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New on DVD: 'Hot Tub Time Machine,' 'The White Ribbon' and others

Posted 10:07am on Wednesday, Jun. 30, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

Adam (John Cusack), Lou (Rob Corddry) and Nick (Craig Robinson) were once close friends, now going through some tough times. With Adam's nephew Jacob (Clark Duke) in tow, they take a weekend trip to a ski lodge where they spent many memorable weekends. They step inside the hot tub and -- shazam! -- it's 1986 all over again, complete with neon colors, bad perms and repeated references to Miami Vice. Hot Tub Time Machine winks and nods at any number of '80s movies, from time-travel comedies like Back to the Future and Peggy Sue Got Married to teen sex romps like Hot Dog: The Movie and Revenge of the Nerds. But it does so much winking that it never develops a personality. Nor is it especially funny. (When the film's first two gags involve excrement -- a set of keys swallowed by a dog and an exploding hospital tube filled with urine -- you know you're in trouble.) Once the semi-amusing buzz of the title wears off (i.e., once you've seen the trailer), a sense of utter pointlessness quickly settles in.

The White Ribbon is a hypnotic drama takes place in a German village, just before the start of World War I, where a series of evil misdeeds leave everyone panicked and confused. Director Michael Haneke ( Caché, Funny Games) creates an overwhelming sense of unease, and then invites the viewer to make sense of the seemingly senseless.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief follows the same formula as the Harry Potter movies, blending the mystical with the mortal to create a world-threatening situation that only three young warriors can stop. With its likable central characters and solid direction by Chris Columbus, it's the start of a franchise that could be really good.

The Crazies, a taut, suspenseful joyride through the zombie nation that's based on the 1973 film of the same name, follows a group of unfortunate souls who drank water from a river that was contaminated. This is a B-movie in the best sense of the word, proving big names and a bigger budget aren't necessary for creativity.

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