by Mark Burger



MAN UP (LionsGate): A case of mistaken identity is the tried-and-true contrivance in this flippant, fluffy romantic comedy that benefits greatly from the snappy chemistry established between Simon Pegg and Lake Bell as the couple in question.

Before they can live happily ever after – or, at least, share a climactic clinch – there are the usual complications to deal with, the most amusing being Rory Kinnear as Bell’s old schoolmate, who’s been obsessed with her ever since, and the usual accompaniment of popular ’80s tunes (Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” is particularly inspired).

A friendly cast includes Olivia Williams (as Pegg’s ex), Ken Stott, Harriet Walter, Stephen Campbell Moore and Sharon Horgan, but it’s the ingratiating, energetic Pegg (also a producer) and the feisty, saucy Bell (sporting an impeccable English accent) who keep things bubbling along nicely. The DVD retails for $19.98, the Blu-ray for $19.99. Rated R. **½


ADULTERERS (RLJ Entertainment): Writer/producer/director HM Coakley’s thriller sees Sean Faris terrorizing wife Danielle Savre and her lover Mehcad Brooks after discovering them in bed together. Intense, well-acted and theatrical in nature, but a twist ending almost negates everything. **

THE BEAUTY INSIDE (Well Go USA Entertainment): Jong-Yeol Baek’s award-winning romantic comedy/fantasy debut feature (originally titled Byuti insaideu) sees Seo Joon Park suffering an unusual identity crisis wherein he wakes up each morning in a different body – which doesn’t dissuade girlfriend Hyo ju-han from loving him no matter who he is. In Korean with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).

BORN TO WIN (LionsGate): Writer/director Frans Cronje’s award-winning, fact- and faith-based drama stars Greg Kriek as a teacher for disabled children in Africa who gains spiritual strength from his experiences, available on DVD ($19.98 retail).

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory): Writer/director Joseph Green’s unforgettably titled, grade-Z 1962 shocker stars Herb (later Jason) Evers as a scientist – mad, of course – who keeps the head of dead fiancee Virginia Leith alive in his laboratory — which she’s none too pleased about. An unintentional laugh riot, and the special-edition (!) Blu-ray ($26.99 retail) includes the memorable “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” episode lambasting the film, plus other bonus features. *½

“THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW”: TREASURES FROM THE VAULT (Time Life): A self-explanatory six-DVD collection ($59.95 retail) of 15 complete and uncut episodes from the long-running, award-winning CBS comedy/variety series, with guest stars Jonathan Winters, Art Carney, Sonny & Cher, Paul Lynde, Mickey Rooney, Betty Grable, Joan Rivers, Bob Hope and even Ronald Reagan. Time Life has also released a single disc “Treasures from the Vault” ($12.95 retail) featuring three episodes.

“CPO SHARKEY”: THE BEST OF SEASON ONE (Time Life): A self-explanatory DVD compilation ($12.95 retail) of six episodes from the inaugural 1976 season of the NBC sitcom starring Don Rickles in the title role, as an irascible Naval chief petty officer.

FREEHELD (LionsGate): Julianne Moore (who can do no wrong) and producer Ellen Page are first-rate as a lesbian couple fighting the system in Ocean County, NJ when they are denied police pension benefits in this heartfelt, award-wining drama based on the Oscar-winning 2007 documentary short of the same name, graced with a stellar supporting cast including Michael Shannon, Josh Charles, Luke Grimes, Skipp Sudduth, William Sadler and Steve Carell, the latter especially good as a tireless gay-rights’ activist. The DVD retails for $29.95, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $39.99. Rated PG-13. ***

“HALLMARK CHANNEL ROMANTIC COMEDIES” (Cinedigm): A self-explanatory pair of 2014 TV movies released for Valentine’s Day on DVD (each $14.93 retail): For Better or For Worse reunites “Facts of Life” co-stars Lisa Whelchel and Kim Fields, and My Boyfriends’ Dogs stars Erika Christensen and Teryl Rothery.

“HEE HAW: KORNFIELD KLASSICS(Time Life): A DVD compilation ($12.95 retail) of two full-length episodes from early 1971 of the popular, long-running comedy/variety show hosted by Roy Clark and Buck Owens, with guest stars Loretta Lynn and Roger Miller.

I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS (IndiePix Films): Writer/director Leah Meyerhoff’s award-winning debut feature stars Natalia Dyer as a lonely teenager swept up in a whirlwind romance with older man Peter Vack, available on DVD ($29.95 retail).

JACO (MVD Entertainment Group): Robert Trujillo’s award-winning documentary explores the all-too-brief life and career of self-taught guitar virtuoso Jaco Pastorius (1951-’87), available on DVD ($19.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($24.99 retail).

