Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For Freaks and Geeks Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

NBC’s modern classic teen dramedy Freaks and Geeks only ran for eighteen episodes when it originally aired on NBC from 1999 – 2000. In the time since it ended its initial run on the “Peacock Network” the short-lived series has since gone on to be a cult favorite among audiences. It proved to be such a favorite among certain audiences that in 2004 the series was released in its own full-series DVD box set by Shout! Factory. Now nearly twelve years after its initial home release Shout! Factory is revisiting the series and re-issuing it in its entirety on Blu-ray.

Shout! Factory has announced that it will release Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series on Blu-ray on Tuesday, March 22nd. The series’ eighteen-episode run has been re-mastered from new 4K scans of the series’ original camera negatives. Each episode is presented both in its original 1.33:1 ratio and an enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen presentation and will be spread across nine discs. This presentation greatly expands the footage, revealing never before seen pieces of the series in its original presentation. There will also be a number of extras for true fans of the series included in the set’s presentation.

Freaks and Geeks only lasted for one season in its initial run. But in that time it earned an Emmy Awardfor its entertaining and authentic portrayal of high school life in the 80s in all of its ups and downs. The series was created by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters, Spy), executive produced by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, This is 40, Pineapple Express) and starred some of today’s biggest names in their younger years, including: Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother, The Muppets, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), James Franco (Flyboys, Spiderman 1 – 3, Pineapple Express, Date Night), Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Neighbors, This Is The End), and Linda Cardellini (ER, Scooby Doo, The Avengers: Age of Ultron).

Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series will be available on Blu-ray in stores and online on Tuesday, March 22nd. It will retail for MSRP of 119.00 but can be pre-ordered now direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at a discounted price of $79.99. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:




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My Uncle Rafael Is Loaded With Laughs And Heart

Courtesy:  TNP Films

Courtesy: TNP Films

My Uncle Rafael is the best new independent movie of 2014.  And it is arguably one of the best new movies of the year, too.  Originally released in 2012, its release this week on DVD marks the first time that it has seen the light of day in home release format.  And while it obviously owes a certain amount of its success to Robin Williams’ 1993 hit movie Mrs. Doubtfire, it still manages to stand strong on its own merits as a movie that is at least somewhat original in its presentation.  That is the central point of the movie’s success.  It has all the heart and wit of Mrs. Doubtfire without Robin Williams’ cross-dressing and manic character portrayal.  And while it does maintain at least some similarity in its approach to the family-fixing plotline, it approaches the issue through a multi-cultural avenue rather than that of a desperate father. Sign of the times, it would seem.  Just as important to the movie’s enjoyment is the acting on the part of the movie’s cast.  It would have been so simple for the cast, which is relatively well-known and experienced to treat the movie like the independent movie that it is.  But each member of the cast approached this work with the same seriousness used in its other performances.  The professional approach taken by the cast of My Uncle Rafael adds so much enjoyment to the movie.  It adds so much especially considering the quality of the movie’s production values.  While released via an independent studio—TNP Films—the movie’s production values are just as quality as anything released by any of Hollywood’s “Power 5” studios.  That actor, along with the work of the cast and of the movie’s writers, makes My Uncle Rafael a complete joy for audiences of almost any age.  Again, it isn’t the first time that the story presented here has been utilized for a movie.  But its execution makes it a move well worth the watch.

The story that is presented in My Uncle Rafael is not the first of its kind.  It is the story of an outsider coming into a family’s home and fixing said family.  It has been used numerous times in the past.  In 1993, it was presented in the hit movie Mrs. Doubtfire. Two years prior, it was used in pro-wrestling legend Terry “Hulk” Hogan’s family comedy Suburban Commando.  And to a lesser extent it was also used in Vin Diesel’s 2005 flash-in-the-pan flick The Pacifier.  It could even be argued that a similar formula was used way back in the 1989 John Candy dramedy Uncle Buck.  Considering all of this, it leaves one wondering how many other ways in which the “family fix” formula could be used without it being stale and unoriginal.  Enter My Uncle Rafael.  My Uncle Rafael (not to be confused with Joe Pesci’s 1992 dramedy My Cousin Vinny—yes that bad pun was intended) takes the classic “family fix” formula and updates it by incorporating a multi-cultural theme into the story.  Most interesting here is the fact that the duo used an elderly Middle Eastern man as the movie’s central figure.  This was really interesting especially considering the tensions between Americans and those of Middle Eastern descent currently living in the United States.  It’s an angle that few if any writers would even begin to attempt.  For that alone, Pirhamzei and Yagemann are deserving of a certain amount of credit.  That the duo didn’t try to make a direct light of Rafael’s nationality as a soap box makes the script even more worthy of applause.  Omitting that from the script makes the rest of the story far more enjoyable and in turn more memorable.

