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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

DVD+Digital: Catherine Keener, aging hippies and Misunderstanding

Posted by on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 10:51 AM

In the romantic comedy Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, new to DVD and Blu-ray this week, Catherine Keener plays Diane, a stressed out Manhattan attorney who retreats to her hippie mom's house in Woodstock when her husband asks for a divorce.

Diane brings the kids as well, college student Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) and nerdy teenager Jake (Nat Wolff). Diane's mom, Grace, is played by Jane Fonda, who has a good time sending up her image as queen of the aging hippie baby boomers.

Grace, it seems, is something of a legend in Woodstock — Bob Dylan had a thing for her — and has sold pot to and/or slept with pretty much everyone in town. It soon becomes apparent that Diane and Grace have some issues. Diane is wound awfully tight, and seems to resent her mom for an unstructured and chaotic childhood.

As Diane and Grace mend fences, the kids get acquainted with grandma and explore the town of Woodstock, which is depicted as a 1960s flower power mecca, frozen in time. Zoe finds love with the local butcher (Chace Crawford) and geeky Jake hooks up with the coffee shop girl Tara (Marissa O'Donnell).

Peace, Love and Misunderstanding isn't a great movie. It's predictable and mushy, and the hippie stuff is riddled with cliches. But it's also good-hearted and funny. Thanks to the ace ensemble cast — which also includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Rosanna Arquette and Kyle MaLachlan — the movie gets maximum mileage out of its lightweight script.

Fonda gives a nice comic performance as an earnest, slightly ditzy '60s casualty, still telling stories about that one amazing Dead show. Morgan is hunky and likeable as a local carpenter who tries to coax Diane out of her shell. And Elizabeth Olsen brings a bright energy and humor to her scenes.

But as usual, Catherine Keener is the one to watch. She finds levels of complexity and damage in Diane that, I'm guessing, were not there in the script. As painfully obvious premises go, it's hard to top the uptight lawyer mellowed out by hippie love. Yet Keener gives us a fully realized character with Diane. We believe her and pull for her.

The lone DVD extra is a standard-issue making-of featurette. Slight, cheerful and undemanding, Peace, Love and Misunderstanding is a good home video choice for multitasking, I think. I got two loads of laundry done watching this thing.

Also New This Week:

Director Tim Burton and his muse Johnny Depp reunite in Dark Shadows, a reboot of the inexplicably popular 1960s paranormal soap opera.

Chris Pine and the criminally underrated Elizabeth Banks headline the family drama People Like Us.

Robert De Niro plays a popular and possibly dangerous TV psychic in the thriller Red Lights, with Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy.

Michelle Yeoh plays Burmese political leader Aung San Suu Kyi in director Luc Besson's The Lady.

David Blaine: Decade of Magic collects the performer's various TV specials along with some behind-the-scenes details and previously unreleased footage.

Disney has raided the vaults yet again for the Blu-ray release of Cinderella in 6-disc, 3-disc and 2-disc packages, each with assorted extras. The release is the latest in Disney's Diamond Edition series, which is packed with goodies for obsessive animation fans.

The Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Blu-ray comes with the extras from previous DVD releases, plus some new interviews with cast and crew.

Plus: Michael Rooker in the horror thriller Hypothermia; Richard Chamberlain in the indie comedy We Are The Hartmans; the U.S. Secretary of State and her husband in the documentary The Clintons: An American Odyssey; and outer space Nazis in the German import Iron Sky. Seriously.

TV-on-DVD: Season collections from Magic City, Hart Of Dixie, Nikita, How I Met Your Mother and the British television phenomenon that is Downton Abbey.

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