By Jay Bobbin Zap2it
(Ratings for each film begin with a "star'' rating -- one star meaning "poor,'' four meaning "excellent'' -- followed by the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and then by a family-viewing guide, the key for which appears below.)
"Dirty Grandpa": This Robert De Niro vehicle never will be mistaken for "Raging Bull'' nor "GoodFellas'' ... nor for any semblance of a good movie. The legendary actor has one of his least appealing roles as a bawdy, downright dirty-minded military veteran and new widower who gets his staid attorney grandson (Zac Efron) -- on the verge of the latter's wedding -- to take him on a road trip from Atlanta to Florida. Julianne Hough, Aubrey Plaza, Danny Glover and Dermot Mulroney also appear, and they well may have taken the jobs to be able to say they worked with De Niro. However, working with him in this particular film is nothing to brag about. Nor admit to. * (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Mr. Selfridge: The Final Season": Televised in America as a PBS "Masterpiece Classic'' offering, the saga of the British department-store magnate presents its fourth and last round. Jeremy Piven ("Entourage'') returns in the title role as Harry Selfridge facing even more challenges to the financial health of his business. As the new stories begin, his plan to showcase a statue saluting women gets criticism, but he forges ahead -- with a surprising result. Self-assured entrepreneur Jimmy Dillon (Sacha Dhawan) causes Harry a different kind of pain. Those who purchase this volume as soon as it's released will get to see the concluding episode before PBS broadcasts it. *** (Not rated: AS) (Also on Blu-ray)
"The Witch": Taking -- or, maybe more appropriately, sharing -- a page from such other current projects as "Salem,'' this melodrama traces the plight of a 15th-century New England family plagued by bizarre forces from the forest bordering their new home. Eventually, suspicion turns within, with the teenage daughter (Anya Taylor-Joy) believed to practice witchcraft. Writer-director Robert Eggers aimed to re-create the time period authentically by relying on sources from the era to generate the characters' dialogue. Other stars include Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie and Lucas Dawson. *** (R: AS, N, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this week:
"Carol + 2: The Original Queens of Comedy": The "Carol'' is Burnett, who teams with another television-comedy icon -- Lucille Ball -- and Broadway legend Zero Mostel in this 1966 special that pre-dated "The Carol Burnett Show,'' but forecast certain elements of it, very notably Burnett's Charwoman character (with Ball playing another one in a classic sketch set in a talent agency after hours). The great back story of this program is that CBS would give Burnett the special only if she could get a major guest star, so she called Ball, and the rest is the history seen here. Also included are another Charwoman skit from an earlier Burnett special, plus the 1972 TV version of Burnett's Broadway hit "Once Upon a Mattress.'' *** (Not rated)
"Cop Rock: The Complete Series": Recalled by television addicts and historians as an experiment that failed, producer Steven Bochco's 1990 musical-drama series was a noble experiment nevertheless, and the short-lived ABC show now comes to DVD. In essence, it tried to be another "Hill Street Blues'' or "NYPD Blue'' for Bochco, but with song and dance factored in ... sort of a police "Glee,'' with Ronny Cox playing the chief of a Los Angeles squad and "Hill Street'' alum Barbara Bosson (at the time, Mrs. Bochco) as the city's mayor. Randy Newman was among the project's composers, and the directors included Brad Silberling ("City of Angels'') and "Hill Street's'' acting alum Charles Haid. Additional cast stars include Anne Bobby, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Paul McCrane ("Fame'') and "NYPD Blue's'' James McDaniel -- and look closely at the final episode, and you may spot Sheryl Crow. DVD extras: interviews with Bochco and cast members. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"The Facts of Life: The Final Season": "You take the good, you take the bad ... ,'' and if you're a fan who doesn't have the complete-series set already, you'll likely take this last volume of the long-running NBC sitcom. One story, involving Natalie (Mindy Cohn) getting intimate with a boyfriend, stirred quite a controversy at the time -- even with co-star Lisa Whelchel (alias the show's Blair) who asked not to appear in it because of her personal convictions. Kim Fields and Nancy McKeon remained as the other central stars, and Cloris Leachman had taken over Charlotte Rae's former slot (playing the sister of Rae's Mrs. Garrett) by the time this season aired. Mackenzie Astin also had become a series regular. *** (Not rated: AS)
"The Finest Hours" (May 24): Coast Guard members try to rescue the crew of a critically damaged, rapidly sinking oil tanker; Chris Pine and Casey Affleck star in the true story. (PG-13: P, V)
"How to be Single" (May 24): Several New Yorkers seek fulfillment in going solo; the cast includes Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson and Damon Wayans Jr. (R: AS, P)
"Risen" (May 24): A Roman military officer (Joseph Fiennes) is assigned to determine what happened to Jesus (Cliff Curtis) right after the crucifixion. (PG-13: AS)
"Zoolander No. 2" (May 24): Modeling veterans Derek and Hans (Ben Stiller, also the director and a co-writer here, and Owen Wilson) are reunited to find out who's killing the world's most beautiful people. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (May 31): The classic story gets a major revision involving -- you guessed it -- the undead; Lily James and Sam Riley star. (PG-13: AS, V)
"Race" (May 31): Jesse Owens (Stephan James) faces challenges both on and off the track as he prepares for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. (PG-13: AS, P)
"13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" (June 7): Directed by Michael Bay, the true drama about the 2012 diplomatic-compound attack stars John Krasinski. (R: P, V)
"Anomalisa" (June 7): The animated Oscar nominee focuses on an author (voice of David Thewlis) who gains a renewed appreciation of his life and family. (R: AS, N, P)
"Roots: The Complete Original Series" (June 7): The milestone television drama about Alex Haley's search for his ancestors makes its Blu-ray debut; stars include LeVar Burton and Louis Gossett Jr. (Not rated: AS, V)
"45 Years" (June 14): Recent Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay play a couple upset by news on a milestone wedding anniversary. (R: AS, P)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending May 8, 2016, courtesy of comScore)
1) "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens"
3) "The 5th Wave"
4) "Daddy's Home"
5) "Point Break"
6) "The Hateful Eight"
7) "Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip"
9) "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence