Lisa’s home video capsules
(Ratings Out of Four Stars.)
* *1/2 (B-)
Directed by Joe Nussbaum
Starring Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell, DeVaughn Nixon, Siu Yin Chang, Jared Kusnitz
Disney//Rated PG//Comedy//103 minutes
Available on: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Disney continues to mine the possibilities presented by high school drama with several intersecting stories that culminate in prom night. The main throughline follows popular Nova (Teegarden), attempting to publicize the prom when rebellious Jesse (McDonell), receives after school detention, a punishment that requires him to assist. Justin (Kusnitz) provides comic relief as he considers a dozen ways to land the date of his dreams, while seniors Mei (Chang) and Tyler (Nixon) keep secrets from their respective partners. Though too sweet for most high school students, tweens and their nostalgic parents, may swoon. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: Blu-ray + DVD, Blu-ray features: “Last Chance Lloyd” Exclusive Short: Lloyd (Nicholas Braun) asks girls to Prom, 4 Deleted Scenes Four, 6 Music Videos, Plus All DVD Bonus Features: Bloopers, Making of Featurette, English, French or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.
MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY
* * (C-)
Directed by Tyler Perry
Starring Tyler Perry, Loretta Devine, Bow Wow, Isaiah Mustafa, Cheryl Pepsii Riley, Cassi Davis
Lionsgate//Rated PG-13//Comedy//107 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
Fresh from a successful 2010 stage tour, Tyler Perry adapts this dramadey featuring himself as the boisterous grandmotherly, Madea. Dressed to kill in a gray wig, high heels and floral housedress, the pistol-packing, gospel-singing Madea helps her distressed niece (Devine) handle her misbehaving adult children and their bratty kids. Aided by her sister, the equally rambunctious Aunt Bam (Davis), Madea preaches getting right with the Lord. A popular character known to bark, “Do as I say, not as I do,” this 6’5″ matriarch has attitude to spare. DVD features: “Byreeen”: The Baby Mama from Hell, Ties That Bind, Madea’s Family Tree, Brown Calls Maury, English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen. Blu-ray features same plus: Digital Copy.
IN A BETTER WORLD
* * * (B)
Directed by Susan Bier
Starring Markus Rygaard, William Johnk Nielsen
Available on: DVD/Blu-ray combo pack
From Danish director Susan Bier, this film won best foreign language film at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes. Two preteen boys, Elias (Rygaard) and Christian (Nielsen), become friends after Christian and his father relocate to the small Danish town where Elias lives. They bond after Christian helps Elias fend off a bully, but Elias soon learns that Christian is prone to violence in the service of revenge-seeking behavior. The film also examines their home lives, but the story’s real power lies in the emotions informing the boys’ interactions. Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack features: Blu-ray features: Interview with Director and cast and crew, bloopers, making-of featurette, French language tracks, English subtitles, widescreen.
HOUSE, M.D.: Season Seven
* * *1/2 (Grade A-)
Created by David Shore
Starring Omar Epps, Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, Lisa Edelstein, Amber Tamblyn
Jennifer Morrison, Peter, Jacobson, Jesse Spencer
Universal//Not Rated//Drama, Comedy//1007 minutes
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
Dr. Gregory House (Laurie), is an arrogant, antisocial doctor practicing at New Jersey’s Princeton-Plainsboro hospital. He’s also among the best diagnosticians in the business. House’s job requires that he work with a team of talented doctors to help him solve and treat difficult cases, but he is incapable of treating others, including his best friend Wilson, with the respect they deserve. This season, House’s fondest wish comes true when he and his boss, Lisa Cuddy (Edelstein), begin a romance. Their evolving personal feelings further complicate their difficult working relationship. Although he isn’t without certain charms, House fears his idiosyncratic behavior will ruin a good thing. Both a drama and a comedy, House’s philosophy of practicing medicine includes the belief that all patients lie. Incisive, witty dialog and great characters, along with fascinating medical cases drawn from real-life enigmas, keep the series interesting. 5-Disc DVD or Blu-ray features: Returns, Commentary on Bombshells with Director Greg Yaitanes and Series Star Lisa Edelstein, Commentary on The Dig with Writers Sara Hess and David Hoselton, Commentary on Moving On with Creator David Shore and Executive Producer Greg Yaitanes, Meet Martha Masters, Huddy Dissected, Anatomy of an Episode: “Bombshells,” Thirteen English or Spanish language tracks, widescreen.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER
* *1/2 (B-)
Directed by Michael Apted
Starring Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Will Poulter, Tilda Swinton, Laura Brent, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Gary Sweet, Arthur Angel
Voices of Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg
Fox//Rated PG//Fantasy//112 minutes
Available on: 4-Disc Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack*
In the third film adaptation in a series based upon books by C.S. Lewis, the youngest Pevensie children take the lead. While gazing at a painting of a ship named The Dawn Treader, Lucy (Henley), Edmund (Keynes) and their cousin Eustace (Poulter) are swept off to the magical kingdom of Narnia. Here, they are not only reunited with their beloved talking lion, Aslan (Neeson), they also sail the ocean blue with King Caspian (Barnes) who is searching for Narnia’s seven lost lords. The children and royals are tempted by both gold and power, and are enchanted by their encounters with dragons, dwarfs, merfolk, monsters and assorted warriors. Though filmed in 3D, the nostalgic franchise recalls a more innocent time and reaches out to a young crowd. Combo Pack features: film on: Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy, English, Spanish or French language tracks, widescreen.
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
* * * * (A)
Directed by Tim Burton
Voices of Danny Elfman, Pee-Wee Herman, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Sarandon, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Ken Page
Disney//Rated PG//Animated, Fantasy//76 minutes
Available on: Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack*
“Jack, the Pumpkin King”, explains where holidays come from with catchy bluesy songs. The haunting animation is entrancing, though disturbing passages that dwell on both death and pain, may be too frightening for little ones. Otherwise this unique film is that rare treat capable of entertaining both young and old. 3-Disc Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack features: film on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD. Includes Digital Copy, Commentary by Tim Burton, Director Henry Selick and Music Designer Danny Elfman, Deleted Scenes, Tim Burton Movie Introduction, Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour, Frankenweenie Short Film (uncut version) with Tim Burton’s intro, Vincent Short Film, Tim Burton’s Original Poem Narrated by Christopher Lee, Making of featurette, The Worlds of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Storyboard to film comparison, Original theatrical trailers and posters, English language tracks, Spanish or French subtitles, widescreen.
* * *1/2 (A-)
Directed by Joel Coen
Starring Frances McDormand, John Getz, M. Emmet Walsh, Dan Hedaya, Samm-Art Williams
MGM//Rated R/Thriller//96 minutes
Available on: Blu-ray
M. Emmet Walsh is a standout as the unscrupulous and unpredictable private investigator, hired by a cuckolded saloon-owner to kill his wife (McDormand) and her lover. Set in a small town, the film’s power arises from its stark visuals, shocking violence and sparse dialog and from storytelling that hews closely to the characters’ actions. The Coen Brothers signature camera work announces their sly, edgy and stunning debut. Most shocking, the work was produced for a mere $1.5 million dollars. Blu-ray features: Commentary with Kenneth Loring of Forever Young Films, Theatrical Trailer, English language tracks, Spanish subtitles, widescreen.