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Reviewed: 'Paul,' 'Mars Needs Moms,' 'Super,' 'Your Highness'

August 07, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) advises that it's probing time in the comedy-adventure movie "Paul."
Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) advises that it's probing time in the comedy-adventure… (Universal Pictures )

Paul

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

An international consortium of comic talent contributes to "Paul," a sci-fi road-tripper starring co-screenwriters Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as British comic book geeks who wind up on the run from the American government when they give a ride to a scrawny alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen). The quality of "Paul" fluctuates depending on the characters the heroes meet along the way; some of the sequences are riotously funny, but others fall flat. And the film is back-loaded with tedious action sequences. Still, it's an easy film to like, and the DVD and Blu-ray are even better, thanks to a commentary track by Pegg, Frost and director Greg Mottola, plus a slew of behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Mars Needs Moms

Walt Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99/$49.99

There were miscalculations aplenty in the making of the computer-animated feature "Mars Needs Moms," starting with the decision to take a slim, fantastical and cartoony Berkeley Breathed children's book and expand it into a photo-realistic action-adventure, more like conventional science-fiction than a movie aimed at kids. It's clear that a lot of time and care went into designing the look of "Mars Needs Moms," and its story — about a boy who regrets being mean to his mother after she's abducted by aliens — has some strong emotional moments. But where's the fun? Even the DVD and Blu-ray are fairly dry, focusing primarily on the movie's technical achievements.

Super

MPI, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Although its thunder has been stolen somewhat by "Kick-Ass" and about a half-dozen other "alternative" superhero movies, writer-director James Gunn's "Super" is its own weird thing. Rainn Wilson plays a mentally unbalanced short-order cook who becomes divinely inspired to don a red costume and beat up criminals after his ex-wife gets hooked on drugs. "Super" is ostensibly a comedy, but in no way a light one; Gunn fills the screen with sex and gore and genuinely disturbing visions, attempting to show that in the real world, a person would have to be insane to be a caped crusader. Wilson and Gunn also provide a commentary track for the "Super" DVD and Blu-ray, which add deleted scenes and featurettes.

Your Highness

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.98

The shaggy medieval comedy "Your Highness" takes a semi-clever idea — crossing a sword-and-sorcery plot with stoner humor — and fails to develop it much further. James Franco and Danny McBride play royal brothers who go on a quest to save a virgin held captive by a wizard, while Natalie Portman plays a warrior-woman with her own agenda. Director David Gordon Green shoots for the slacker/action combo that made his "Pineapple Express" so much fun, but the repetitive scenes of people in elaborate costumes acting like losers gets old quickly. "Your Highness" does play better on a smaller screen though, and the DVD and Blu-ray editions add a gag reel, extra scenes and featurettes, along with a Green/McBride/Franco commentary.

And…

The Battle of Algiers

Criterion Blu-ray, $49.95

Cameraman: The Life & Work of Jack Cardiff

Strand, $24.99; Blu-ray, $34.99

Jumping the Broom

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

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