National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Weekly DVD Picks & Passes 03.28.2010

BY Steven D. Greydanus

Register Film Critic

March 28-April 10, 2010 Issue | Posted 3/22/10 at 11:00 AM


The Blind Side (2009)

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

The African Queen (1951)

New on DVD are … too many movies to cover here.

Some highlights: Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-winning performance highlights The Blind Side, an uplifting, fact-based story of no-nonsense Southern evangelical ex-cheerleader mom Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family’s relationship with Michael Oher, who went on to play football for Ole Miss and the Baltimore Ravens. The film is refreshingly candid about the Tuohys’ evangelical faith and its role in their opening their home to a gigantic, impoverished black youth with nowhere to go.

Then there’s two Best Animated Feature nominees. In a Blu-ray/DVD combo edition, The Princess and the Frog is Disney’s Jazz Age, Southern Gothic spin on the Frog Prince story, with an industrious daughter of poor, hardworking New Orleans parents and a frivolous playboy prince with something to teach as well as learn from the heroine. The setting provides a startling cultural context for the villain, a voodoo doctor with demonic powers. Too scary for young kids, it’s Disney’s most theologically correct depiction of magic ever (though marred by a benevolent hoodoo mama). Still, an entertaining if flawed film.

More challenging is Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson’s stop-motion take on a Roald Dahl story about a thieving fox. I’m not big on Anderson’s quirky tales of dysfunctional families (e.g., The Royal Tenenbaums), but the animal fable seems to express the director’s existential preoccupations more effectively than his live-action films.

Can you believe The African Queen has never been on DVD? John Huston’s romantic adventure stars Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart as an unlikely duo — a missionary spinster and an unkempt river rat — on a harrowing steamboat voyage through Africa during World War I. Maybe not the classic it’s cracked up to be, but a must-see, and highly entertaining.

Bonus Picks & Passes: For my review of The Stoning of Soraya M. with Shohreh Aghdashloo and Jim Caviezel, see my blog. For what’s wrong with The Twilight Saga: New Moon, see Don’t miss Toy Story and Toy Story 2, now in Blu-ray/DVD combo editions.

Content advisory:The Blind Side: Some variously suggestive and/or crude dialogue; a discreet marital bedroom scene (nothing explicit); crude language and cursing, including a few religious epithets; drug references; sports roughness and brief violence. Teens and up. Fantastic Mr. Fox: Minced cussing; a suggestive line; murky depiction of bad behavior; animated violence (e.g., foxes killing chickens). Not really for younger kids. The Princess and the Frog: Some scary occult-themed images; morally mixed depiction of voodoo; mild sensuality and suggestive references. Too scary for young kids. The African Queen: Wartime violence; brief drunkenness. Teens and up.