‘Scenes From An Empty Church’ Is A Surprisingly Enjoyable Addition To This Year’s Field Of New Independent, Overall Movies

Courtesy: MPI Home Video/MPI Media Group

When the COVID-19 pandemic first reached American shores last year, the initial impact was stunning to say the least.  Live music was shutdown along with schools, businesses, and even the movie industry.  Major studios’ theatrical offerings were delayed until this year, and some of those offerings are still delayed to this day.  Thankfully, for all of the impacts that the pandemic had on the movie industry, not everyone gave up.  Independent filmmaker Onur Tukel took to one of the empty churches in New York City to make his movie, Scenes From an Empty Church.  Thank goodness he took the chance to make this movie, too.  That is because it is one of this year’s most unsuspecting successes from the independent movie community.  That is due in part to its story, which will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie enhances the viewing experience and will be examined a little later.  The work of the movie’s cast rounds out the most important of the movie’s elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered, the movie proves to be, again, one of the best of this year’s field of new independent movies, and possibly movies in general.

Scenes From an Empty Church, released Tuesday through MPI Home Video, is one of the most surprising of this year’s new movies, independent and otherwise.  The movie’s success comes in part through its story.  The story in question follows to priests – Father James and Father Andrew – as they navigate the impacts of the pandemic on the church, which ended up being closed, just like everything else early on.  What is interesting here is that the story is a reflection of everything that happened when the pandemic first reached America’s shores, but is not a documentary.  It is in fact a fiction, but is so surprisingly engaging and entertaining because it really embraces the old adage that art and life impact one another.  Audiences on both sides of the discussion will relate to Father James and Father Andrew in their separate reactions to the forced closure because they will so easily see themselves in the men.

While the impact of the pandemic on the nation is essentially the backbone of this story, it is not the central story.  Rather, the examinations of the loneliness that we all felt as a result of the pandemic as well as the role of faith and religion in everything that happened are really the core of the story.  Tukel points this out in the feature-length audio commentary that comes with the movie.  This element will be discussed more a little later.  Getting back on topic, the discussion is so interesting considering that Tukel – again referencing the commentary – admits in the commentary that he is not Christian and relied on his Director of Production (who he said was far more knowledgeable about various religions) for the discussions between Father James, Father Andrew, and Father Andrew’s friend Paul (Max Casella).  People nationwide felt very lonely as a result of the isolationist measures forced on Americans by governments at the local, state and federal levels.  So, one would imagine that a place like a church would help people ease that sense of loneliness.  At first that wasn’t the case at the church, because of Father James, but over time, audiences see Father James change and allow more people to come to the church.  Along the way, Andrew, James, and Paul have some interesting discussions on faith.  At times, the discussions are serious and deep, such as the existence of the soul.  At others, the discussions are far more lighthearted. One of the more lighthearted discussions comes through Paul’s revelation for audiences, the irony that even though he is a Catholic priest, Andrew is actually Jewish.  This makes for a memorable, laugh,-inspiring moment.  Another great moment comes as Andrew and James are trading scripture to try and outdo one another on a separate discussion.  Paul chimes in after the men are done and states, “That was great.  It was like dueling banjos, except with scripture.”  Getting back on the topic at hand the story, which takes place largely in the church’s sanctuary and kitchen, is so strong because ultimately it follows the changes that Paul, James, and Andrew go through as they begin to let more people into the church and have their release.  That character development within the main trio of characters and the portrayals of those who come to the church strengthens the story even more.  Taking all of this into account, the story is so simple, but is so rich in that simplicity.  Audiences really will find themselves fully immersed in the story because of the story and its execution.  The success that results from that full engagement and entertainment is itself ironic because according to Tukel himself, this may end up being the last movie that he helms.  This is one of so many so interesting revelations made in the audio commentary.

According to information from IMDB, Tukel has helmed approximately 15 movies since his directorial debut, House of Pancakes in 1997.  That count includes this movie.  Interestingly it turned out to not be his last movie.  He also directed the movie, Tes Yeux Mourants / That Cold Dead Look in Your Eyes this year.  So that means that maybe just maybe audiences will see more content from Tukel in the years to come after all.  He does also admit during his commentary that he says a lot of things that he doesn’t really mean.  This movie certainly shows that Tukel has talent as a writer and director, after all.  That talent is exhibited thanks to the work of his cast, who he admits he did not even audition.  He states in the commentary that everyone in the movie is someone that he knows either directly or through someone else.  He adds that for the most part he did not have to really step in and tell the cast how to do its job.  This moves into the matter of the cast’s work, which will be discussed later.  Getting back on topic again, Tukel reveals that he is not a Christian nor is he even a practicing Muslim even though he and his family are from Turkey.  He leaned heavily on his Director of Production (DP for short), who happened to be far more versed in various religions than himself for this movie’s dialogue and story.  It just makes for such an interesting juxtaposition.  Here is some one who is not Christian nor even practicing Muslim for that matter, and he is helming a movie that he wrote about the role of religion and faith in general during such a difficult time.  Speaking of the writing, Tukel also reveals through his commentary that some of the scenes that are in the movie were not even in the original script.  The talks of how the scenes came to be are themselves engaging.  They make the movie’s bonus deleted scenes all the more important.  That is a matter for another time.  Between everything noted here and the rest of Tukel’s discussions throughout the movie, his commentary makes for so much engagement and entertainment in its own right.  When that is considered along with the engagement and entertainment ensured through the movie’s completely unpretentious story, that whole shows even more why Scenes From an Empty Church is so surprisingly enjoyable.  That is not all that makes the movie so enjoyable.  As noted already, the cast’s work on camera puts its own touch to the movie.

The cast’s work on screen is so important because every single bit of that work feels so natural.  Casella’s performance in particular is a prime example of the enjoyment that the cast’s work brings to the movie.  Going back to the audio commentary, Tukel reveals here that Casella was “going through his own things” when the movie was being made, and that he used those personal matters to help him build on his performance as Paul.  Casella succeeded in that approach so well.  It makes Paul such a sympathetic character that audiences will love.  Interestingly, Tukel also reveals in the commentary that he modeled Paul after himself, as a sort of “lost” figure, trying to find his way.  Casella obviously took that into account with his own personal matters to enhance his performance even more. 

