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DVD Releases for June 23rd, 2009

June 23rd, 2009

Seven spotlight reviews on this week's list, but only one for a DVD coming out on Tuesday. (Four are for screeners that arrived late, two are for ones that arrived early, while there are at least three on this week's list that may or may not show up shortly.) The choices for DVD Pick of the Week are not plentiful, with Waltz with Bashir being the only real contender. Despite coming out on both DVD and Blu-ray, the latter is overpriced compared to the former.

Warning: This Blu-ray does not come out this week and made its sales debut on the 2nd. However, the screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Baby on Board - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
First of all, I only have the Blu-ray to review, and I can't make detailed comparisons between the versions. However, since the Blu-ray is actually cheaper than the DVD, I can't imagine it will be the weaker value.

Heather Graham stars as Angela, a successful ad executive looking from a promotion from her demanding boss. She is married to Curtis, an equally successful divorce lawyer who has a string of sleazy clients. Angela discovers she is pregnant, which is not happy news as she doesn't know if she and her husband are ready for this. Additionally, her boss, who is unmarried and without kids, has made it known she doesn't want her underlings to have families to distract them. So she decides to tell no one, but this causes no end of complications, as when Curtis finally finds out, he's not convinced the child is his, because he always "double-bags it" for extra protection. (On a side note, this doesn't work. Wearing two condoms actually reduces protection, as there's a greater chance they will rip due to the latex on latex friction.) She in turn thinks he is cheating on her, partially due to his odd behavior, but also due to the fact that their best friends' marriage just went up in flames for that reason. And now she has problems at work, at home, and in her belly.

Raunchy humor gets a bad rap. It is looked at as a cheap route to laughs and one that is taken by lazy writers. However, this is unfair, as raunchy humor is actually very difficult to accomplish correctly. The problem is most writers simply stop at raunchy and hope the humor comes naturally. This rarely works, but sadly, it seems to be the route taken here. It really earns its R-rating. I mean it really earns it and there are some scenes that are so over-the-top that it is groan inducing. There are some funny jokes, which I won't spoil here, and at times the film looks like it will had a kernel of a good idea and could come together and work, but it never really does. Really, it doesn't even come close.

As I said previously, I don't have the DVD but the Blu-ray has an audio commentary track as its only real extra. The two participants, director Brian Herzlinger and producer Emilio Ferrari, are a little too easy with the praise for my liking, but at least they are energetic, which helps the track immensely. As for its technical presentation, I have no real complaints about the video or audio, but I have no real complements either. It's a relatively low budget affair (budget was reportedly only $8 million) and it shows. This will not test the limits of your home theater, but nor are there many problems with the transfer. The audio is even more middle of the road and quite frankly, I could have disconnected my rear speakers and not noticed.

Baby on Board is low expectations entertainment and the raunchy romantic comedy doesn't have enough romance or comedy to have any replay value. Or play value. I do like the fact that the Blu-ray is cheaper than the DVD, but I can't recommend buying either version, or even renting. Skippable.

Backwoods - Buy from Amazon
At first I thought this was a direct-to-DVD horror film starring Haylie Duff, but it is a TV movie horror film starring Haylie Duff, which is much worse. At least direct-to-DVD horror films have zero censorship, while even cable channels like Spike TV have Standards & Practices. What they don't have is standards, as this is a generic movie that feels like a rip-off of other, equally generic movies like Wrong Turn. It's not entirely without positive aspects and Haylie Duff is good in her role, but it is still just a rental at most.

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern - Collection Three - Buy from Amazon
Part food show, part road trip, all weird. One of the best food shows on TV right now, and as a host, Andrew Zimmern is right up there with Anthony Bourdain. These releases tend to be bare bones, but still worth checking out for most, picking up for fans of the genre.

Blu-ray Releases - Buy from Amazon: The Code, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Dragon Hunters, Inkheart, Last Year at Marienbad (Criterion Collection), Mr. Troop Mom, Origin - Spirits of the Past, The Pianist, The Pink Panther 2, and Waltz with Bashir
A terrible week for Blu-ray releases with only ten releases in total and none of them look like they will be big sellers. This is true for most weeks until nearly a month from now, so expect similar commentary for the next few weeks.

Bob Funk - Buy from Amazon
I like Rachel Leigh Cook, but she needs to choose better projects than this. Add in a featureless DVD, and it is mostly skippable.

Warning: This Blu-ray does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 16th. However, the Blu-ray screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Burn Notice - Season Two - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
As I noted last week, the Blu-ray wasn't sent in the mail until Tuesday when it hit stores and didn't arrive until just before the weekend started. Fortunately, it was a slow week for new releases, so I was able to get to the screener right away, and I'm glad I did.

Jeffrey Donovan stars as Michael Westen, a secret agent who is "burned" during the series opener. That is to say, someone declared him unreliable, so the government turned their backs on him and cut him off. Now he's stuck without a personal history, without any money, or any real contacts. He has to rely on the few people still willing to talk to him. This includes his ex-girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne, and ex-operative in her own right, and someone who has extensive knowledge, and a love of explosives and high powered weapons. Additionally, there's Sam Axe, an ex-FBI agent who used to tail Michael back in the day, but is now among his very small circle of friends he can trust. Finally there's Madeline, a.k.a., his mom. Each episode can usually be divided into two main storylines. Firstly, there's the "job-of-the-week." where Michael, Fi, and Sam help those in need, like a secretary trying to prove her boss murdered her father, or a record-label accountant trying to prove he was framed for embezzling before his gangster-rapper boss decides to settle the problem permanently. Secondly, episodes also move the overall story arc forward, namely, Michael trying to find out who burned him, and why. Season two revolves around Carla, who may hold the keys to this information.

There is good news and bad news regarding the quality of the show. First of all, it's a great show with high marks going to the writing, the acting, the directing, etc. The on-screen chemistry between the four leads is great, while there is an amazing balance between individual episodic stories and the main story arc, which helps the replay value a lot. The bad news, the show tries a little too hard to be cool and stylish at times. Any show with Bruce Campbell is going to be cool; you don't need to force it. But the frequent shots of Miami used as transitions screams "effort," which is the opposite of cool. Additionally, the effects used here (stuttering the footage, reversing the footage, etc.) also feels forced. However, that's a minor complaint overall and I can enthusiastically recommend the show.

On a side note, this is a very violent show, but Michael Westen kills very few people. He's a master at getting bad guys to kill their partners. And a lot of the time this violence happens off screen, but it doesn't feel like it is being sanatized for TV. This is hard to do.

Looking at the extras, there are audio commentary tracks on three of the 16 episosdes, which features a selection of participants from the creator, Matt Nix, as well as directors stars, and even guest stars. Having guest stars on audio commentary tracks is a huge help, as they tend to bring something from a different perspective to the show. There are also about a dozen deleted scenes from seven episodes spread over the three-disc set. Disc two brings us Nixin' It Up on Burn Notice, which has the creator talking about the show in general and the episode he directed in particular. Over on disc three, we find a gag reel and a really easy-to-find Easter egg called Boom Notice. These people are clearly having fun on set. It appears none of this is exclusive to the Blu-ray edition. Also, there are some complaints with the audio / video on this DVD. There is a lot of grain present here, but while some think this might be due to the studio trying to cram 16 episodes onto just three discs, others think this was a stylistic choice made by the creators to give the film a more realistic look. I don't know which explanation is true, but I do know that overall result is mixed. The audio is surprising lacking in dynamics, and outside of a few scenes, my rear speakers were not used nearly enough. Then again, the Blu-ray costs just 25% more than the DVD, which is an excellent price for this type of release.

Burn Notice - Season Two is worth picking up, there's no doubt in my mind about that. And while the Blu-ray is not the best I've seen, or heard, it is worth paying the extra money compared to the DVD. For many TV on Blu-ray releases, that hasn't really been the case.

Catlow - Buy from Amazon
Yul Brynner stars in this mostly forgotten, not really beloved Western from 1971, which also stars Richard Crenna and Leonard Nimoy. The comedic outing has a bit of a cult following and it is worth checking out, but rent it first, because with a featureless DVD, it is not worth a blind buy.

