picture at one point, but the landscape seems to be changing a bit. We'll see.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Some outtakes, a tribute to real maids of Mississippi, and a making-of featurette.

Rushmore (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

I remember liking Wes Anderson's sophomore effort just fine when I first saw it. Then I remember renting it, watching the film, rewinding it, and watching it again. I had never done that before, nor have I done it since.

It's a masterpiece.

Jason Schwartzman is phenomenal as Max Fischer, a prep-school kid obsessed with extracurricular activities/clubs who is totally bombing out in academics. He's also obsessed with a teacher (Olivia Williams). She, in turn, finds him amusing. A very rich man (Bill Murray) comes into play, creating one of cinema's all-time-greatest, and weirdest, love triangles.

Anderson's style came together perfectly with this one, and it remains his best movie. Murray won all sorts of critic awards for his role, but was strangely snubbed by the Oscars; he didn't even get a nomination.

Owen Wilson was a great co-writer before he concentrated solely on acting. I don't think it's a coincidence that Anderson's best films are his first three, all co-written with Wilson. Maybe it would be a good idea to get these two guys back into a room together to write again. They were a great pair.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get a commentary with Anderson, Schwartzman and Wilson. There's audition footage that is a lot of fun to watch, and the Max Fischer Players perform short film versions of Armageddon and The Truman Show. A making-of documentary, storyboards and a cool pamphlet are also included.