Back Again: Returning Favorites at Redbox

by | Jul 25th, 2011 | 5:42PM | Filed under: DVD Reviews, Movie Lists, Movies

All summer redbox has been bringing back some older titles from the ’90s and ’00s. Here are some of my favorites from the bunch:

Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)

Director Jon Favreau’s third feature film, just coming off the huge success of Elf, is, as the title suggests, an absolutely wonderful young-adult space adventure that tanked at the box. (Possibly due to its similarities to Joe Johnston’s 1995 Jumanji—both movies are based on kids books by Chris Van Allsburg about games that come to life.) But if you’ve never seen it, be sure to check out Zathura—it shows all of Fav’s flair for solid storytelling, human characters, and warm humor, as well as his budding chops for clear, concise special-effects action. A talent that came in handy on his next three films: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Cowboys & Aliens.

Hey Look, It’s… Fourteen-year-old Kristen Stewart as the sullen teen sister! The Kids are All Right and The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson as the older brother! Crazy Stupid Love‘s Jonah Bobo as the younger brother! And Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d pal Dax Shepard in his feature-film debut as The Astronaut!

Narc (2002)

There are many, myself included, who feel writer-director Joe Carnahan has yet to live up to the edgy, riveting promise he shows in this, his second feature. (Though I do enjoy Smokin’ Aces and The A-Team.) Jason Patric and Ray Liotta are new cop partners, both stretched thin from carrying around painful regrets: One is trying to bust open the truth of an old case to find some peace, the other is doing his best to keep the past buried. Carnahan serves it all up with his now-trademark visual flair, but he also wisely lets Patric and Liotta anchor the raw proceedings with solid, purposeful acting.

Hey Look, It’s… Boston Public‘s Chi McBride playing the first of what would become a long on-screen string of Grumpy Police Captains!

The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)

Another tremendous, touching film for young viewers that’s adapted by Frank Oz from Lynne Reid Banks’ 1980 novel with thoughtful care. It’s the heartwarming but entertaining tale of a kinda dorky kid (Hal Scardino) who discovers an old magic cupboard can bring his toys to miniature life—especially a plastic Indian who turns out to be a proud Iroquois named Little Bear (Cherokee rapper Litefoot). Cupboard came out the same year as the first Toy Story and got a little lost in backwash of that other “Toys Come to Life” film’s success, but it’s very much worth revisiting. What’s most impressive is how the film tenderly but honestly approaches issues like the naturalness of death and the historical fate of the Native American nations.

Hey Look, It’s… Richard Jenkins as the father! David Keith as a come-to-life mini-cowboy! Angel and Mad Men‘s Vincent Kartheiser as the older brother! And British comic actor Steve Coogan as the tiny WWI medic!

Juice (1992)

Spike Lee’s original cinematographer Ernest Dickerson made this, his directorial debut, in the midst of the early ’90s’ explosion of “Hood/Hip-Hop” cinema (Boyz in the Hood, New Jack City, Straight Out of Brooklyn, Menace II Society, and Lee’s and his own Do the Right Thing). It follows a group of four young Harlem friends as they struggle to choose between musical pursuits and lives of crime. In their first dramatic roles, both Omar Epps and Tupac Shakur are terrific as one-time friends falling on opposite sides of those dreams, and 20 years later Juice is a captivating (if melodramatic) time-capsule of the era’s sounds and fashion. It’s also interesting to compare Juice with Dickerson’s DP work for Lee, trying to guess at how much Dickerson picked up from Lee versus how much of Lee’s visual style was contributed by Dickerson.

Hey Look, It’s… Samuel L. Jackson as the wise local figure, Trip! And Queen Latifah as the club owner and organizer of the DJ contest!


Beavis and Butt-head do America (1996)

In the nearly 20 years since Mike Judge unleashed the twin avatars of his dumb-ass id on us via MTV, the groundbreaking satire of Beavis and Butt-head has been eclipsed by its illegitimate animated children, namely South Park and Family Guy. But Beavis and Butt-head remain a terrifying cultural magnifying glass—as I always say, you have to be very smart to create something this knowingly and laser-guided stupid. If you haven’t seen it in a while, check out the B&B feature film to take a trip down an ugly Memory Lane, strewn with forgotten catch-phrases and Cornholio routines, as well as some cleverly odd stylistic side bits, like the boy’s peyote trip. Plus it’s fun to see Judge flexing his wings a bit in preparation for the satiric genius still to come in King of the Hill, Office Space, and Idiocracy.

Hey Look, It’s… Bruce Willis and Demi Moore as a white-trash husband and wife having marital difficulties! David Letterman as one of the Motley Crue roadies! And Judge’s fellow Austinite filmmaker Richard Linklater as the tour bus driver!

More Returning Redbox Faves:

Other Returning Titles at Redbox:

3 Responses to “Back Again: Returning Favorites at Redbox”

  1. romonajones
    Posted on July 25, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    that movie was so good

  2. Dave
    Posted on July 26, 2011 at 11:59 am

    It’s weird hearing the Hank Hill undertones in Butthead’s voice.

    And a definite +1 to Zathura – it’s not just Jumanji in space.

  3. Tran
    Posted on August 10, 2011 at 3:51 am

    Thomas & frend