Choke Canyon - Buy from Amazon
Stephen Collins from Seventh Heaven stars as a research scientist trying to come up with a clean energy source. Lance Henriksen stars as an evil corporate executive trying to illegally dump nuclear waste near the research compound. There's only one way to solve a conflict like this: car chases and explosions. I'm having trouble finding many reviews, but it sounds like it could be in the "So bad it's good" category. Give it is try, if you are a fan of those films, but rent first.

The Code - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
One of several releases coming out this week that I was supposed to review, but the screener has yet to arrive. Hopefully it will get here sooner rather than later.

Confessions of a Shopaholic - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
The only spotlight review on this week's list that is for a DVD / Blu-ray that comes out this week. Weird.

Isla Fisher stars as Rebecca Bloomwood, a magazine writer who desperately wants to be on the staff of the fashion magazine Alette, but the position is filled internally before her interview. Desperate to join the Dantay West family of magazines, which publishes Alette, she takes an interview with Successful Saving magazine. However, the interview goes poorly, and in a drunken stupor, she and her friend Suze write a drunken letter telling off the editor, Luke Brandon. They also write a letter to editor of Alette, but in their drunkenness, they accidentally send the wrong letters to the wrong people. However, as this is the movies, Luke is intrigued by Rebecca's comparison of investments to how women buy shoes and hires her. He also becomes intrigued by her on a personal level, and she of him, after she learns he has a keen fashion sense. But with secrets that could destroy her career (she's massively in debt due to her shopping addiction) will she be able to keep control, or will it all come crashing down?

The movie is a Romantic Comedy, so you can probably answer that question without having seen the movie.

Yes, the movie is predictable, but that's not really an issue with the genre. The real question is how is the romantic chemistry between the leads and is the comedy sharp? This is mixed. The chemistry was good, but not great. You knew they were going to get together in the end, but the journey didn't draw you in. Leslie Bibb played "The Obstacle" to their romance, and while her performance was good, the character was underwritten. The same can be said of most of the supporting cast, as most of them were under-utilized. Even so, if you are a fan of the genre, there's enough here that work and it is worth checking out, if just for a rental.

Extras on the DVD include just three deleted scenes with a total running time of just over 6 minutes, just over 2 minutes of outtakes, and a music video. It also comes with a digital copy of the movie.

The Blu-ray has those, plus six short featurettes, and two more music videos. And by short, I mean short. They run from just over three minutes, to barely more than 90 seconds. At least they are in High Definition, unlike the rest of the extras. The video quality is solid but this is not the kind of film that will blow you away in that department. Also, the audio is merely average, but then again, this is true of most Romantic Comedies, which tend to be dialogue driven and lacking in the sound effects department. For a Blu-ray of this nature, I would be willing to spend 30% to 40% more than the DVD; however, over on Amazon, it costs nearly 65% more. That's way too much.

For fans of the genre, Confessions of a Shopaholic is cute. Cute enough to be worth watching, but not substantial enough to be worth buying. If you are intent on purchasing this movie, while the Blu-ray does have exclusive features, it costs way too much compared to the DVD for me to recommend.

Dragon Hunters - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
A CG animated movie based on a French TV series of the same name. The TV series was shown domestically on TV, but never became a hit, which explains why the movie is being released direct-to-DVD It features the voice talents of Forest Whitaker, among others, but the mixed reviews are troubling. Extras include a featurette and interview with Forest Whitaker, while the Blu-ray is actually cheaper than the DVD. Call it a rental. Can also buy the DVD with a Comic Book, but the Blu-ray is still the better deal.

The Girls Next Door - Season 5 - Buy from Amazon
Reality TV at its most vapid. Skip it.

Hobgoblins - Double-Shot - Hobgoblins and Hobgoblins 2
Hobgoblins is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, so I have no idea why they made a sequel. The only way to watch the original is with the help of MST3K. As for the sequel, which is making its debut on DVD this week, it could be 'So bad it's good', but I can't find any reviews online, so watch at your own risk.

Home - Buy from Amazon
This is the Marcia Gay Harden melodrama from May and not the more recent nature documentary of the same name. This movie earned very few reviews, but the critics who did review it were mostly complimentary. However, it still bombed at the box office. I'm having trouble tracking down information on the extras on the DVD, if there are any, but given its box office run, there's a good chance there are none, so rent it first.

