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Review: This week’s releases feature atypical relationships

This week’s releases include the final chapter in an epic series; another Wes Anderson original; and more

A scene from 'Asteroid City'
A scene from 'Asteroid City' courtesy of Universal Pictures
A scene from 'Asteroid City' courtesy of Universal Pictures

This week’s releases include the final chapter in an epic series; a modern-day teen comedy; another original Wes Anderson picture; and a collection of crazy adventures.

'Asteroid City' on Blu-ray
Focus Features

Asteroid City (Blu-ray & DVD)
Asteroid City: a fictional American desert town, circa 1955. Junior Stargazers and Space Cadets from across the country assemble for the annual Asteroid Day celebration — but the scholarly competition is spectacularly upended by world-changing events.

Writer-director Wes Anderson has a particular way of building worlds that are familiar yet entirely whimsical. He truly enjoys period pieces that allow his imagination to reach further without being hampered by the immediacy of modern-day technology. These characters use payphones and speak through adjacent windows, the children play outside and sing songs, and everyone’s information is limited to what they know and what they’re told since there’s no world wide web. The film’s events are both shocking and amusing as the all-star cast bumbles through the next steps, worrying about whether they’ll ever be able to move on with their lives. Scarlett Johansson portrays an actress who’s less conservative than the other mothers, while Jason Schwartzman plays a widower who still hasn’t mustered the courage to tell his kids their mother is dead. One never really knows what to expect in an Anderson picture, but that is also its charm.

Special features include: “Desert Town (Pop. 87)”; “Doomsday Carnival”; “Montana and the Ranch Hands”; and “The Players.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

No Hard Feelings on Blu-ray
Sony Pictures Entertainment

No Hard Feelings (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence) thinks she’s found the answer to her financial troubles when she discovers an intriguing job listing: wealthy helicopter parents looking for someone to “date” their introverted 19-year-old son, Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), and bring him out of his shell before he leaves for college. But awkward Percy proves to be a real challenge and time is running out. She has one summer to make him a man or lose it all.

These circumstances are as inelegant as they sound, but, much like Pretty Woman, they’ve removed most of the ick from the situation. Instead, it’s very humorous and even sweet at times. Maddie is markedly older than Percy, but feels that her additional years of experience makes her more qualified to bring him out of his shell. In actuality, there’s nothing wrong with the boy outside of being an introvert who consequently has few friends. Maddie is a strong, stubborn woman who hates that her seaside town relies on the rich, summer vacationers who are slowly pushing locals out of their properties. She’s, however, determined to stand up to the invaders — and take their money if they’re willing to give it away so freely. The film is comprised of the typical teen comedy scenes that include a party faux pas and embarrassing sexual experiences, which are paired with heartfelt shares and the beginnings of an unexpected friendship. 

Special features include: “A Little Wrong: Making No Hard Feelings”; “A Motley Crew: Meet the Characters”; and outtakes and bloopers. (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Rick and Morty: The Complete Season 1-6 on Blu-ray
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment

Rick and Morty: The Complete Season 1-6 (Blu-ray)
The Adult Swim series follows a sociopathic genius scientist who drags his inherently timid grandson on insanely dangerous adventures across the universe. Rick Sanchez is living with his daughter Beth’s family and constantly bringing her, his son-in-law Jerry, granddaughter Summer and grandson Morty into intergalactic escapades.

In the first season, the character dynamic between Rick and Morty drew comparisons to the one between Doc and Marty in Back to the Future as the older scientific mentor travelled the universe with his young, naïve protégé. However, the comedy in this series is far more adult-oriented and Rick is far from a desirable role model. The first season still contains some of the most memorable episodes, including the revenge of Snuffles, introduction of Scary Terry, surprising Anatomy Park, and their first encounter with the Council of Ricks. In season two, Jerry tags along for more adventures than Rick would like, but he also has an amusing solution to this problem. The “purge world” episode is fun, while the one in which Morty insists on freeing an incarcerated cloud has catchy song. In season three, the family escapes to a Mad Max-style apocalyptic dimension, Rick becomes an infamous pickle, and Beth discovers her imaginary childhood escape wasn’t actually made-up. It took two years to get to season four, but it was worth it. From Rick’s obsession with his Zen bathroom on another planet to Jerry floating away thanks to his own incompetence to the great gift of snake jazz, the show doesn’t disappoint. It was a shorter wait for the fifth season, which is very sexually charged with several episodes revolving around promiscuity, curiosity and reproduction. Episodes include a never-before-mentioned best friend with strange sexual appeal; a tribute to Hellraiser; a romantic spin-off of Captain Planet; and an attempt to restore Birdperson to his former glory. In the sixth season, the first episode throws back to some previous storylines, a new religion is revealed with some weird rules, and a replica lightsaber has some unexpected consequences.

Special features include: commentaries; deleted scenes; animatics; deleted animatic sketches; behind-the-scenes featurettes; “Inside the Episodes”; “Directing Rick and Morty”; and animation challenges. (Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment)

Star Trek: Picard: The Final Season steelbook on Blu-ray
Paramount Home Entertainment

Star Trek: Picard: The Final Season steelbook (Blu-ray)
A cryptic and desperate message from a long-lost friend, Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), draws Starfleet legend Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) into the most daring mission of his life, forcing him to recruit allies spanning generations old and new. The legacy of Picard’s past meets explosive new revelations that will alter the fate of the Federation forever.

This series has been an unforeseen treat for Star Trek: The Next Generation fans with original cast members reprising roles that captured audiences more than 30 years ago. Now, its third and final season features a much-anticipated reunion between Jean-Luc and Beverly, with some not-so-shocking surprises, a lot of old friends and some seemingly forgotten enemies. The narrative reaches back to a very difficult time in Picard’s history, building on a rich and contentious relationship with an all-new storyline and threat to the galaxy. It’s a gripping 10 episodes that calls for the utmost commitment and a will to sacrifice for the good of the many — something those who serve the Federation have always understood. It’s a fitting conclusion for a brief but satisfying series that brought back fond memories and remained true to the original TV show that followed in its predecessor’s footsteps and laid the groundwork for a still going franchise.

Special features include: commentary on select episodes; deleted scenes; “The Gang’s All Here”; “The Making of the Last Generation”; “Rebuilding the Enterprise-D”; “Villainous Vadic”; “Picard: The Final Season Q&A”; and gag reel. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

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Written By

Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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