December 20, 2012

DVD Releases

New on the shelf: 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days' / 'Pitch Perfect' / 'Total Recall' / 'Trouble with the Curve' / 'Liberal Arts'


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Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams in “Trouble With the Curve.”

Warner Bros.

"DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS," Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron. The third entry in the successful film adaptations of Jeff Kinney's bestselling young adult series, "Dog Days" marks an clear improvement over the comparatively lackluster "Roderick Rules," as "Wimpy Kid" Gordon's plans to spend the summer indoors playing video games are thwarted by his father (Steve Zahn), who bans electronics in an attempt to get his layabout son outdoors and active. With few options, our hero takes a job at a local country club to hang out with his pal (Capron) and ostensibly get closer to the girl of his dreams. It's nice to have reliably amusing, non-CGI family entertainment on hand in this day and age, and the "Wimpy Kid" series is genial, often genuinely funny stuff. Rated PG. Running time: 1:34

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99

"PITCH PERFECT," starring Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow. From the hilariously acidic mind of writer Kay Cannon ("30 Rock") comes this raucous and ribald teen comedy for viewers who don't find "Glee" to be dark-humored enough. Here, Maine native Kendrick reluctantly attends Barden College at her father's insistence, hoping to appease him while trying to make it in the L.A. music scene as a mash-up DJ. Opting to join the campus a capella group, "The Barden Bellas," Kendrick soon finds her harmless extracurricular activity to be far more intense and cutthroat than she imagined. There's a willingness here to go just about anywhere for a laugh, and the comic fearlessness, though stomach-churning at times, serves this appealingly knockabout comedy well. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:52

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98

"TOTAL RECALL," starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale. While we attempt to get over the crippling depression setting in from the realization that they're remaking '90s movies now, this effects-heavy update of Paul Verhoven's 1990 sci-fi hit has nothing on the original. Farrell fails to capture the je ne sais quoi that is Schwarzenegger, and director Len Wiseman ("Underworld") pelts the screen with high-tech effects in a vain effort to improve upon the charm and blunt effectiveness of the relatively low-tech make-up effects of the 1990 version. Still, this update doesn't want for action for those looking for some well-orchestrated futuristic mayhem. Just make sure you check out the far superior original if you haven't already done so. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:58

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99

"TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE," starring Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams. A long-in-the-tooth, cantankerous baseball scout (Eastwood, who else?) is joined by his estranged, anal-retentive daughter (Adams) and a younger, more technologically aware scout (Justin Timberlake) on what looks to be one final road trip to uncover new talent. Nary a single unexpected event transpires, but there's a comfort to Eastwood's dryly funny orneriness and Adams' pert charm that lends "Curve" the reliable familiarity of -- wait for it -- an old baseball mitt. All told, it's a folksy antithesis to "Moneyball" and a proudly straightforward family drama. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:51

Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99

"LIBERAL ARTS," starring Josh Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen. Exceedingly pleasant if none-too-believable romantic comedy-of-sorts is almost a valentine to college life in general, with writer-director-star Radnor ("How I Met Your Mother") returning to his idyllic alma mater for the retirement party of a beloved professor (Richard Jenkins) and whilst there falling for a student/kindred spirit 16 years his junior (the ebullient Olsen). With engaging supporting turns from the likes of Allison Janney and Zac Efron, "Arts" makes for highly enjoyable escapist fare that may find you pining for your own college days by the end. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:37

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