Inkheart - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack
This movie opened with weak reviews, but not terrible reviews; however, it was one of the year's first massive bombs opening in seventh place, and never reaching $20 million domestically. This explains the light supply of extras, as the DVD has some deleted scenes, an interview featurette on the author of the original book, and a strange "Telephone Game" illustrated story. Blu-ray is Blu-ray live capable, but there are no extras online. It is still worth renting, but there is not enough replay value or extras to make purchasing necessary.

John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band - Live in Toronto '69 - Buy from Amazon
A great concert with amazing music, that is until Yoko Ono starts to sing. As soon as that happens, you will want to puncture your eardrums and run screaming from the room. Even so, the DVD is at least worth a rental.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and makes its home market debut on the 30th. However, the DVD screener arrived early and I was able to get the review done this week.

Jonas Brothers - The 3D Concert Experience - Buy from Amazon: Single-Disc DVD, Two-Disc DVD, or Three-Disc Blu-ray
An actual review that's done early. And it's not the only such review this week.

A concert film showcasing the Burning Up Tour, as well as some documentary / behind-the-scenes aspects of the Jonas Brothers' life on tour. Joe, Nick, and Kevin might be heartthrobs to millions of 'Tweens, but do they have what it takes to win over this critic?

I went into reviewing this Blu-ray with the same mindset that I had when I reviewed the Best of Both Worlds Blu-ray. I was not expecting to be won over by the music, but I was more interested in judging this concert based on the energy and stage presence of the band. After all, I'm not part of the target audience here, and if you are not, then you have probably moved onto the next review. And if you are part of the target audience and love The Jonas Brothers, you don't care what I think about the movie. I was won over by Miley Cyrus; granted, her music is definitely pop, and that's not my usual musical choice, but it is well crafted pop, and her enthusiasm is infectious. This is not the case here. A lot of the critics complained that the music was rather generic sounding, and quite frankly I agree. Having just finished watching the movie one and a half times (once in 3D, and partially in 2D and on DVD to compare video and audio quality) and have to say that if I heard these songs on the radio right now I wouldn't be able to identify them. For the most part, they could have been playing the same song over and over again and I just didn't notice. The highlight of the concert for me was Taylor Swift; it's not a good sign when the special guest outshines the main act.

As for the documentary segments, they could have been completely removed and it would have improved the overall show. Totally superfluous.

I only have the Three-Disc Blu-ray, but I'm 90% sure I can figure out what's on the other versions.

The Single-Disc DVD has two bonus songs, "Love Bug" and "Shelf", as well as a 15-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.

The Two-Disc DVD has those extras, while the second disc is a digital copy of the movie.

The Three-Disc Blu-ray has all of those extras on the Blu-ray disc, and includes the Two-Disc DVD version of the movie. (The DVD version is only in 2D version. However, I think the only way to get the 3D version is to buy the Blu-ray.) Technically speaking, the audio was great, but that was too be expected since it was a concert film and it relies to heavily on the sound. As for the video, the 2D version looks a whole lot better than the 3D version, but that's just a result of the 3D technology. Some of the behind-the-scenes shots feel like they were not shot in true High Definition, but that could have been an editorial choice and not the fault of the transfer. As for the 3D effects, there were some shots that I will admit were really cool (including the drumstick throwing), but I'm still not a huge fan of the technology. Most of the time it feels like it is just a gimmick, and not intergral to the storytelling, not that there's a lot of storytelling in this type of movie. Finally, it is BD-Live enabled with the usual suite of extras (Movie Mail, Movie Chat, etc.) Comparing prices, it only costs 13% more to get the film in High Definition, which is a very, very reasonable upgrade for what you get. In fact, if you have not yet upgraded to High Definition, it might be worth buying the Blu-ray now, to avoid the extra cost of double-dipping when you do.

Jonas Brothers - The 3D Concert Experience is for fans only and won't win over any new converts. That said, the Three-Disc Blu-ray is likely worth picking up for such fans.