Casella is not the only actor worth noting.  Majorie Johnson and Edward Carnevale star as parishioners Elisabeth and Jimmy.  Jimmy suffers from severe anxiety.  Elisabeth meanwhile just wants to be able to pray. Their personalities are so distinct from one another, and each actor is so believable in their respective role.  The matter of fact personality that Johnson brings to Elisabeth as she tells James and Andrew that she can hear their discussion is just so deadpan.  There is something about that “I can hear you but I really don’t care” persona makes her so memorable.  In the same vein, Carnevale is just as believable as Jimmy prays, and cries, trying to overcome that noted anxiety.  It would have been so easy for him to ham it up, but he never once does that.  It makes his brief moment on camera so moving in its own right.  Similarly, Natalie Carter as Nurse Sara is just so entertaining as she tries to get Father James to reveal what her husband has confided in him.  Not only that, but her presence as she talks about wanting to leave her job as a nurse is just as moving.  There is something in the way she handles Sara’s mixed thoughts and emotions that is itself fully believable.

As if all of this is not enough, the subtlety in the performances put on by Kevin Corrigan (Father Andrew) and Thomas Jay Ryan (Father James) that makes them just as enjoyable to watch throughout.  What really makes their performances so enjoyable through that subtlety is how they use that to really bring out the humanity in each man.  So many people thing that priests, ministers, etc. are these high, holy figures.  But watching the two discuss philosophy, theology, and the use of people clapping every day for healthcare workers (is it really to support them or is it just self serving? – another interesting thought) makes them fully relatable.  It makes them “one of us” so to speak, and each man succeeds so well in this matter. 

On yet another note, Craig Bierko is just as deserving of his own attention even in his brief performance as “the sinner.”  Going back yet again to the audio commentary, Tukel reveals in the scene with Bierko (which apparently according to Tukel was not even in the movie’s initial cut) could have been Satan according to one of Tukel’s own friends.  In hindsight, it makes sense, looking at Bierko’s semi-neurotic performance.  There is a certain edge about “the sinner,” and the fact that he is dressed all in black, makes that possibility even more sensible even if that was not the initial intent.  Bierko’s performance in his scene with the priests sort of makes it a biblical sort of situation with “the devil” facing off against the priests, pointing out the shortcomings of Christianity.  It is just one more of so many wonderful, natural performances from the movie’s cast.  When this performance, the others noted here and those of the rest of the cast are all considered together, they leave no doubt as to the importance of the work done by the movie’s cast.  When that work is considered along with the impact of the story and its companion commentary, that whole makes fully clear, why Scenes From an Empty Church, is such a surprisingly engaging and entertaining presentation.

MPI Home Video’s presentation of director Onur Tukel’s Scenes From an Empty Church is an unsuspecting success.  It is one of the most surprising offerings among this year’s independent movie industry and movie industry in general.  That is proven in part through its story.  Unlike so many independent movies out there past and present, there is no sense of pretense even considering the depth of content in the story, which focuses on the role of religion and faith in the face of a difficult situation, such as the ongoing pandemic.  Yes, ultimately the story will be dated.  Regardless, it will still find itself relatable for audiences even despite this matter.  It approaches the topic with such care and genuine interest.  It makes the story fully believable as a mirror of everything going on even now.  The feature-length audio commentary that accompanies the movie in its new home release adds its own engagement and entertainment to the whole.  That is because it offers so much background on the movie.  It is not just a director talking about certain kinds of lenses, shots, lighting, etc.  It is refreshing to have that more personal discussion throughout the movie.  The work of the movie’s cast puts the final touch to the movie.  The cast’s work throughout the movie feels so natural.  It makes suspension of disbelief so much easier, and in turn engagement that much easier, too.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they make the movie one of this year’s best new independent movies and potentially best movies overall. 

Scenes From an Empty Church is available now.  More information on this and other titles from MPI Home Video and MPI Media Group is available online at:

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MPI Media Group’s New Gerry Anderson Collection Is Imperfect But Entertaining

Courtesy: mpi media group/MPI Home Video

MPI Home Video this week unearthed a special new collection of material from Gerry Anderson, one of the legendary names from television’s early eras when it released the new two-disc collection The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson.  The collection presents to audiences what was essentially the evolution of Anderson’s work from supermarionation to live action.  The presentation of that evolution is the set’s most critical element.  As important as that collection proves to be, the set in whole sadly is not perfect.  It lacks any physical content guide in its packaging, leaving audiences to essentially have to memorize the material included in each disc.  That is a con that cannot be ignored here. Getting back to the set’s overall material, while a pro, it is both a pro and a con (but more pro than con).  That will be discussed later.  Each element is key in its own way to this collection’s whole.  All things considered, The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson proves to be a collection that while enjoyable, comes up just short in its first outing.

MPI Home Video’s brand new release of The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is a relatively enjoyable first outing for this collection of Anderson rarities, but one that leaves room for improvement should it ever get another release.  The set’s main positive is its primary content.  Audiences get to see in the set’s main body, another attempt at a supermarionation series in the form of The Investigator alongside the live action series The Day After Tomorrow and Space Police.  There is also an attempt at an adult-oriented claymation presentation in the form of Dick Spanner, P.I.  There is even a very old almost Howdy Doody type presentation in Kandy, which is basically a show about a foolish koala.  Though some of the set’s presented material makes clearly obvious why it did not survive, other material such as Space Police leaves one wondering why it didn’t last.  The juxtaposition of the live action and animatronic material presented in the series’ pilot episode is exactly the kind of presentation that would go on to be used for decades by Japan’s Super Sentai series.  It would also end up being used in the Americanized version of that franchise, the famed Power Rangers franchise.  Keeping that in mind, such a show – even in just one episode – shows how far ahead of its time it was.  Simply put, it shows how ground breaking and innovative Anderson was even as he moved away from puppets to live action.

As if the live action and other material is not enough for audiences, there is even a documentary style presentation in the form of Blue Skies Ahead.  This short presentation takes audiences on a jaunt across Europe, showing its key locations while also advertising for Blue Cars bus lines.  It is very much in the same vein as the old color newsreels that audiences might see today on Turner Classic Movies, showing Anderson’s ability to make legitimate nonfiction programming just as much as his abilities in the fiction realm.  Considering this along with the discussion on the featured fiction material included in the set, it becomes clear why the set’s material is so critical to the set’s overall presentation.  It is not the set’s only critical element, though.  The lack of a physical content guide is a negative that cannot and should not be ignored.

