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December 17, 2008 |

By Dustin Rowles | DVD Releases | December 17, 2008 |

This week, another opportunity to mock Mamma Mia. Behold your DVD releases for the week of December 16, 2008.

Burn After Reading: Dan was an admirer of the latest Coens creation, calling it “a gleefully absurd, consistently funny, and thoroughly entertaining film that touches on the Coens’ trademark wit, rhythm, and inevitable bursts of violence. Whether it will hold up and come to find a place in the brothers’ pantheon of greatness is something only time will tell, but it’s a strong and often hilarious dark comedy that lives up to the Coen name.”

Death Race: Meanwhile, Phillip half-appreciated Death Race, at least, for what it was meant to be, writing: “But as stupid as all of this sounds, Death Race isn’t half bad at what it’s supposed to be: throwaway faux-grindhouse flair. Unlike in the past, Anderson isn’t reaching beyond his own one-dimensional male id, just setting up his moronic pins and then kicking them over with glee. But that’s also what makes the film a little unsettling — it’s absolutely, unapologetically depthless. As cheesy and opportunistic as Roger Corman certainly was, he at least had an eye for dramatic irony; Anderson either doesn’t understand Death Race 2000’s use of humor and satire or, more likely, he doesn’t care, and thus his own Death Races somehow manages to dumb down exploitation, taking the very reason Corman’s film has been remembered long enough to be remade and making a film than won’t be remembered five minutes after being seen! Death Race thus becomes a weird, roundabout indictment of how base our popcorn flicks have really become. Yikes.”

House Bunny: Dustin didn’t care for it, writing: “In other words, you should never, ever put yourself through the experience of watching The House Bunny, in a theater, on DVD, on pay channels, on network television, in a box, with a fox, in a mouse, with a house, here or there, or anywhere. It’s a cinematic abomination, a movie so powerfully unfunny that I understand it actually sucks the humor out of films playing on nearby screens.”

Mamma Mia: In one of my favorite reviews, Ranylt dissected Mamma Mia in glorious fashion, writing: “Mamma Mia! was co-produced (along with Tom Hanks and the male half of ABBA) by Rita Wilson, who’s still riding the same Love Greece — or else! hobby-horse she rode to splinters with My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I could almost see her panting behind the screen with toothy imperative, daring me not to admire her Greekness. Based on the landmark(ish) musical, Mamma Mia! is loaded with cheeky humor that will only come off as cheeky to a certain sheltered set; people sing into hair-dryers, fall out of boats, waddle in flippers, and hang from rooftops by their fingernails — and the audience laughed on cue (I don’t think my particular audience gets out much). The movie’s driven by an awkward narrative whose sole purpose is to bind together a bunch of ABBA hits — awkwardly. The musical numbers look like they were choreographed by Corky St. Clair; the cute is doled out in toxic doses; and there’s a hell of a lot of fanfare here that was probably meant to explode off the screen but generally pops a thin fart instead (apparently it is possible to drain the chintzy power out of an ABBA song). Despite the cast, production budget, and the trove of classic love-and-dance anthems that prop this thing up, Mamma Mia! comes off like a pastry left in the rain.”

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Dustin got a little too cute with his review, writing: “Are you tired of all the quality action films that have come out this summer? Sick to death of complex storylines? Bored with all the dark drama? Exhausted with all that insufferable heart-stopping action? Weary of eye-popping visual effects? Worn-out with all the moral ambiguity? Disgusted with excellent performances from Oscar-caliber actors and actresses? Do you find the need to think to be an arduous experience? Challenging material can be such a bore, am I right? Whatever happened to spoon-fed narratives and telegraphed twists? Where are all the writer-by-committees? Don’t you know: Three writers are better than one! Jesus! Aren’t you fed up with movies that require so much of your attention you’re not able to eat your entire bucket of popcorn, movies so absorbing you’re not even able to get up and go get your free combo refills without missing something important? You’re losing value, goddamnit! Don’t you wish studios would stop hiring competent filmmakers when putting together your beloved empty spectacles? Are you mad as hell? Are you not going to take it anymore!
Well, have I got a movie for you!”

Traitor: Talk about a movie that came and went with little notice. Dan wrote of Don Cheadle’s flick: “From the first flickering frames of a typically ‘traumatic’ opening sequence, to the Middle Eastern music cues and sitar flares, to the tin-ear dialogue, to the necessary plot points, to just about everything else, writer-director Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s Traitor feels like a synthesis of every modern thriller about Islamic terrorists. Basically, Traitor is like the best meal you’ve ever had at Taco Bell: Not as horrifying as it could have been, but still, you could have done a lot better.

This Week's DVD Releases / The Pajiba Staff

DVD Releases | December 17, 2008 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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