A superb love story, a classic TV series and a semi-funny political comedy headline this week’s DVD releases.
• “Ruby Sparks,” Grade A: In a movie world so top-heavy with big-budget action flicks and gross-out comedies, a film such as “Ruby Sparks” is a magical gift.
It’s a brilliantly written love story that’s such a flawless blend of comedy and drama – and this will shock the sunglasses off movie studio executives – it’ll entertain anyone, young or old, who’s ever fallen in love.
As a bonus, the film’s a grand entrance for star and writer Zoe Kazan, granddaughter of famed filmmaker Elia Kazan. It’s almost unfair one person should be so talented both as an actor and scribe.
Her smart script resonates with universal truths about how complicated relationships can become if one person tries to sand away the other’s rough edges.
And, as the title character, Kazan flows between dramatic emotional changes with ease, grace and an unbridled energy that would put Zooey Deschanel to shame.
• “All in the Family: The Complete Series,” Grade A: The ’70s TV series had a massive influence on television because it used the traditional sitcom format to deal with topics from race to rape.
The series from producer Norman Lear featured a middle-class family played by Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner. It was the unbridled comments made by the bigoted Archie Bunker that opened the door for so many conversations.
This 28-disc set contains all 213 episodes, a 40-page collectible book, a new interview with Norman Lear, the documentary “Those Were The Days: The Birth Of ‘All in the Family,’ ” the documentary “The Television Revolution Begins: ‘All in the Family’ Is On The Air,” the original “All in the Family” pilot “Justice For All” and the second “All in the Family” pilot.
• “The Campaign,” Grade C: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, two comedians who couldn’t find the word “subtle” in the dictionary if you spotted them the first five letters, have come together to take a shot at politics. Ferrell plays ineffective North Carolina congressman Cam Brady, who appears headed toward another unopposed term until Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) throws his knitted sweater into the ring.
Galifianakis delivers a warm and funny performance. But Ferrell gives a watered-down version of the former President George W. Bush impersonation he’s done for years. If Ferrell were slightly more original, the film would have been more consistently funny. The result is a film with some funny moments, but it depends too much on the uninspired ramblings of Ferrell and the uneven pacing by director Jay Roach.
Also new on DVD this week:
“Safety Not Guaranteed”: Cynical magazine employees find a time traveler.
“The Penguins of Madagascar: Operation: Antarctica”: Spunky penguins leave the zoo to go on a mission.
“The Streets of San Francisco: Season 5”: Richard Hatch joins the cast of the TV detective series.
“Coma”: Lauren Ambrose stars in the cable miniseries based on Robin Cook’s book.
“House of Dark Shadows” and “Night of Dark Shadows”: Two films based on the TV soap are on Blu-ray.
“A Christmas Story 2”: Daniel Stern is part of this sequel to the holiday classic.
“My Favorite Martian: Season Three”: Ray Walston plays a visitor from the red planet.
“Kathy Griffin Collection: Red, White & Raw”: A collection of Griffin comedy routines.
“Metalocalypse: Season 4”: The world’s most brutal animated band is back.
“Copper: Season One”: Tom Weston-Jones stars in the cable series set in 1864 New York City.
“Icy Escapades”: Collection of winter adventures has the crew take to the tracks as snow and ice cover Chuggington.
“Excision”: A coming-of-age horror film from writer/director Richard Bates Jr.
“Americano”: A stripper helps a man uncover secrets about his late mother.