Opening up the set’s standard-sized case audiences will note that there is no sign of a content guide anywhere inside or outside the case.  On the surface, this might not seem overly important.  On a deeper level though, it is very important.  There might be those out there who are at least somewhat familiar with the material, but maybe haven’t seen it in decades.  They would be nearly on the same level as those who have not yet seen these presentations.  Keeping that in mind, having a content guide would have made for a solid introduction (or re-introduction) for audiences to that material before they play either of the set’s discs.  Not having that introduction makes for a somewhat uneasy introduction, and in turn detracts from the set’s presentation to a point.  Thankfully, it is the set’s only truly impacting negative.  The Space Police test footage, while perhaps a bit too extensive, presents its own positive to the set’s presentation.

The Space Police test footage included in The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is for all intents and purposes little more than bonus material.  It takes audiences behind the scenes of the featured episode “Star Laws.”  Throughout the course of the footage, audiences see that the scenario presented in the final product was not the only considered scenario.  Nor were the actors in that final product the only actors who had test screenings.  The comparison of the two scenarios and the actors is key because it adds to the appreciation for the final product.  The scenarios presented in the test footage show that that material was just too campy even despite some impressive animatronic and prosthetics work with the aliens.  Even the lead actors presented in the test footage were a bit over the top cheesy in their presentation.  Keeping that in mind, the presentation used in the final product proves to be much more fitting for the show, even being a cop drama.

At the same time that the show’s test footage proves integral to this set’s presentation, it also is somewhat disappointing in just how much test footage is shown.  So much of the material takes place in an alleyway scene, and shows time and again the actors handling the same scenario.  There is also a bevy of in-car test footage with the lead actors that honestly gets boring after a while.  All of this material honestly could have (in this critic’s eye) been cut back, and should have for that matter.  Considering this, the intrinsic value of the test footage shows the importance of Space Police to Anderson’s career, and its place within its genre.  However, it is too much of a good thing even in its use of comparing scenarios and actors.  With this in mind, the test footage included in this set is both a positive and a negative.  When it is set alongside the set’s primary material, the whole of that material becomes a presentation that is enjoyable, but honestly leaves something to be desired in the end.  That is not to say that it is a total loss, but there is room to grow if this set is ever re-issued or if it is ever included in another Anderson collection.

The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson is an interesting new collection of rarities from the famed figure’s career.  It shows a part of his career that has rarely if ever been seen thanks to the primary material presented in its lead disc.  The lack of a content guide of any sort is a detractor for this collection, though.  It takes away from the overall presentation and viewing experience, but does not make the presentation a total loss.  The bonus Space Police test footage adds back what is taken away by the lack of a content guide thanks to the insight that it adds to that one episode.  At the same time, there is such an abundance of that test footage that it really feels like overkill and should have been shaved back.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to this set’s whole.  All things considered, they make the set a collection that while not a total loss, one that leaves room for growth in the next Gerry Anderson collection.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from mpi media group and MPI Home Video is available online now at:





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MPI Media Group To Release Gerry Anderson Rarities Collection Next Month

Courtesy: mpi media group/MPI Home Video

Fans of Gerry Anderson are going to get an early Christmas present next month courtesy of mpi Media Group.

The World of Gerry Anderson is currently scheduled to be released Nov. 14 on DVD.  The new release is a collection of rare classic Gerry Anderson films and other features including his never-before-seen early puppet film Here Comes Kandy, the final segment of the 1980s stop-motion comedy series Dick Spanner, P.I., The Investigator and The Day After Tomorrow, which has no connection to the 2004 big screen blockbuster.

Along with the noted titles, the new two-disc collection of rarities will also feature the pilot Space Police, which would go on to be the template for Space Precinct.

The World of Gerry Anderson will retail for MSRP of $24.98.  Its total run time is 354 minutes.  More information on this and other titles from mpi Media Group is available online now at:




Website: http://www.mpimedia.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/MPIMediaGroup




To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series Is An Out Of This World Success

Courtesy: mpi media group

Courtesy: mpi media group

CBS at one point in time was the single greatest network on television. It had such variety in regards to its offerings. From classic variety shows such as The Carol Burnett Show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to powerful dramas and dramedies such as Maude, M.A.S.H. and Murder She Wrote to equally great sitcoms including: I Love Lucy, Gilligan’s Island, The Bob Newhart Show, The Jeffersons, Good Times, The Andy Griffith Show and so many others, CBS offered programming for everyone. Its programming transcended limitations of viewers’ age, gender, and even race. By comparison it seems that the majority of the once powerhouse network’s programming is made up of crime dramas, medical dramas, and “reality television” series. The variety of offerings that once made CBS so great, it seems, has gone completely by the wayside. Thankfully though, a number of those classic shows have been resurrected on DVD and Blu-ray thanks to the efforts of just as many home entertainment companies. The latest of those classic series to finally see the light of day—My Favorite Martian—saw all three of its season released in their own standalone season sets between 2012 and 2014 courtesy of MPI Home Video. Luckily for fans of the standout sitcom MPI Home Video didn’t stop there. The studio released the series in a complete three-season box set this week. And for those that were not lucky enough to add the series to their home DVD libraries in their previous releases, this box set is just as enjoyable and a must have. For those that perhaps will see the series for the first time or even the first time again in purchasing this box set it is so enjoyable first and foremost thanks to the work of its writers. The writing behind the series’ 107 total episodes will put a smile on any classic TV buff’s face. That will be discussed shortly. In direct connection to the writing, the work of the series’ lead actors—Bill Bixby and Ray Walston—is just as entertaining. Their interpretation of each episode’s script makes for more than its share of laughs from one episode to the next. That will be discussed in more depth later. Last but hardly last of note in regards to this box set is the inclusion of its bonus material. The bonus material spread across the series’ three separate season setsis extensive to say the least. There are no fewer than three pilot episodes, one which was for My Favorite Martian, and the other two for a pair of series which sadly never went past their pilots. There is also a full-length clip of Ray Walston on the classic game show I’ve Got A Secret, interviews with Lucille Ball on her show Let’s Talk To Lucy and so much more. These bonuses together with those not named here round out the core of My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series’ positives. They are hardly the only positives worth noting, too. One would be remiss to ignore the set’s packaging or even its production values. All things considered, My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series proves in the end to be a piece that every classic TV buff should have in his or her collection and a collection that is one of the best of this year’s family friendly box sets.

