Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman & Renee Zellweger 4-Film Collections Review

Typically when a studio releases a collection of films by a specific actor or actress, there’s a very obvious reason that becomes clear when you see which titles they saw fit to include. It seems that 99% of the time it’s just the studio attempting to package films that sell poorly with a few that are popular at something like a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio. Or maybe the studio needs to get rid of old editions because a new, more expensive one is set to drop in a month. Whatever the case, there’re maybe one or two movies you love in the set, but to get it you have to buy a few duds—but the price tag is enticing. It’s with that in mind that the Miramax and Lionsgate 4-Film Collections sets for Renee Zellweger, Nicole Kidman, and Gwyneth Paltrow prove surprising. At the worst, they have 3 fan favorites with 1 stinker, thus defying the actor anthology stereotype.

In the Gwyneth Paltrow collection you’ll find Director John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love (for which she won an Oscar), Douglas McGrath’s Emma, Don Roos’s Bounce, and Bruno Barreto’s View from the Top. The latter is the weakest entry in the group, as the jokes rarely land where they need to and the whole thing feels like it was created around the desire to use up some flight attendant jokes. Although, it is reflective of the set as a whole, as Paltrow’s 4-Film set is rather light and easy viewing material. The most serious the films ever get is in Bounce, where Paltrow stars alongside Affleck in a tragedy-inspired romantic comedy. Shakespeare in Love and Emma are thrown in to give period piece fans their fair share, and at the same time prove to be the two best films in the set.

Renee Zellweger’s set seems conflicted over which side of the actress to embrace: the side that can act, or the one that goes for the easy route with basic romantic comedy filler. On one hand the set has Cold Mountain, which got her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, and the multi-award winning Chicago, while on the other it has Bridget Jones’s Diary and the drab New in Town. Bridget Jones might not be great, but with Chicago and Cold Mountain, it’s clear which film is the odd man out in this collection. New in Town was formula romantic comedy from start to finish, and it actually makes Bridget Jones look inspired. Chicago, though undeserving of all the Oscar nods it received, is an impressive film staging of a Broadway musical and proves entertaining one way or the other. The real winner in the set though is Cold Mountain and its cast of Zellweger, Jude Law, and…

Yes, indeed, Cold Mountain appears both in the Zellweger and Nicole Kidman set. If Cold Mountain proves to be the lynchpin deciding which of the two collections you should pick up, then the Nicole Kidman set wins hands down. Easily the best of the three, Nicole Kidman’s quartet doesn’t have a misfire in the bunch with Cold Mountain, Lars Von Trier’s daring Dogville, The Others, and the emotionally charged Rabbit Hole. The weakest among them is The Others, however even that is a solid horror flick that manages to scare with a very simple premise. When the worst film in a set is a horror film that stands heads and tails above the vast majority of what’s come in the decade since, that’s an impressive statement.

As anthologies go, these 4-Film Collections stand up remarkably well to the competition, and the Nicole Kidman set is downright excellent. However, as you’ll note below, the extras are pretty much non-existent, but if you’re looking to buy a set, the chances are you’re more interested in adding to your library than sitting down to watch some behind-the-scenes featurettes.

DVD Bonus Features

The sets are all barebones, with no extras.

"Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman & Renee Zellweger 4-Film Collections" is on sale April 3, 2012 and is not rated. Comedy, Drama, Horror, Romance. Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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