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Reviewed: 'Friends With Benefits,' 'Another Earth,' 'The Smurfs,' '30 Minutes or Less'

November 27, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis in "Friends With Benefits."
Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis in "Friends With Benefits." (David Giesbrecht / Screen…)

Friends With Benefits

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99/$40.99

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis star in "Friends With Benefits" as best friends who try to meet each other's sexual needs without any messy commitments. Whenever the movie reverts to the usual "boy meets girl" romantic comedy beats, the results are disappointingly predictable, but for the most part, "Friends With Benefits" is as fresh and of-the-moment as any major studio release this year. Director Will Gluck keeps the interplay between his leads lively — except for when it needs to get heavier — and he coaxes a hilarious supporting performance from Woody Harrelson, playing an aggressive gay sportswriter. Best of all, "Friends With Benefits" engages with life as it's lived today, complete with social media and flash-mobs. The DVD and Blu-ray come with a chummy Gluck/Timberlake/Kunis commentary track, plus a pop-up trivia track and a few funny deleted scenes and outtakes.

Another Earth

20th Century Fox, Blu-ray, $39.99

There are two "Another Earths": one's a mopey indie drama about a young woman (played by Brit Marling) responsible for an auto accident that killed the wife and son of a Yale music professor (William Mapother); the other's a thought-provoking piece of speculative sci-fi about what would happen if an alternate version of our planet just showed up in the sky one day. Director Mike Cahill (who also co-wrote the film, with Marling) integrates his story lines well, making the story about life's "what if" possibilities while acknowledging that in a world with marvels like Google and Wii, nothing's that far-fetched. But the movie's balance is tilted too far toward the somber and familiar, at the expense of a truly unique premise. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes and featurettes.

The Smurfs

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $40.99/$45.99

As is the case with most modern kids movies based on recognizable properties, the half-CGI/half-live-action "The Smurfs" isn't meant to be watched and enjoyed so much as it's designed to remind parents and their youngsters that Smurfs merchandise is readily available. Those who do try to make it through this 100-minute toy commercial will see an unambitious but largely inoffensive family comedy in which the diminutive blue heroes wind up in New York City, under the care of a skeptical young human couple played by Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays. Those who buy the DVD or Blu-ray can check out a pair of commentary tracks, multiple featurettes and interactive games.

30 Minutes or Less

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Director Ruben Fleischer re-teams with his "Zombieland" star Jesse Eisenberg for "30 Minutes or Less," a scattershot comedy about a slacker pizza delivery guy who gets kidnapped by two doofuses (played by Danny McBride and Nick Swardson), strapped to a bomb and forced to rob a bank with his best friend (Aziz Ansari). "30 Minutes or Less" lurches between genuinely snappy patter and sudden bursts of graphic violence, and Fleischer never figures out how to fit his agreeably boyish characters cleanly into a very adult caper. But the movie is funny, and at only 80 minutes it delivers the goods swiftly. The DVD and Blu-ray special features are fun too: the disc contain deleted scenes, outtakes and a hilarious video commentary by Fleischer and his cast.

And…

The Art of Getting By

20th Century Fox, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

MPI, $27.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

One Day

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Our Idiot Brother

Starz/Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Smallville: The Complete Series

Warner Bros., $339.88

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

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