MPI Home Video’s brand new release of My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series is a collection that every single classic TV buff should have in his or her own home DVD library. It is also one of the best of this year’s family friendly box sets (versus those box sets featuring TV shows and movies that are aimed more at grown up audiences). This is most obvious through the writing behind the series’ three season run. Over the course of the show’s 107 total episodes, it presents plenty of classic story lines that while familiar to the buddy comedy genre, have been tweaked to be fully original in their presentation here. “The Memory Pill,” which is presented in the show’s second season is a prime example of the writers ability to take one of those classic story lines and make them fresh and funny. Tim, wanting to forget a certain woman that he keeps thinking of, takes one of Martin’s memory pills, leading him to develop amnesia of sorts in this episode. So it is up to Martin to get Tim back to his old self. What ensues in the process of the episode is what really makes it funny. Martin brings in a doctor who is played by David White, who was also Darren’s boss in ABC’s classic supernatural sitcom Bewitched. The antics that play out will have audiences of all ages laughing uproariously as Tim continues to try (in his state of amnesia) to convince the doctor that Martin is in fact a Martian. “How To Be A Hero Without Really Trying” (Season One) is another example of the talent of the show’s writers. That is because this episode sees the bachelor Tim trying once again to impress a young woman (which in itself becomes part of the show’s comedy right up to its finale) by taking her and her young brother out for a day trip. The trip is in reality also to help Martin find an element that he needs in order to work on his ship. Thanks to Martin, though the young boy ends up stuck high up on a cliff and has to be rescued. Tim, trying to impress the boy’s sister decides to save her brother. Needless to say plenty of antics come from this decision that will once again have audiences laughing just as much as with any of the series’ other episodes. What’s really funny about the story in whole is that for all of its entertainment that entertainment in question comes about from Tim and Martin having to clean up the other’s mess again and again throughout the course of the episode’s script. Season Three is just as packed with laughs as Tim goes back in time in the season finale, causing quite the disruption in the time space continuum. Also in Season Three, Tim helps Mrs. Brown’s brother build a robot that does household chores. That is a theme that had and has been used so many times before and since in other classic sitcoms including Gilligan’s Island. It’s just one more of so many throughout the course of the series’ original run of the writers’ talents. There are 104 other examples from which viewers can choose throughout the series’ three seasons. In finding their own favorites, audiences will agree that the writing behind My Favorite Martian is one of the series’ most important elements. Through it all, the buddy comedy element never gets old at any point in the series’ run. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in the series’ enjoyment. The work of lead actors Bill Bixby and Ray Walston in interpreting the scripts adds even more enjoyment to the series.

The work of the writers behind My Favorite Martian lies at the center of its success even despite it having just a three-season run on television. The scripts that were crafted by this show’s writers is the kind of material that is so sorely missed today. It’s the kind of material that parents can feel good about letting their kids watch for the most part. It’s the kind of writing that parents will feel just as good about watching with their kids, too without feeling uncomfortable at any point. It is just one element of the show’s enjoyment, of course. The work of lead actors Bill Bixby and Ray Walston in interpreting the writers’ scripts adds even more enjoyment to the show. Bixby’s manic behavior, for instance, in “The Memory Pill” is reminiscent of Cary Grant’s Mortimer Brewster in the classic 1944 comedy Arsenic And Old Lace. He is just so frenzied in his state of amnesia. On the other end of the spectrum, one can’t help but wonder to a point if Walston’s deadpan demeanor as Martin was any influence on Harvey Korman’s portrayal of The Great Gazoo in The Flintstones. For those that might not know, The Great Gazoo was introduced to The Flintstones two years after the start of My Favorite Martian. So it would, again, be interesting to find out if there might have been any connection between the two actors if at all. Getting back on the subject, that deadpan persona that is most prominent throughout the series, set alongside Bixby’s own Dick York meets Alan Young look and persona, makes for its own share of laughs throughout each episode. On a related noted, Walston does break that self-righteous, snooty persona that that audiences love so much. One of the best moments in which Walston breaks that person comes early in Season One in the episode “There Is No Cure For The Common Martian.” Martin gets a cold for the first time ever in this episode and it sort of knocks him down off of his proverbial high horse and makes him no better than any human. It forces him at least for the moment to see that and just makes for a great break from the norm in terms of Walston’s general performance. In its own way, it could be argued that both because of their personas and how they handle them (and the scripts), both Bixby and Walston could be argued to be the straight man and the comedian believe it or not. That is something that audiences just don’t see in comic performances today. It really is something original. And that originality makes for so many great, memorable performances throughout the course of the series’ run. It’s yet more proof of why the work of both Bixby and Walston was (and is) so important to the success of My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series. It still is not the final factor in the set’s success. The set’s bounty of bonus material adds even more enjoyment for audiences.

