This week's new DVD releases are as American as apple pie, Disneyland, and street crime.
Labor Day, Grade C-minus: An escaped convict comes into the life of a 13-year-old boy and his mother. It's based on the book of the same name by Joyce Maynard.
A key moment in Labor Day has the character Frank, an escaped convict (Josh Brolin), demonstrating the proper way to make a pie. His point is that it's not the ingredients that make a pie good but how they are put together. Director/writer Jason Reitman should have followed that recipe in putting together the movie.
The film has wonderful performances by Brolin and Kate Winslet, who plays emotionally broken single mom Adele. And it is a romance that should be enjoyed with someone you love. The problem is its tempo (it would have to double in speed to reach a snail's pace), a script full of contrivances, and the most ominous musical sound track since Halloween.
Hill Street Blues: The Complete Collection, Grade A: There's a reason this series won 26 Emmy Awards, including outstanding drama series four years running.
The NBC cop drama from Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll redefined the TV police series format by introducing a group of flawed characters who worked in a world of criminal and personal chaos. The show embraced a gritty realism that many TV series have copied but none has been able to match.
Escape From Tomorrow, Grade D-minus: The film has garnered a lot of attention for the guerrilla filmmaking that writer/director Randy Moore used to make the horror film. The majority of the movie was shot at Disneyland and Disney World without permission of the entertainment giant.
It's kind of fun to watch the movie and try to figure out how secretive the cast and crew had to be. Once that initial interest wears off, Escape From Tomorrow becomes a slowly paced, badly acted horror movie that will take its place among cult favorites like Pink Flamingos.
Also new on DVD:
Locker 13: Theme-park janitor looks into the mysteries surrounding an old locker.
Gimme Shelter: Teen (Vanessa Hudgens) fights for survival and redemption on the streets.
The Legend of Hercules: The original story of the mythical Greek hero.
The Devil's Due: A couple deal with a devilish pregnancy.