Dramas about soccer champ Pelé and Kevin Durant's mother are on DVD
Posted September 25, 2016
A pair of feel-good family films, one about a sports legend and the other about the mother of a sports legend, are on DVD this week.
“Pelé: Birth of a Legend” (IFC, 2016, PG, featurettes, trailer). Kevin de Paula convincingly brings the soccer legend Pelé to life in this story of the champion’s life, from his impoverished youth in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to his earning recognition as a major player in his teens to his very early entry into the professional leagues. The script takes a clichéd, by-the-numbers approach, but fans of the sport — and of Pelé — won’t care.
“The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story” (Lifetime/Lionsgate, 2016, not rated/probable PG). This Lifetime cable movie is about Wanda Durant, the self-sacrificing single mother of NBA star Kevin Durant (who sporadically narrates). Cassandra Freeman is excellent as Wanda, struggling to provide for her two young sons (with help from her own prayerful, churchgoing mother) after the boys’ father deserts the family. The result is stirring stuff, which should especially resonate with single parents.
“Rodeo & Juliet” (Monarch, 2016, not rated/probable PG). As the title suggests, this is a very loose countrified adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. With Christmas approaching, Juliet (Nadine Crocker) reluctantly leaves New York to help her mother (Krista Allen) take on a debt-ridden ranch she’s inherited. Rodeo is the horse Juliet falls in love with and decides to ride in a barrel-racing contest. It's a cute, if utterly predictable, save-the-ranch picture.
“The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power” (Disney Junior, 2016, six episodes). This animated series is a spinoff of Disney’s “The Lion King,” focusing on Kion, son of Simba and Nala, and leader of the Lion Guard, a team of animals protecting the Pride Lands. Episodes here include “Bunga the Wise,” “Eye of the Beholder” and “Follow That Hippo.”
“Elephant Kingdom” (Lionsgate, 2016, PG, featurettes, “Miniscule” episodes, trailer). An evil king (voiced by Patrick Warburton) who has invoked a mandate to stamp out his people’s devotion to family encounters unexpected opposition from a herd of family-loving anthropomorphic elephants (led by Cary Elwes). It's a straight-to-video animated feature aimed at small fry.
“Barbie Star Light Adventure” (Universal, 2016, music videos, bloopers, two “Dreamtopia” shorts). Barbie notices the twinkling stars in the heavens are beginning to dim, so she heads to Capitol Planet to find a way to thwart the problem. It's a feature-length, straight-to-video entry in the Barbie animated-fantasy franchise.
“Free State of Jones” (Universal, 2016, R for violence, featurette). This is a disappointing, labored retelling of the true story of Newton Knight, a Southern farmer (Matthew McConaughey) who becomes disenchanted with the Confederacy and the Civil War in general. When he falls in with a group of runaway slaves, Knight organizes them into an armed militia to defy troops that are seizing property. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Keri Russell co-star.
“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (Universal, 2016; R for sex, nudity, language, drugs; deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). This sequel to “Neighbors” is another sleazy comedy from Seth Rogen, re-teamed with Zac Efron and Rose Byrne. New are Chloe Grace Moretz, Selena Gomez, LL Cool J and Kelsey Grammer. With a neighborhood sorority instead of a fraternity, the point seems to be that women can be as raunchy as men but thanks to “Bridesmaids,” we already know that.
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 email@example.com.