Film review: A family film with an all-star cast leads this week's DVD releases

Published: Thursday, June 21 2012 5:12 p.m. MDT

Drew Barrymore is shown in a scene from "Big Miracle," a film about the rescue of a family of gray whales.

Associated Press

A family film with an all-star cast leads these movies new to Blu-ray and DVD this week.

"Big Miracle" (Universal/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2011, PG, two discs, $34.98, widescreen, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette). When a family of California whales finds itself trapped in a threatening Arctic ice covering, a local TV reporter (John Krasinski) does a feature on the event. Soon an activist (Drew Barrymore) and a slew of international news agencies are on the scene, followed by a rescue effort that involves an oil company, and the U.S. and Russian military.

Terrific family-friendly movie is exciting and loaded with heart, along with a sly sense of humor. Cast includes Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, Dermot Mulroney and Tim Blake Nelson. Based on a true story (chronicled in the bonus featurette). (Also on single-disc DVD, $29.98.)

"Good Deeds" (Lionsgate, 2012, PG-13, $29.95, widescreen, featurettes). Writer-director Tyler Perry's latest film has him starring as a wealthy businessman whose rigid life is dictated by others until he develops a casual relationship with a struggling single mother (Thandie Newton) working as a janitor in his building. Well-intentioned, if a bit too timid, with solid performances from the stars, including Phylicia Rashad, Gabrielle Union, Rebecca Romijn, etc. Some nice moments but Perry should hire an editor who will tell him he needs to trim some of the more protracted sequences.

"Aunt Bam's Place" (Lionsgate, 2011, $19.98, widescreen, featurettes). I'm even less enthused with this filmization of a Tyler Perry stage production. As is often the case with his plays, the songs are the best feature, but here the singers struggle as actors and the characters in this domestic farce are way over the top.

"Reel Love" (eOne, 2011, $19.98, widescreen, featurettes). Big city lawyer (Leann Rimes) returns to her small hometown when her father (Burt Reynolds) has a heart attack, which leads to the usual soul-searching. Sentimental, gently amusing CMT cable movie is formulaic and could be wittier but it's not a bad time-waster.

"John Mellencamp: It's About You" (MPI/Blu-ray, 2012, $29.98, widescreen, trailer). This documentary follows Mellencamp's 2009 concert tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, as well as chronicling the recording of Mellencamp's 2010 album "No Better Than This." (Also on DVD, $24.98..)

"Jeff, Who Lives at Home" (Paramount, 2012; R for language, drugs; $19.99, widescreen). Jason Segal plays yet another man-child in this dramatic comedy about a slacker pothead living in his mother's (Susan Sarandon) basement, with an older brother (Ed Helms) who is a self-centered jerk. More low-key and dry than some of this ilk but still a variation on the same old thing.

"A Bag of Hammers" (MPI/Blu-ray, 2011, $29.98, widescreen, featurette, trailer). Twenty-something slacker con artists take a young boy under their wing and form a family of sorts. Odd, droll comedy-drama made on a shoestring. (Also on DVD, $24.98.)

"Wanderlust" (Universal/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012; R for sex, nudity, language, drugs; two discs, $34.98, widescreen, deleted/extended scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). After Paul Rudd lose his job in the city, he and wife Jennifer Aniston hit the road and find themselves in a hippie commune, as the expected sex, drugs and free love gags abound. Alan Alda co-stars. (Also on single-disc DVD, $29.98.)

"Project X" (Warner/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012; R for sex, nudity, drugs; two discs, $35.99, widescreen, theatrical and extended versions, featurettes). Teens throw a party when the parents are gone, but when it's advertised on Craig's List, more and more strangers show up until the party grows out of control. The usual sleazy stuff. (Also on single disc Blu-ray, $29.98, and single-disc DVD, $28.98.)

"Cat Run" (Universal/Blu-ray, 2012; R for violence, sex, nudity, language; $26.98, widescreen, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette). Paz Vega and a pair of computer nerds take on crime lords in this very sleazy, ultra-violent action picture that attempts to demonstrate a dark, demented sense of humor.

EMAIL: hicks@desnews.com

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