Will Ferrell on Ice! Plus Other Releases

Air Guitar Nation

Docurama, $18.89

Alexandra Lipsitz's doc about those about to rock with their bare hands and nothing more has been encoring on the film-fest circuit for two years, and how it never got a proper theatrical release is a saddening, maddening mystery. Like the brand-new The King of Kong—about two gamers vying for the tiny title of best Donkey Kong player ever—this might be mistaken for mockumentary: Two guys, known as C. Diddy and Björn Türoque, are air-guitar slingers trying to win the first-ever U.S. Air Guitar Championship, which gets them a ticket to the international competition. Diddy's a stand-up with a sense of humor; this is a gag he takes seriously. His rival's more, um, into it. The best thing about the delayed release is the where-are-they-now extras, the deleted scenes, and the extended performances. You think you can do this, think again. ROBERT WILONSKY

Blades of Glory

DreamWorks, $29.99

Residing—which is to say, sprawled in a state of semiconsciousness—somewhere on the sports-movie-parody spectrum between Dodgeball and the new Balls of Fury, the latest roll of Will Ferrell flab is so rarely, barely funny. Ferrell, as figure skater Chazz Michael Michaels, is forced to pair with rival Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder, not funny) when both are tossed for bad behavior (kind of funny). Their chief competitors are an incestuous brother-sister team (Amy Poehler and Will Arnett, sort of funny); their little sister, played by Jenna Fischer, has a thing for Jimmy (so not funny). The outtakes are funnier than the movie, which isn't saying much. Better, though, are the deleted scenes—chief among them a Manchurian Candidate homage ("I suck at shooting") and a Ferrell musical number, funny because it's performed on a keytar. ROBERT WILONSKY

The Lives of Others

Sony Pictures Classics, $26.96

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's film, easily the best of last year, exists on many levels: as tragedy, dark comedy, and love story—not between a man and a woman, but between two seemingly opposite men bound by the same damnation. On the one hand is Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), a playwright and pianist trapped in an East Germany where artistic freedom is an oxymoron; on the other is Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe), the secret police officer charged with listening in on Dreyman's intimate moments. Wiesler's got a thing for Dreyman's actress girlfriend, yes, but he's also interested in protecting the playwright—the "good man" suggested in the sonata Dreyman performs, though the moniker likewise applies to Wiesler as the hunter begins falling for the hunted. How remarkable is this movie? The scant deleted scenes are as powerful as most movies—beautiful compositions of ugly deeds. ROBERT WILONSKY


Benten, $27.95

Starring the men who made it—Joe Swanberg, Kevin Bewersdorf, and C. Mason Wells—LOL isn't terribly funny, at least to those of us tethered to our electronic paraphernalia. It's more of a cautionary tale than comedy—more so if you happen to be reading this on the Web or (God forbid) your cell phone. Swanberg plays a guy too plugged-in to connect with his girlfriend; he can't get off his laptop to go to the beach with her and doesn't get off his cell once they're there. And yes, there are myriad extras here, but 20 minutes into the feature, you get the point: Shut off the damned thing, shut down your MySpace page, and go outside already. And, please, get laid while you're at it. ROBERT WILONSKY

Year of the Dog

Paramount Vantage, $29.99

It's just about the First Commandment of Hollywood: Don't kill the dog. So it's a testament to the clout of writer-director Mike White (School of Rock) that killing off the dog is the first of many rules broken in this weird-ass movie. Folks fooled by the pack-of-lies trailer into thinking it's a romantic comedy will whiz past disappointment straight to freaked-out at the sight of Molly Shannon sinking into obsession over the death of her pooch. Shannon's far better than her armpit-sniffing SNL past suggests; she does wonders with a blank smile and wounded eyes. But Laura Dern's portrait of a superficial soccer mom is clichéd, and the humor's so pitch-black that the whole thing really might not count as comedy. Still, there's a movie worth watching here for those up to the challenge. JORDAN HARPER

Other Releases

More bad news from the Middle East is reported in the Israel-Palestine doc Blood & Tears. Steve McQueen appears in the seminal 1971 motorcycle racing doc On Any Sunday. For more serious drama, a Jewish lawyer (David Strathairn) defends a neo-Nazi in Steel Toes, and a shrink (Tilda Swinton) investigates an infanticidal teen mother in Stephanie Daley. Scott Caan turns director in the ensemble piece The Dog Problem, while TV heartthrob John Krasinsky stars in the Gen Y heist flick A New Wave. Also from TV (Reno 911!), Wendi McLendon-Covey appears in the real-estate comedy Closing Escrow. Parker Posey takes a slight turn toward the mainstream in Broken English. Despite the presence of Zach Braff, The Ex is considerably aided by the presence of Amanda Peet and Jason Bateman.


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