Video Verdict: New DVDs for Jan. 27

Penelope Cruz is a naughty girl in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

Penelope Cruz is a naughty girl in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

It’s an extremely busy week for DVD releases, as we’re getting everything from an award-winning Woody Allen picture to a religious-themed meditation on the sanctity of marriage. Throw in a rough and tumble gangster film and two Hollywood cop dramas and you have a lot to choose from.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
3 1/2 stars (out of four)
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving sexuality, and smoking
The Weinstein Company
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Writer-director Woody Allen is in fine form with this charming dramedy about two American girls, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), who travel to Barcelona for a summer getaway.

When they run into a sexually liberated artist named Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) it changes both of their lives in unexpected ways. The once steadfast and practical Vicky discovers she has an impulsive side, and the rambunctious Cristina learns that there are limits to her freewheeling nature.

The cast, which also includes Penelope Cruz, is exceptional, and Allen’s storytelling powers are in peak form. In other words, it’s no surprise the movie won best musical or comedy at this year’s Golden Globes.

The DVD has no extra features.


Lakeview Terrace
3 stars
Rated PG-13 for intense thematic material, violence, sexuality, language and some drug references
Screen Gems
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and UMD for PSP

Director Neil Labute knows that few things are as frightening as an authority figure who abuses his power, and he makes that clear in “Lakeview Terrace.”

The great Samuel L. Jackson stars as Abel Turner, an ultra-conservative Los Angeles policeman who starts a vendetta against a couple that moves in next door to him. Although Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) are friendly, Turner doesn’t approve of their interracial marriage, and he’s equally offended by their liberal political views.

At first, the Mattsons try to reason with Abel, but as their neighbor becomes increasingly hostile, they find themselves in a frightening feud with no prospect of help from law enforcement.

Labute’s story addresses everything from racism to honesty in relationships, and it is well acted throughout. Unfortunately, it loses steam with an over-the-top finale, but that’s a minor problem with an otherwise terrific movie.

DVD extras include a director and cast commentary, deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.


The Rocker
3 stars
Rated PG-13 for drug and sexual references, nudity and language
20th Century Fox
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Rainn Wilson is best known as Dwight Schrute on TV’s “The Office,” but anyone who watches “The Rocker” will have a hard time imagining him as anything but a washed-up glam-rock drummer.

Wilson plays Robert “Fish” Fishman, a hard-partying heavy metal musician who got kicked out of his hair band just before it hit the big time. Although viewers get a glimpse of Fish during his long-haired glory days, most of the film is set years later when he’s wallowing in self pity over what might have been.

Fortunately, Fish gets a chance at redemption when his young nephew asks him to serve as fill-in drummer in a high school dance band. And Fish makes the most of the opportunity.

The gags in “The Rocker” are broad and over-the-top, and while they don’t always hit the mark, they are consistent enough to make the film a satisfying experience.

DVD extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes, cast and director commentary, deleted scenes and gag reels.


Pride and Glory
2 1/2 stars
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language and brief drug content
New Line Cinema
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Few things in the cinematic world are as frustrating as a picture that starts well and builds interest only to fall apart in the end. “Pride and Glory” is a poster child for the phenomenon.

The police drama focuses on a family of New York City police officers who are traumatized when four of their colleagues are killed in an ambush. Family patriarch and chief of detectives Francis Tierney Sr. (Jon Voight) assigns his son Ray (Edward Norton) to investigate, and the young police officer finds himself in a moral quandary.

As evidence casts an increasingly ugly spotlight on his brother (Noah Emmerich) and brother-in-law (Colin Farrell), Ray must decide whether to follow the legal rulebook or stay true to his kin.

The plotting is typical, but director Gavin O’Connor and his fine cast set the stage nicely, and the movie is entertaining and rewarding through its first two acts. The beginning is so promising, in fact, that its painful when “Pride and Glory” falls into a melodramatic downward spiral that’s just plain silly.

The movie is available on multiple DVD releases, including a two-disc special edition with a digital copy of the film. Extra features vary.


3 stars
Rated R for pervasive language, violence, drug use and brief sexuality
Warner Brothers
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

Writer-director Guy Ritchie’s wild, London crime drama mixes a Russian property dealer, vain English crime boss (Tom Wilkinson), manipulative accountant (Thandie Newton), drug-addicted rock star, and heady small-time crook into a delicious caper film.

“RocknRolla” has a complex plot that sees said mob boss trying desperately to track down a stolen painting while simultaneously dealing with small-time thugs — led by Gerard Butler — who are stealing from people well above their pay grade. Ritchie ties the threads together in a neat little package that’s gritty, clever, entertaining and breathlessly fun.

The movie is available on multiple DVD releases, including a two-disc special edition with a digital copy of the film. Extra features vary.


1 star
Rated PG for thematic material and some peril
Sony Pictures
Available on: DVD

It’s hard to ding a film that has its heart in the right place, but “Fireproof” is so predictable and poorly acted that not even the best intentions could save it.

The film has ties to the Christian organization Fireproof My Marriage, and it tells of Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron), a good-hearted fire captain with relationship problems. Just when it seems that his seven-year marriage to wife Catherine (Erin Bethea) is doomed, his father convinces him to participate in something called The Love Dare.

The 40-day program requires Caleb to re-commit himself to his marriage through a series of deeds designed to show Catherine how selflessly he cares. The concept is good and would no doubt benefit most marriages, but director Alex Kendrick’s presentation is so contrived and saccharine that’s its difficult to take the project seriously. Add consistently bad acting and you have a picture that deserves to go up in smoke.

DVD extras include a filmmakers’ commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a gag reel and deleted scenes.



“College”: Three geeky high school students visit a local college and fall in with a hard-partying fraternity. Drake Bell, Nick Zano, Kevin Covais and Andrew Caldwell star.

“Hulk Vs.”: Two Marvel Comics animated adventures in a single package. The short cartoons feature the giant, green behemoth known as the Hulk interacting with Marvel heroes Thor and Wolverine.

“The Lucky Ones”: Story of three soldiers (Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins and Michael Pena) who take an unexpected road trip and end up discovering a great deal about themselves. Directed by Neil Burger (“The Illusionist”).

“Closing the Ring”: Love story about an Irishman who tries to find the rightful owner of a ring that belonged to a deceased American pilot. Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Mischa Barton and Neve Campbell star. Directed by Oscar winner Richard Attenborough.

“Imaginary Witness — Hollywood and the Holocaust”: Documentary film about Hollywood’s portrayal of the Holocaust over the past 60 years.

“The Secret of the Magic Gourd”: American release of Disney’s first Chinese language film. It tells the story of a boy who finds a magical gourd, and the DVD has English, Mandarin and Cantonese soundtracks.

“A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich”: New release of the 1978 film about a teen boy addicted to heroin. Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield and Larry B. Scott star.

“Mary Poppins” — 45th Anniversary Edition: Two-disc release of the classic Disney film about a magical, musical nanny. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke star.

“You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown”: Charlie Brown competes in a motocross race against Peppermint Patty and Snoopy in this Emmy Award-winning Peanuts TV special, available on DVD for the first time.

“Blossom” — Seasons 1 & 2: Early 1990s comedy series about a teen girl living in a house full of men. This six-disc set includes the first 37 episodes plus extra features.

— Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose bylines have appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. E-mail him at

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