What a mixed bag of releases we have this week. First off there's a kinda-sports comedy, 'Win-Win,' revolving around a struggling attorney who coaches the local high school wrestling team and figures out a slightly illegal way to boost his sagging practice and his losing mat squad. Then there's the kinda-documentary 'TrollHunter,' a found-video horror movie about a trio of film students who shadow a trollhunter in the mountains of Norway and get more than they bargained for. Follow that with the kinda-black comedy 'The Beaver,' about a mentally ill man who latches onto a hand puppet as a way to communicate with his family and the outside world in the hopes of turning himself around. And then there's the deliciously seditious 'Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,' Morgan Spurlock's kinda-expose of the inner workings of the advertising and branding industry that will sell anything to anyone -- for a price. Read on.

'Win Win'
What It's About: Paul Giamatti plays a struggling small-town attorney who moonlights as the coach for the perpetually losing high school wrestling team. Just in time to save his law practice, he gets the opportunity to become the legal guardian of a wealthy, elderly client, and uses a loophole to funnel monthly custodial funds into his own bank account. When the client's teenage grandson -- a wrestling champ -- runs away from his negligent mother and shows up on his grandfather's doorstep, Mike puts him on the wrestling team. Now he has a win-win situation -- extra money plus a winning wrestling team -- until the boy's mother shows up fresh from rehab, flat broke ... threatening to derail everything.

It's Kinda Like: 'Little Miss Sunshine' meets 'Hoosiers'

What We Say: Director-writer Tom McCarthy takes a nice, light touch with his material, pacing his story perfectly with very few missteps. Most importantly, the characterizations are superb. Giamatti is the glue holding the proceedings together and, despite his slightly shady shenanigans and quirks, we root for him because, underneath, he's a decent person with way too many problems. In fact, all the characters here are rich: Giamatti's feisty wife, played by Amy Ryan, his best friend (Bobby Cannavale), the selfish, loser mom (Melanie Lynskey) and teen wrestler, Alex Shaffer.

• Extras: Deleted scenes and an OK behind-the-scenes featurette.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews | Buy DVD | Save DVD to your Netflix queue

Watch an exclusive DVD clip:




'TrollHunter'
What It's About: This cult pseudo-documentary -- using the "found video" conceit -- follows three Norwegian film students as they inadvertently uncover a government conspiracy to cover-up the existence of real-life trolls. While shooting a project in the mountains, they meet up with a man whom they suspect to be a poacher but in reality is a trollhunter, a hunter working for the government whose sole task it is to keep trolls away from humans. The students join the trollhunter on his latest rounds, leading them straight into the path of the menacing monsters and documenting every last second of the man's heroics.

It's Kinda Like: 'The Blair Witch Project' meets 'Ice Road Truckers'

What We Say: Can we ever get enough of found video horror films? I think not, especially when they're so much fun and well put together as this one. Yes, there are the requisite nighttime shots (plenty of them, in fact, since trolls can't exist in the daylight) and plenty of running, camera dropping, and things that go bump in the dark. But that's more than offset by the interesting plot line and troll backstory. And though the trolls are kinda goofing looking, their size and viciousness make them downright scary when they go after the humans. A fun outing.

• Extras: Making-of featurette, deleted scenes.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews | Buy DVD | Save DVD to your Netflix queue

Watch a trailer:




'The Beaver'
What It's About: Mel Gibson plays Walter Black, a once successful toy executive and family man who, plagued by his own demons, suffers from depression and angst. His life is falling apart, his wife is leaving him, his oldest son hates him, and he can't even commit suicide. All seems lost until he finds a beaver hand-puppet that he uses to communicate with others, allowing his feelings to come out, giving him a new handle on life.

It's Kinda Like: 'American Beauty' meets 'Lars and the Real Girl'

What We Say: Say what you will about Gibson's life off-screen, his on-screen persona has been multi-faceted and involving. He can be smug, brash, reticent, heroic, romantic -- whatever a part calls for, he can amicably fill the bill. He's not a great thespian by any means; more an everyman actor who gets the job done. And he does that quite well here, dominating the screen with his by-now patented combination of boisterousness and world-weariness. Kudos to Jodie Foster, not for her role as Gibson's suffering wife but for directing a tough script and pulling you in to the story line. There's an excellent side story involving Gibson's son (played by Anton Yelchin) and a high school paramour (Jennifer Lawrence). If you can get past Gibson's real-life nastiness, then you'll get more than you expected from 'The Beaver.'

• Extras: Commnetary by Jodie Foster, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurette.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews | Buy DVD | Save DVD to your Netflix queue

Watch a trailer:




'Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold'

What It's About: Look around you. What is the most pervasive element in our environment? Advertising. On TV and before movies, on cars, buses, taxis, walls, billboards, on skyscrapers and in schools, on computer screens and mobile phones. And though advertising fuels much of commerce, sometimes it gets to be a bit too much -- in particular the advertising known as branding, the fine art of product placement in films and TV shows, or buying the name of a sports arena or office building. Director-writer Morgan Spurlock dissects the world of advertising and marketing by using his personal integrity as currency to sell out to the highest bidder -- by branding his documentary with advertising.

It's Kinda Like: 'Super Size Me' meets Noam Chomsky

What We Say: It's a great idea -- sell out while making a documentary about selling out. Spurlock spends most of the movie trying to get some top-level brands to sponsor the film, offering us an unprecedented peek behind the conference room doors at the people who spend the ad dollars that grease the wheels of commerce. Much of the irony of the film's premise is lost on the advertising execs who see the film as just another opportunity to get their message across to American consumers. Spurlock's stye is non-confrontational, making for a light -- but enlightening -- hour-and-a-half expose.

• Extras: Commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews | Buy DVD | Save DVD to your Netflix queue

Watch a trailer:



August 23 Blu-ray Debuts:
  • 'Hostage' (2005)
  • 'Rounders' (1998)
  • 'Swingers' (1996)


Other New August 23 DVD Releases:
  • 'The Bleeding House': A stranger with mysterious intentions comes to stay the night at a secluded country home, but what he finds inside is a family torn apart by a violent past and a secret more deadly than he expected. Stars Alexandra Chando, Patrick Breen, Charlie Hewson.
  • 'Blitz': When a vicious serial killer begins targeting police officers, renegade cop Brant (Jason Statham) teams up with Officer DC Porter Nash (Paddy Considine) to ensure that the maniac is caught and justice is served.
  • 'Closed for the Season': Trapped in a forgotten amusement park, a young girl finds herself terrorized by the living memories of the park, and she must break free from the park's grasp before she becomes its next victim. Stars Aimee Brooks, Damian Maffei, Joe Unger.
  • 'Henry's Crime': Keanu Reeves stars as Henry Torne, a wrongly accused man who winds up behind bars for a bank robbery he didn't commit. Now,­ having done the time, he decides he may as well do the crime. But his outlandish plan to rob the very same bank spins wildly out of control, as he finds himself performing in a stage play and falling in love with the production's seductive leading lady (Vera Farmiga). Also stars James Caan, Judy Gree, Bill Duke, Peter Stormare.
  • 'Sympathy for Delicious': A newly paralyzed DJ gets more than he bargained for when he seeks out the world of faith healing. Feeling cursed with the power to heal, DJ Delicious contends with all of the glory and attention that comes with his newfound gift. Stars Mark Ruffalo, Christopher Thornton, Juliette Lewis, Orlando Bloom, Laura Linney.

Check out more August 23 DVD releases at OnVideo.
CATEGORIES DVDs, Movies, Blu-ray DVDs