Last Year at Marienbad - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Possibly one of the greatest movies ever made. Possibly a pile of pretentious crap. It depends on whom you ask. Most of the critics are of the former opinion, but enough moviegoers will be of the latter opinion that it is definitely a try before you buy situation. I.E., rent it first. If you have seen it and want to buy it, grab the Blu-ray, which is actually cheaper than the DVD. Also coming out this week from Criterion Collection is My Dinner with Andre, which is a more conventional film and should please the more average moviegoer. With a ton of extras, the DVD is worth picking up.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 19th of May. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Lavender Limelight - Buy from Amazon
A 1997 documentary about lesbian filmmakers. Featuring interviews with Jennie Livingston (Paris is Burning), Rose Troche (Go Fish / The L Word), Monika Treut (Seduction: The Cruel Woman), Maria Meggenti (The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love / Puccini for Beginners), Su Friedrich (Sink or Swim and Hide and Seek), Heather Lyn MacDonald (Ballot Measure 9), and Cheryl Duyne (The Watermelon Woman and My Baby's Daddy). These women talk about how they got into movies, what inspired some of their work, as well as how they came out and how that affected their work and how they are perceived by filmmakers and the industry. (One of these women complains that she is dismissed as a 'Lesbian filmmaker' by fellow experimental filmmakers, while her fellow Lesbian filmmakers tend to dismiss her as an 'Experimental filmmaker'. Instead she should be bridging two niche genres.) There are a lot of interesting stories given here, but I do have two complaints about this movie. First of all, it is short at just 56 minutes, including opening and closing credits. With seven filmmakers featured here, that's not even 8 minutes per filmmaker, and that's just not enough to get into their stories and you want to hear more. Then again, having a documentary that leaves you wanting to hear more is hardly a major complaint. Also, the documentary is not very cinematic and is almost entirely talking heads and clips from movies.

Outside of some text-based bios, there are no extras. This is a shame, since the film is more than a decade old and it would have been nice to get some updates on some of these women.

Lavender Limelight is a little short and the DVD has no real extras, but it is worth checking out. However, it's a better deal to grab Lesbian Nation, which came out the same day and includes this movie and other short films with the same theme.

Legend of the Bog - Buy from Amazon
The screener is late, but I will get to the full spotlight review as soon as I can after it arrives. If it arrives.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and made its home market debut on the 19th of May. However, the DVD screener arrived late, hence the delay in this review.

Lesbian Nation - Buy from Amazon
Five short films made in the mid-1990s all with a lesbian theme. They are, in alphabetical order...

  • Carmelita Tropicana - 1994 - 26 minutes
    Directed by Ela Troyano, co-written by Ela Troyano and Alina Troyano, and starring Alina Troyano. Alina Troyano plays the titular character, a performance artist that is mugged one night coming home from a gig. The next day she has to deal with her father, a tenant in a building where she is the super, he sister, and all of this is before she is arrested at a abortion clinic protest, along with her much more conservative sister and her best friend. Also in the same prison cell as these three women, is the woman that mugged her the night before.
    A very funny short film that tackles topics from politics, to Latina identity, to feminism, and lesbianism. To call it 'over-the-top' is an understatement at times, but those who are fans of Telemundo, for instance, should get a real kick out of this.
  • Jumping the Gun - 1996 - 9 minutes
    A woman wakes up after a one-night stand and while looking around the apartment of the other woman, she imagines their entire relationship from initial bliss, to tragic breakup. Given the state of this woman's apartment, the relationship was probably better imagined than lived out.
    A funny and surreal look at the after effects of a one-night stand. The wide gab in reality (dirty dishes fill the sink while the fridge in empty) and her imagination are very wide, and it doesn't try and stretch the set-up and longer than it can sustain.
  • Lavender Limelight - 1997 - 56 minutes
    As mention above, this movie is available both separately and as part of this collection. Don't see the need to review it twice.
  • Little Women in Transit - 1996 - 7 minutes
    Tells the story of Jennie, a 12-year old girl stuck in the middle of the back seat of her parents' station wagon in between her big sister, and her younger sister. Being forced to sit on the hump during a long road trip is hell enough, and it gets worse when he sisters start in on her.
    I remember driving across Canada in a truck with more people than could comfortably fit. Even if you really like the people you are traveling with, they quickly get on your nerves, especially if you have to sit in the middle. So I really empathized with the main character here. At just seven minutes (six-and-a-half minutes really) it is the shortest of the five films here, but it doesn't need to be any longer.
  • Playing the Part - 1995 - 38 minutes
    An auto-biographical documentary (some say it's a mockumentary) about the writer / director, Mitch McCabe, and her attempts to come out to her upper-class parents during the holidays.
    The second longest short on this DVD, it is a little too repetitive to be wholly successful, as there's one build-up after another before Mitch decides now is not the right time to come out to her parents. She keeps looking for the perfect moment, and to paraphrase Voltaire, she is letting 'perfect' be the enemy of 'good'. The fact that in the end when we are let down again, I still reacted to it means I was emotionally drawn in, which is a high compliment. So even if the movie isn't perfect, it is good, and I can recommend it.
There are no extras on the DVD.

