DVD reviews

The top films to snuggle up at home with this Christmas...

1/3
He’s Just Not That Into You

3/5
Dir Ken Kwapis US (TBA)

The He’s Just Not That Into You theory will need no introduction for TV’s Sex and the City fans: the episode in question even inspired a book. The idea is that if a guy doesn’t call after a date, he’s just not that into you. Full stop. (Or, ‘period’, as this Baltimore-based comedy would put it). Serial dater/stalker Gigi (a delightful Ginnifer Goodwin) has trouble accepting this, and turns to playboy Alex (Justin Long, bit of a stretch) for relationship advice. But could Alex be the one she’s looking for?

Meanwhile a cast of surprisingly big names play out other scenarios: Ben Affleck doesn’t want to marry Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly’s husband cheats with Scarlett Johansson, etc. Initially, observations about male and female behaviour are fairly accurate and entertaining. But this fails to quit while it’s ahead, running more than two hours and repeating its point in patronising fashion. But it remains a respectable self-help comedy for women too young to have worked the idea out for themselves.
Anna Smith


The Accidental Husband

2/5
Dir Griffin Dunne US (TBA)

Dispenser of stern advice on her NYC radio phone-in, broadcaster Uma Thurman is about to wed her publisher fiancé (Colin Firth), only to discover the registry office database already has her married to some guy in Brooklyn. That’s fireman Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who was fuming after the radio host talked his fiancée into calling off their nuptials and, with help from a techy whizzkid, decided to take his revenge.

A tussle over the annulment sets in motion the familiar rom-com tropes of choosing between seemingly opposite suitors and initial antipathy sparking made-for-each-other passion. It’s painless anodyne fare, though genuine laughs are few, apart from comfort-eating Firth’s illicit ‘naughty choccy’.
Trevor Johnston


Orphan

3/5
Dir Jaume Collet-Serra US (TBA)

Spaniard Jaume Collet-Serra’s wickedly entertaining, if slightly over-stretched, variation on the ‘evil child’ scenario displays an complex grasp of twisted psychology. Rather than simply dumping a disruptive child into a happy family, it shows how grieving ex-alcoholic Kate (Vera Farmiga) and her architect husband John (Peter Saarsgard) – whose third child was stillborn – introduce a nine-year-old Russian orphan, Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), into their nest. But the precocious Esther is more controlling than consoling, a cuckoo who starts to manipulate both her adoptive parents and her siblings, younger daughter Max (Aryana Engineer) and older son Daniel (Jimmy Bennett).

Producer Joel Silver regularly specialises in routine horror remakes, such as Collet-Serra’s previous House of Wax. But here, courtesy of a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson, we are in more disturbing territory. Orphan does contain shocking, though not especially graphic, violence. More frightening by far, however, are the subtly vicious mind-ga mes, as Esther drives a wedge between her parents. There’s also a killer twist that forces the audience to rethink everything they’ve seen.
Nigel Floyd

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