I Am Number Four
Coolest extra: “Becoming Number 6” featurette, which focuses on hottie co-star Teresa Palmer (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: As I Am Number Four progresses, and viewer interest gradually diminishes alongside the actors’ flat performances, one could almost start to feel bad for all involved. Almost. Everything about this Michael Bay-produced attempt to merge teen romance appeal with CGI-laden, sci-fi action shouts “wannabe franchise starter,” from the unnecessarily complicated mythology to the bland lead (Alex Pettyfer) who’s posited as a more rugged Robert Pattinson.
That aforementioned sympathy? It’s like this: Bay, director D.J. Caruso, and the cast must’ve thought they were about to Twilight the game, when, really, they made a genre pic so dull that glistening, vegetarian vampires look badass by comparison. Based on a young adult novel by the hilariously named Pittacus Lore (a goofy pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes), I Am Number Four follows a teenage alien who crash-lands on Earth and must evade an evil race of extraterrestrials known as Mogadorians, all while trying to charm the pants off of a human teen girl (played by Glee’s Dianna Agron).
The premise is better than any Michael Bay production deserves; rather than explore the conflicts within the alien races and try to generate some brainy intrigue, Caruso, Bay’s hired hand, wastes time staging obnoxious action sequences that are both incoherent and unexciting. He’s also partial to the “person walks away from an explosion in slow motion” technique. Yeah, I Am Number Four is full of original ideas.
John Woo could’ve helmed this flick, though, and it’d still sink under the lifeless Pettyfer and pretty but uninspired Agron, who conjure up about as much romantic chemistry as a paralytic woman and a vibrator (and the two actors reportedly date in real life—go figure). I Am Number Four sleepwalks its way into a predictable conclusion that leaves room open for sequels that no one wants, and, based upon the overall apathy emitted by audiences back during its February theatrical run, that we’ll most likely never see. Don’t all cry at once.
Buy it now: I Am Number Four
Gnomeo & Juliet
Coolest extra: Deleted and alternate scenes (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: This holiday weekend, most kids will bug the hell out of their guardians in order to see Kung Fu Panda 2 on the big screen. If you ask us, those youngsters aren’t very interesting. We’d much rather meet the wee youths who prefer creepy garden gnomes, Elton John music, and Shakespearean narratives over Jack Black’s animated histrionics—now those are some fascinating kids.
We’d like to meet the Hollywood suits who thought that Gnomeo & Juliet was actually a bankable idea. The Disney-backed flick is a reimagining of Romeo & Juliet with talking lawn ornamentation, chase scenes set against lawnmowers, that old pre-school standard “Rocket Man” (famously sung by John yet pointlessly featured here), and Jason Statham (no joke). Though, James McAvoy and Emily Blunt voice Gnomeo and Juliet, respectively, lending Gnomeo & Juliet some notable credibility heightened by the additional vocal presence of Michael Caine.
Yet the final product is ultimately a silly concept that’s unremarkably executed. It took nine screenwriters to sanitize William Shakespeare’s great tragedy; obviously a kid’s movie isn’t the place for double suicide, but Gnomeo & Juliet’s ending is so blah that it’s hard not to wish the freaky little garden decorations would voluntarily chug bottles of Ortho Weed B Gone. While singing “Benny and the Jets” to each other, of course.
Buy it now: Gnomeo & Juliet
Childrens Hospital: Complete First & Second Seasons
Coolest extra: “Breaking the Fifth Wall” featurette, in which Rob Corddry interviews his character, Dr. Blake Downs (DVD)
Complex says: It seems to be an unwritten rule amongst television programmers: There must be at least one medical show on every night during primetime, no matter which network. With so many hospital-set dramas on the air, it’s inevitable that several, if not all, of them end up cranking out clichés and playing like parodies of the previous night’s emergency room soap. If we were doctors or nurses, we’d be insulted: Every staff member is horny and prone to overlong and melodramatic monologues, bumping any actual saving of lives down to second or third place as far as priorities go.
Rob Corddry, funnyman actor and veteran of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, realized this back during the writer’s strike of 2007, when his medical spoof, Childrens Hospital, debuted on The WB’s website in serial form. Picked up for new episodes las year by Adult Swim, Corddry’s clever and hilarious send-up of Grey’s Anatomy and its ilk pokes fun at every medical show trope, including a couple of attractive female staffers (Erinn Hayes and Lake Bell) who spend more time bitching about romantic woes than helping patients.
How ridiculous is Childrens Hospital? Corddry’s lead doctor wears clown makeup at all times, for no good reason. And the always spot-on Megan Mullally (a scene-stealer on Party Down and Parks And Recreation) plays the fugly chief nurse whom every guy wants to bang, despite her huge braces, crutches, and lumbering disposition. And Mad Men’s Jon Hamm makes a cameo as a drag queen doctor in a special “live” episode that is not, in fact, live.
The best part about Childrens Hospital is that the episodes rarely overstay their welcome; each of Season One’s ten eps clock in at six minutes a piece, while the 12 in Season Two stretch things out to a still lean 12-minute clip. Corddry and the rest of the game and impressive cast are clearly having fun, and the feeling is contagious. Fittingly, none of the show’s docs would be bothered enough to provide a cure, anyway; they’re too busy eye-fucking one another.
Prime 9: MLB Heroics
Coolest extra: Additional footage (DVD)
Complex says: If you’re ever trying to piss off a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, just tell him that Babe Ruth’s 59 homers and 171 RBIs in 1921 were far more impressive than Ted Williams’ .406 batting average twenty years later. As the proud Beantowner cocks his fist back, just point toward Prime 9: MLB Heroics, this new baseball lover’s dream gift, which cites Ruth’s mammoth ’20 run as the sport’s all-time best “Hitting Season.” Then duck and uppercut his chin with the DVD case, and say, “Don’t ever doubt the Babe, bitch!”
Its possible usage as a weapon aside, Prime 9: MLB Heroics (taken from the popular MLB Network series) is custom made to provoke barroom debates and barbeque spats, listing the nine best examples with nine separate categories, including “Best World Series,” “All-Star Moments,” “Comebacks,” and “Plays at the Plate.” Say you’re the pacifist type, though, who’d rather study up on sports trivia than brawl over contentious statistics; the three-and-a-half hours of baseball information crammed into Prime 9 feed the brain in more entertaining ways than Wikipedia or sports almanacs.