Home Video Picks & Passes 09.13.20
A family-friendly film gets a thumbs-up.
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe (2020) — PICK
The Social Dilemma (2020) — PICK
Netflix has the goods this month, from a sobering documentary on the engineering of social-media addiction to a gloriously goofy excursion into one of the brightest universes in family entertainment.
First the bad news. The Social Dilemma, from documentarian Jeff Orlowski, builds a sledgehammer case for the destructive power of social media, above all through ever more refined behavioral models designed to game our behavior and even our ideas. Commentary from Silicon Valley expatriates and other experts is supplemented by uneven fictional vignettes and clever metaphorical asides depicting personified algorithms. Worth seeing, if not quite a must-see.
Now the good news: Phineas and Ferb are back! Candace Against the Universe is a welcome return to Danville, where genius stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb create spectacular inventions that teenage Candace never quite manages to bring to Mom’s attention. As ever, the franchise’s great strength — along with its constant nutty invention — is its benevolence. Okay, so Candace is abducted by aliens and finds utopia on a planet without little brothers. These characters love each other, and nothing’s going to change that. (Their first film, Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension, is cheap to rent or buy on Amazon.)
CAVEAT SPECTATOR: The Social Dilemma: Mature themes. Teens and up. Phineas and Ferb: Slapstick cartoon violence. Fine family viewing.