Aunt Grizelda, voiced by Elmarie Wendel, is annoyed by the Lorax, voiced by Danny Devito, in the animated motion picture "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax." / Gannett/Universal/Illumination Entertainment
To be brutally honest, this column does not always highlight the best motion pictures Hollywood has to offer. What it does do is run down the top titles offered every week via DVD and download, and some weeks, inevitably, have a stronger release schedule than others. It gives me great pleasure, this week, to detail a richly varied lineup that reminds us of why movies, well, rock.
“The Lorax.” Film adaptations of the work of Dr. Seuss have been wildly uneven over the years, and this one doesn’t exactly belong in the hall of fame, either. But as for the criticism from conservative commentators that the movie harbors an environmental agenda, that’s because the theme is present in the book. Perhaps the picture’s detractors could’ve taken their concerns to author Theodor Geisel, were he still alive. No matter; Seuss movies always make for strong rentals. The film features the voices of Zac Efron (remember him?), Taylor Swift and Danny Devito. Rated PG for brief mild language, 86 min.
“Bel Ami.” Robert Pattinson doesn’t just have a monkey on his back, it’s a veritable gorilla called “Twilight.” The actor is out to prove he’s more than just another teen heartthrob, which accounts for his appearance in this period feature, based on a Guy de Maupassant novel, about a poor soldier using glamorous women to move up in Parisian society. The women are indeed glamorous (Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas), but the movie’s a dog, if the critics are to be believed. Rated R for some strong sexuality, nudity and brief language, 102 min.
“Marley.” This lengthy documentary seeks to be the definitive film work on the life and music of reggae icon Bob Marley, and comes pretty darn close. Director Kevin Macdonald doesn’t just rely on an abundance of archival footage; his movie was the beneficiary of full cooperation from the Marley family as well. “What ‘Marley’ and its wonderful performance footage leave you with most of all is the joy the man took in the music that set him free and enchanted the world,” wrote The Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan. Rated PG-13 for drug content, thematic elements and some violent images, 144 min.
“Grosse Pointe Blank.” John Cusack, in one of his career highlights, stars as a conflicted hitman who mixes a weekend job with his high school reunion in the Detroit suburb that stands as the film’s title. It’s a better idea than it is a movie, but this 1997 picture is suffused with a sense of cool irony that goes a long way, courtesy of Cusack, Minnie Driver in one of her early roles, and a nifty supporting cast. “The kind of quirky, character-driven comedy they don’t make much anymore,” USA Today’s Susan Wloszczyna wrote 15 years ago. For what it’s worth, they don’t make them today either. 15th Anniversary Edition, 107 min.
“High Fidelity.” It’s a smart filmmaker who understands just how much music can enliven his picture. This 12-year-old Stephen Frears title, which also stars John Cusack as a eternally bemused Chicago record store owner, is drenched with a love for pop music that’s seldom, if ever, been equaled on the big screen. The screenplay, based on a hip novel by the Brit Nick Hornby, uses relationship angst to comment on our culture, a device that works wonders. If you haven’t seen this movie, uh, why not? If you’ve missed out, here’s your chance to remedy a grave personal wrong. Blu-ray, 113 min.
This week’s most popular home video releases, as compiled by Rotten Tomatoes: “21 Jump Street,” “American Reunion,” “The Three Stooges,” “Mirror Mirror,” “Wrath of the Titans,” “The Lorax,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” “Safe House,” “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”
Email entertainment writer Todd Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.