The work of both My Favorite Martian’s writers and its lead actors makes for a great deal of enjoyment for audiences as they make their way through the course of the classic sitcom’s three seasons and 107 episodes. For all of the enjoyment that both elements bring to the series, they are not all that makes this set complete. The collection’s bevy of bonus material adds extra points to the newly released box set. And it is not an understatement to say that there are a lot of bonuses for fans included here. MPI has included in Season One the original pilot episode of My Favorite Martian, the pilot episode for the never-aired series The Reluctant Eye, and even a full appearance by Ray Walston on the game show I’ve Got A Secret. Walston’s appearance on the game show even includes the original TV spots (commercials) that ran in the specific episode between segments. So it really is complete in every sense of the word. On a side note, the episode in question features Walston trying to fool the show’s panels in regards to how he lights a jack-o-lantern. So this bonus is a great fit with Halloween only days away at the time of this posting. In regards to the pilot episode of My Favorite Martian, it should be noted that this is a little bit misleading. That is because episode #1 is in fact the series’ pilot episode. It hasn’t been separated out as a bonus episode. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. It maybe just shouldn’t have been listed under the “bonus” section since it is not listed actually within the list of bonus materials when Season 1 Disc 5 is played. What is listed is that appearance on I’ve Got A Secret and all of the season’s other bonuses, including a complete soundtrack album containing music from My Favorite Martian as well as the season’s bonus photo gallery, and separate sponsor spots along with one of Walston’s own commercials. MPI Home Video’s people didn’t stop here with the bonus material. Season Two boasts interviews with the show’s cast as well as original billboards and ads featuring the show’s cast. Season Three adds even more enjoyment as it features a slew of bonuses. Those bonuses include: interviews with Bill Bixby and Ray Walston on Lucille Ball’s Let’s Talk To Lucy program, home movies filmed by the cast on the set of the show, and a pilot for the also never-aired series The Man in the Square Suit along with other bonus footage. There is so much that there is simply not enough room to list or even discuss it all. But it goes without saying that when audiences purchase this box set for themselves, they will be blown away by the vast amount of bonus material included with this box set. That extensive amount of bonus material coupled with the work of both the show’s writers and lead actors makes for an experience that helps My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series live up to its title. They make it not just a complete series set in name but in experience and in turn they collectively make it one of he best of this year’s family friendly box sets.

The writing and acting that went into My Favorite Martian across its short three season run paid off in spades for the series even with it having run only three seasons. They combine with the bonus material included in this collection to make My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series compete in every sense of the word and in turn one of the best of the year’s family friendly box sets. That is not to discount the set’s packaging, which while it looks bulky on the outside is actually quite ergonomic in and of itself. Each of the series’ three seasons has been presented within its own standalone season set once more. Each set’s discs are placed in what is the norm today in multi-disc packaging–placing discs on either side of a given number of “plates” and in some cases even on the inside front and back of the case. This conserves space within each set and ultimately in the bigger picture of the set’s packaging. Considering the route that the people at MPI Home Video could have taken, this was the smartest possible route for the set’s presentation. Even better for audiences is that an episode guide has been included inside the case for Season One and Season Two. Each guide includes a precise listing of the season’s episodes along with a short yet concise summary of each featured episode. In regards to Season Three, the episode guide only features a listing of the episodes with their original broadcast dates. While it would have been nice to have gotten a complete episode summary as in Season One and Two, it is still nice to at least have an episode guide, period. To that extent, the packaging is yet another positive to a set that is sure to be among any classic TV buff’s favorites this year. Add in the highly impressive look and sound of each episode and audiences once again get a viewing experience that is just as complete as the set itself. It is an experience that will leave audiences of all ages agreeing that this collection of episodes will be a favorite not just of classic TV buffs but even more specifically fans of this beloved classic. All things considered My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series proves unlike collections from so many other series to be truly complete in every possible sense of the word. My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via MPI Home Video’s online store at http://www.mpihomevideo.com/products/my-favorite-martian-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from MPI Home Video is available online now at:

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Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series Is Loads Of Fun And Laughs

Courtesy:  MPI Home Video/Lucille Ball Productions, Inc./gab entertainment

Courtesy: MPI Home Video/Lucille Ball Productions, Inc./gab entertainment

The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) used to be one of the greatest networks on television.  Classic dramas and sitcoms such as: Route 66, Star Trek, Gilligan’s Island, and I Love Lucy among so many other greats.  Compared to the glut of crime and medical procedurals that clutter CBS’ weekly programming schedule, as well as the largely boring sitcoms—save for perhaps Big Bang Theory—it is increasingly clear that CBS’ best days are sadly behind it.  Of course those that would argue against this are likely also the same audiences that are fans of the cookie cutter programming currently filling CBS’ weekly schedule.  Thankfully MPI Home Video has given fans of CBS’ golden era yet another piece of that era in the form of Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series.  The six-season box set was released on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014.  And it is a box set that is fully worth the $100+ price tag.  The primary reason for this is the show’s writing.  Audiences will notice a brand of comedy very similar to that of the comedy from I Love Lucy.  Yet despite this, they writers managed to keep from simply recycling episodes of I Love Lucy in this series.  Another reason that audiences will appreciate this set is the bonus material included throughout each season.  And last but not least, audiences will especially appreciate the box’s packaging.  Each of these factors by themselves carry their own weight in the series’ success.  Together, they make Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series a must have for anyone that is looking for an escape from all of the oversexed, overly violent programming currently dominating the broadcast and cable ranks.

Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series is a welcome breath of fresh air from all of the oversexed and overly violent programming currently dominating so much of the broadcast and cable ranks today.  The main reason for this is the series’ writing.  The writing used throughout the series is quite similar to the writing that made I Love Lucy such a hit and keeps it a fan favorite today.  The physical comedy is there.  So are the wacky situations into which Lucy gets herself.  From losing an envelope full of money given to her by her boss and brother-in-law, and thinking her teenage daughter was going to get married to playing landlord and more, the scripts crafted for this show’s six season make for way more than their share of laughs.  Even more interesting about the writing is the fact that Lucy’s character, Lucille Carter, was a divorced, single mother.  It was a reflection of sorts of Lucy’s own personal life.  She and Desi had gotten divorced by the time that Here’s Lucy came on the air.  Even without Desi in the picture, the writers were able to find a fitting replacement for him in the part of Gale Gordon (Dennis The Menace).  Gale played Lucille Carter’s brother-in-law (and boss) Henry. So taking all of this into consideration, the writers behind Here’s Lucy clearly did their homework. The proverbial icing on the cake that is the series’ writing is the fact that the writers didn’t allow the series to become a serial. Lucy’s daily life working for Henry and her life at home are both chronicled throughout the series. But at no point do the writers allow the series to become a serial. In an era today when almost every series on television is a serial requiring people to watch every week, having such a stand-alone series is a breath of fresh air.