Lesbian Nation collects five short films on one DVD, and while the technical quality is suspect at times (these are low-budget, independent short films) the overall quality is high. If you are interested in lesbian films, short films, and especially short lesbian films, this is an excellent deal.

The Monster Squad - The Complete Collection - Buy from Amazon
A TV series from the 1970s featuring the Universal monsters fighting crime to make up for past misdeeds. A lot of the appeal here is admittedly nostalgia, but those who grew up on the show might want to check it out again.

Mr. Troop Mom - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
First of all, who came up with this name? This is a terrible name that has no flow to it. It's both generic and cumbersome at the same time. It's a made for TV movie that air on Nick on Friday and is coming out on DVD this week. At best it can be called 'Inoffensively mediocre'. At best.

Our City of Dreams - Buy from Amazon
A documentary that earned good reviews, but not great reviews, which probably explains why it struggled at the box office. Worth checking out for most, picking up for fans of documentaries.

Phoebe in Wonderland - Buy from Amazon: Theatrical Cover Art or Alternative Cover Art
This movie is coming out on two different DVDs this week, but outside of the cover art, there appears to be no difference between them. Strange. I think the Alternative Cover Art looks better, but it also costs more. Even stranger. The film's mixed reviews and its poor box office performance results in a DVD without extras, limited its value to a rental, and that's all.

Pink Panther 2 - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This movie earned even worse reviews than its predecessor and managed to bomb at the box office as well. Was this deserved? I'll be able to tell you that once the screener arrives.

Pokemon - Diamond and Pearl Battle Dimension - Volume 1 & 2 - Buy from Amazon
I'm amazed they still make this show. I'm amazed it has lasted this long, as at least a dozen other similar shows have come in gone in the same time. Also available as two separate volumes, but this two-pack is obviously the better deal.

Warning: This DVD does not come out this week and makes its home market debut on the 30th. However, the DVD screener arrived early and I was able to get the review done this week.

Princess Protection Program - Buy from Amazon
This made-for-TV movie airs on the Disney channel this Friday before coming out on DVD next Tuesday. But I received a screener early, so I can say whether it's a purchase, whether it's worth catching on TV, or if you can safely let it pass by.

The movie stars Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Demi Lovato (Camp Rock). The latter plays Princess Rosalinda Marie Montoya Fiore, who is about to become the queen of Costa Luna. However, General Magnus Kane of neighboring Costa Estrella decides that since she is too young to be a leader, the two countries should united under one rule. His rule of course. That's where Major Mason comes in. He's an agent of the Princess Protection Program, which jumps into action whenever royalty is threatened. (Or if the name is accurate, only with female royalty is threatened. Princes have to deal with danger on their own, I guess.) He whisks her away, but her mother is captured. Now Rosalinda must live as a regular teenager named Rosie in order to avoid detection, much to the horror of Major Mason's daughter, Carter (played by Selena Gomez). Can Rosalinda fit in with the common teenager? Will Carter and Rosie get along? Will Carter get the guy of her dreams? Will Rosie clash with the snobs at school? Will her secret be exposed? Will she ever return home and take her place on the royal thrown?

