Indie pictures dominate this week's new movies on video platforms
Posted July 1
The best of this week’s new movies on video platforms is a little British effort that succeeds as a bit of British whimsy.
“This Beautiful Fantastic” (Fox, 2017, PG, trailers). A bookish young woman, who, appropriately, works in a library — and is wracked with fearful phobias — faces eviction in a month if she doesn’t resurrect the backyard garden that is dying of neglect. Badgered by her grumpy old neighbor, she eventually recruits him to help, and by golly, he’s a gardener par excellence.
That’s the barebones, not-unfamiliar plot of this light British comedy-drama, which is filled with quirky characters and botanical metaphors — but it hardly does justice to the charms of this sweet, old-fashioned slice of whimsy that sort of blends the sensibilities of “Amélie” with “The Secret Garden.” It is nuanced and warm, with engaging performances led by Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil in the first three seasons of “Downton Abbey”) and veteran character actor Tom Wilkinson.
“Dirty Dancing” (Lionsgate, 2017, not rated/probable PG-13, featurettes). In the summer of 1963, a college-bound young woman (Abigail Breslin) visits a Catskills resort with her wealthy family and falls for the hunky, blue-collar dance instructor (Colt Prattes). A likable cast (Debra Messing, Bruce Greenwood, Katey Sagal, Billy Dee Williams) shows up for this unnecessary TV-movie remake, which may renew respect for the 1987 film, a box-office hit that remains a fan favorite.
“Money” (Fox, 2017; R for language, drugs, violence; featurette). This is a twisty thriller about a con artist who breaks up a dinner party and takes two couples hostage at gunpoint — greedy pharmaceutical execs and their wives who have $5 million in ill-gotten gains. But, of course, things are not as they seem. Jesse Williams, Kellan Lutz and Jess Weixler co-star.
“Grey Lady” (Anchor Bay, 2017, R for violence and language). A Boston police detective (Eric Dane) is suspended and investigated for negligence after the murder of his partner (Rebecca Gayheart). Taking a clue from her dying words, he heads to Nantucket to investigate on his own, though his emotional involvement and inherent recklessness endangers those around him. Natalie Zea and Amy Madigan co-star.
“Life of Significant Soil” (Candy Factory, 2017, not rated/probable R for sex, nudity, language, drugs). This is an offbeat independent melodrama with a fractured narrative that examines a relationship gone awry, as both parties (Charlotte Bydwell, Alexis Mouyiaris) realize it’s over but just can’t seem to move on. When the woman discovers she’s pregnant, it triggers a repeat cycle, a la “Groundhog Day,” as they relive their final day together.
“CHIPS” (Warner, 2017; R for sex, nudity, language, violence, drugs; deleted scenes, featurette). Dax Shepard wrote, directed and stars in this sleazy spoof of the popular 1970s cop show about a pair of mismatched California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers. Here, Shepard is down-and-out Jon Baker, a newbie on the force, partnered with Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Michael Peña), who is actually an undercover federal agent investigating crooked cops. Vincent D’Onofrio, Adam Brody and Kristen Bell (Shepard’s real-life wife) co-star.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.