The Hangover Part III, the last, most expensive and least successful of the series of movies about a bunch of buddies involved in intermittently comedic adventures, is out on DVD this week. But far less seen, but far more recommended here, is Much Ado About Nothing, writer-director Joss Whedon's black-and-white, modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy.
The movie is, if nothing else, a testament to the workaholic side of Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Marvel's The Avengers). He was supposed to take a break after he completed shooting of The Avengers but chose instead to make this film — in 12 days, at his home and with the help of people from the Whedon stock company (Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg among them).
Whedon's trimming of the Shakespearean text created some plot holes that are at best barely patched over. But the piece as a whole is endearing in its comedic and dramatic moments. The film also works around some favorite Whedon topics, about identity and deception, about who we are and what we aim to be.
Denisof and Acker form the center of the production, and both are quite good. Acker shines most — smart, vibrant and beautiful, the kind of woman to whom many men would be helplessly drawn even as she is detailing their inadequacies.
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Extras include a making-of featurette, a music video and two audio commentaries — one with Whedon solo, one with Whedon and cast members.
Much Ado About Nothing retails for $19.98 on DVD, $24.98 on Blu-ray.
These DVDs were released this week:
Films: The Hangover Part III; The Purge; After Earth; Star Wars Trilogy Episodes I-III and Star Wars Trilogy Episodes IV-VI (both include commentary by director George Lucas and new commentary from archival interviews with cast and crew); Curse of Chucky; Dancing Ninja; I Married a Witch (1942, Criterion Collection); Marvel's Avengers Assemble: Assembly Required (animated); Tad: The Lost Explorer (animated); The Borrowers (2011 remake for TV); My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas (2005); Caillou: Let's Go Sledding; Dinosaur Train: We Are a Dinosaur Family; Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure (animated).
TV series: The Six Million Dollar Man: Season 4; Psych: Seventh Season; Bones Season Eight; 90210: The Final Season; American Horror Story: Asylum; In the Flesh (three-part BBC America zombie series); White Collar: Season Four; Totally Spies Collection: Seasons 1-3; Robot Chicken Season 6; Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis Pilot Through Series 6; The Middle: Third Season; The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset (1965-68, 16-disc set); The Secret of Crickley Hall (BBC miniseries); The Best of (The Original) An Evening at the Improv (four-disc set); Drawing With Mark.
THE WASHINGTON POST