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New Releases for Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Genre: Action

Directed by: Alex Merkin

Run time: 88 minutes

Rating: R

Format: Blu-Ray

The Lowdown: Denise Richards has played a lot of roles in her 27-year acting career. She’s been a bisexual femme fatale, a futuristic space soldier and a nuclear physicist helping 007 save the world.

But as Gretchen Blair, a disgraced FBI hostage negotiator who buckles in for a very bumpy ride in Altitude, she may finally have maxed her ability to make audiences suspend belief.

Altitude is the kind of action movie that would randomly appear on the shelf at the old video rental store back in the day. You couldn’t tell much about the film from the cover art, but if you recognized the lead actress, and knew she had gone topless in a previous role, you usually took a chance.

And, to be honest, Altitude kicks off with just the right amount of cheese as Blair tries to thwart a potential massacre at a federal building by playing phone sex with a domestic terrorist. She saves the day, but finds herself reprimanded and demoted for failing to follow protocol.

As soon as she boards the fateful plane to travel to her new desk assignment in a remote federal office, Altitude begins to show signs of cabin pressure failure before it even leaves the ground.

Action movies – especially those kept in confined quarters, like a passenger jet – need to operate with purpose. It’s a pretty simple formula: Hero + (Scenario)/(Bad Guy/Girl) = lots of near-miss encounters with gunfire until Hero saves the day.

Director Alex Merkin wastes too much time focusing on other passengers, and his inept airline crew. There's just not enough action early on to hold your interest.

Altitude is the kind of movie that has Jonathan Lipnicki – the ‘human head weighs eight pounds’ kid from Jerry Maguire – as a dancing, lip-synching flight attendant who gets killed barely 30 minutes into the movie.

Note: Lipnicki is actually the third most-famous actor in the cast, yet he's not named on the box art and I didn’t even know he was in the damn movie until I looked it up on IMDb.

I have no problem believing that 5-foot-6 Richards could manhandle a bunch of bad guys, including former MMA superstar Chuck Liddell. The problem in Altitude is that Richards doesn’t look like she believes she can do it. She makes ridiculously poor decisions, despite being a federal agent, and when the time comes for her to actually step up and kick ass – well, if you actually make it that far into the film, I’ll let you decide if she pulls it off.

Altitude is the kind of movie where an entire commercial plane full of passengers simply accepts that they’re being hijacked and sits quietly for much of the flight. When the plane suddenly plummets thousands of feet in a matter of seconds, no one screams or prayers or poops their pants. Um, really? I for one would be pooping my pants.

Altitude also is the kind of movie where a flight attendant deploys the inflatable emergency slide while the plane is barreling down a flaming runway to takeoff during a swirling snow storm and people somehow actually survive the jump. Yeah, right!

Really, the only reason to watch Altitude is to see Dolph Lundgren bring an immeasurable air of class to the proceedings as the lead hijacker. He just looks cool and says very little, but when he speaks, he’s uber-cool in the way that only Dolph Lundgren can be.

The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Yes.

Nudity – No. Gore – No.

Drug use – No.

Bad Guys/Killers – Dolph Lundgren and more.

Buy/Rent – Neither.

Workaholics: The Complete Series (Paramount, 1,860 minutes, Unrated, DVD): I finally get it. I finally understand why Adam Devine is suddenly everywhere – hosting MTV awards shows, top-lining studio comedies, starring in commercials.

The dude’s funny; but, more specifically, he’s an absolute laugh riot when paired with his Workaholics co-stars, Anders Holm and Blake Anderson.

For seven seasons from 2011 through this year, the three played fictionalized versions of themselves, or at least 20-something-year-old office drones who used the same first names, on Comedy Central.

I never saw the show during its run, and I’m kicking myself now for jumping on the bandwagon so late. But better late than not ever having known just how damn good this show is when it hits its mark, which is often.

The trio should be proud of what they accomplished, spinning gold from familiar scenarios by fearlessly going in directions that most performers might never consider. And that’s what truly sets Workaholics apart.

Whether trying to foil a surprise drug test a day after getting stupid high at a house party, or using their office cubicle to create a makeshift fort to sleep at night while their house is tented for a bug infestation, Devine, Holm and Anderson find unexpected and hysterical ways to take a basic premise and build upon it.

Example 1 – The corporate mixer.

Young professionals know them all too well. Overpriced martinis and overzealous schmoozing just to exchange business cards. Except in the Workaholics world, this time-honored tradition gets a makeover a la the Insane Clown Posse, a garish and game Rebel Wilson and some subtle, yet effective, subtext about not conforming to expectations.

That’s the thing about Workaholics – no matter how far into left field it goes, the show finds a way to return and reaffirm its core reason for existing, which is the value of friendship in the scary real world. And sometimes doing the right thing -- after doing the wrong thing, of course.

Example 2 – Online trolls.

Another great episode, titled To Friend a Predator, involves the boys trying to expose a pedophile who is lurking on a Justin Bieber fan-based message board. Never mind that both Blake and an office colleague, Jillian (the riotous Jillian Bell), are both members of the online Bieber community, or that they’re both pretending to be 11-year-old fans to avoid public embarrassment for loving the Bieb’s music.

To oust the predator, they stage an elaborate Chris Hansen-style sting, but when the pervert turns out to be Topher (a hysterical Chris D’Elia), and he proves to be a super cool party bro, the guys forget that he was seeking sex with a young boy and go on a drug-fueled bender with him. That is, until they remember Topher was seeking sex with a young boy. Then they assist in his arrest.

Whether you loved the show and caught every episode as it aired, or you’re like me, and just discovered it, this impressive 15-disc set is well worth your time and money.

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The Lawnmower Man – Collector’s Edition

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