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'Up' won't let you down

Also: 'Sesame Street,' 'The Ugly Truth' and more

November 08, 2009|Noel Murray

Up

Walt Disney, $29.99/$39.99; Blu-ray, $45.99

The creative team at Pixar has become so skilled that it can take a loosely plotted story about an elderly man, a lonely Boy Scout, a talking dog and a flying house and turn it into one of the most popular -- and best -- movies of the year.

A lot of justified praise has been thrown at "Up's" opening sequence, in which the arc of a lifelong love affair is laid out in five gorgeous, wordless minutes, but the rest of the movie is just as artful, using wild jungle adventure as a metaphor for one man's need to let go.

The DVD and Blu-ray are typically top-flight, adding a hilarious new short film, commentary tracks and entertaining behind-the-scenes featurettes. You'd expect no less from Pixar.

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Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days

Genius, $29.93

The PBS classic "Sesame Street" celebrates its 40th anniversary with a double-DVD collection containing six hours of the show's greatest hits, along with a slew of interviews, trivia tidbits and behind-the-scenes footage -- all packaged with a hardcover book.

"Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days" is pitched to two audiences: adults who remember the show fondly and kids who are still watching it. Both will find a lot to pass the time with here.

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Spread

Starz/Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

The indie rom-com "Spread" makes fine use of its Los Angeles location, but that's about the best that can be said about it. Ashton Kutcher stars as a hustler skilled at seducing rich older women, Anne Heche plays his latest sugar mama and Margarita Levieva plays the ambitious young waitress who drives a wedge between them.

Director David Mackenzie gives Jason Dean Hall's script a snappy tone, but the depiction of Hollywood lonelyhearts and grifters proves simplistic and predictable. The DVD and Blu-ray arrive loaded with features, including deleted scenes, a cast commentary track and longer looks at both L.A. and Kutcher.

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The Ugly Truth

Sony, $28.96; Blu-ray, $39.95

Katherine Heigl has such a winning screen presence that it's a shame she keeps starring in witless, regressive romantic comedies like this. Here Heigl plays a beautiful, successful TV producer who's too picky to land a man. Gerard Butler plays a loutish self-help guru who insists that men are hopeless horndogs incapable of love. Naturally, he helps her tap into her inner sex goddess, and they fall for each other. Nothing in "The Ugly Truth" has anything pertinent to say about grown-up romance in the '00s; it's all a bunch of simple-minded dirty jokes and heavy-handed character notes, mostly cobbled together from other movies.

The DVD and Blu-ray prolong the pain, adding 15 minutes of deleted scenes, two alternate endings, a commentary by director Robert Luketic and a featurette about gender differences that makes the message of this movie even more offensive.

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And...

The Accidental Husband

Sony, $24.96

Ballast

Kino, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95

Dawson's Creek

The Complete Series

Sony, $119.95

Pray The Devil Back to Hell

Passion River, $24.95

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All titles available Tuesday.

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