DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: SLEEPER (MGM Home Entertainment/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Woody Allen’s 1973 sci-fi spoof remains one of the brightest, cheeriest and simply hilarious films of his entire career. Subsequent films may have been wittier or more challenging, but Sleeper is pure comic genius at full throttle.Miles Munroe (Woody, of course) is the 20th century owner of a health-food store in Greenwich Village who wakes up 200 years later after a botched hernia operation. Hilariously acclimating to the world of the future, he hooks up with futuristic poet Luna (Diane Keaton at her bubbly best) and eventually finds himself in the midst of a political rebellion.Not only is Sleeper a classic slapstick comedy — one may be surprised how agile Allen is here — but Allen and Marshall Brickman’s delicious screenplay pays homage to science fiction while also sending it up. Among Allen’s many classic films, this ranks as yours truly’s personal favorite.The new Blu-ray retails for $24.99. Rated PG.
30 BEATS (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Amiable but lightweight romantic comedy offers a series of (talky) vignettes about New Yorkers looking for love, sometimes in the right places but usually in the wrong ones. The ensemble cast includes Paz de la Huerta, Lee Pace, Justin Kirk, Ben Levin and Jennifer Tilly. Rated R.
ALEX CROSS (Summit Entertainment/ LionsGate Home Entertainment): Tyler Perry assumes the role of the title supersleuth in this adaptation of James Patterson’s bestseller, here on the trail of serial killer Matthew Fox. Perry is competent in a change-of-pace role, but the entire endeavor smacks of a TV pilot thanks to Rob Cohen’s standard-issue direction. A good, if ill-used, supporting cast includes Edward Burns, Jean Reno, Cicely Tyson, Rachel Nichols, Carmen Ejogo, Giancarlo Esposito and John C. McGinley. Whether or not this spawns a big-screen franchise is anybody’s guess, but its disappointing box-office wasn’t encouraging. Rated PG-13.
“BUBBLE GUPPIES”: ON THE JOB! (Nickelodeon/Paramount Home Entertainment): There’s nothing fishy — or maybe there is — about this DVD collection ($16.99 retail) of six episodes, plus bonus features, from the award-winning, animated educational series for children.
CUPID (Sonar Entertainment/Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): TV talk-show host Joely Fisher needs a little help finding romance, so Jamie Kennedy (playing an emissary of the title character) enters the scene, in this Hallmark Channel comedy, now available on DVD ($14.93 retail).
“DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES”: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH AND FINAL SEASON (ABC Studios): The title of this five-DVD boxed set ($45.99 retail) tells all, as it contains all 23 episodes from the climactic 2011- ’12 season of the award-winning ABC satirical soap opera, whose alluring ensemble cast includes Felicity Huffman, Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria. Emmy nominations for the late Kathryn Joosten as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and for Brenda Strong (whose character died in the very first episode) as Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.
THE DUELLISTS (Shout! Factory): The Blu-ray bow ($19.97 retail) of Ridley Scott’s award-winning 1977 debut feature, based on a Joseph Conrad story, with Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel (both rather miscast) as soldiers in Napoleon’s army whose rivalry and enmity span 30 years. Cristina Raines, Edward Fox, Robert Stephens, Tom Conti, John McEnery, Diana Quick and Albert Finney round out a fine cast, but the splendid visuals tend to overwhelm the story and characters. Nevertheless, this boasts a fervent following. Rated PG.
IN THE EYES OF A KILLER (Monarch Home Entertainment): Louis Mandylor produced, directed and stars in this awardwinning(!) shocker about a man who receives an eye transplant from an executed serial killer and starts picking up unpleasant visions — and habits — as a result. Some effective moments but pretty routine, with music and sound effects often obliterating the dialogue. Gwendolyn Edwards, James Marshall and Costas’ brother Louis co-star. Rated R.
“IRON MAN: ARMORED ADVENTURES” (Marvel Animation/Gaiam Vivendi Enterprises): Adrian Petriw voices the title role of teen Tony Stark and his mechanized alter-ego in this animated series based on the popular Marvel Comics character. “Season 2, Volume 2” includes six episodes from the 2011-’12 season and “Season 3, Volume 3” another six. Each volume retails on DVD for $14.93.
“MAD MEN”: SEASON FIVE (LionsGate Home Entertainment): All 13 episodes from the 2012 season of the critically acclaimed AMC drama series set within the fast-paced, back-stabbing advertising world of the ’60s. Remarkably, the show didn’t win a single Emmy last season despite a whopping 17 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Jon Hamm), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Elisabeth Moss), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Jared Harris), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Christina Hendricks), Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Ben Feldman), Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Julia Ormond), Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (Phil Abraham), and three nominations for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. The DVD boxed set retails for $49.98, the Blu-ray boxed set for $49.99.
“RL STINE’S THE HAUNTING HOUR:” THE SERIES (Shout! Factory): For younger horror fans, this award-winning anthology series is based on bestselling author Stine’s stories and broadcast on the Hub Network. “Volume Three” and Volume Four” each feature six episodes from the inaugural 2011 season; each volume retails for $14.97.
‘STONE SOUP’… AND OTHER STORIES FROM THE ASIAN TRADITION (Scholastic Storybook Treasures): To commemorate the Chinese New Year, this self-explanatory DVD ($14.95 retail) features a selection of animated adaptation of classic Asian children’s stories, including The Five Chinese Brothers, Stonecutter, Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China and the title tale (narrated by BD Wong).
STORIES ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE FEATURING MARCH ON! (Scholastic Storybook Treasures): A three- DVD collection ($24.95 retail) featuring 13 award-winning stories relating to African American history and culture, featuring narration by the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, the late Michael Clarke Duncan and others.
TAKEN 2 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): Liam Neeson’s back in action in this sequel to the surprise 2008 boxoffice hit about an ex-CIA agent embroiled in international intrigue that threatens him and his wife and daughter (Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace, respectively). The DVD retails for $29.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Rated PG-13 (also available in an unrated edition).
“TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL”: THE SIXTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Roma Downey, John Dye and Della Reese return to dispense heavenly wisdom, and maybe a miracle or two, in all 26 episodes from the 1999-2000 season of the long-running, award-winning CBS inspirational drama. Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Kirk Douglas) and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Kathy Baker). The boxed set retails for $57.99.
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (Warner Home Video): Aging baseball scout Clint Eastwood tries to reconcile with lawyer daughter Amy Adams on a recruiting tour in this hokey but enjoyable melodrama marking the directorial debut of long-time Eastwood collaborator Robert Lorenz. A good supporting cast includes Justin Timberlake, Robert Patrick, Matthew Lillard, Ed Lauter, Bob Gunton, George Wyner and the everbusy John Goodman. Rated PG-13.
UNDERCOVER BRIDESMAID (Sonar Entertainment/Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): Brooke Burns plays the title role in this Hallmark Channel comedy, now available on DVD ($14.93 retail).
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.