“LOST CLASSIC TV OF THE 1950S: PETER LORRE” (Alpha Home Entertainment): A DVD selection ($7.98 retail) of two episodes from the ’50s CBS anthology series “Climax!” both directed by Allen Reisner and starring Peter Lorre: A Promise to Murder (1955), based on Oscar Wilde’s Arthur Savile’s Crime, with Louis Hayward and Ann Harding; and The Fifth Wheel (1956), with Hume Cronyn, Arthur Treacher and former big-screen “Nancy Drew” Bonita Granville.

MAGIC MIKE XXL (Warner Home Video): Producer Channing Tatum rounds up old (but still buff) buddies Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez and Gabriel Iglesias for this R-rated sequel to the 2012 box-office hit, with producer Gregory Jacobs directing and the first film’s director Steven Soderbergh serving as cinematographer and executive producer. The DVD retails for $28.98, the DVD/Blu-ray combo for $35.99.

MARFA GIRL (Breaking Glass Pictures): Writer/director Larry Clark takes a dim view of humanity (customarily) in this talky but evocative, award-winning drama is set on the US/Mexico border, with newcomer Adam Mediano as an aimless teenager at large. Fellow newcomer Drake Brunette plays the title role and the object of Mediano’s affections. **½

MEADOWLAND (Cinedigm): Cinematographer Reed Morano makes her feature directorial debut with this somber, well-acted, award-winning drama starring Luke Wilson and producer Olivia Wilde as a couple trying to cope with the disappearance of their young son, backed by a strong cast including John Leguizamo, Juno Temple, Elisabeth Moss, Ty Simpkins, Kevin Corrigan and Giovanni Ribisi (superb as Wilson’s self-destructive brother). Rated R. ***

NOAH’S ARK (Cinedigm): David Threlfall plays the titular builder in this BBC television version of the Bible story, originally titled The Ark, available on DVD ($14.93 retail).

PLAYIN’ FOR LOVE (RLJ Entertainment): Easy-to-take romantic comedy with writer/producer/director Robert Townsend as a Miami high-school basketball coach who meets his match in Salli Richardson-Whitfield, the single mother of one of his players. **

POLICE STORY: LOCKDOWN (Well Go USA Entertainment): The indefatigable Jackie Chan’s back in action in the fifth installment of the popular action franchise (originally titled Ging Chat Goo Si). In Mandarin with English subtitles, available on DVD ($24.98 retail) and Blu-ray ($29.98 retail).

“THE SAINT”: SEASONS THREE AND FOUR (Timeless Media Group): Before James Bond, Roger Moore played Leslie Charteris’ dashing playboy hero Simon Templar in an ITV series that became a global phenomenon. This DVD collection ($44.99 retail) includes all 32 episodes from the 1963-’64 and 1965 seasons, with guest stars including Donald Sutherland, Peter Vaughan, Nyree Dawn Porter and a pre-Pink Panther Burt Kwouk.

SCORPIONS: FOREVER AND A DAY (Cleopatra/MVD Entertainment Group): Katja von Garnier’s music documentary follows the history of the durable, award-winning German rock group who have been rocking “like a hurricane” for 50 years, available on DVD ($19.95 retail).

SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (Paramount): The zombie craze takes a comedic turn in this R-rated send-up that didn’t ring many box-office bells. Tye Sheridan, David Koechner, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Cloris Leachman are among those in jeopardy, available on DVD ($29.99 retail) and Blu-ray ($39.99 retail).

“SHIMMER AND SHINE” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): A DVD selection ($14.99 retail) of seven episodes from the inaugural 2015 season of the animated fantasy series about the misadventures of twin genies (voiced by Eva Bella and Isabelli Crovetta-Cramp).

SHOW ME A HERO (HBO): Based on Lisa Belkin’s non-fiction best-seller, executive producer/creator David Simon and executive producer/director Paul Haggis dramatize the political machinations in late-’80s Yonkers, NY in this six-part mini-series, with Oscar Issac (Golden Globe Award winner Oscar Issac, Best Actor Mini-series or Television Film) as real-life city council member and mayoral candidate Nick Wasicsko, backed by an all-star cast including Catherine Keener, Winona Ryder, Alfred Mokina, Peter Riegert, Clarke Peters, Bob Balaban, LaTanya Richardson and James Belushi, as Wasicsko’s opponent Angelo Martinelli. The two-disc DVD retails for $39.98, the two-disc Blu-ray for $49.98 – both replete with bonus features.

STONEWALL (LionsGate): Producer/director Roland Emmerich and screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz dramatize the circumstances leading up to the 1969 riots at New York City’s Stonewall Inn, which became a flashpoint for the gay-rights movement, in this R-rated ensemble drama featuring Jeremy Irvine, Jonny Beauchamp, Caleb Landry Jones, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ron Perlman, available on DVD ($19.98 retail).

WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS (Warner Home Video): Screenwriter Max Joseph’s R-rated feature directorial debut stars Zac Efron as an aspiring dee-jay who hits it big thanks to mentor Wes Bentley, available on DVD ($28.98 retail).

(Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2016, Mark Burger) HYPERLINK “”