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The Royal Tenenbaums (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)


All hail Gene Hackman! As Royal Tenenbaum, a much-hated patriarch looking for redemption in Wes Anderson's funny and heartwarming movie, Hackman got one of his better roles; it may even be his best. It's a crime he was snubbed for an Oscar, although he did take home a Golden Globe and some critics'-choice awards.

Anderson, coming off the triumph that was Rushmore, wrote (alongside Owen Wilson) the perfect part for Hackman. It required him to be an absolute prick and absolutely endearing at the same time. Hackman knocked it out of the park. Anderson and Wilson got an Oscar nom for their screenplay.

Royal's ruse, in which he tells his family he has stomach cancer in order to regain access to his home, is the kind of surreal, bizarre stuff that Anderson has trademarked. As Royal occupies a room in the house, taking Tic Tac placebos and eating cheeseburgers all day, it takes the family a while to figure out he's lying about his illness.

That family features wonderful performances by Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke and Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston and Danny Glover. Stiller must give Anderson credit for creating the greatest and most-moving moment of his acting career thus far. It comes close to the film's end; it features Hackman, and it's just beautiful.

Since Tenenbaums, Anderson has done nothing but amaze me. His Moonrise Kingdom stands as my favorite movie of 2012 so far, and I'm quite confident his future efforts will score high marks. He hasn't made a bad movie yet, and I doubt that he ever will.

And let us not forget how much Buckley the beagle rules in this movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A classic, award-winning commentary from Anderson that is very much worth your time. You also get interviews with much of the cast, two deleted scenes and more. These are all features from a past edition, though; it would've been cool to see some new stuff.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)


Legend has it that Lou Costello was pissed at the prospect of this movie, calling the script crap. However, he reportedly warmed to the concept during filming. As a result, it seems like his heart isn't in it during parts of this movie, while other parts are classic Costello.

The decision to mix the highly successful monster franchises of Frankenstein, the Wolfman and Dracula with the comic team proved to be important to Universal and the duo. They would go on to make similar films mixing horror and comedy, even facing off against Boris Karloff at one point.

Karloff didn't participate in this one, refusing the role of Frankenstein's monster. But you do get Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, his first take on the role since the original 1931 Dracula. You also get Lon Chaney Jr. in his Wolfman role. Trivia note: Chaney also donned the Frankenstein's-monster makeup for one scene when Glenn Strange, the film's monster actor, was unavailable.

While I've always felt this one was a little clunky, it does feature my favorite Costello moment of all time. It's a quick moment in which he breaks the fourth wall after pulling a tablecloth out from under various objects during a chase scene. Yes, it's the oldest joke in the book, but Costello rocks the moment.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There's a decent film historian commentary and a fun making-of featurette.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season (DVD)





(OUT OF 10)


I started to tire a bit during the beginning of this zombie show's second season, but, wow, did it rally.

One of the things I love about this show is the foreboding feeling that nobody is safe, no matter how important or big the character seems to be. Some big ones bit the dust this season, and I have a feeling the same will hold true for the third season.

The deaths never let up. There was that big barn fiasco that brought the demise of an important character in an unthinkable way, followed by the death of the character who represented the show's moral compass. Then ... well, I don't want to spoil it if you haven't watched it.

Lots of this season's action took place on a farm. This locale managed to lull me into a sense of safeness, followed by boredom. Well, that was just a big tease: There was nothing safe about the farm, and very bad things happen.

Everything leads up to the new location for Season 3, which kicks off Oct. 14 on AMC.

SPECIAL FEATURES: This sucker is loaded. There are tons of behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentaries on select episodes, and nearly a half-hour of deleted scenes. You would have to set aside a lot of time to get through everything.

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