‘Call’ captivates, ‘Burt’ bowls over and ‘Rambler’ ricochets on DVD

Among the movies that became available Tuesday, June 25 on Blu-ray and DVD at retail stores and rental outlets throughout the Valley are a thriller in which Halle Berry plays a 911 operator, a comedy in which Steve Carell plays a magician and a drama in which Dermot Mulroney plays a rambler.

The Call

Halle Berry plays a veteran 911 operator who, upon taking a life-altering call from a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) who has just been abducted, realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl’s life. (R – 94 minutes)

It is no coincidence that “The Call” falls apart precisely at the point that the phone’s connection is lost. After spending an hour building some of the most spectacular suspense that we have seen this year, screenwriter Richard D’Ovidio – seemingly having written himself into a corner – simply gives up and starts dialing random numbers in search of a competent conclusion. Instead, all he finds is sheer stupidity as the story essentially hangs up on any sensibility whatsoever. Granted, it is silly from the start but nothing will prepare you for the farce of a finale. (Thumbs Up!)

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Steve Carell plays a magician who splits from his longtime stage partner (Steve Buscemi) after a guerrilla street magician (Jim Carrey) steals their thunder. By spending some time with his boyhood idol (Alan Arkin), he looks to remember what made him love magic in the first place. (PG-13 – 100 minutes)

“The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is definitely fun but it is far from magical. The movie’s strengths lie squarely with its likeable cast members – namely Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey, any one of whom would be more than enough to entertain an audience. Therefore, seeing all three in the same place is trick worth watching in and of itself. However, the material – though it starts strong and finishes fabulously – meanders in the middle and does not provide the motion picture’s three shining stars the right resources to transform this amusing magic wand into a boisterous bouquet of flowers. (Thumbs Up!)

A Place at the Table

Filmmakers Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush investigate incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans as well as proposed solutions to the problem. (PG – 84 minutes)

“A Place at the Table” is certain to turn the stomachs of its viewers, who are bound to become enraged over the injustice faced by millions of Americans who either do not have enough to eat or are unable to afford the type of food that leads to a long and healthy life. Filmmakers Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush’s new documentary succeeds in setting a fire under the seats of its viewers by both tugging at their heartstrings with tales of tragedy and engaging their brains with food for thought. The film’s fascination factor falls in the second half but its subject is still too significant to slight. (Thumbs Up!)

The Rambler

Dermot Mulroney plays a solitary man who, upon his release from prison, embarks on a mysterious journey en route to reconnecting with his long-lost brother during which he unearths a multitude of bizarre and wickedly depraved slices of Americana. (R – 97 minutes)

“The Rambler” is sure to make sense to some people. However, I am hoping that I never have the misfortune of meeting any of them as they are almost certain to be so deeply deranged that they pose a danger to anyone and everyone within their general vicinity. The new dark dramedy is mildly intriguing as it takes a mystifying look inside the mind of a man who is clearly a very disturbed individual. And, if taken sequence-by-sequence, some may even call it kind of creative. However, as a whole, it is nothing but an incredibly incoherent collection of complete craziness. (Thumbs Down!)

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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