Video Verdict: New DVDs for Oct. 7

This week’s home video crop is led by an Adam Sandler comedy, a thriller by the director of “The Sixth Sense” and the re-release of a classic Disney picture.
You Don’t Mess With the Zohan
1 1/2 stars (out of four)
Available unrated and in the theatrical cut, which was rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language and nudity
Columbia Pictures
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Adam Sandler offers his take on Middle East politics by playing a Mossad agent named Zohan who tires of killing Palestinian terrorists, fakes his death, and moves to the U.S. to become a hair stylist. He is heartened to see that Palestinians and Jews work side by side in the States, and he even takes a job at a salon owned by a Palestinian-American.

Alas, Zohan’s past comes back to haunt him when a man that he wronged (Rob Schneider) discovers that he’s still alive. Soon enough, Zohan is forced into a showdown with a top Palestinian operative known as The Phantom (John Turturro). At stake? Peace between Arabs and Israelis … and Zohan’s career as a stylist.

Like every Sandler comedy, “Zohan” has good moments. Trouble is, there’s not enough of them. The film is poorly written, dull and predictable, and those aren’t qualities you find in a good comedy.

The movie is available on single-disc and two-disc releases, some featuring an unrated cut of the film. Extra features vary by version.

The Happening
2 stars
Rated R for violent and disturbing images
20th Century Fox
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

It’s looking more and more like writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s career won’t regain the luster it had from 1999 to 2004, when he released “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable” and “Signs.” The first and last of that group were among the best movies released during their period, and “Unbreakable” was a lightweight-yet-likable thriller.

Since, Shyamalan’s work has been on a downward spiral. “The Village” (2004) was a passable suspense film, but “Lady in the Water” (2006) was nearly unwatchable and “The Happening” isn’t much better.

The story is built around the creepy premise that an unknown toxin is making its way through the airstreams of eastern U.S. cities causing everyone exposed to instantaneously commit suicide. When high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) learns of the problem, he gathers his wife (Zooey Deschanel) and makes plans to get out of Philadelphia. Joining the Moores on their journey is Elliot’s friend Julian (John Leguizamo) and his daughter, Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez). As the group flees toward what they hope is a safer area, the suicide epidemic spreads until Elliot and company find themselves at the center of the outbreak zone with no idea what’s going on.

The premise is scary and many parts of the story are nicely presented, but Shyamalan’s work is inconsistent. As the characters attempt to make their way to safety, they — and the audience — learn more about the toxin and the way it spreads. But the rules of the outbreak are nonsensical, and there are plot holes everywhere. Beyond that, “The Happening” doesn’t seem to have a point. It could be interpreted as a plea for environmental awareness, but it certainly isn’t a well-reasoned one.

Sleeping Beauty
3 stars
Rated G
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

When released in theaters, “Sleeping Beauty” didn’t make nearly enough money to cover its $6 million budget, and the results were disastrous for Walt Disney Productions. But with time, the 1959 film gained a large following, and it is now considered a classic.

The story tells of a beautiful princess cursed to remain unconscious until true love’s kiss sets her free. The storytelling is on the slow side, but the visuals are spectacular, particularly considering when the movie was made. “Sleeping Beauty” is also the ultimate “princess movie.” It features a group of benevolent fairies, an evil dark fairy, a strapping prince and, of course, a radiant and lovable heroine.

The film also has an excellent score, as it was based partially on Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” ballet and features much of the composer’s music.

Disney has released “Sleeping Beauty” in the past, but this 50th anniversary edition has been beautifully digitally restored. What’s more, the Blu-ray version is the first ever high-definition release of a Disney animated classic. As with most of Disney’s animated films, it will only be sold for a limited time.

DVD extras include a documentary on the making of “Sleeping Beauty,” deleted songs, deleted scenes, an alternate open and more.


“Touch of Evil”: This re-release of director Orson Welles’ 1958, film noir effort features three versions of the film. The first is the theatrical cut, which was tampered with by Universal executives. The second, is a re-edited version restored to Welles’ original vision. The third is Welles’ 1957 rough cut.

“The Munsters: The Complete Series”: With Halloween around the corner, Universal decided it was time to roll out all 70 episodes of this vintage television comedy about a family of lovable monsters. Also included in the set are the two feature-length “Munsters” movies. People who don’t want to spring for the entire series, can purchase the “Family Portrait” episode (colorized and in the original black-and-white) on a separate DVD.

“30 Rock” — Season 2: The NBC comedy series about the behind-the-scenes operations on a television show gets the full DVD treatment. Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney star.

“Feast II — Sloppy Seconds”: A sequel to the original “Feast,” which was made by winners of the reality television show “Project Greenlight.” As with the first picture, “Sloppy Seconds” is about bloodthirsty monsters that go on a killing spree.

“Joy Ride 2 — Dead Ahead”: Direct-to-DVD sequel to “Joy Ride.” Once again, a psychopathic big rig driver terrorizes a group of young people.

Classic Christmas Favorites: This Warner Brothers DVD set features 10 animated holiday films, including “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland,” “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.”

“Robot Chicken” — Season III: Twenty recent episodes of the offbeat, stop-motion animated comedy series that airs on Cartoon Network.

“The Smurfs” — Season 1, Vol. 2: Who doesn’t love the animated blue pixies who live in Smurf Village and battle the evil Gargamel? This two-disc set includes 20 episodes of the animated television series.

“You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown”: If the current presidential race has overwhelmed your political sensibilities, this Peanuts video may help you loosen up. Charlie Brown decides to back Linus in his run for student body president, but a skeleton in the closet may come back to haunt them.

Hitchcock classics: Three of director Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces — “Psycho,” “Vertigo” and “Rear Window” — have been re-released on two-disc, special edition DVDs with numerous extra features.

“Keeping Up With the Kardashians”– Season One: First season of the reality television series detailing the lives of Hollywood’s Kardashian/Jenner family.

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