If you've seen many Disney TV movies, you can answer all of these questions, and more. Okay, originality is not this film's strong suit, then again, this is true of nearly every Disney TV movie made, so condemning it on that point seems a little harsh. I do think stars Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato have good chemistry together, and that adds a lot to the overall value of the movie. Also of note, Demi Lovato's acting in this movie is a step above her performance in Camp Rock, which I reviewed previously. Then again, here she is acting along side Selena Gomez, who has a lot more screen presence than whichever Jonas Brother was playing the male lead in that movie. (Quite frankly, I don't which Jonas brother is which, nor do I care to learn.) Overall, this isn't the best Disney TV movie I've seen, but it is probably in the top third. If you are a fan of either of the two leads or of the genre in general, it is worth checking out.

As for the extras, there are four main selling points. Firstly, there's the extended ending, which is basically a huge setup for a sequel, and there will be a sequel if the ratings for this show are any good. Secondly, there's a seven-and-a-half minute long behind-the-scenes featurette called Royal and Loyal BFFs, which highlights the chemistry between Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. A Royal Reality talks to a real-life princess, and more of the cast and crew. Finally, there's a music video for "One and the Same", which is a duet by Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. It's actually better than I was expecting. Certainly better than most Disney stars who are given a chance to sing.

I'm quite confident in saying that for its target audience, Princess Protection Program should be a crowd pleaser, while the DVD is solid entertainment value. Check it out on TV this Friday, and if you really like it, pick up the DVD next Tuesday.

Reba - Season Six - Buy from Amazon
Reba McEntire stars as the titular character in this series, which is wrapping up its home market run this week. In fact, it barely got a sixth season and was a midseason replacement for its final year. Because of this, there are only 13 episodes on this 2-disc set, which is only slightly less expensive than the other seasons, which had a lot more episodes. Also, there appears to be no extras, but if you bought the previous seasons, there's no reason to stop now, despite the higher price-per-minute.

The Shadow Effect - Buy from Amazon: The Movie or Interactive Movie Experience
The most interesting part of this DVD release is the name, 'Interactive Movie Experience'. It's a 'self-help' program with interviews with people of the likes of Deepak Chopra and James Van Praagh. James Van Praagh? How can this guy help anyone? Skip it.

Simon Says - Buy from Amazon
A teenage slasher starring Crispin Glover as twins who encounter of group of teens in the woods (Blake Lively, Kelly Vitz, Margo Harshman, Daniella Monet, and others). He proceeds to do what tends to happen to teens alone in the woods in these movies. Some of the performances are good, and there's a surprise twist that might surprise some, but probably not. That said, most genre critic compliment the movie for its quality of kills, and the acting is a step up compared to the average for the genre. Overall, it is worth a rental for fans of the genre, but with an audio commentary track as its only extra, that will likely be enough for most people.

Table for Three - Buy from Amazon
A direct-to-DVD romantic comedy that suffers from the vast number of clichés that normally plague the genre. However, it has enough charm that it is worth a rental for fans of the genre in general, or of the three lead actors in particular. Extras include an audio commentary track and a making of featurette, which might be enough to lift it to a purchase for some.

Tom and Jerry - The Chuck Jones Collection - Buy from Amazon
I have mixed feelings about this DVD. On the one hand, I was never a fan of Tom and Jerry. On the other hand, Chuck Jones is one of my favorite animation directors. Extras on the 2-disc set include a couple of featurettes, which is not bad compared to most releases of animated shorts, but not up to the level of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes releases, for instance. Worth picking up for fans of the cartoon duo, or of Chuck Jones' other work. On a side note, could we please get Chuck Jones' adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth on DVD? Please?

Waltz with Bashir - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
This movie earned a number of nominations, some for Best Documentary, some for Best Foreign Language Film, and even some for its animation. It didn't win many awards, but that could be because of its hybrid nature, as its reviews were stellar. Extras on the DVD include an audio commentary track, Q&A with the director, making of featurette, and animatics, while the Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled, but there are no online extras yet. The Blu-ray also costs nearly 50% more than the DVD, which is too much for this type of release. It is worth picking up, but the DVD is the better deal.


Filed under: Video Releases, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Pink Panther 2, The Pianist, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, Inkheart, Waltz with Bashir, Phoebe in Wonderland, Our City Dreams, Home, Bob Funk, Baby on Board, , Table for Three, Thick as Thieves