Love and Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Oliver Platt
Directed by Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond)
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, and some drug material
Appropriate for ages 18+

    Based on a true story, Love and Other Drugs tells the tale of a Pfizer Pharmaceutical Representative (Gyllenhaal) that falls in love with a young woman he meets in a doctor’s office (Hathaway).  Only after falling for her does he realize that the relationship will be challenging due to her having Parkinson’s Disease and that neither one of them are ready for the road ahead. 

    This movie takes on two completely different personas.  First there is the story of a drug rep.  Having worked as a Pfizer rep for the exact same period that our hero did, I can tell you that they got almost everything wrong.  The training was way different, as was the day-to-day.  The basic theme of the pharmaceutical rep adversely effecting the physician and their prescribing is somewhat true for that time, but taken way over the top.  I realize that there are some artistic choices that needed to take place in order to make a political point, but it felt like there wasn’t an advisor present helping them figure out how to get the details even remotely close. 

    Some of the problem with this lies in the lousy job the props team did.  Jake starts out working in a cheap electronics store in 1996 where they are selling flat screen televisions that didn’t exist for years.  This is just the start to errors that made the entire production look incredibly sloppy.

    But then there comes the second persona – that of the love story.  Here they got it right.  Jake and Anne worked together as husband and wife in Brokeback Mountain and it is more than apparent that they still have the chemistry.  The amount of nudity and sex is a bit alarming, as well as excessive, but overall helps to act as a device to bring the audience in as voyeurs looking deep into the couple’s lives.  You feel their love, their pain, their happiness, as well as their sadness.

    So as a love story, the film works very well; but as a statement about the pharmaceutical industry, its lack of authenticity works against it.  C+

New in Home Entertainment November 30, 2010

New in Home Entertainment
November 30, 2010

Fantasia/Fantasia 2000
Rated G
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

With Blu-ray quickly becoming the standard, one Disney title has been very noticeably missing until now: Fantasia.  When Walt Disney presented the first Fantasia back in 1940, he was especially picky on how the movie was exhibited, requiring the very state-of-the-art in picture and sound in order to be shown.  And now, with Blu-ray we finally get the chance to see both the original and the 2000 sequel in its most beautiful of states.  There are some purists that are very angry about this new release due to the removal of what was felt to be racial stereotypes drawn into the black centaurs.  Its hardly noticeable if you don’t know the history of the film, but I can hardly blame them for being angry about the censorship involved.  Still, the picture and sound are utterly magnificent considering the first film is now 70 years old.  Also included in the set is the acclaimed short film Destino that originally stemmed from a partnership between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.  A documentary about the relationship between the two artists is also included.  A

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Rated PG for fantasy action violence, some mild rude humor and brief language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Trying again to find a live-action franchise to match up to Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney went to a story based on the Fantasia sketch about a gifted young apprentice (Jay Baruchel) that trains under the tutelage of a master magician (Nicholas Cage).  While it was blasted by a lot of critics and not seen by most audiences, I myself found the film to be immensely entertaining and I was shocked when it didn’t provide a hit for the mouse house.  The story went through a host of writers before they finally decided on the final script, but overall I thought the film was clever, fun, full of great special effects and decent performances.  B

Waking Sleeping Beauty
Rated PG for some thematic elements and brief mild language
Available on DVD

in the 1980’s Disney animation was struggling to the point where they moved the animators to a remote location and almost closed the animation studio completely.  Waking Sleeping Beauty is a documentary that takes a look at this tumultuous period and how a talented mix of executives, artists and writers came together at the perfect time in order to send Disney to the top again starting with The Little Mermaid and moving forward to their biggest hits including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and the Lion King.  If you are big Disney fan like me, you will especially love this film that looks at the history of the animation studio and the risks they took in order to give us what we consider today to be classics.  Mistakes were nearly made at every corner that could have cost them their studio and us these wonderful works of art, and following along the tale provides almost as exciting a narrative as the movies they created.  A-

The World at War
Available on Blu-ray

While I think that some of the recent releases such as World War II in HD, Band of Brothers and the Pacific provide a better look at the most famous war in history, The World at War is still considered by most to be the definitive account of the event.  Now, 35 years after its original airing, The History Chanel is releasing this 26 hour long documentary, fully restored in stunning hi def.  That being said, many are downright angry at this new presentation due to the fact that the aspect ratio has been drastically changed in order to present the film in widescreen.  The folks who made the film are proud of the process used though, enough to include a special about the restoration, but purists are furious.  To me, I didn’t notice, and I doubt that the majority of folks watching will lose any sleep over it.  B+

Going the Distance
Rated R for sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Justin Long and Drew Barrymore star in this raunchy comedy about a couple trying to carry on a long distance relationship between New York and San Francisco.  While I don’t mind raunchy, I do mind stale humor that insists on trying to convince the audience its funny when its painfully obvious that it’s not.  The jokes only work on occasion and when they do work, they try to take it a step further making you wish you didn’t chuckle in the first place.  It may not be the winner, but this is definitely a candidate for worst film of the year.  D

Deadwood: The Complete Series
Available on Blu-ray

Before I received this set, if someone were to ask me what I wanted for Christmas, I would have definitely answered “Deadwood on Blu-ray.”  This HBO series, which is certainly one of their all-time best, takes shape in the the old-west town of Deadwood where a sheriff with integrity tries to keep a crime-ridden city from spiraling into chaos.  If Shakespeare were alive today, you would think the script came from his pen.  Full of soliloquies and  sometimes spoken in old English tongue, Deadwood is one of the most unique experiences, western or non, to have ever graced the television screen.  And this new hi-def transfer would keep any one completely busy over the holiday break.  A

