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'Zack and Miri Make a Porno,' 'Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa' and more

NEW RELEASES

February 01, 2009|Noel Murray

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Weinstein, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.99

Anyone who's given up on writer-director Kevin Smith's clunky style and unyielding raunch should consider taking a chance on "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," a surprisingly sweet comedy. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks play friends who decide to pay their bills -- and deal with their unspoken affection for each other -- by making a dirty movie. "Zack and Miri's" plot follows a predictable path, but there's an infectious spirit to the porno-making that recalls Smith's DIY origins. This might be Smith's most personal film. The DVD and Blu-ray cater to Smith's cult with jokey featurettes and 43 deleted scenes.

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Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

DreamWorks, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Unlike Pixar's more nuanced approach to computer-animated storytelling, DreamWorks' CG cartoons always have been more frenzied and pandering. "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" picks up where the first film left off, with New York zoo animals (voiced by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith) stranded in Africa. There, Alex the Lion reconnects with his family and gets mired in a very "Lion King"-y power struggle. "Escape 2 Africa" is occasionally funny, but it's as exhausting as it is entertaining. The DVD and Blu-ray include a commentary track and standard featurettes.

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Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

Sony, $28.96; Blu-ray, $39.95

This minor teen romance stars Michael Cera as an indie-rock bassist pining for his ex-girlfriend. When he heads into the city for a gig, he spends the night chasing after an underground band alongside a hipster chick played by Kat Dennings. Director Peter Sollett makes good use of the story's New York rock clubs and hangouts, but since the movie largely consists of one wacky accident after another, the actors never really get the chance to develop a rapport. There's more chatter on the DVD and Blu-ray, which contain two commentary tracks, deleted scenes and featurettes.

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The Secret Life of Bees

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

Sue Monk Kidd's bestseller "The Secret Life of Bees" follows a white teenager and her black mother-figure as they duck abuse and racism by hiding out with three beekeeping sisters in South Carolina. Writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood's adaptation stars Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson as the troubled girl and her unlikely guardian, while Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys play the beekeepers. On paper, "The Secret Life of Bees" looks like a can't-miss heart-warmer, but Prince-Bythewood renders the material as flatly as possible. The DVD and Blu-ray offer the full prestige treatment.

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