An underrated light comedy from last year leads these new movies on DVD and Blu-ray.
"The Big Year" (Fox/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy, 2010, PG, two discs, $39.99). For some reason this light, gentle comedy about birding ("birdwatching" to the uninformed) is most enjoyable, though for some reason the subject seems to put people off and the film tanked at the box office.
But Steve Martin and Jack Black make an unexpectedly enjoyable comic team as they go up against Owen Wilson in an annual competition to spot the most — and rarest — birds. The film's old-fashioned sweetness struck a chord with me.
And it helps that it employs a number of veteran character actors we haven't seen in a while, all of them terrific in supporting roles: Brian Dennehy, Dianne Wiest, JoBeth Williams and Anjelica Huston.
Extras: widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; theatrical and extended versions, deleted scenes, featurette, bloopers (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"In Time" (Fox/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy, 2010, PG-13, two discs, $39.99). Silly, frantic but entertaining (if you don't think about it too much) sci-fi piffle about a future where the rich literally buy time and the poor watch the countdown to an early demise in a coded clock on their forearms. Justin Timberlake sets out to change things, aided by Amanda Seyfried, whom he kidnaps.
Extras: widescreen: Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; deleted/extended scenes, featurette (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"The Thing" (Universal/Blu-ray + DVD =3D Digital Copy, 2010; R for violence, language; two discs, $34.98). A literal prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 remake of the first-rate 1951 classic "The Thing From Another World." Like Carpenter's film, this one is about a space alien in the arctic that takes over human beings, a la "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Despite the prequel elements, however, this one also steals so liberally from Carpenter's playbook that it's really a remake of the remake.
Extras: widescreen: Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; deleted/extended scenes, audio commentary, featurettes (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"Dream House" (Universal/Blu-ray + DVD =3D Digital Copy, 2010, PG-13, two discs, $34.98). Unfortunate haunted house yarn begins promisingly but degenerates into the same old thing, despite the efforts of an A-list cast: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts.
Extras: widescreen: Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; featurettes (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Paramount/Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD =3D Digital Copy, 2010, PG-13, four discs, $39.99). Can I tell you anything about this one that might deter you from seeing it again … and again? Humongous destruction sci-fi with puerile, salacious humor and lots of loud explosions. Based on a toy. For the third time.
Extras: widescreen: Blu-ray 3-D, Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; featurettes, trailers (also in Blu-ray/DVD/digital two-disc set, $44.99, and single-disc DVD, $29.99)
"Hunted By Night" (MTI, 2010, $24.95). A trio of hunters in the Florida everglades spot a drug drop, and two of them decide to steal the stash and head for the hills … er, swamps. The third fears a drug cartel will come looking for them. Good call. Sounds a bit like "A Simple Plan" on a low budget and without the depth, but it's really just a cat-and-mouse shoot-'em-up.
Extras: widecreen, audio commentary, featurettes, trailers
"Chalet Girl" (IFC, 2011, $24.98). Low-budget light comedy offers uneven performances and plenty of rom-com clichés as a pretty teen skateboarder lands a job with a wealthy family at an Alps resort and learns to adapt to snowboarding. Everything is on Felicity Jones' shoulders, and she's good in the title role, but the script and direction let her down.
Extras: widescreen, audio commentary, featurettes, videos, trailer