New DVD releases spell viewing fun.
• “Bad Words” A-minus: It’s time to break out the thesaurus to find enough adjectives to describe this comedy, which has an adult (Jason Bateman) competing in a spelling bee for elementary school students. We’ll go with this: The film is splendiferous.
Bateman also shows great skill as a director as he mixes in light moments to keep the movie from collapsing into a black hole of comedy. His pacing is just right to make the stagnant world of a spelling bee come across as exciting. He also allows the supporting cast to shine.
For a novice director, Bateman shows tremendous courage by selecting this as his feature film debut. When a film wades so deep into political incorrectness, there is a good chance of getting in over your head.
Bateman, though, has a knack for good storytelling and making it OK to laugh at the most improper situations.
• “LeWeek-End” B: This senior citizen answer to “Before Midnight” follows an aging married couple as they make a weekend trip to Paris to look for the love and passion that brought them together 30 years ago. Life has taken its toll on their romance, and now the pair seek signs of emotional sanity in a world that’s rapidly deteriorating.
Nick (Jim Broadbent) adores Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and wants to show her through the trip. Instead, the two reveal how they feel about each other, their future and their place as parents.
Director Roger Michell shows complete trust in Broadbent and Duncan, who give the script by Hanif Kureishi the emotional spark needed to hold the audience’s attention. Broadbent and Duncan are so good that they make the tale of love and marriage feel timeless.
• “The Soul Man: The Complete First Season” B-minus: The cable series starring Cedric “The Entertainer” as a Las Vegas singer who moves back to St. Louis to preach at his father’s church is an uneven comedy. Cedric gives the series a fun energy, and John Beasley, who plays his father, anchors the show.
But Niecy Nash doesn’t quite fit playing the preacher’s wife. Those problems do get ironed out in later episodes but are very problematic in the first season.
Also out on DVD:
“Rigor Mortis”: Suicidal actor awakens dark spirits.
“Prisoners of War: Season One”: Three Israeli soldiers held captive for 17 years try to rebuild their lives.
“Jodorowsky’s Dune”: A look at Alejandro Jodorowsky’s doomed attempt to film Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”
“On Va Jouer (Let’s Play)”: Newest release in the “French for Kids” series.
“Wings: Sky Force Heroes”: Ace (Josh Duhamel) is a heroic pilot seeking redemption in this animated offering.
“The Raid 2”: Cop goes undercover to work with a powerful criminal.
“Lake Placid”: The horror film starring Bill Pullman is now on Blu-ray.
“Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot One Ranger”: Two-hour premiere episode that launched the Chuck Norris series.
“Kid Cannabis”: Lives of losers are changed when they start trafficking marijuana.
“Stage Fright”: Young actress learns that auditions can be deadly.
“Don Peyote”: Midlife crisis sends a stoner on the drug trip of a lifetime.
“Southern Comfort”: The 1981 Walter Hill film starring Powers Boothe and Peter Coyote is now on Blu-ray.
“The Class of ’92”: Documentary about six working-class boys who find soccer fame.
“Hunting the Legend”: Three friends look for the truth behind a mythical beast.
“Nymphomaniac: Volume I and Volume II”: Lars von Trier’s follow-up to “Melancholia” is the story of a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac.
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa .5”: Newly edited and unrated version of “Bad Grandpa.”
“Hidden Kingdoms”: A look at the unique and unexplored miniature world of the planet’s smaller heroes.
“How It All Began”: Story of the birth of the Healing Tao System.