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'

NEW ON THE SHELF

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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

Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.98

NEW TO DVD

"CALIFORNICATION: THE FIFTH SEASON," starring David Duchovny and Evan Handler. Everybody's favorite middle-aged adolescent Hank Moody (Duchovny, fun as always) is back for another season of laconic debauchery, lending his writing talents to one Samurai Apocalypse (rapper-turned-actor RZA), who has commissioned Moody to script what would appear to be a pretty lousy action-comedy. It's a job Moody takes to with little enthusiasm until he makes the acquaintance of Samurai beautiful girlfriend (Meagan Good). From there, the patented uncomfortable situations come flying fast and furious, but Duchovny's sarcastic charm continues to save the day. Not rated; contains language, nudity and strong sexual content. Running time: 5:42

Suggested retail price: $45.98

"SHAMELESS: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON," starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum. Certainly one of the more aptly titled series on television, Showtime's dysfunctional family extraordinaire, led by a perpetually soused Macy, somehow manages to strike just the right note between outrageously offensive and genuinely heartbreaking, resulting in far and away one of the network's most consistent offerings to date. Not rated; contains language and sexual content. Running time: 10:00

Suggested retail price: $39.98; Blu-ray $49.99

VIDEOPORT PICKS

"THE LIFE AND TIMES OF TIM," animated with the voices of Steve Dildarian and M.J. Otto. Fans of this improv-heavy HBO cartoon were devastated upon learning of its cancellation, then delighted anew when the network unexpectedly chose to bring it back, much like "Family Guy" and "Futurama" before it. A wise decision on their part, as "Tim" just gets better and better, with its hapless protagonist forever getting himself into dangerous and downright surreal situations via his complete and utter passivity and bad habit of telling inconsequential white lies that snowball terribly and hilariously. Not rated; contains language and crude humor. Running time: 5:00

Suggested retail price: $29.98

"SLEEPWALK WITH ME," starring Mike Birbiglia and Lauren Ambrose. In a business rife with angry contrarians and detached personas, comedians don't come much more likable than Birbiglia. The stand-up favorite and "This American Life" contributor brings his acclaimed one-man show to the big screen in this hilarious and compelling fact-based tale, which deals with the comic's rocky rise up through the comedic ranks despite obstacles in the form of a longtime relationship that he may need to end and a seriously hazardous sleep disorder that finds him crashing through windows and awakening in unfamiliar, occasionally deadly locales. Birbiglia guides the audiences through his trials in his trademark, goofy-little-brother manner. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:21

Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.98

- Courtesy of Videoport

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