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Thursday, September 23, 2021

What to Watch on Vudu: Marvel’s ‘Black Widow,’ Mark Wahlberg in ‘Joe Bell,’ the Best Cult Classics and More

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Want to know what’s coming soon to digital and what to watch right now on Vudu? Here is your weekly guide to the latest releases:


What are the latest new releases to watch right now?

Black Widow, the latest feature film installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is now available to purchase on Vudu. Oscar-nominated actress Scarlett Johansson reprises her titular role in the action movie as the longtime Avenger, also known as Natasha Romanoff. Set before the cataclysmic events of Infinity War and Endgame, the solo adventure reunites the character with her old “family.” Fellow Oscar nominee Florence Pugh, Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz and David Harbour co-star as figures from Natasha’s past as a Russian spy. And they join her in the fight against the mysterious and powerful villains Taskmaster and General Dreykov plus an army of new Black Widow soldiers.

Consistent with the Marvel movie franchise, Black Widow is great entertainment with more grounded action, effects and drama than we’ve seen before. Pugh, in particular, is a blast in her MCU debut, especially when paired with Johansson. Also, Harbour is hilarious, and as the big bad Dreykov, Ray Winstone is perfection. Marvel proves its continued commitment to character and dynamics between different definitions of “family” relationships. And you get even more of it all when you buy the movie, as the digital purchase comes with deleted scenes, a gag reel and behind-the-scenes featurettes with the filmmakers and stars. 

Joe Bell is also new to digital this week, both for purchase on Vudu and as a premium Home Premiere rental. Oscar-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg stars in the title role of a father confronting the effects of his gay teenage son (Reid Miller) being harassed at school. Based on a true story, the drama follows Joe as he embarks on a crusade against bullying and intolerance. Emmy-nominated actress Connie Britton (TV’s Friday Night Lights) co-stars as the boy’s mother, while Oscar-nominee Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump) plays a sheriff affected by Joe’s story. The movie was written by Diana Ossana and the late Larry McMurtry, who previously won an Oscar for their screenplay for Brokeback Mountain.


What movies are great to pair with those new releases?

The easiest recommendation for a pairing with Black Widow is another installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But which one? Well, if you’re looking for what to watch to set up the new movie, Captain America: Civil War is the feature set chronologically before Black Widow, and the ending of the former leads into the plot of the latter. But you also might want to revisit Avengers: Endgame before watching Black Widow, or Scarlett Johansson’s first appearance in the MCU in Iron Man 2. And her other installments are worth watching: The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War. Hey, why not just pick up all the Marvel movies while you’re at it?

Black Widow is a relatively standalone installment of the MCU, though, and you might enjoy it without ever having seen another Marvel movie. If you’re interested in a double feature with something outside the franchise, I recommend the James Bond movie Moonraker, which makes a cameo in Marvel’s latest and is a clear influence. Other inspirations worthy of pairing include Thelma & Louise, No Country for Old Men and The Kids Are All Right. Or, check out Pugh in Lady Macbeth or Fighting with My Family, Weisz in The Constant Gardener or The Bourne Legacy, Harbour in Hellboy or Winstone in Sexy Beast.

For Joe Bell, I recommend pairing the movie with Brokeback Mountain, which is by the same screenwriters and also concerns drama involving young gay men in a world that doesn’t accept them. Other movies with LGBT-focused stories at least partly about parent-child relationships include Dee Rees’ Pariah, Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, Desiree Akhavan’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Rodrigo Bellott’s Tu me Manques. Other movies that could go well with Joe Bell include the family dramas Ordinary People and Rabbit Hole and the documentary Bully.


What are some great cult classic movies to buy this week?

With Free Guy, which I expect to become a cult favorite, opening in theaters Friday, I recommend checking out Vudu’s Cult Classics Sale. All featured titles are available to buy for just $4.99 and include the original movie about people who live in a video game: Tron. Also, the sci-fi comedy Idiocracy, the workplace comedy Office Space, the police force comedy Super Troopers and Napoleon Dynamite and Grandma’s Boy. And on the more action-driven side, there’s David Fincher’s Fight Club and John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Finally, you’ve got the cult-iest cult classic of all time: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Outside of the sale, I’d like to highlight some other cult classics worth watching. Pair up the mockumentaries This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman, spoof-filled films UHF and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the ‘90s stoner comedies Dazed and Confused and The Big Lebowski, the teen movies Heathers and Rushmore, documentaries Crumb and American Movie, so-bad-they’re-good favorites Plan 9 from Outer Space and Troll 2 and two more glam rock opera musicals: Phantom of the Paradise and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.