The solid and fully entertaining writing that went into Here’s Lucy is by itself plenty of reason for audiences to pick up the recently released six-season box set. It isn’t the only reason that audiences will want to check out this standout series. The set’s bonus features make the set even more enjoyable for audiences, whether they may be new to the series or not. All six seasons include brand new video introductions by Lucy’s children, Lucie and Desi, Jr. There are also introductions by other well-known starts who made guest appearances throughout the seasons. And they aren’t just introductions, either. There are also extra shared in the introductions. One example comes in the introduction to “Lucy Visits Jack Benny.” Lucy’s daughter Lucile shares with audiences the friendship that Lucy had with Jack Benny and other little extras. There is much more shared in the introduction of each episode. And audiences will get just as much entertainment from the introductions as the episodes themselves.

Also included throughout each season set in the box are segments from Lucy’s radio show, “Let’s Talk To Lucy.” The show was an interview style program in which Lucy interviewed not some of the biggest stars of the day. The segments included throughout all six seasons focus primarily on Lucy’s co-stars from the series. Along with these bonuses, there are also slide shows, original syndication promos for the show and much more added as bonus material. The noted bonus material is just the tip of the iceberg and the most important. It makes the overall viewing experience all the more enjoyable and the box set all the more worth picking up by anyone that is a fan of true classic and family friendly programming.

The writing that went into each episode of Here’s Lucy and the bonus features included in this recently released box set are both of equal importance in the set’s overall enjoyment. There is one last factor to consider in the set that viewers will agree seals the deal for the entire package. That final factor is the set’s packaging. While the set seems a bit bulky on the surface having all six seasons contained in one box, audiences will change their minds in looking at the packaging of each season. Each of the series’ six seasons received their own four-disc boxes. The discs themselves are separated from one another inside the cases on their own plastic inserts. They are placed on either side of the inserts with one disc on the top of one side and the other on the bottom of that same insert’s other side. While this is typically the standard for multi-disc sets nowadays, there are still companies out there that do not follow this rather wise ergonomic packaging model. It protects the discs from scratching each other. The end result is that it maintains the discs’ quality and in turn preserves the show for potentially a whole new generation to enjoy years down the road. Keeping this in mind, it makes this final factor in Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series just as important as those already noted. And alongside those previously noted features, the trio together makes this box set a must see for every family and every fan of classic television.

Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series is available in stores and online now. It can be ordered direct from MPI Home Video’s online store at http://www.mpihomevideo.com/Store/Detail.asp?ProdID=11176. More information on this and other releases from MPI Home Video is available online now at http://www.mpihomevideo.com, http://www.mpimedia.com, and http://www.facebook.com/pages/MPI-Home-Video/58189629179. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Breslin’s Latest Just As Enjoyable As Any Big Budget Paranormal Flick

Courtesy:  MPI Home Video/MPI Media Group/IFC Films/IFC Midnight

Courtesy: MPI Home Video/MPI Media Group/IFC Films/IFC Midnight

IFC Midnight (a division of IFC Films) and its partner MPI Media Group will release their latest paranormal thriller next week.  Haunter will be released on Blu-ray and DVD next Tuesday, February 11th.  The movie, starring Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, Ender’s Game) is quite a surprise for anyone that is a fan of movies in the paranormal genre.  It’s a surprise first and foremost because as audiences will discover of the movie, it is not so much a horror movie as it is a thriller of sorts.  It could even be argued to be a mystery,too.  By direct connection, the script behind the story makes it the thriller that it is.  That is another element of this piece that makes it well worth the watch.  One more factor to be taken into consideration with Haunter is its pacing.  The story’s pacing is factor that audiences will appreciate about it.  Its run time barely tops the ninety-minute mark.  But even with that relatively short run time, it doesn’t move too fast or too slow at any one given point.  It gets right to the point, instead of wasting unnecessary time building backstory or any unnecessary elements.  That factor is among the most important.  And along with the other mentioned factors, it makes Haunter a movie that any fan of the paranormal genre a must see.

The very first thing that viewers will notice about Haunter is that it is more paranormal thriller than a horror story per se.  One could even argue to a point that it is a paranormal mystery movie because Lisa (Breslin) is left to figure out the mystery of what is happening with her family and what happened to them for that matter.  It leads to an even bigger mystery that will be left for viewers to find out for themselves.  The trail that Lisa follows will have viewers literally on the edge of their seat, trying to figure out the mystery with her.  It’s nice to see that this movie is so easily able to walk that line of paranormal and mystery, all while keeping the blood and gore to a minimum.  This is just the first aspect of Haunter that makes it so enjoyable for any fan of the paranormal genre.  By direct connection, script writer Brian King’s script for this movie is just as impressive.

Writer Brian King’s script for Haunter is an important piece of the whole that makes the indie-paranormal thriller so enjoyable.  King’s script combines elements of The Lovely Bones and The Others to bring this story to life.  On the surface, the fact that he has combined those movies’ elements seems like a bad thing.  But in combining them, he was able to craft a wholly new story that turns the paranormal genre on its ear.  It is essentially a battle of good and bad that takes place in the spirit realm.  He throws in just enough twists and turns throughout the script to keep audiences engaged, but not confused.  The catch is that in order to not be confused, audiences must be completely engaged in the movie, and not otherwise distracted by anything.  Anyone that allows themselves to become distracted will become distracted and in turn, confused.  This will lead to less appreciation for King’s script.  It goes to show how well King balanced all of his script’s elements and eventually developed this impressive final product.

King’s script is definitely impressive, even having used elements of at least two other paranormal thrillers.  He was able to craft a balanced script that keeps viewers engaged straight to its end.  The script’s balance of elements is just part of what makes it a success.  Along with that balance, King is to be applauded for his script’s pacing.  He wastes no time getting right to the story.  It launches right from its outset.  There’s no overloaded backstory slowing things down.  And the twists and turns peppered throughout the story are placed at just the right points so as to not overwhelm viewers.  The same can be said of Lisa’s transitions between the spirit world and the human world as she tries to solve the mystery that she uncovers.  He sets the pacing so well that as with the writing, it requires audiences to engage themselves entirely in the story, and not let themselves be distracted by anything else.  THAT is the truest sign of this story’s success.  It requires audiences to pay attention.  Few movies do that today, either indie or mainstream.  And those that do pay full attention will agree that it is a paranormal thriller that is just as enjoyable–if not more so–than any major mainstream movie in the paranormal genre.  It will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, February 11th.

