A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith.
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Cert 12, 118 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Comedy/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £24.99).
Starring: Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel, Lillete Dubey, Tena Desae.
Evelyn (Judi Dench) has recently lost her husband and is coming to terms with solitude in her twilight years. Determined to start anew, she abandons Britain for the balmier climes of Jaipur and a grand retirement home called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. En route, Evelyn meets six other retirees all bound for this "luxury development for residents in their golden years": cantankerous wheelchair user Muriel (Maggie Smith), who is bypassing the NHS waiting lists to undergo a hip replacement abroad; waspish snob Jean (Penelope Wilton) and her long-suffering husband Douglas (Bill Nighy); retired judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson); incorrigible ladies' man Norman (Ronald Pickup); and love-hungry spinster Madge (Celia Imrie). When the exhausted travellers arrive at their destination, they discover a building in disrepair and an inexperienced manager, Sonny (Dev Patel), struggling to keep the creditors off his back. Adapted from Deborah Moggach's novel These Foolish Things, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a hilarious and touching comedy about growing old disgracefully. Ol Parker's warm and witty script provides the predominantly British cast with moments to shine and director John Madden captures a different side to life in modern India than the poverty and crime of Slumdog Millionaire. The teeming streets of Rajasthan burst with colour and vitality and composer Thomas Newman adds plenty of spice with his evocative score. Performances are an embarrassment of riches, from Smith's racist housekeeper to Wilton's well-to-do harridan wife, who constantly belittles her husband, telling him, "When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." Our opinion of Madden's film is extremely favourable.
Rating: **** The Vow (Cert 12, 99 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Romance/Drama, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99) Starring: Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Sam Neill, Jessica Lange, Scott Speedman, Jessica McNamee, Dillon Casey, Wendy Crewson.
Leo (Channing Tatum) glimpses Paige (Rachel McAdams) in a queue and flirts with her, using his charm and good looks to secure a memorable first date. They fall in love and marry, and Leo pursues his dreams of running a recording studio while Paige exercises her artistic flair with sculpture commissions. One snowy night on the streets of Chicago, Leo and Paige are involved in a car accident. Leo survives relatively unscathed but Paige suffers massive trauma to her head, erasing all memory of the previous 18 months. As Paige comes to terms with her condition, her estranged parents (Sam Neill, Jessica Lange) exploit her misfortune to make amends for past mistakes while she gravitates back to her old flame Jeremy (Scott Speedman), who is the last man she can remember with affection. Based on a heartbreaking true story, The Vow is an unabashedly romantic tale of love undone by misfortune that will appeal to fans of The Notebook. Michael Sucsy's film eschews slushy melodrama in favour of a sweet and endearing courtship riven with frustration and regret, anchored by strong performances from McAdams and Tatum. They are an attractive pairing and kindle a smouldering screen chemistry in early scenes, which provides us with a compelling reason to root for reconciliation in terrible adversity. Neill and Lange enjoy small but pivotal roles, while Wendy Crewson is memorable as a touchy-feely head injury specialist, who solemnly advises Paige, "If you don't open yourself to life, you'll always live in fear of the past." Wise words.
Rating: *** Wanderlust (Cert 15, 94 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £15.99) Starring: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Ken Marino, Michaela Watkins, Malin Akerman, Alan Alda, Joe Lo Truglio, Kathryn Hahn, Lauren Ambrose.
Upwardly mobile George (Paul Rudd) and wife Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are rocked by his unexpected unemployment on the same day her ill-judged documentary about a penguin with testicular cancer is rejected by HBO. Handing back the keys to their compact and bijou micro-loft in New York's swanky West Village, the lovebirds begrudgingly head to Georgia to live with George's crass brother, Rick (Ken Marino), and his long-suffering wife Marissa (Michaela Watkins). En route, George and Linda make a pit stop at an "intentional community" on the outskirts of Georgia called Elysium, where residents live off the land, and share everything including their bedfellows. The carefree ways of charismatic guru Seth (Justin Theroux), bumbling founder Carvin (Alan Alda) and naturist winemaker Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio) are a tonic but while Linda blossoms in this hedonistic nirvana, George senses a growing emotional divide to his wife. Wanderlust is a lacklustre comedy of ill manners that pokes gentle fun at a materialistic modern society reliant on technology to forge connections. David Wain's film is mildly amusing, with a couple of laugh-out-loud moments courtesy of Watkins's woman scorned, who grimaces: "I read this article that if you keep smiling, you trick your brain into believing you're happy." Rudd and Aniston wring giggles from a script that doesn't serve them well and trades largely in stereotypes, including a heavily pregnant earth mother (Lauren Ambrose) who intends to serve her placenta as soup to the flock. Nudists, partner-swapping and memory loss provide predictable and potty-mouthed running jokes that run out of puff.