The script behind My Uncle Rafael is not the first of its kind.  That goes without saying.  But there are aspects of the script that make it surprisingly enjoyable.  As enjoyable as the movie’s script proves to be in the long run, it would be nothing without the abilities of the movie’s cast.  John Michael Higgins (Yes Man, Happily Divorced, Bad Teacher) brings plenty of experience to the movie as do Missi Pyle (The Artist, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gone Girl), Anthony Clark (Yes, Dear, Boston Common, Soul Man), Joe Lo Truglio (Role Models, Wreck-It-Ralph, Pineapple Express), Carly Chaikin (Suburgatory, The Last Song, In A World…), and Rachel Blanchard (Clueless—TV Series, 7th Heaven, Are You Afraid of the Dark).  The competition between Higgins’ Damon and Clark’s Jack makes for plenty of laughs.  It is a competition much like that seen in Mrs. Doubtfire.  Missi Pyle is just as entertaining as she becomes caught up in the movie’s central love triangle all while trying to maintain her place as mother to her children.  But it is really Vahik Pirhamzei’s portrayal of the loveable Uncle Rafael that really shines.  Pirhamzei’s portrayal gives Uncle Rafael so much heart and warmth.  He makes Rafael loveable not only to his fellow characters but to audiences, too.  One can’t help but agree in watching Rafael that maybe the uncle really is at the center of everything.  Only audiences that watch the movie or have watched it will get that reference.  In hindsight, Rafael’s portrayal makes that line make perfect sense.  That isn’t to take away from Pirhamzei’s cast mates by any means.  Both the more well-known actors and the lesser known cast members add their own enjoyment to the story in whole, too.  But it is his portrayal that holds everything together and makes each of his cast mates’ portrayals all the more entertaining with the end result of the cast in general doing its own part to show once again why My Uncle Rafael  is this year’s best new independent movie and one of the year’s best movies overall.

The writing that went into My Uncle Rafael and the acting on the part of the movie’s cast both play their own important part in the overall success of this surprisingly entertaining story.  Rounding out the presentation is its production values.  Being that this movie is independent, one would think that it would not have the production values of its bigger name family friendly counterparts that have come before.  But the reality is that its production values are quite high.  That includes the movie’s cinematography, its backdrops, costumes, and all other elements that went into bringing the movie to life.  Having such quality production values, it makes sense that the largely veteran cast would want its portrayals to be just as high quality.  The combination of that high quality acting and equally high quality production values adds to the ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief and in turn allow themselves to be immersed into the story and thus offer it the chance that it quite well deserves.  In giving it the chance that it deserves, audiences will agree that this movie is just as enjoyable as its more well-known predecessors and that it is one of this year’s best new movies as well as the year’s best new independent movie.

My Uncle Rafael is available now on DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via Amazon at  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