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A Case Of You A Quirky, Fun Rom-Com For Today’s Thirty-Something Audiences

A Case of You Blu-ray

Courtesy: MPI Home Video/IFC Films

IFC’s new rom-com A Case of You is the first fun story of its type in 2014.  The story is one that has been told countless times.  But in the case of A Case of You, co-writers Justin and Christian Long have teamed up with Keir O’Donnell to craft a story that is more than just the standard boy meets girl-loses her-gets her back in the end story.  Sure that standard story line is there.  But the execution of the story is what makes it worth the watch.  The writing is just one part of this roughly ninety-minute plus story.  Actor/writer Justin Long (Going The Distance, Live Free Or Die Hard, He’s Just Not The Into You) is fully believable as a desperate character looking for love.  His personal development over the course of the movie will keep viewers completely engaged.  And while it is usually not the most noticeable portion of any movie, the soundtrack used for the story gives it even more charm.  These three factors together make A Case of You a rom-com that any of today’s thirty-something audiences will enjoy.

A Case of You is a fun rom-com for today’s thirty-something audiences.  That is primarily thanks to the writing of Justin Long (who also stars in the movie), his brother Christian Long, and Keir O’Donnell.  Sitcom and movie writers have touched on the oft times ludicrous lengths to which men and women will go in order to attract the opposite sex.  But basing an entire movie on this concept is in its own right original.  That’s because few of said writers have ever actually taken the risk of doing so.  The primary update on the classic rom-com formula isn’t all in the writing that audiences will appreciate. O’Donnell and the brothers Long also collectively impress audiences in that they have taken the rom-com and turned it on its ear by mixing in elements of a stoner flick, too.  One wouldn’t think that a rom-com and a stoner flick would work.  But thanks to the teamwork of O’Donnell and the Long brothers, the stoner elements don’t manage to overpower the central story.  The end result is a story that is quirky but has enough charm to make it endearing at the same time.

The writing and the manner in which it was balanced is the biggest part of what makes A Case of You as enjoyable as it is.  In direct relation, Justin Long shows his ability to interpret his character quite well through his acting.  Many won’t want to publicly admit to it, but there are audiences that will say they too have used Facebook to try and land their love interest.  It’s a sign of the times.  But that’s a commentary for another time.  Sam’s personal growth as he gets to know Birdie even more is relatable to any viewer male or female.  Sam’s sudden fear of commitment when Birdie finally expresses her feelings for him is a classic rom-com and even romantic dramedy element. It’s been used time and again throughout the history of both genres.  But that moment, in relation to his attempts to woo Birdie, makes it an even more impactful moment.  It proves to be the pinnacle of his personal growth.  And it makes the movie’s final minutes all the more heartwarming.  On a side note, the Long brothers and their writing partner deserve even more kudos for not having gone the formulaic route and used the all too clichéd final airport scene that every other rom-com and romantic dramedy uses.  Rather, they actually pay tribute to Dustin Hoffman’s 1967 classic The Graduate.  Whether that was intentional is anyone’s guess.  There is no commentary allowing for such insight.  But it is there regardless.  And it’s one more bonus that classic movie buffs will appreciate.  The positives don’t end here, either.

The writing and acting on the part of lead Justin Long go a long way toward making A Case of You a quirky yet fun flick for today’s thirty-something viewers. There is still one aspect of the story that is deserving of note here that makes everything complete.  That aspect is the movie’s soundtrack.  The music that makes up the movie’s soundtrack is just as quirky as the movie itself.  Included in the movie’s soundtrack are the likes of Spin Doctors, Joan Baez, Johnny Mathis, Fitz and the Tantrums, and so many other artists.  The musical spectrum that makes up the movie’s soundtrack runs the gamut.  As wide as that swath is, each song was a perfect fit for its companion scene.  And each song works just as well on its own on a soundtrack.  It’s the final touch on a movie that is a great fit for any younger couple this Valentine’s Day or another.  It will be available Tuesday, February 4th on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on this and other releases from IFC Films is available online at http://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial and http://www.IFCFilms.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

MPI, IFC Announce Details For New Paranormal Thriller

Courtesy:  MPI Home Video/IFM Midnight/IFC Films/MPI Media Group

Courtesy: MPI Home Video/IFM Midnight/IFC Films/MPI Media Group

Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Signs, Rango) returns this Winter with her latest film.  She stars in IFC Midnight’s new horror story, Haunter in which she plays the part of a spirit of a girl named Lisa.  The film co-stars veteran actor and director Stephen McHattie (300, Watchmen, The Fountain) Eleanor Zichy (Skins), Peter Outerbridge (Silent Hill: Revelation), Michelle Nolden (RED) and David Hewlett (Rise of the Planet of the Apes).

In this new “reverse ghost story”, Breslin plays the spirit of a teen girl named Lisa whose family was killed by a mysterious figure in 1986.  Now over three decades after Lisa and her family were killed, Lisa must convince her family that they are no longer among the living.  Making things even more interesting, a new family has moved into the house that was once home to Lisa and her family.  Now this new family faces the same danger that led to the death of Lisa and her family.  So Lisa must do whatever she can to protect the new family living in the house.  Directed by Vincenzo Natali (Splice, The ABCs of Death 2, Cube)  and co-written by Brian King and Matthew Brian King, this movie is sure to impress fans of movies the likes of: The Lovely Bones, The Others, and Insidious).

Haunter will be available on DVD and Blu-ray via MPI Media Group and IFC Midnight on Tuesday February 11th.  The DVD will be available for SRP of $$29.98.  The Blu-ray presentation will be available for SRP of $24.98.  The trailer for the movie can be viewed online at http://www.ifcfilms.com/uncategorized/haunter-trailer.  The DVD and Blu-ray can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Haunter-Blu-ray-Abigail-Breslin/dp/B00FYV7W9W/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1390420977&sr=1-1&keywords=Haunter.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Room 237 An Interesting Tribute to Kubrick’s Genius

Courtesy:  MPI Home Video/IFC Films

Courtesy: MPI Home Video/IFC Films

Strange.  Twisted.  Bizarre.  Odd.  Any and every one of these terms are perfectly fitting for the new documentary Room 237.  The documentary, which focuses on director Stanley Kubrick’s vision of author Stephen King’s novel by the same name, has been met with relatively mixed reviews.  Most of those reviews have been anything but positive.  It’s easy to see just why the reactions to Room 237 would be so negative.  Those that share their thoughts throughout the near two hour documentary echo the idea that Kubrick’s idea not just with The Shining but with the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey was to make audiences think.  And just as those movies make audiences think, so does this latest release from IFC Films Midnight.  Yes, the ideas presented here are about as out there as those presented on History Channel’s Ancient Aliens, but in the bigger picture of things, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, as out there as they might be, they really help to illustrate Kubrick’s brilliance.

