“COWBOYS & ALIENS,” starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun, somebody gets the bright idea to mash-up B-Westerns with B-sci-fi, resulting in this super-fun summer flick that wisely teams two generations of surly action stars (Craig and Ford, who work wonderfully together) up against an invasion of particularly nasty extraterrestrials in 19th-century Arizona. Avoiding the jokiness that threatens to mar this type of out-there affair these days, director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) plays it straight for the most part, lending gravitas where a lesser director might go for the cheap laugh or senseless pop-culture reference. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:58

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

“FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS,” starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Initially dismissed as a “No Strings Attached” knockoff, “Benefits” may share the same basic plot of that comedy – wherein a pair of friends decide to embark on an open, ostensibly drama-free relationship as a tonic to their ongoing dating problems – but where “Strings” coasted somewhat on star power, “Benefits” sparks some serious chemistry between Timberlake and Kunis, and director Will Gluck (“Easy A”) keeps everything alternately lively and grounded. Rated R. Running time: 1:49

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $40.99

“THE HANGOVER PART II,” starring Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis. In grand “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” tradition, debauchery and violent slapstick are again the name of the game in this dependably hilarious follow-up to the 2009 megahit. The hapless quartet is transported to Thailand this time around for Stu’s (Ed Helm) wedding, with enjoyably disastrous results that stray just enough from the format to keep things interesting without alienating fans of the original. Rated R. Running time: 1:42

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

“THE HELP,” starring Emma Stone and Viola Davis. Between the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett and this acclaimed adaptation, “The Help” is inescapable, but with a story this compelling and engagingly delivered, that’s a good thing. Set in the early ’60s, “The Help” focuses on a young aspiring writer (Stone) who commiserates with an African-American maid (Davis), with results that alternately unite and further tear apart their community. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:17

Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $39.99

“MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS,” starring Jim Carrey and Carla Gugino. Very loose adaptation of the children’s classic by Richard and Florence Atwater finds straight-laced businessman Carrey at a surreal crossroads in his career upon inheriting six poorly behaved penguins, necessitating the transformation of his apartment into a makeshift wintry landscape. The CGI penguins provide their share of laughs, but as always, Carrey is more versatile than any computer graphic. Rated PG. Running time: 1:34

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.98

“THE SMURFS,” starring Neil Patrick Harris and Anton Yelchin. Big-screen adaptation of the once-ubiquitous tiny blue creatures of ’80s-era Saturday mornings finds Papa Smurf and company well out of their elements when the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) forcefully ejects them from their beloved village into Central Park. The usual fish-out-of-water and slapstick hijinks ensue, ensuring that the kiddies enjoy themselves while at the same time supplying plenty of nostalgia and in-jokes for Mom and Dad. Rated PG. Running time: 1:43

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $40.99


“THE LADY VANISHES,” starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. Charming and sadly overlooked early comedy-thriller from Alfred Hitchcock from 1938 concerns Lockwood’s attempts to find the elderly traveling companion with whom she’d boarded a train, but is now nowhere to be seen. Furthermore, none of the passengers seem to recall the “Lady” ever having been on the train at all, bringing Lockwood’s sanity immediately into question. Not rated; contains violence. Running time: 1:36

Suggested retail price: $39.95

“TORA! TORA! TORA!” starring Joseph Cotton and Martin Balsam. Well-regarded 1970 dramatization of the attack on Pearl Harbor remains arguably the final word on the subject cinema-wise, putting later efforts such as 2001’s widely-panned “Pearl Harbor” to shame. Special features include making-of documentaries. Rated G. Running time: 2:25

Suggested retail price: $34.98


“DESIGN FOR LIVING,” starring Fredric March and Gary Cooper. Witty, romantic and surprisingly racy for its time, this 1933 comedy from director Ernst Lubitsch exploits the classic “menage a trois” situation for full comic effect. The beautiful Miriam Hopkins decides that rather than being forced to choose between hunky would-be bohemians and roomies March and Cooper, she’ll simply move into their apartment and spend time with both of them in a friendly, platonic environment. That goes about as well as you might imagine, and the resultant complications and comedic exchanges make for sublime, intelligent entertainment. Not rated; nothing objectionable. Running time: 1:31

Suggested retail price: $29.95; Blu-ray $39.95

“PORTLANDIA,” starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. Having unexpectedly teamed up with Sleater-Kinney co-founder Brownstein and created a freewheeling sketch show for the IFC channel, Armisen is given the opportunity to indulge his every comedic whim, no matter how odd or off-putting. Here, he set his sights on Portland, Ore., a rarely spotlighted culture ripe for parody with its penchant for attractive eccentrics and its fixation on early ’90s trends. Running time: 2:12

Suggested retail price: $16.95; Blu-ray $26.95

— Courtesy of Videoport

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