IFC Films’ “Premature” Is As Good As Any Big Screen Teen Flick

Courtesy:  IFC FIlms

Courtesy: IFC FIlms

IFC Films’ teen comedy Premature is not only one of the best indie flicks of 2014, but it is one of the best movies of the year overall.  In comparison to the endless stream of prequels, sequels, and remakes churned out by Hollywood’s “Power 5” studios, this movie is a complete breath of fresh air.  It balances just enough bawdiness and raunch with an equal amount of depth and heart to make it a surprisingly entertaining work.  The central reason for that is the movie’s script.  It isn’t just another standard, formulaic teen romp.  It actually teaches some important lessons; lessons that both male and female audiences will appreciate.  The movie’s script is at the heart of its enjoyment.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this movie is its bonus material.  Included as bonus material on the DVD are a number of interviews with the cast and crew, a fun little behind-the-scenes featurette, and even an alternate ending that proves to be just as good as the ending presented in the final product.  The last aspect of the movie that makes it enjoyable for audiences is the acting on the part of the cast.  The cast isn’t exactly A-listers just yet.  But its members already have quite the chops under their belts thanks to roles on some big movies and TV shows.  It shows quite well in this presentation, too.  It rounds out a movie that while being an indie flick, is one of this year’s best indie flicks and one of the year’s best movies overall.

At first glance, many critics have automatically panned IFC Films’ new teen comedy Premature.  Elizabeth Weitzman, of the New York Daily News, said of the movie that it is “a retreat of every lousy 80s high school comedy you never bothered watching.”  And Variety’s Joe Leydon had one of the harshest comments, attacking not only the movie but those that actually showed any appreciation of the movie.  He noted of the movie and its audiences that “only undiscriminating audiences with a pronounced taste for crotch-centric tomfoolery will sample this goulash.”  Really, Joe?  There was an equally scathing commentary from New York Times writer Nicolas Rapold, equating co-writers Dan Beers and Mathew Harawitz’s script to work from Family Guy head Seth McFarlane.  That is an insult of the highest degree. For all of its naysayers, Premature has also gotten positive marks, too.  Though, even those positive remarks have been tepid at best.  This means that most audiences and critics that saw this movie completely missed the mark in analyzing it.  The script itself does throw back to the teen romps of the 80s.  There’s no denying that.  But it throws back to more than just those movies.  Its script balances the crudeness of those movies with the heart–believe it or not–of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  To a lesser extent, those that are old enough to remember will see a comparison to the likes of Fox’s classic series Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, too.  That’s thanks in large part to the work of lead actor John Karna, who plays Rob Crabbe.  The movie sees Rob learn some valuable lessons about both life and love as the story progresses.  He learns about doing what makes him happy versus what makes his father happy through his interactions with his Georgetown recruiter and his father.  The lesson about love just happens to be tied in to Rob’s own full-throttle sex drive.  Audiences need to remember that in our adolescence, the human sex drive is actually much like what is portrayed here.  Hormones are going crazy in the adolescent brain and body.  Beer and Harawitz have just taken that fact and made humorous light of it as part of the bigger picture.  Keeping that in mind makes that aspect of the movie less crude and much funnier.  If audiences can accept that fact and enjoy it for what it is, they will enjoy Premature much more.  They will also enjoy the lessons incorporated into the script, too thus leading to a realization that this movie is far more enjoyable than what some would have others believe.

The script used for Premature is by itself more than enough reason to give this underrated indie flick worth at least one watch.  By itself, it makes Premature one of this year’s best new indie flicks and one of the year’s best new movies overall.  The script is just part of what makes the movie worth watching.  The bonus material included with the movie makes the presentation in whole even more enjoyable.  There are interviews with the cast and crew that will inform and entertain audiences.  There is also a bonus alternate ending that proves to be just as entertaining as the ending presented in the final product if not more so.  And the bonus behind-the-scenes featurette will have audiences just as much in stitches.  [John] Karna takes audiences through the movie’s sets during this segment.  Throughout the featurette, Karna stays somewhat in character holding the same personality as Rob Crabbe without actually trying to portray Rob.  He playfully hits on every female that he finds as if he were Rob.  It really is fun and funny to watch.  Together with the bonus interviews and alternate ending, it shows even more what makes the movie’s bonus features even more important to the presentation in whole. They collectively make Premature that much more of a joy to watch.  They still aren’t the last of the factors that make Premature so enjoyable, either.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as important to the movie.  It rounds out the whole that is this surprisingly entertaining indie flick.

