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'Monsters Vs. Aliens'

Also: 'Away We Go'; 'Filth and Wisdom'; 'The Girlfriend Experience'

September 27, 2009|Noel Murray

Monsters vs. Aliens

Paramount, $29.99/$34.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Five friendly monsters stand against an alien invasion in the aptly titled computer-animated comedy "Monsters vs. Aliens," a slapstick farce designed to look like something out of Mad magazine. The voice cast includes hip comedians Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson and Seth Rogen, but the MVP of the movie is Stephen Colbert, voicing a U.S. president who looks like . . . Stephen Colbert.

Even without the intentionally kitschy 3-D effects, "Monsters vs. Aliens" is a hoot. The DVD comes with games, a commentary track, a bonus cartoon and loads of how'd-they-do-it featurettes. The Blu-ray adds a trivia track and a picture-in-picture animators' commentary.

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Away We Go

Focus, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.98

Acclaimed writer Dave Eggers transitions to screenwriting with "Away We Go," a road comedy co-written with his wife, Vendela Vida, and directed by Sam Mendes. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph play an expectant couple traveling across the country to figure out where they should settle down and raise their firstborn. Along the way they run into a string of friends and relations whose ideas of family and child-rearing range from the callous to the shrilly overprotective. The filmmakers' depiction of ordinary American families might seem unduly scathing, but if taken strictly as satire, it's not so bad. Plus, Krasinski and Rudolph are sweet, and their concerns highly relatable. The DVD and Blu-ray add two featurettes and a commentary track by Eggers, Vida and Mendes.

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Filth and Wisdom

MPI, $19.98

Madonna's directorial debut, "Filth and Wisdom," stars Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz as a wannabe rock star who works a day job as a cross-dressing dominatrix. Madonna (who co-wrote with Dan Cadan) intends the movie's portrait of sexual perversity and artistic striving as a metaphor for what it takes to be creative, but the acting is so amateurish and the staging so flat that the larger point gets lost. The DVD arrives with no special features.

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The Girlfriend Experience

Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Steven Soderbergh's latest low-budget experiment, "The Girlfriend Experience," features a cast of mostly non-pro actors, save for the leading lady, porn star Sasha Grey. Ostensibly about a few days in the life of a high-priced escort, the film is also about the service industry in general and the various ways people try to sell themselves to clients and loved ones. Soderbergh jumbles the story's chronology and -- as has been his recent habit -- can't find a way to combine his intellectual/aesthetic interests with a compelling narrative. Still, the film is far more interesting on a thematic level than anything Soderbergh's done in years. Special features on the DVD and Blu-ray include a commentary track and an alternate cut.

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And...

Life on Mars

The Complete Series

ABC, $39.99

Management

Image, $27.98; Blu-ray, $35.98

The Patty Duke Show

The Complete First Season

Shout! Factory, $44.99

Shrink

Lionsgate, $27.98

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All titles available Tuesday.

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