DVD reviews: 'Silver Linings Playbook,' 'Broken City' and 'Not Fade Away'
“Silver Linings Playbook” (2012, R, 122 min., $29.98). Director David O. Russell has a knack for bringing interesting, albeit sometimes blustery families to the big screen. He did it in 2010 with “The Fighter,” and follows up with “Silver Linings Playbook,” one of the most enjoyable pictures of 2012. The film follows a troubled man named Pat (Bradley Cooper), who is out of the mental hospital and staying with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver). Pat walked in on his wife having an affair and snapped. Now, he is trying to get better so he can get back with his wife. While struggling with his personality problems, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who offers to help him get back with his wife. As Pat and Tiffany spend more time together, they develop a relationship, and it turns into a special one. The cast here is stupendous, starting with Cooper and Lawrence, who won an Oscar for her performance. They perform well inside a Russell screenplay that runs the gamut of emotions. All of the forces combine to provide an intimate portrait of a blossoming relationship and a family viewers will fall in love with. There are some extras exclusive to Blu-ray here, but only a couple. Consumers will find lots — especially if they like dancing — in the way of extras. 3.5 Stars.
“Broken City” (2013, R, 109 min., $29.98). The testosterone flows early and often in “Broken City,” a film that has masculine leads in Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg. Directed by Allen Hughes, “Broken City” is a gritty throwback set in New York City. The film follows a one-time cop named Billy (Wahlberg), who left the force after a controversial shooting. He's working as a private eye, trying to collect evidence on adulterers. When Mayor Hostetler (Crowe) calls him to tail his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Billy comes back with some compromising information. Hostetler uses the info to secure a shady business deal that will hurt lots of folks in New York, and that angers Billy. The former cop takes it upon himself to take down the mayor. Wahlberg and Crowe turn in good performances here, but “Broken City” is not a great film. The plot has too many angles, and it fails to make sense of most of them. Viewers will have more questions than answers when the credits roll on a thriller that had plenty of potential. The film has a couple of good featurettes, both of which are available on standard DVD and Blu-ray packages. A few additional items, such as an alternate ending and deleted scenes, are exclusive to Blu-ray sets. 2 Stars.
“Not Fade Away” (2013, R, 112 min., $30.99). David Chase, the mind behind HBO's “The Sopranos,” makes his silver screen debut with “Not Fade Away,” a solid portrait of a band trying to come together in the 1960s during the heyday of rock music. Three friends from suburban New Jersey try to make it big by forming a rock group. The guys initially find some success, but a series of problems involving infighting, family and girlfriends sink the band. Fortunately, for these guys, the breaking up of the band can't stop the music. Chase does a fantastic job of capturing the turbulent 1960s. That atmosphere sells this film, and the story is told perfectly by Chase, who also penned the screenplay. The director also gets great work from a great cast that includes James Gandolfini, Jack Huston, John Magaro, Bella Heathcote and Will Brill. Special features, exclusive to Blu-ray packages, include a couple of deleted scenes, a featurette that explores the band members and a making-of featurette. 3 Stars.
“The Guilt Trip” (2012, PG-13, 95 min., $29.99). Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen team up for a road trip comedy about a man who has to drive across country with his mother. Anne Fletcher, who last made “The Proposal,” is the director.
“The Details” (2011, R, 91 min., $24.98). Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney and Kerry Washington have roles in a dark comedy about a suburban husband whose life takes a chaotic turn when a family of raccoons destroy his perfectly manicured backyard. Dennis Haysbert and Ray Liotta also star.
“Only the Young” and “Tchoupitoulas” (2012, NR, 70 min.; 2012, NR, 82 min., $29.99). Oscilloscope Laboratories decided to pack these two indie films together. “Only the Young” follows three Southern California teens navigating friendship and first love, while “Tchoupitoulas” has three brothers making a lively journey through New Orleans.
“Walk Away Renee” (2011, NR, 88 min., $24.98). Documentary filmmaker Jonathan Caouette delivers an emotional picture about moving his mentally ill mother Renee from Texas to New York. The camera is there the whole way, as the filmmaker and his mother experience plenty of ups and downs on a trip that will tighten and test their familial bond.
“Shelter Me” (2012, NR, 57 min., $14.99). Katherine Heigl and Ellen DeGeneres are involved in this two-part documentary about how shelter dogs are now being trained to help humans with special needs. The first part explains how the animals are helping out war veterans, while the second part has the dogs visiting hospitals.
“Young and Wild” (2012, NR, 96 min., $24.98). Marialy Rivas makes his directorial debut with a drama set in Santiago, Chile, about a teen obsessed with sex. Her obsession is a problem in her strict evangelical family, and leads her to find an outlet writing a blog about her exploits. As the blog becomes popular, she finds friends that she can relate to.
“Manborg” (2011, NR, 72 min., $24.98). There's plenty of campiness in this fun action film about mankind's last hope against the forces of darkness. Hell has risen to the surface of the Earth, and it's wreaking havoc on humanity. Enter Manborg, a former soldier killed in one of the first wars against Hell. He's rebuilt as an ultimate weapon.
“The Wicked” (2013, NR, 105 min., $27.97). A group of teenagers unwisely decide to look into their town's urban legend when a child goes missing. The urban legend tells of a child-eating witch who lives deep in the woods. The witch feeds on the young, and these kids soon realize that there's definitely something out there to be afraid of.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Strictly Ballroom” (Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice, 1993, PG, 95 min., $14.99)
TV ON DVD
“Star Trek: The Next Generation — The Third Season” (six discs, 26 episodes, $130)
“Star Trek: The Next Generation — The Best of Both Worlds” (one disc, two episodes, $28.28)
“Friends,” complete first and second seasons (each season is two discs, 24 episodes, $25.98)