What’s new to VOD and streaming this weekend: July 16-18, 2021

Including Space Jam: A New Legacy, Surreal Estate, Gunpowder Milkshake and Schmigadoon!


Space Jam: A New Legacy

(Malcolm D. Lee)

A quarter-century after Michael Jordan goofed his way through a green-screen fantasia with half a dozen beloved Looney Tunes characters, Space Jam: A New Legacy is here to demonstrate that no IP goes unrevisited. This time, it’s LeBron James who joins forces with Bugs (voiced by Jeff Bergman), Daffy (Eric Bauza) and most of the Tune Squad to tackle a computer-generated team of super-players in order to save his son (Cedric Joe) from the clutches of a scheming AI (Don Cheadle) who’s sucked them both into the Warner Bros. server. It’s basically an excuse for a whole bunch of perfunctory movie references, as a cartoonified King James joins Bugs Bunny to ricochet around various Warner properties assembling his teammates for the big game, which gives our heroes a CG upgrade that’s weirdly off-putting. (Maybe it’s an allergic reaction to the premise of Disney’s Tron being spliced into the movie’s all-Warner DNA.) Kids will probably like the bright colours and nonstop motion, but their parents won’t find much to enjoy here beyond Cheadle and Sonequa Martin-Green doing their best to make their line readings land. At least it’s 25 minutes shorter than Ready Player One. 116 minutes. Now playing in theatres and available as a premium VOD rental (see below). NN (Norman Wilner)

Surreal Estate

(George R. Olson)

Okay, so maybe the notion of a small-town realtor who specializes in accursed properties is a little modest for a weekly TV series. But if seeing Tim Rozon as that realtor gets you to buy in, you’ll find Surreal Estate to be a fine little hangout show, albeit one with a few structural bumps before it figures out its tone halfway through the season. Rozon – who played Doc Holliday in Wynonna Earp and a spacier sidekick in Vagrant Queen – is an awfully charming lead as the (literally) haunted Luke Roman, and creator/producer Olson surrounds him with engaging supporting players: Maurice Dean Wint, Adam Korson and Savannah Basley are Luke’s team, Schitt’s Creek’s Sarah Levy is the hotshot closer who’s just joined the firm and Tennille Read plays a client in whom Luke takes a more than professional interest. Series directors include Paul Fox, Danishka Esterhazy, Paolo Barzman and Rozon’s Earp scene partner Melanie Scrofano, who also turns up for an episode. Mysteries of the week take precedence over deep mythology and season-long arcs, which is downright refreshing in a Syfy series. It’s worth a drop-in. Fridays at 10 pm on CTV Sci-Fi, and available to stream at CTV.ca. NN (NW)

Schmigadoon!

(Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul)

Daurio and Paul’s self-aware comedy about a pair of New York doctors (Cecily Strong, Keegan-Michael Key) who find themselves trapped in a Golden Age movie musical takes an awfully broad conceptual swing. Shot entirely on soundstages to replicate the overlit, Technicolor look of Hollywood studio productions in the 40s and 50s, Schmigadoon! is aimed squarely at Broadway nerds, theatre kids and folks who enjoy winking genre deconstructions. I’m one of the latter people, so what can I say? It worked for me. Key and Strong are Josh and Melissa, who take a wrong turn during a couples’ retreat and wind up in the eponymous village, which is populated entirely with musical stereotypes and filled with opportunities to burst into song. (Melissa, who loves musicals, is into it; Josh, who doesn’t, is not.) The conflicts are predictable, but that’s the point; this is just an excuse to assemble a murderer’s row of talent – Alan Cumming! Kristin Chenoweth! Dove Cameron! Aaron Tviet! Ann Harada! Jane Krakowski! and Fred Armisen! are also there! – and let director Barry Sonnenfeld find fun ways to stage musical numbers. If the thought of watching Chenoweth run through a patter song straight out of The Music Man in a single dizzying take holds no appeal, feel free to skip the entire show. But if you just got goose pimples? Clear your schedule. New episodes every Friday on Apple TV+. NNNN (NW)

Gunpowder Milkshake

(Navot Papushado)