Those that are familiar with Stephen King’s books (and the movies based on his books) know just how much distaste King had for Kubrick’s take on his book.  But in Kubrick’s defense, his adaptation of King’s book stood quite well on its own two feet even as its own work.  It stood so well that some three decades plus after its debut, conspiracy theories continue to abound over its imagery.  That is where Room 237 comes into play.  Fair warning to those that take the time to sit down and watch this documentary, the conspiracy theories that are bandied about throughout this program are pretty out there to say the least.  There are theories about the imagery in The Shining hiding secret holding meaning about the genocide of different groups.  There are crackpot theories centered on mythology, numerology and somehow even the supposed faking of the moon landing.  Yes, somehow, someone even found time to link The Shining to the conspiracy theory about whether or not the moon landing even happened.  These people obviously had far too much time on their hands.  But that’s beside the point.  In defense of the faceless conspiracy theorists, they do manage to defend their arguments, as wild as they may be.  That much can be said of them even if their theories are completely out there.

The theories thrown around throughout the course of Room 237 are definitely as out there as conspiracy theories can be.  This is the case even for theories brought about from a movie.  But the very fact that so many theories have been dreamed up makes an even bolder statement that audiences should consider.  It makes the statement that Stanley Kubrick really was the genius that everyone said he was behind the camera.  Even though he is no longer with us, it shows why he is still the respected individual today that he was today.  Not many directors have an eye like he did for details.  For that matter, few directors could generate so much discussion to this day.  Did Kubrick really intend for people to find everything that they have found?  Did he really have some hidden agenda in moving a chair or a sticker of one of the seven dwarves?  And really, did he intend to send a message about Jack being sexually confused?  What?  It’s all in Room 237.  Regardless of what one believes, the fact that Kubrick could lead so many people to come up with such wild ideas makes this a documentary entirely worth watching at least once.  It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from MPI Home Video and IFC Films.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Room-237-Blu-ray-Bill-Blakemore/dp/B00D6I7CSQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1380408584&sr=1-3&keywords=room+237.

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IFC Closes 2012 On A High Note With Why Stop Now

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi media group/BCDF Pictures/120 db films

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi media group/BCDF Pictures/120 db films

IFC Films’ latest release, Why Stop Now is everything that makes indie flicks great.  This debut film from co-directors Philip Dorling and Ryan Nyswaner is quirky and zany.  At the same time, it has just enough heart to make it endearing and memorable among fans of the indie movie world.  The heart of the story comes in form of Eli Bloom’s (Jesse Eisenberg—The Social Network) attempt to break away from his own family’s dysfunctional world as he has been given the chance to audition for a major music conservatory in Boston, which would allow him to escape from said dysfunction.  At the same time that he’s trying to escape from that world, it is obvious that he has his own flaws, too.  But it’s that imperfection that makes Eli such a sympathetic character.  Ironically enough, one also can’t help but root for Eli’s mom, Penny (Melissa Leo—The Fighter).  Yes, Penny’s a drug addict, but she shows that she is trying to do the best that she can as a mother to Eli and his sister.  It’s Penny’s addiction that leads to everything that happens in this quirky yet heartfelt story.  From meeting his mom’s drug dealer (and his drug dealer) to trying to make his audition all while having to pick up his sister and so much more, the whole story keeps “rolling” and will keep audiences just as entertained both in the story’s funny and more moving moments.

The concept of a young person trying to break away and start his or her own life is nothing new to the movie industry.  But there is no denying that the manner in which this time honored story has been presented here is in itself quite original.  To that extent, those critics who….well…criticized it for this originality are likely the same ones who refused to see the story’s balance of comedy and drama.  Much of that balance comes from the rather dysfunctional relationship between Eli and Penny.  And it’s also that balance that makes it the underrated indie flick that it is.  The introduction later of Sprinkles (Tracy Morgan—30 Rock, SNL) adds even more comedy and drama to the already entertaining story.  When he’s funny, he’s funny.  But he also shows that he can be taken seriously as a dramatic actor thanks to this movie too when he talks to Eli about everything he’s given up.  He tries to point out to Eli that he still has his life ahead of him and to not give up.  It’s only a momentary dramatic moment.  But even in that moment, Morgan shines as a dramatic actor.  It shows that even he can bring his own amount of heart to a story.  It would be interesting considering this, to see how he would do if he were to take a risk and branch out into more serious roles.

As funny and heartwarming as Morgan is throughout his time on camera, it’s the relationship between Eli and Penny that really gives Why Stop Now the heart and laughs that viewers will appreciate and enjoy most of all.  It’s obvious that Eli cares about Penny being his mother.  But he also sees that she seriously needs help.  Ironically enough, he needs his own help.  And even Penny points that out late in the movie in a conflict between the two.  Penny yells at Eli, pointing out his issues with alcohol.  But the thing of it is that it seems hinted that Eli’s problem with alcohol is a result of having to deal with his mother and sister.  Despite that, audiences are left with a warm feeling as Eli and his mother finally come to terms with everything and with each other by the story’s finale.  They are left knowing that the pair will be just fine, as will his sister.

Perhaps the main reason that the relationship between Eli and his mother works is the chemistry between Eisenberg and Leo.  Audiences will note in the movie’s “behind-the-scenes featurette how much the cast enjoyed working together.  While the movie doesn’t necessarily need bonus features to make it any better, viewers will enjoy hearing the cast’s take on their parts and on the story as a whole.  There is no commentary directly connected to the main feature.  But again, as enjoyable and original as the story is, it doesn’t really need that either, to make the overall viewing experience any better.  The story itself is really all audiences need in this movie.  It is simply put, a story that anyone looking for an original script will enjoy.  It is available now in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray.

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