July 28, 2012
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DVD releases good for a laugh
By Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency


'Dr. Seuss' The Lorax' stars Danny DeVito, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift. (Universal Pictures)

What makes you laugh, besides obvious inspirations like burping babies and frolicking puppies? When it comes to movies, the answer is subjective.

Personally, I can laugh along with raucous wordplay in a Shakespearean play, crack up over Buster Keaton's poker face, then get equal satisfaction from The Three Stooges' pratfalls (and I'm talking about the original goofballs). So, in the neverending what's funny search, I look at three comedies in the current home entertainment market. One is an animation; the other two are live action.

The animation is Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, hyped as the latest work "from the creators of Despicable Me." This draws my attention as a fan of that crafty, crazy cartoon. The Lorax debuts on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

The two live-action comedies are night and day. From the witching hours, there is A Thousand Words, a comedy from Eddie Murphy that does not suck, which is amazing in of itself, considering his recent career burnout. This movie was recently released to DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. From the weirdo pile, there is The Three Stooges, a problematic project for the Farrelly Brothers, Peter and Bobby. It arrived on DVD and Blu-ray, plus digital download, last week.

My laugh-o-meter:

There are plenty of giggles in The Lorax to leaven the heavy-handed environmental message in the movie and in over-the-top introductions (and I say that as both a conservationist and environmentalist).


There is a surprising number of wicked laughs in A Thousand Days, despite the super-sappy, New Age nonsense that drives the climax and resolution. When Murphy has to shut up -- as per the plot about a man who will die if he uses up more than 1,000 more words -- it creates a remarkable frisson we have never seen before.

There are almost no laughs in The Three Stooges. It is an embarrassing dud, a disaster. But that makes me sad because the Farrellys care so deeply about paying homage to their heroes, the original Stooges, in all their incarnations from vaudeville to the big screen.

More on all three titles:

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: There are three options to own. I have the two-disc combo pack to review. It contains the DVD and Blu-ray together (there is a separate release with the home 3D disc added to the package). The combo packs both have a treat: Three new mini-movies (otherwise known as shorts). It is the same deal that we got from Despicable Me, with the Minions getting their own mini-movies, too. Other fun stuff makes the Blu-rays very kid-friendly.

As for the movie, the filmmaking team led by co-directors Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda used the original Dr. Seuss book as a touchstone, while building a more modern environmental story around it. New characters voiced by Taylor Swift and Zac Efron are named for Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. the late poetic author Theodor Seuss Geisel, and his wife Audrey. They (Ted in particular) take us on an adventure that lets Nenaud and Balda conjure the fantastical world Seuss made up for his moral fable. The Lorax looks absolutely scrumptious in the Blu-ray format. The colours pop and the Seuss world is given its due.

A Thousand Words: This release is out as single-disc DVD or Blu-ray releases. Given the magical elements of the story, A Thousand Words looks best on Blu-ray, but the extras are misery, to say the least. Murphy still has nothing to say.

The Three Stooges: The Movie: The best thing here is the documentary, What's the Big Idea? A History of The Three Stooges. 'Nuff said, knuckleheads.

 




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