The latest in a never-ending line of John Wick-inspired celebrations of stylized violence, Gunpowder Milkshake is one of the few that remembers these things are supposed to be entertaining. There’s some glowering, sure, and a plot driven by revenge, but Papushado wants us to enjoy ourselves with the story of a hitwoman (Karen Gillan) murdering her way through scores of heavily armed goons to save a little girl (My Spy’s Chloe Coleman). And they’re not alone: there’s also a cadre of warrior librarians played by Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett and Carla Gugino, and Lena Headey is around as our hero’s long-vanished mother, who also packs a mean heater. The plot is minimal, the banter perfunctory. This movie knows what people want from it, and delivers one elaborate set piece after another, from a high-concept shootout to a battle that fragments into four separate sections within one building. Gillan, of Doctor Who and the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies, finally getting a starring role worthy of her comic intensity, spending most of the movie wearing a bowling jacket that feels like a nod to Uma Thurman’s Kill Bill tracksuit. But everyone’s having a blast, really. 114 minutes. Now streaming on Netflix Canada. NNNN (NW)

Available on VOD

Die In A Gunfight

Alexandra Daddario, Diego Boneta, Justin Chatwin; directed by Colin Schiffli

Apple TV, Cineplex

Gunda

Documentary directed by Victor Kossakovsky

Apple TV, Google Play, Hot Docs At Home

The Loneliest Whale: The Search For 52

Documentary directed by Joshua Zeman

Hot Docs At Home

The Misfits 

Pierce Brosnan, Tim Roth, Jamie Chung; directed by Renny Harlin

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

A Quiet Place Part II

Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy; directed by John Krasinski

Read NOW’s review

Apple TV, Cineplex

Space Jam: A New Legacy

LeBron James, Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green; directed by Malcolm D. Lee

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

Victim Of Love

Rudi Kahnke, Siff Andersson, Louise Cho; directed by Jesper Isaksen

Apple TV

Streaming guides

Everything coming to streaming platforms this month:

Netflix Canada

Crave

Amazon Prime Video Canada

Disney+

CBC Gem

The packaging of Paramount Home Entertainment's 4K steelbook edition of Almost Famous,
Courtesy Paramount Home Entertainment

Disc of the week

Almost Famous (Paramount, 4K)

Now that Cameron Crowe’s autobiographical drama is old enough to drink in its native U.S., Paramount is marking the occasion with a two-disc 4K release offering both the 2000 theatrical version and the “bootleg cut” Crowe delivered in 2011, which restored 38 minutes of footage. The theatrical cut remains the best thing Crowe ever did, a tonally perfect memoir of his experiences as a teenage music journalist tagging along with his favourite band, being welcomed into their circle and being crushed by the realization that they were not, in fact, the golden gods he needed them to be. Patrick Fugit has never been better as Crowe’s stand-in, William Miller; Kate Hudson is similarly perfectly cast as Penny Lane, the faithful band follower who takes him under her wing. Every other role is similarly dead-on, from Frances McDormand as William’s anxious mother to Philip Seymour Hoffman as rock writer Lester Bangs. The music is perfect. The atmosphere is perfect. It’s his masterpiece.

As for that longer version, it’s … fine. It doesn’t improve on the perfection of the 2000 cut, and in light of the bloated messes that loom in Crowe’s future, its rambling expansiveness feels almost like a warning. Think of it as a worthy companion piece, offering a little more insight into the secondary characters and the world they’re moving through, and fans of the movie should check it out at least once.

In fact, they’ve almost certainly done that already, so what’s the appeal of this release beyond the shiny steelbook packaging? There’s a handful of new supplemental features, produced for the Paramount Presents Blu-ray line: a new introduction from Crowe, looks at the casting process and the actors’ time in band camp and collections of extended scenes and outtakes. (The discs also include all the supplements produced for previous discs, including a fairly decent making-of documentary and a charming friends-and-family commentary track on the Bootleg cut.) But the real reason to bring this version home is the 4K mastering. Both versions of the film are beautifully rendered here, with new HDR and Dolby Vision grades that bring out the deeper, warmer colour palette of 35mm film, and make you realize how the DVD and Blu-ray editions pale by comparison. If you have a 4K setup, and you love this movie, this is the package that belongs on your shelf.

@nowtoronto

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