The acting on the part of Premature’s cast is one of the most important parts of this movie’s enjoyment.  Most audiences probably don’t know the cast’s names.  But Karna and his cast mates–Katie Findlay (How To Get Away With Murder, The Carrie Diaries, After The Dark), Alan Tudyk (Frozen, Wreck-it-Ralph ,i-Robot) Craig Roberts (Neighbors, 22 Jump Street, Jane Eyre), Steve Coulter (The Hunger Games, Insidious: Chapter 2, The Conjuring) , and Carlson Young (True Blood, The Dog Who Saved Christmas, Pretty Little Liars)–are each fully believable in their roles.  And that is thanks to their work on some rather well-known movies and TV series.  Katie Findlay plays Rob’s best friend Gabrielle.  She does quite the job in her role, although most audiences can tell as the story progresses what will happen between them.  It’s a classic partnering that has been used before.  But it still works quite well even in this case.  Alan tudyk plays the part of Rob’s Georgetown recruiter.  Tudyk is a laugh riot as he breaks down, crying like a little child as he interviews Rob.  His acting will by itself leave audiences laughing uproariously.  Craig Roberts plays Rob’s sex-crazed friend Stanley.  Even in the side-kick role, Roberts offers his own share of laughs.  One could really compare him to Stiffler from the famed American Pie franchise, only younger. Steve Coulter plays a minimal role as Rob’s dad Jim.  But he’s still entertaining as the standard subtly controlling father figure.  And Carlson Young is spot on as the stereotypical blonde sex kitten Angela Yearwood.  Her role is understated as it plays an important part in Rob’s personal development and self-realization.  But just as with her co-stars, Young pulls off her role expertly as do the rest of the cast members.  Their collective experience makes their portrayals here so enjoyable in their own right.  It makes suspension of disbelief so simple in this case.  The end result is a story that will keep audiences fully engaged from start to finish, laughing the whole way through.

Whether it be the movie’s script, the bonus features included as part of the whole, or the acting on the part of the cast, Premature proves in the end to have plenty of positives.  It proves to have far more positives than its critics would lead audiences to believe.  It proves to be one of this year’s best new indie flicks and one of the year’s best new movies overall.  It is available in stores and online now.  More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available online at:



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VSC Announces Release Date, Product Info For Portlandia Season Four

Courtesy:  Video Services Corporation

Courtesy: Video Services Corporation

Video Services Corporation (VSC) will release the fourth season of IFC’s hit comedy series Portlandia this summer.

Portlandia: Season 4 will be released on DVD Tuesday, August 26th. Armisen’s beloved characters Dave and Kath are back in Portlandia’s fourth season, as are Spike and his uptight girlfriend, Iris. Spike and Iris have to deal with a difficult situation at a Thai restaurant while Dave and Kath actually give relaxation a try. And then there is the couple, Nina and Lance. Nina and Lance have to recover from the trauma of losing a pet this season.

Season Four sees a who’s who of celebrity guests across its ten episodes. Among some of the more well-known guests that appear on the show this season are: k.d. lang, Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman 1 – 3), Joshua Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Mark Proksch (The Office), and many others. Also returning from Portlandia’s previous seasons is an equally high profile list of stars including: Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park 1 &2, Independence Day), Ed Begley, Jr. (Arrested Development, Pineapple Express), Jason Sudeikis (How I Met Your Mother), and director Gus Van Sant (Promised Land, Milk) and just as many other big names.

Portlandia: Season Four was shot entirely in Portland, Oregon. It is co-created and co-written by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Jonathan Krisel. Krisel is also the series’ director. The series is executive prodiced by Lorne Michaels (SNL) and produced by Broadway Video. Portlandia: Season Four is comprised of ten episodes on two discs. It will retail for SRP of $19.98. Portlandia has earned a Peabody © award and has been nominated for an Emmy ® award as well, and has run for four seasons exclusively on Independent Film Channel.

