Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe

By DNA Smith
“Modern Family: The Complete First Season” — Winner of this year’s Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, “Modern Family” is one of the best comedies to debut in the 2009-2010 season. If you haven’t yet discovered it, this is the perfect opportunity to get up to speed. The show is shot in a mockumentary style (a la “The Office”) and centers around Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill from “Married With Children”), his uberhot and much-younger new Colombian wife (Sophia Vergara), her son and Jay’s neurotic extended family. The episodes are consistently hilarious and heartwarming, and the ensemble cast does a brilliant job.

“Community: The Complete First Season” — I had pretty low expectations for this series, but after giving it the ol’ college try, I have to admit I’m hooked on this sitcom — even more so than “Modern Family.” “Community” stars Joel McHale as Jeff Winger, an ex-lawyer who’s forced to attend a community college to get the credits needed to be reinstated to the bar. He hooks up with a crew of misfits and deeply disturbed people when he forms a fake study group in order to hit on a cute co-ed (Gillian Jacobs). Throughout the course of the school year, the gang find themselves embroiled High Weirdness; from sinister chicken fingers to paintball battles and Great Debates. What’s surprising about “Community” is that each episode is funnier than the previous one. I don’t know how they do it. It’s positively brilliant television.

“Robin Hood: The Unrated Director’s Cut” — I truly hope that “Unrated Director’s Cut” means “This Version Doesn’t Suck — Unlike The One You Saw In The Theater.” Goodness gracious what a bloated sad mess that was — and I’m not just referring to Russell Crowe. You would think that after nearly 75 years, Hollywood would realize there’s no way to outshine the classic Errol Flynn/Olivia DeHavilland epic. But no. Every decade someone gets the bright idea of adding a new spin or twist to the legend and fails miserably.

This time it’s director Ridley Scott falling on his face with this dour, overly self-important origin story of how Robin Longstride transforms himself into the mythic hero of Sherwood Forest. Gone are the Merry Men. Gone is any sense of swashbuckling fun and adventure. Instead, we get boring speeches about the rights of common men, convoluted political machinations, and after two hours of this drudgery, we’re rewarded with a battle scene that’s a pale rip-off of “Braveheart.”

If you’re in the mood for a good Robin Hood movie that isn’t the Errol Flynn version, but is still a pretty good flick, I recommend 1976’s “Robin and Marian” starring Sean Connery as Robin, Audrey Hepburn as Maid Marian and Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham. It’s much more faithful to the 14th and 15th century tales than most Robin Hood films, has marvelous performances and is filled with good humor and bittersweet romance.

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© 2010 King Features Synd., Inc.