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ALSO THIS WEEK NEW RELEASES

Cult fav cut down to size

March 30, 2008|Noel Murray

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

DreamWorks, $29.99/$34.99

Although some might expect a big movie musical to feature actors who can actually, oh, sing, director Tim Burton's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's cult Broadway favorite succeeds by scaling an operatic show to the size of a movie screen. The voices may be smaller but the visuals pop -- and there's no visual effect more stunning than Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter playing lower-class Victorian Londoners wreaking bloody revenge on the moneyed. Burton errs by cutting Sondheim's "Ballad of Sweeney Todd" refrain, but he succeeds at dramatizing the corrupting influence of obsession.

Alvin and the Chipmunks

20th Century Fox, $29.99; Blu-Ray, $39.98

Over the strenuous objections of critics, the big-screen version of the beloved cartoon series "Alvin and the Chipmunks" became one of 2007's biggest box office hits. Now on DVD, featurettes explain how three singing rodents and their put-upon manager became pop-culture sensations.

John From Cincinnati:

The Complete First Season

HBO, $59.98

It's hard to know what made David Milch fans more angry: that he spent a year making a series about dysfunctional families, metaphysics and surfing, or that he made "John From Cincinnati" in lieu of a fourth season of "Deadwood." Although "John" didn't win a lot of fans during its 10-episode run on HBO, its few supporters should enjoy revisiting the show on a DVD set that features two Milch commentaries, a making-of featurette and maybe an explanation or two.

Father Knows Best:

Season One

Shout Factory, $34.99

Long before "The Simpsons," the town of Springfield was the TV home of the Andersons, a foursquare family of five who entered America's homes each week in the late '50s via the sitcom "Father Knows Best." The Season 1 DVD set contains reminiscences by actresses Elinor Donahue and Lauren Chapin, plus home movies taken by star Robert Young. But the set's real selling point is its 26 episodes of domestic humor and surprisingly effective sentiment.

And . . .

"Becker: The Complete First Season" (Paramount, $36.98); "Farm Aid: 20th Anniversary Concert" (Image, $14.99).

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-- Noel Murray

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