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High School Is This Generation’s Dazed And Confused

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Films

One part Dazed and Confused and one part Seth Rogen flick, High School is an odd amalgam of a stoner flick and a coming of age story.  It should be noted right off the top that this flick is strictly a niche film.  It is not meant for the general public.  It has some heart.  But it also isn’t without at least one problem.  The problem that it has is that in the attempt to blend the two story formats together, High School gets bogged down in itself and ultimately eliminates any possibility of believability.  Though it is at least somewhat deserving of credit for its attempt to have heart.The whole story starts when Morgan High School’s brightest star is arrested on charges of drug possession.  So when another of the school’s smartest, Henry (Matt Bush) ends up getting high, he realizes almost too late the far reaching consequences of what he’s done.  Thankfully for henry though, the boy who influenced him to get high in the first place (played by Sean Marquette) actually develops a conscience of sorts and attempts to help Henry cover up what he’s done.  Ultimately the boys’ plan proves to be far more convoluted than either one had imagined.  They see that the plan has actually backfired to an extent.  Travis ends up attempting to fill Rogen’s shoes as he bumbling friend who learns some very valuable lessons and grows himself.

Getting an entire school high just to cover up a single person’s one-time event is not the most believable story.  If not for the coming of age story and the realization of what’s really important by Travis, High School would have been far less memorable than it already is.  And occasional nudity, foul language and obvious drug use more than validate the movie’s “R” rating.  When it’s all said and done, there’s no denying that High School is strictly a niche film.  It is by no means meant for everyone.  But for those who enjoy this genre of movie, it will likely be just as entertaining as the likes of a Seth Rogen flick or Dazed and Confused.  It’s available now on DVD and Blu-ray.

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Horrible Bosses is a horrible movie

The recent workplace buddy comedy, “Horrible Bosses” is one of the worst movies of 2011, if not the worst.  It’s little more than just another stoner flick that would appeal more to college age audiences than anyone with any kind of sense about them.  On the surface, the idea of three horrible bosses seems like something to which every working American can relate.  But the old adage, “never judge a book by its cover” applies here more than ever.  On the surface, “Horrible Bosses” comes across something that might be mildly funny.  But upon opening the cover and diving in, audiences get something entirely different. What they get is a dumbed down, immature work that’s more about sex and drugs than bad bosses.

The great American dream for every hard working American is to have a good job.  That includes good hours, equally respectable pay, and a boss that has some respect for his/her employees.  Director Seth Gordon, and the team of writers behind this awful work lead audiences on with that premise, making them believe Horrible Bosses will be a fun buddy comedy that pokes fun at the reality that most Americans actually face a la “Office Space”.  Instead though, it comes across as little better than a Seth Rogen flick.  The only real star of this movie is Jason Bateman.  Ironically enough, Bateman starred in another workplace comedy called “Extract”.  That movie, like “Office Space”, was a Mike Judge production.  And as with “Office Space”,  it was actually enjoyable.  Though by comparison, “Office Space” was still far better.

What “Office Space” and “Extract” got right, “Horrible Bosses” got…well…horribly, horribly wrong.  The story is rife with overt sexuality from Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Anniston), and drug use on the part of Bobby Pellitt (Colin Ferrell).  Then there’s Nick’s (Jason Bateman) boss, Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey).  Harken comes across just like all of Spacey’s other roles.  After a while, it gets more than a little old.  He does try to readapt his personality for the role.  But in large part, he has the same demeanor as he has in nearly every other role that he’s ever filled.  Seeing Anniston order Dale into her office, wearing little other than a labcoat and underwear takes sexual harrassment to an unbelieveable level.  The same applies to her bathtub scene.  In regards to Colin Firth’s role as Bobby Pellitt, regardless of whether it was in a small company or major organization, organization such as his would not be tolerated in the real world.  Not even Spacey is believable in as Harken.  

The bosses aren’t the only problem with “Horrible Bosses”.  Bateman and his cohorts come across more as the juvenile college audiences they likely tried to reach than relateable characters.  Again, perhaps the only really relateable character among the trio was Bateman’s Nick Hendricks.  He seems to play at least some voice of reason between himself and his friends.  If anything, the trio is more reminiscent of the boys from “The Hangover” than anything funny. 

“Horrible Bosses” has little, if anything positive about it.  There is little, if anything, to like about this largely forgettable wanna be ripoff of Mike Judge’s far superior workplace comedy, “Office Space”.  About the only thing that can be said of “Horrible Bosses”, when it’s all said and done, is that it’s simply…well…horrible.  Final verdict:  Thumbs down.