Pixar’s latest blockbuster “Monsters University” rests comfortably as the year’s fourth-biggest hit, and this week it has arrived on Blu-ray and DVD and is likely headed for the top of the home video charts.
“Monsters University” (Disney/Blu-ray, 2013, G, three discs, $45.99; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, art gallery, cartoon short: “The Blue Umbrella”). This follow-up to “Monsters, Inc.” is actually a prequel, revealing how the little, green, one-eyed Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and the huge, horned, blue-and-furry Sully (John Goodman) met in college, initially as adversaries.
As with all of Pixar’s best work, this one is gorgeously animated, rich in texture and loaded with sight gags, as well as very funny one-liners, as we learn how the monsters in our closets and under our beds become trained in the art of scaring humans. (Also on 3D combo, $49.99; Blu-ray combo, $39.99; and DVD, $29.99)
“R.I.P.D.” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2013, PG-13, two discs, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; deleted/alternate scenes, featurettes, bloopers). The title stands for Rest In Peace Department and the film is a cross between “Men in Black” and the TV series “Supernatural.” Dirty cop Ryan Reynolds is killed by dirtier cop Kevin Bacon, which sends Reynolds to a spiritual realm where he is teamed up with an Old West lawman (Jeff Bridges) to rid the Earth of dead people masquerading as the living. Very cartoony, very special-effects heavy but not very funny. (Also on 3D combo, $49.98, and DVD, $29.98)
“An American Journey” (Cinema Libre, 2013, not rated, $19.95, deleted scenes, featurette, photo gallery, trailer). This documentary is sort of the anti-Jay Leno, if you will, specifically his “Jaywalking” bits, interviews with people on the street that are calculated to make them look stupid. Here, a pair of expats (Paul Blackthorne, an actor from England, and Australian photographer Mister Basquali) drive from New York to Los Angeles, interviewing random strangers along the way regarding life in these United States. There are lots of complaints, but the film is ultimately a hopeful tribute to the filmmakers’ adopted country, to America and to Americans.
“Dirty Wars” (Sundance Selects, 2013, not rated, $24.98, featurette, trailer). Investigative documentary based on Jeremy Scahill’s experiences looking into U.S. military tactics in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc. Scahill narrated and co-wrote the screenplay, which is adapted from his book.Comment on this story
“As Cool As I Am” (IFC/Blu-ray, 2013, R for sex and violence, $29.98, featurette, trailer). A 16-year-old chef wannabe (Sarah Bolger) — with estranged parents (Claire Danes, James Marsden) who had her when they were teenagers — is forced to grow up too soon. (Also on DVD, $24.98)
“Byzantium” (IFC/Blu-ray, 2013; R for violence, sex, language; $29.98 (Also on DVD, $24.98) Mother and daughter vampires (Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan) have been on the run for 200 years, leaving a trail of bloodless corpses. Directed by Neil Jordan (“Interview With a Vampire”).
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com