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Thumbnail image for Denzel Washington Book of Eli.jpg

The Book of Happy Youth in Rome

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | June 15, 2010 |

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | June 15, 2010 |

When In Rome: “Kristen Bell plays Beth, a rich young gorgeous art curator with a giant apartment in New York City and a job at the Guggenheim. Her dad dates beach volleyball players. Her love interest is Nick (Josh Duhamel) who is a rich young gorgeous sports writer from New York who isn’t in pro football only because he got struck by lightning during a game. So these are like totally blue collar people. Why don’t you just make the characters a princess and a fucking Kennedy in the first place? The PR release blurb tells us: “Beth is a young, ambitious New Yorker who is completely unlucky in love.” Yeah, I’m not saying that rich, young and gorgeous people don’t have problems too, it’s just that I don’t care on account of being dead and cynical inside.” - Steven Lloyd Wilson

The Book of Eli: “The Book of Eli reminds me of a funeral sermon delivered by a priest too young to be confident to go off the good book. As he quotes scripture, he’ll find himself wandering and relating personal anecdotes, which are amusing and touching and make the parishoners chuckle. Uncomfortable, the priest will get deadly serious and lunge back into the stolid recital of the Bible verses as writ, forgetting that it’s the personal word that makes us believe and heal. The Hughes Brothers have never found a comfort zone with their projects — creating something that’s always stylistic and entertaining at moments, but then getting mired in a message. It’s a thoughtful and interesting script by Gary Whitta, and it benefits from the Hughes Brothers’ careful consideration for detail, but it’s bogged down by too much heavy-handed preaching. It was easier to believe in the good book when we weren’t being beaten in the face with it.” - Brian Prisco

Youth in Revolt: “The screenplay by Gustin Nash pays lip service to Payne’s novel by importing whole swaths of voice-over and character traits that immediately feel as unmoored as you’d expect of people and words yanked from some larger source and not given a new reason to stand on their own. Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) is a horny 16-year-old with an unceasing focus on sex, living in Oakland with his mom (Jean Smart) and her boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis, given precious little screen time). He’s got a best friend used in about three scenes, so I won’t bother naming him here except to point out that, for being the main character’s best friend, he’s used hardly at all. This is what I’m talking about when I say the book’s trappings have been simply shoved onto the screen with seemingly little thought behind them: Either have Nick’s friend play a role in his life in some way, or ax the character. He appears too often to be written off but not often enough to have an impact.” - Daniel Carlson

Happy Tears: “Happy Tears is the story of a cah-raaazy family full of cah-raaaazy people who do cah-raaazy quirky things. Lichtenstein shook up the ol’ Yahtzee cup and got a Demi Moore, a Parker Posey, and a Rip Torn. You literally could have shook out any batch and it would have been pretty much standard fare: Julianne Moore, Zooey Deschanel, and Brian Cox, or Catherine Keener, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Stephen Root, or a small straight. The plot was hot-glue gunned together from fabric remnants from every other film like they were trying to craft a shitty version of The Savages. Basically, two sisters have to care for their ailing father who claims the backyard is full of hidden gold. (But that sentence was far more interesting than the movie.) The rest of the movie is Lichtenstein holding up quirky character traits to each character like a fidgeting welfare mother back-to-school shopping in a Salvation Army.” - Brian Prisco

Also released this week: Collapse, Mary and Max, Unthinkable