Are we celebrating any big movie and TV anniversaries this week?

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the theatrical release of John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A., the cult classic sequel to Escape from New York. Also turning 25 are the artist biopic Basquiat, starring Jeffrey Wright, Francis Ford Coppola’s Jack, starring Robin Williams, and the Kurt Vonnegut adaptation Mother Night. Also, 25 years ago this week, Trainspotting went into wider release. Meanwhile, the Irish musical The Commitments and the John Candy soap opera comedy Delirious turn 30, as do the iconic cartoon series Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy and Doug. And David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum turns 35.

Going back further, Wes Craven’s Deadly Blessing turns 40 years old this week while the Westworld sequel Futureworld turns 45. Also, George Stevens’ classic romantic drama A Place in the Sun, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, the Biblical drama David and Bathsheba, starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward, and the British comedy The Man in the White Suit all turn 70. Plus Victor Fleming’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman, and the adventure drama Dive Bomber both turn 80 and Frank Borzage’s Bad Girl turns 90.

More recent titles with anniversaries include the Nicole Kidman ghost story The Others, the comedy sequel American Pie 2, the live-action/animation hybrid Osmosis Jones, the horror movie Session 9 and the animated series Samurai Jack, which all turn 20 years old this week. Also, the Ryan Gosling drama Half Nelson, which turns 15, and The Help, Final Destination 5 and the Jesse Eisenberg crime comedy 30 Minutes or Less, which all turns 10. Plus, David MacKenzie’s Hell or High Water and David Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon remake are both already five years old!


Can you recommend some more great movie deals on Vudu?

Vudu’s latest summer-themed sale is spotlighting romantic movies, each for just $6.99. For that price, why not get two? You can grab a Jennifer Lopez duo with The Wedding Planner and Maid in Manhattan. Or a Channing Tatum pairing of Dear John and The Vow. Or a Cameron Diaz double feature with The Holiday and Sex Tape. Of course, you can go for three for America’s sweetheart, Julia Roberts, and grab My Best Friend’s Wedding, Eat Pray Love and the aptly titled America’s Sweethearts. If you can only buy one, though, make it Sleepless in Seattle.

Vudu is also having a sale right now on movies featuring outdoor adventures. These include adaptations of classic American novels, such as The Last of the Mohicans and The Call of the Wild, and pop culture landmarks like The Goonies and the Best Picture-winner The English Patient as well as documentaries such as Winged Migration with Sunshine Superman. Some double features I recommend among them include Wild with Into the Wild, The Odd Couple with The Bad News Bears, Summer Rental with The Great Outdoors, White Water Summer with The River Wild, The Revenant with First Cow and Whale Rider with Life of Pi.

The latest Actor’s Spotlight on Vudu highlights Oscar-nominee Hugh Jackman and Samuel L. Jackson and Oscar-winners Kathy Bates and Jennifer Hudson, the latter of whom stars in the new Aretha Franklin biopic opening this weekend. For Jackman, pick up The Prestige and Prisoners. For Jackson, I recommend the Quentin Tarantino duo of Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. For Bates, grab the Stephen King adaptations Misery, for which she won her Oscar, and Dolores Claiborne. And for Hudson, I recommend the musical Dreamgirls, for which she won her Oscar, and Spike Lee’s Chi-raq.


Which must-see movies are coming soon to Vudu?

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, a new movie based on the iconic toy line and movie and TV franchise, is coming to Vudu for digital purchase and rental next month, on September 7. Henry Golding, of Crazy Rich Asians, plays the titular G.I. Joe hero, while Andrew Koji (Fast & Furious 6) portrays his nemesis, Storm Shadow. And joining them are Samara Weaving (Bill & Ted Face the Music) and Úrsula Corberó (The Tree of Blood) as the characters Scarlett and Baroness, respectively. You can pre-order the martial-arts action blockbuster now so you’ll have it as soon as it’s released.


What are the 10 most popular movies on Vudu?

The biggest hits on Vudu over the last seven days were led by F9: The Fast Saga, for the second week in a row. New titles joining that Fast & Furious sequel included Pixar’s Luca and the must-see Nicholas Cage indie Pig. And the monster mash-up Godzilla vs. Kong returned to the list in the fifth place spot.

1. F9: The Fast Saga

2. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

3. A Quiet Place Part II

4. The Forever Purge

5. Godzilla vs. Kong

6. Luca

7. Wrath of Man

8. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

9. Pig

10. Peter Rabbit 2

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