"About the Boy" -- Will (Hugh Grant) is a good-looking, smooth-talking 38-year-old British bachelor happily drifting through a life dedicated to an utter lack of responsibility until a young boy teaches him it's never too late to grow up in this charming, entertaining comedy. Will is the ultimate slacker, having never held a job -- back in the '50s, his late father wrote a megahit Christmas song and he's been living handsomely on royalties -- and while dating a lot of pretty women he has not had a relationship that lasted over a couple of months. When anyone tries to see any depth in his character, Will proclaims, "I really am this shallow." He decides to invent a son so he can begin dating single moms, thinking they would be easier to dump, and while that idea backfires he comes in contact with Marcus (Nicolas Hoult), a bright but sad-eyed 12-year-old, a much put-upon kid who badly needs a friend. Reluctantly, Will grows to like the boy and as he instructs Marcus on how to be cool, and advises his emotionally disturbed mother (Toni Collette) as well, Marcus gives Will some pointers on life as an adult. The film, based on a novel by Nick Hornby, is very likable and Grant, always the charmer, was never better. 2002. 102 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated PG-13 (thematic material, mild sensuality).
"The Good Girl" -- Shucking her glamour girl image, Jennifer Aniston is totally believable as Justine Last, a sad, hopelessly bored woman who finds herself trapped in a dead-end job in a dead-end town -- with marriage to match. She's been working at Retail Rodeo, a roadside discount store in a small, dreary West Texas town, for longer than she wants to admit, well aware she's smarter than everyone around her, including the dazed customers who troop through unaware the voice on the loudspeaker is insulting them all. Night is no better for when she goes home after work she usually finds housepainter husband Phil (John C. Reilly) and partner Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson) sprawled out on the couch watching TV and getting stoned. Small wonder she's attracted to Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal), her new co-worker who despite coming off as an apparent weirdo pulls her into a hot passionate affair. Written by Mike White, who plays the store's security guard, and directed by Miguel Arteta, this movie works well, deftly balancing the satire and the serious, making the characters real-like rather than caricatures and with a first rate cast throughout. 2002. 93 minutes. Fox Home Entertainment. Rated R (sexuality, some language, drug content).
"Who is Cletis Tout?" -- Christian Slater and Tim Allen star in this trickily-plotted comedy crime caper about mistaken identity, a hitman who sees all in terms of old movies and a 20-year-old jewel heist. Trevor Finch (Slater) breaks out of prison with jewel thief Micah (Richard Dreyfuss) to retrieve the loot stashed in a field two decades earlier. They are provided new names by a confederate and, unfortunately, Finch becomes Cletis Tout, a man the mob wants dead -- and in fact, already has killed the real Tout but now thinks the wrong man was whacked. Enter Critical Jim (Allen), the movie buff hitman who quickly captures the bogus Tout and while waiting for his money before finishing the job, urges Finch to tell him a story about how he became Cletis and got into this fix, a "flashback," he says with glee. With touches of Tarantino and "The Usual Suspects," writer-director Chris Ver Wiel has concocted a tale that's clever, amusing and unpredictable. 2002. 95 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated R (language, some violence and sexuality).
"Blue Crush" -- Determined to be a surfing champion despite the odds, Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) is busily revving up her courage to tackle Hawaii's most prestigious competition, the Pipemasters, which could propel her back into the spotlight and maybe attract a sponsor. Her confidence, though, may not be able to match the big waves she'll face. She seemed headed for the top three years ago when she almost drowned and is just now mustering the nerve for a comeback. Her cheering section includes her two surfing buddies Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake) and her little sister Penny (Mika Boorem) who she's caring for since her mother vanished. And then there's the cute NFL quarterback Matt (Matthew Davis) who adds a new phase to her "training." A sort of "Rocky" on a surf board, the story is rather predictable, working best when in the water, but the photography is outstanding. 2002. 106 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated PG-13 (sexual content, teen partying, language and a fight).
"Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat" -- Martin Lawrence leaves virtually no offensive word or description of bodily functions unturned in this ribald one-man show filmed last year at Constitutional Hall in Washington. But it's funny, if you can get past the dicey dialogue, and Lawrence has impeccable timing. 2002. 103 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated R (strong crude sexual dialogue and pervasive language).
Coming up: "The Bourne Identity," "Simone," "Ordinary Decent Criminals," "Time Out" and "101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure"... "Minority Report" remains in the majority as far as the nation's video movie renters are concerned...
Domestic home video movie sales and rentals topped the $20 billion mark in 2002 for the first time, according to industry reports. Variety puts the figure at a hefty $20.3 billion with consumers spending $12.1 billion to buy movies on DVD or VHS and $8.2 billion more renting them. DVDs sparked a dramatic increase in the purchase of movies while rentals dropped. Fox's Michael Douglas thriller "Don't Say a Word" was the overall top rental of the year, garnering $84 million, followed by a pair of Warner releases, "Ocean's Eleven" ($82.2 million) and "Training Day" ($79.5 million)...
Paramount celebrates Elvis Presley's 68th birthday with the release of four of the King's movies from the 1960s on DVD. The lot includes "Fun in Alcapulco," "Paradise Hawaiian Style," "Easy Come, Easy Go" and "Girls! Girls! Girls!"... For your futures book: MGM has scheduled a spruced up two-disc special DVD edition of "West Side Story" for April 1 for a limited time...
New on DVD: "The Shield," the first season (four discs, 13 episodes) of the tough, unflinching tale of a rogue cop who does things his way or no way -- and anything goes if he thinks it justifies the end -- as shown on cable TV and released on video by Fox. Michael Chiklis won a well-deserved Emmy Award for his performance as Vic Mackey, leader of the elite strike team unit and dead-set on eliminating crime in a blighted section of Los Angeles. No one questions that he gets results; it's how he does it that worries people on both sides of the law.