DVD reviews: 'White House Down' and 'Lovelace'
“White House Down” (2013, PG-13, 132 min., $30.99). Blockbuster filmmaker Roland Emmerich just loves destroying the White House. He's done it in previous films, and he's at it again in “White House Down.” This time, a bitter Secret Service agent (James Woods) leads a group of soldiers into the home of the president in an attempt to launch a world war. Luckily, for the president (Jamie Foxx), there's a good guy named John (Channing Tatum) in the building who's willing to save the day. Together, they act as a thorn in the side of the rogue Secret Service agent and his men, and they're the only two standing in the way of global chaos. For those familiar with Emmerich's past work (“2012” and “Independence Day”), this is directly in his wheelhouse. There's plenty of CGI-driven action and terribly bad dialogue within a plot that doesn't always make sense. “White House Down” is pure popcorn for those viewers looking to get lost for a couple of hours. Blu-ray and standard DVD packages are loaded with making-of featurettes, as well as a gag reel. The Blu-ray is clearly the best buy, though, as it presents a better picture and doubles the featurettes available in standard DVD sets. 1.5 Stars.
“Lovelace” (2013, R, 93 min., $24.98). Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman used to be known as documentarians, but, recently, they've found a niche with biopics. Following up 2010's “Howl,” a movie about poet Allen Ginsberg and his controversial work, the directors shed light on porn icon Linda Lovelace's jarring life of abuse, betrayal and popularity. “Lovelace” picks up with Linda (Amanda Seyfried) climbing into a relationship with Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). The relationship starts off fine, but soon enough, Chuck is abusing Linda emotionally and physically. With his connections, he gets Linda into the pornographic movie “Deep Throat.” The film takes America by storm, and Linda becomes a star. Unfortunately, she can't escape the brutal nature of her relationship with Chuck. Boosted by fabulous performances from Seyfried, Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone and Chris Noth, “Lovelace” is an affecting drama that tells a tale of a woman who fought through some incredibly tough times in front of a backdrop that included the 1970s and the sexual revolution. A single making-of featurette — on standard DVD and Blu-ray — includes interviews with members of the cast and crew. 3 Stars.
“Saved By the Bell: The Complete Collection” and “Boy Meets World: The Complete Collection” (“Saved By the Bell,” 13 discs, 78 episodes, $49.98; “Boy Meets World,” 22 discs, 158 episodes, $99.98). For those growing up in the 1990s, there were two shows that garnered lots of attention. Some of your friends called “Saved By the Bell” their favorite, while others worshiped “Boy Meets World.” Just in time for the holidays, both shows are out in complete collection packages with some awesome special features. “Boy Meets World,” a series about a regular kid named Cory navigating his teen years with his friends and family, holds two featurettes. “Boy Meets World: Back to the Beginning” has the members of the cast and crew discussing memorable characters from the show, while “Boy Meets … World Fandom” eyes fan-favorite moments. “Saved By the Bell,” a series that followed a group of kids through high school, also holds two featurettes. One is a documentary titled “It's Alright: Back to the Bell” that explores the creation of show's iconic status. Another featurette, “Saturday Mornings: From Toons to Teens” looks at how the series changed the landscape of Saturday mornings. 4 Stars.
“Girl Most Likely” (2012, PG-13, 103 min., $19.98). A terrific cast, including Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Natasha Lyonne and Darren Criss, has been assembled for a comedy about a struggling playwright who returns home to her unpredictable mother and her crazy New Jersey family to get her bumpy life back on track.
“Grown Ups 2” (2013, PG-13, 101 min., $30.99). The boys are back together for another comedy about Lenny (Adam Sandler) who decides to move his family back to his hometown to be closer with his friends and their kids. Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph and Maria Bello star in supporting roles.
“Clear History” (2013, NR, 100 min., $19.97). Greg Mottola's film follows a marketing executive who gives up his piece of his company after a fight with his boss. The company goes on to make billions of dollars, and that humiliates the man, who decides to drop out of society. Larry David, Jon Hamm and Michael Keaton are in starring roles.
“Passion” (2012, R, 102 min., $24.98). Legendary filmmaker Brian De Palma (“The Untouchables” and “Scarface”) also helped to write the screenplay for this motion picture about an executive who's targeted for revenge after stealing an idea from one of her subordinates. Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace are in the leads.
“Renoir” (2012, R, 111 min., $29.95). The highest-grossing French film of 2012, “Renoir” fills in the details of the relationship between French Impressionism painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his son, Jean Renoir, a filmmaker who went on to make “Grand Illusion.” The atmospheric drama was selected by France for Oscar consideration.
“The Fitzgerald Family Christmas” (2012, PG-13, 97 min., $26.98). Edward Burns wrote, directed and stars in this family drama about a big family getting ready to celebrate the holidays together. The situation gets difficult when the estranged father of the family shows up after 20 years away. Connie Britton and Kerry Bishe also star.
“As I Lay Dying” (2013, R, 110 min., $28.99). James Franco, who's dabbled in all parts of filmmaking, wrote, directed and stars in this adaptation of William Faulkner's classic 1930 novel of the same name about a family looking to honor the last wishes of a woman who wants to be buried in a certain town. Danny McBride and Tim Blake Nelson also star.
“Syrup” (2013, R, 90 min., $26.98). Aram Rappaport wrote and directed this dramedy about a marketing grad just starting out in the business. As he shops his ideas, he soon realizes the cutthroat nature of his line of work. Adapted from Australian author Max Barry's first novel of the same name, the picture stars Amber Heard and Shiloh Fernandez.
“Hava Nagila (The Movie)” (2012, NR, 75 min., $29.95). Directed by Roberta Grossman, this musical documentary about the Jewish traditional folk song synonymous with bar mitzvahs and Jewish weddings includes interviews with performers such as Harry Belafonte, Leonard Nimoy and Regina Spektor.
“The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia” (2012, NR, 60 min., $19.95). Personal accounts of the dyslexic experience from children, adults and experts fill this informative documentary from James Redford that clears up misconceptions about the condition and offers hope to those many folks dealing with it.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
“Intolerance” (1916, NR, 197 min., $49.98)
TV ON DVD
“Weeds: The Complete Collection” (16 discs, 102 episodes, $119.97)
“Mad Men: Season 6” (four discs, 13 episodes, $49.97)
“Under the Dome” (three discs, 13 episodes, $65.99)
“Magic City: The Complete Second Season” (three discs, eight episodes, $44.98)
“Ben 10 Omniverse: Aliens at War” (two discs, 10 episodes, $19.97)