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New on DVD: 'Gnomeo & Juliet'

May 22, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Gnomeo woos Juliet to a soundtrack of Elton John songs.
Gnomeo woos Juliet to a soundtrack of Elton John songs. (Miramax Film / Touchstone…)

Gnomeo & Juliet

Touchstone, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99/$49.99

It's unclear exactly who is the intended audience for the computer-animated Shakespeare adaptation "Gnomeo & Juliet." The film's design is amazing, with remarkable renderings of the backyard locations and the plaster skin of its main characters: two families of warring garden gnomes. But the classic Elton John songs on the soundtrack and the surprisingly high level of sexual innuendo would seem to mark the movie as a cartoon for adults, while the frenetic pace and bright colors are strictly for kids. "Gnomeo & Juliet" is cute, and funny at times, but something about the combination of blunt humor and classic literature is unpleasant at feature length. Better to digest it in small chunks on the DVD and Blu-ray, which also add deleted scenes and featurettes.

Childrens Hospital: The Complete First and Second Seasons

Warner, $29.98

Originating as a Web series, the Rob Corddry-created comedy "Childrens Hospital" quickly became one of the funniest shows on TV once it moved to Adult Swim for its second season. Just about every journeyman comic actor in Hollywood is onboard (including veterans of "The State," "Human Giant," "Arrested Development" and "Party Down") for a parody of medical dramas like "ER" and "Grey's Anatomy." Corddry and company pack a potent dose of absurdity and savagery into each tightly woven 11-minute episode. The DVD comes with deleted scenes and featurettes — the latter of which are mostly facetious (and hilarious).

I Am Number Four

Touchstone/DreamWorks, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99/$44.99

Based on a young adult novel by Jobie Hughes and James Frey (under the shared pseudonym Pittacus Lore), "I Am Number Four" stars Alex Pettyfer as a teenage alien who's spent almost his entire life on Earth and on the run, fleeing another alien race that is trying to annihilate his people. There's potential here in the story of a hunted outsider who pines for normalcy, but the big-screen version of "I Am Number Four" hits every beat too softly. The high school scenes come off as clichéd bullies-versus-freaks fare, the action sequences are bland and suspense-less. Director D.J. Caruso can't seem to go five minutes without slipping into a montage set to a contemporary pop hit. The DVD and Blu-ray include deleted scenes, bloopers and a featurette.

Public Speaking

HBO, $19.98

The New York of the Algonquin Round Table was a distant memory by the 1970s and '80s, but nobody bothered to tell writer Fran Lebowitz, who haunted the city's hot spots during the era of upscale discos and Wall Street booms and described what she saw in pithy essays. Martin Scorsese's documentary "Public Speaking" cuts together archival footage of Lebowitz with recent speeches and new interviews, crafting a lively portrait of the woman and her times. The DVD adds more interviews between Scorsese and Lebowitz.

And…

"Anton Chekhov's The Duel" (Music Box, $29.95; Blu-ray, $38.94); "The Big Bang" (Starz/Anchor Bay, $26.97; Blu-ray, $34.98); "The Great Dictator" (Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95); "How to Fold a Flag" (Virgil, $19.99); "The Kids in the Hall: The Complete Series" (A&E, $99.95); "The Royal Wedding: William & Catherine" (BBC Warner, $9.98); "Solaris" (Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95); "Transformers: The Complete Original Series" (Shout! Factory, $99.99); "The Unloved" (Oscilloscope, $29.99)

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