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Singin' in the Rain (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

What an absolute delight it is to watch the shiny new Blu-ray version of this film, with exquisite sound and a joltingly good-looking picture. Gene Kelly's ultimate shining moment gets the showcase it deserves.

Long heralded as the greatest American musical, this gem still holds up 60 years after its release. Yes, it has the iconic title-track dance number, where Kelly does magical things with a lamppost and umbrella. But the film is so much more than that.

"Make Em' Laugh," during which Donald O'Connor puts his vaudeville muscle to the test, will always stand as one of the more amazing things ever put to film. His running-up-the-wall somersault, coupled with the things he does with that hat, defy logic and physics. When I first saw this sequence as a kid, I had an argument with my mom that there was no way a man could do this sort of stuff without strings and wires. Mom was right; the sequence is O'Connor unassisted, and it's otherworldly. The man deserved an Oscar.

As did Debbie Reynolds, who barely knew how to dance when she landed the role of Kathy Selden opposite Kelly's Don Lockwood. From her first big number dancing out of a cake, to that impossible staircase moment during "Good Morning" where she stays in step with O'Connor and Kelly, she is transcendent. This will always stand as one of the greatest performances by any actress.

Then there's that guy named Gene Kelly, who co-directed this movie with Stanley Donen. Kelly allegedly put O'Connor in the hospital and burst blood vessels in Reynolds' feet during the grueling filming process. However, all you see on the screen is joy; there's never a hint that anybody was having difficulty. That's a pretty good directing job.

If you've never seen this, get off your ass; take the stupid Transformers movie out of the player; and take this one in. It's mandatory viewing.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The single-disc Blu-ray has a commentary featuring Reynolds and the late O'Connor, and a new documentary about the film's influence on modern filmmaking. The likes of Paula Abdul, Usher and director Rob Marshall throw in their two cents. It is also available in a "Collector's Edition" boxed set that contains a booklet, extra documentaries and a working umbrella.

Get the Gringo (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Mel Gibson's latest got a small (really small) theatrical release before getting sent straight to video. And here's the funny thing: It contains his best performance in 10 years.

Gibson plays Driver, a thief who we first see driving away from police while wearing a clown mask and yelling at his partner for spitting blood all over his money. Things culminate with him stuck in a bizarre Mexican prison that is actually like a small, moderately livable city.

He makes friends with a kid (Kevin Hernandez) who has a very rare blood type—and his liver has been targeted by a resident crime lord who needs a transplant. Driver takes it upon himself to protect the kid while trying to get back his money from the robbery.

If this sounds stupid, that's because it is. The movie embraces its stupidity, and also features some pretty good whiz-bang shootouts. As for Gibson, he finds the humor in his role, as well as the insanity. Hey, there's no argument that Gibson does well playing nutty guys.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A behind-the-scenes look at the movie includes an interview with Gibson. You also get short features on some of the film's bigger sequences, and a little insight into how they were shot.

Casa de Mi Padre (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Will Ferrell further cements his goofball status with this crazy film fully devoted to the "telenovela" format, with Ferrell speaking Spanish, and the film set in Mexico.

Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, the dumb son of Señor Alvarez. Armando must square off against a notorious drug lord (Gael Garcia Bernal) while feuding with his drug-dealer brother (Diego Luna) and trying to steal his brother's lady (Genésis Rodriguez).

Ferrell does a decent job with the Spanish language, but it's Nick Offerman as a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who gets the biggest laugh when he delivers Spanish via a man who doesn't give a shit about pronunciation. While Ferrell is his usual funny self, Bernal and Luna steal all of their scenes, doing tremendously funny things with cigarettes and drinks.

This film might wear you out before it reaches its ending (and stay until after the credits), but you'll get some good laughs along the way.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Ferrell participates in an often-hilarious commentary with the director Matt Piedmont. You also get deleted scenes and a making-of doc.

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