Video releases for July 22, 2020
NEW YORK – The following are capsule reviews from Catholic News Service of new and recent video releases available on DVD and/or Blu-ray – as well as for online viewing. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account any extra content.
"Marriage Story" (2019)
Engrossing study of the divorce process as an avant-garde New York theater director (Adam Driver) and his actress wife (Scarlett Johansson) split, their initial shared impulse to behave decently toward each other and to shield their young son (Azhy Robertson) being swiftly undermined by the legal system and by the aggressive stance of some of the attorneys involved (Laura Dern and Ray Liotta). Writer-director Noah Baumbach's hard-hitting drama, which also features Alan Alda as a more sympathetic lawyer, covers a broad range of emotions, from gentle affection to blind rage, each mood carefully calibrated by the script and skillfully evoked in remarkably fine performances. Viewers guided by Gospel values will find an implicit but unmistakable affirmation of marriage since the loss of the bond between the principals is limned in starkly tragic hues. Though the dialogue is steadily studded with terms that would normally preclude endorsement for any but grown-ups, some parents may consider that the underlying value of the picture overrides such considerations where older teens are concerned. Mature references, including to adultery and sexual acts, brief irreverent talk, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, a couple of milder oaths, frequent rough and much crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R – restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray)
"Rachel and the Stranger" (1948)
A widower (William Holden) raising a son on the Kentucky frontier marries a bondswoman (Loretta Young) but only comes to appreciate her when his best friend (Robert Mitchum) tries to win her affections. Directed by Norman Foster, the odd triangle leads Young to reject both men as desiring a servant more than a wife, but a convenient Shawnee attack resolves the dilemma. Quasi-feminist theme with a conventional romantic ending. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association. (Warner Archives Collection; also available on Blu-ray)
Bland animated addition to the Scooby-Doo franchise that began as a Saturday morning TV show in 1969. Opening with an origins story of the bond between a future laid-back beatnik (voice of Will Forte) and his faithful dog (voice of Frank Welker), director Tony Cervone's adventure then jumps forward a decade to the battle between the Mystery, Inc. gang to which the duo belongs – its other members voiced by Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron and Amanda Seyfried – and a villain (voice of Jason Isaacs) who wants to kidnap the titular canine because of the supernatural power he possesses as a descendant of Alexander the Great's pet pooch. The ensemble is aided by an aspiring superhero (voice of Mark Wahlberg), his brainy sidekick (voice of Kiersey Clemons) and a mechanical pup (voice of Ken Jeong). While it salutes unity, loyal friendship, courage and self-sacrifice, this passable feature fails to make much of an impression. Too frightening for little kids, it's acceptable for most others. Much peril, mature wordplay, a single crass term, brief scatological humor. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray)
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.