'Joy' and a special edition of 'American Sniper' on Blu-ray

Posted May 21

Jennifer Lawrence has been nominated for four Academy Awards in the past six years, and her latest, “Joy,” is now on Blu-ray and DVD. Also, a new Blu-ray edition of “American Sniper” has just been released.

“Joy” (Fox, 2015, PG-13, featurettes, photo gallery). Lawrence, who earned an Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook,” was also nominated for her role as the title character in this real-life biography that plays out as a sometimes-chaotic comedy-drama.

Joy Mangano, a divorced mother of two, is supporting her mother (Virginia Madsen), grandmother (Diane Ladd) and ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez), all of whom live with her. Joy also tolerates visits from her volatile father (Robert De Niro), his girlfriend (Isabella Rossellini) and a half-sister (Elisabeth Rohm) who thinks nothing of berating Joy in front of her children.

But Joy has a dream. She’s a closet inventor, and she eventually comes up with a self-wringing kitchen mop, which she sells on the home-shopping channel QVC (run by Bradley Cooper). This brings her fame and wealth, but her lack of business savvy allows others to take advantage of her. Not that she’ll go down without a fight.

The film is rather hit-and-miss, especially in the first half with an annoying cinema verite approach. But it does get better as it goes along, and having Lawrence as its anchor is a major plus.

“American Sniper: The Chris Kyle Commemorative Edition” (Warner, 2014, R for violence and language, two discs, featurettes). This is a new Blu-ray edition of Clint Eastwood’s excellent biography of the short life of Navy Seal marksman Chris Kyle, played superbly by Cooper. Included here is a second disc of new featurettes that explore Kyle’s life further and look at the challenges faced by returning veterans. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is donating $1 from each purchase to the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation.)

“I Know a Woman Like That” (Virgil, 2016, not rated). This is a talky but interesting documentary about older women who haven’t let age slow them down, including a competitive water skier in her 90s, artists, businesswomen and such celebrities as Eartha Kitt, Lauren Hutton, Gloria Steinem and Rita Moreno. Directed by Elaine Madsen, who is also representative of the film’s subject matter, and produced by her daughter, actress Virginia Madsen.

“Synchronicity” (Magnet, 2016, R for language, audio commentary, featurettes, music video, trailer). A scientist (Chad McKnight) invents a time machine but finds his benefactor (Michael lronside) trying to wrestle control over it in this serious-minded low-budget sci-fi thriller. So the scientist travels into the past to both prove his theories and unravel a conspiracy but eventually comes to understand the adage about being careful what you wish for.

“The Witch” (Lionsgate, 2016, R for violence and nudity, audio commentary, featurettes, design gallery). In 1630 New England, a family is banished from its village, then sets up a farm on the outskirts of a haunted forest. The family members are devout but a series of frightening incidents challenges their faith. First-time feature-filmmaker Robert Eggers’ attention to detail and pervasive sense of dread add impetus to this tale of horror and religious fanaticism.

“Kindergarten Cop 2” (Universal, 2016, PG-13, deleted scenes, featurette, bloopers). Some 26 years after Arnold Schwarzenegger had a hit with the surprisingly violent “family” comedy-thriller “Kindergarten Cop,” Dolph Lundgren stars in this sequel but not as the same character. (So is it a sequel or a remake?) He’s a cop that goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher in his search for a stolen hard drive with sensitive Witness Protection information.

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at hicks@deseretnews.com.


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