Films about or aimed at youngsters dominate this week's movies that are new on DVD.
"Flipped" (Warner/Blu-ray, 2010, PG, two discs, $35.99). This Rob Reiner comedy-drama, which is set largely in the early 1960s, was strongly recommended to me as a wonderful story of unrequited puppy love and devotion to family. So I went in wanting to like it much more than I did.
Many of the scenes unfold in a he said-she said manner, which has some charm initially but eventually becomes wearing. Juli (Madeline Carroll) falls in love with Bryce (Callan MacAuliffe) in the second grade. But he is unimpressed. Six years later, he still rebuffs her, and others view Juli as a bit of a kook. After all, she raises chickens in her back yard and spends an awful lot of time in that huge sycamore tree.
It's easy to warm up to Juli and her family, especially her father, played wonderfully by Aidan Quinn (who has done this before, most expertly in "Avalon"). Similarly, Bryce's grandfather, as played by John Mahoney, is the film's most appealing character.
But Bryce's parents are another matter — gruff, unhappy Anthony Edwards offers a very dark portrait, and cartoony Rebecca De Mornay seems to belong in another movie.
Reiner, adapting (with co-writer Andrew Scheinman) the Wendelin Van Draanen novel, tackles a number of social issues, primarily class distinctions, and he gives us some endearing vignettes. But for me the film is very much a hit-and-miss affair.
Extras: widescreen, featurettes, trailers; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions of the film (also on single-disc DVD, $27.95)
"Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" (Warner/Blu-ray/3-D, 2010, PG, two discs, $44.95). Cats and dogs team up to battle the evil title character in this digital cartoon — and maybe it's just me, but that character's name seems like a really tasteless joke for a kids movie.
Much better is the 3-D Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote short (just three minutes), a surprisingly good 21st century update of the classic cartoons.
Extras: widescreen, short cartoon: "Coyote Falls," featurettes, trailers; four versions of the film: 3-D, Blu-ray, DVD and digital; lenticular 3-D box cover (also available without the 3-D version, $35.99, and on single-disc DVD, $28.98)
"Fire & Ice: The Dragon Chronicles" (eOne/Blu-ray, 2010, PG-13, $24.98). Live-action/computer animation fantasy of a kingdom terrorized by fire dragons and warring neighbors, prompting the son of a dragon slayer to summon an ice dragon for help. Seems logical.
Extras: widescreen, trailers; single-disc Blu-ray/DVD (also on DVD, same price)
"The Search for Santa Paws" (Disney/Blu-ray, 2010, G, two discs, $39.99). Prequel with talking dogs helping an amnesiac Santa remember how to bring the spirit of Christmas to children of the world. Another blend of live action and computer animation.
Extras: widescreen, deleted scenes, featurettes, sing-along, music video, trailers; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions of the film (also on single-disc DVD, $29.99)