Video Verdict: New DVDs for Sept. 2

Although plenty of television series are hitting DVD this week, things are slow for mainstream feature films. In fact, once you get beyond the TV shows, a small film by Helen Hunt and a direct-to-DVD superhero cartoon are the biggest releases available.

 Then She Found Me
2 1/2 stars
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Image Entertainment
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

Actress Helen Hunt’s feature film directing debut is solid, but it does have problems, most stemming from a choppy screenplay that Hunt also had a hand in.

She stars as April Epner, a 39-year-old woman who is desperate to have a child. That likelihood fades when her short-term husband, Ben (Matthew Broderick), decides he made a mistake and abandons her. A day later, April’s adoptive mother dies, leaving her confused, alone and depressed.

The loneliness subsides when her biological mother, Bernice (Bette Midler), tracks her down and tries to establish a relationship, thinking she will be welcome now that April’s adoptive parents are dead. But April isn’t sure what she thinks of the flamboyant and pushy Bernice. Things get more complicated when April strikes up a relationship with a recently divorced Englishman named Frank (Colin Firth).

There’s a lot going on in “Then She Found Me.” More, in fact, than in the Elinor Lipman novel it was adapted from. The complexity means some plot threads are under-explored, but the excellent cast keeps things interesting and does a reasonably good job making up for the screenplay’s shortcomings.

DVD extras include a commentary by Hunt, cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow
3 stars
Rated PG for sci-fi action violence and some mild language
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray

This direct-to-DVD animated feature is for comic book geeks and children only, but it should go a long way toward pleasing both of those groups.

Unlike Marvel’s previous direct-to-DVD movies, “Next Avengers” received a PG rating, making it more kid friendly than their usual PG-13s. That doesn’t, however, mean the plotting has been dumbed down.

For a kid-friendly cartoon, “Next Avengers” is surprisingly well plotted. It centers on the children of the Avengers superhero group, most of whom have been living in isolation since their parents were defeated in a cataclysmic battle with the robot Ultron. There’s James, son of Captain America and Black Widow; Torunn, daughter of Thor; Azari, son of the Black Panther; Hawkeye, son of the original Hawkeye; and Pym, son of Wasp and Giant Man.

Together the children are as powerful as their parents were, and an aging Iron Man has been training them for the day that they will face Ultron themselves. But the children realize they can’t win the fight against Ultron alone, so they go in search of the one hero strong enough to help them: the incredible Hulk.

The animation isn’t as detailed and spectacular as in blockbuster animated movies like “WALL-E” and “Ice Age,” but it’s good enough that it doesn’t distract from the storytelling. And in this case that storytelling is solid.

DVD extras include a feature on the making of the film.

The Big Bang Theory — The Complete First Season
4 stars
Not rated
Warner Brothers
Available on: DVD

Half-our television sitcoms don’t get much funnier than this romp about two uber-nerds living next door to a world-class hottie. Jim Parsons stars as Sheldon, a brilliant physicist who can explain the most complex scientific events but who has difficulty in basic social situations. Sheldon’s roommate and fellow scientist, Leonard (Johnny Galecki), is better with people, but he’s no social butterfly.

Their world turns on its ear when a beautiful young woman named Penny (Kayley Cuoco) moves in across the hall, introducing them to life outside the science lab. The fact that Leonard has a serious crush on Penny is a constant source of tension — and comedy — through the 17 episodes in season one.

Although the setup for “Big Bang” is fairly typical, the show rises above its television competitors with extremely witty writing and a cast that has perfect comic timing. Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco are all excellent, but supporting player Simon Helberg steals almost every scene he’s allowed as the painfully inept womanizer Howard Wolowitz.

Much of the humor in “Big Bang” revolves around geeky pastimes, like comic books, video games and science fiction, but you needn’t be a nerd to appreciate the show. The basic themes are so universal that anyone — geek or chic — can enjoy.

The 3-DVD set includes every season-one episode plus a short feature on the making of the series.

The Promotion
2 1/2 stars
Rated R for language including sexual references and some drug use
Genius Products
Available on: DVD

Grocery store assistant manager Doug Stauber (Seann William Scott) thinks he’s a shoo-in for manager of his corporation’s new Chicago store. Then Richard Welhner (John C. Reilly) transfers from Canada and announces that he’s also going for the job.

With each man desperate to land the gig, they start a rivalry that involves everything from backstabbing to commiserating, and both learn valuable lessons along the way.

Written and directed by Steve Conrad, the guy who penned 2006’s “The Pursuit of Happyness,” the film has nice moments, bobbing between drama and easygoing comedy. Unfortunately, the film fails to establish a firm identity.

It isn’t raucous and over-the-top enough to be a gut-busting Hollywood comedy, but neither is it touching and sincere enough to be taken seriously as drama. That leaves viewers with a picture that has its heart in the right place and boasts strong performances yet isn’t completely satisfying.

DVD extras include deleted scenes, a commentary by several of the filmmakers, outtakes and a making-of feature.


Married Life: Chris Cooper plays a married man who falls in love with a younger woman (Rachel McAdams). He then decides to murder his wife (Patricia Clarkson) rather than put her through the humiliation of a divorce. Peirce Brosnan also stars.

Life — Season One: NBC drama focused on detective Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), who returns to the force after spending 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Also stars Sarah Shahi.

Eli Stone — The Complete First Season: Quirky ABC dramedy about an attorney suffering hallucinations due to an inoperable brain aneurysm. Or could it be that the hallucinations are actually visions designed for a greater purpose? Jonny Lee Miller, Victor Garber and Loretta Devine star.

The Office — Season Four: The continuing comic adventures of employees working in a Pennsylvania branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer star.

Desperate Housewives — Season Four: In the 17 season-four episodes, the ladies of Wisteria Lane find themselves involved in a battle with cancer, a fake pregnancy and marital infidelity. Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria Parker and Nicollette Sheridan star.

Ghost Whisperer — The Third Season: Jennifer Love Hewitt is back as Melinda Gordon, a young woman who can communicate with the dead. The show centers on her efforts to help ghosts move on while she learns more about her family history. Jay Mohr, David Conrad and Camryn Manheim also star.

Cheers — Season 10: Second-to-last season of the popular situation comedy involving the denizens of a cozy bar in Boston. Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, Kelsey Grammar, Woody Harrelson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger and George Wendt star.

Supernatural — The Complete Third Season: More drama from brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles) who travel the U.S. combating monsters and other evil forces.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee: Lesbian-themed comedy about a young woman who goes through a rough patch and joins a radical feminist group. Melonie Diaz and Nicole Vicius star and Jamie Babbit directs.

How to Rob a Bank: A lifelong slacker (Nick Stahl) and a bored bank employee (Erika Christensen) get caught in the middle of a heist gone bad.

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