New in Home Entertainment November 23, 2010

New in Home Entertainment

November 23, 2010

The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection
Available on DVD

In 1974, six million dollars could rebuild a man into a superhero.  Now, in 2010, it might pay for a hip replacement, depending on your insurance.  All kidding aside, there are few iconic television shows as deeply revered as The Six Million Dollar Man starring Lee Majors as Steve Austin, a crippled test pilot that is given a second shot at life when the scientists put him back together better and stronger than he was before.  Time Life is now releasing this set, which includes 40 DVDs full of more 1970’s splendor than you can possibly wish for including every episode of the show, three pilot and three reunion movies, all Bionic Woman crossover episodes, 17 featurettes and more, all digitally remastered for this release.  Unfortunately, they made it so you can only purchase it at for a very hefty chunk of change, but if you are a fan, it will be money well spent.  “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him.  We have the technology.”  B+

Valhalla Rising
Not Rated
Available on DVD

When a mute ultra-warrior simply known as One Eye slays his viking captors, he teams with a group of soldiers on their way to the Crusades.  After their boat escapes from an endless fog, they find themselves in a new world, nowhere near their destination, and in great danger from the natives.  This uber-violent art film is unique in the fact that it is too bloody for most independent film aficionados, but not flashy enough to be enjoyed by action lovers.  It is beautifully filmed and well acted, but there is a clear lack of any sort of narrative or plot.  Many will appreciate the raw brutality, but I fear that most will just wonder where the film is going and why is this a journey worth watching.  B-

The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Rated R for violent content, pervasive language and some sexuality/nudity
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

The story begins as two very scary-looking men prepare for what will soon be the kidnapping of a young woman named Alice Creed.  After she is kidnapped, she is bound to a bed with a gag in her mouth, held for ransom  in the hopes of taking millions off of her estranged father.  But the tides turn when she discovers that one of the kidnappers is someone she is close to.  This is a very tough film to watch due its graphic nature, but the writing and acting are incredibly solid by all involved.  What appears to start out as a vile snuff film turns into a fast-paced thriller with only three actors getting screen time.  I especially liked the twists and turns throughout the piece that lead to a very surprising ending.  A-



Starring the voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, and Donna Murphy
Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Rated PG for brief mild violence
Appropriate for all ages

    Based on the story of Rapunzel, a princess is kidnapped by an evil old woman when she discovers that her hair has the power to keep one young forever.  Locking Rapunzel up in a tower and forbidding her to ever cut her hair, she raises Rapunzel as her own, not allowing any contact from the outside world.  But when a dashing young bandit decides to hide in the tower after stealing the crown jewels, she gets her first taste of what really lies beyond and escapes her prison cell to go on a grand adventure. 

    I know we haven’t had many great live-action films this year, but 2010 has been a terrific year for animation.  What was looking like a two dog race for the Animation Oscar between Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon now has a new competitor in Tangled.  And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if all three were nominated for Best Picture as well. 

    While Tangled possesses the old-fashioned Disney princess tale in good form, it does so in a contemporary feel that makes the film endearing.  Just like the other princess tales in the Disney library, this heroine is far from helpless as the beautiful but tough young woman.  And just like last year’s The Princess and the Frog, the male lead is a Han Solo-like scoundrel that must overcome his selfish tendencies in order to earn the love of the fair maiden.  The difference this time is that the gorgeous computer animation enhances the look to provide a more modern story-telling device.  And while I usually am not a fan of 3D in animated films, this particular film really flies off of the screen in grand fashion due to its gorgeous effects.

    Just like any great princess piece, there is a need for great music and for that they turned to eight-time Oscar winning composer Alan Menkin who will most likely be adding more trophies to his collection this year.  The music sounds straight off of a Broadway stage and are some of the best tunes he has ever composed.

    I have to give special props to the creation of some of the most fun and original characters to ever grace the screen including the hero horse Maximus who steals every scene he is in and the adorably tough chameleon Pascal.  All of this is due to the terrific writing by Dan Fogelman (Bolt) and his team.  This is a story that I could have never conceived a big movie coming from, but through use of ingenious story crafting, the fairy tale proves to be what I consider Disney’s best film (not including Pixar pics) since Beauty and the Beast, and overall one of their greatest creations.  I have never been so proud of Disney Animation and have a feeling that more is to come from this talent-filled studio.  A+ 



Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson
Directed by Tony Scott (Man on Fire)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action peril, and some language
Appropriate for ages 13+

     Due to the negligence of a couple of train workers in Pennsylvania, a runaway train without a conductor is sent speeding towards a densely populated area with a payload that is able to kill tens of thousands of people.  When two conductors in the area (Washington and Pine) get wind of the potential disaster, they go into hero mode in order to stop the potential catastrophe.  

    Considering Tony Scott’s last train movie (The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3) bombed (no pun intended), it was hard for me to fathom him taking on another tracked thriller.  Thankfully these films are very different, aside from the vehicle.

    This film ends up working for a few good reasons.  First off, you have two great actors in Washington and Pine in very physical roles.  The two have great chemistry on screen and Washington doesn’t at any point attempt to hog the scenes. 

    Secondly, the writing is really strong here and the words are well performed by the talented cast.  The exposition is given without placating the audience and comes across with real authority and credibility.  By the end of the film you actually feel like somewhat of a train expert. 

    Lastly, the film mimics a man-vs-nature thriller rather than the typical good guy/bad guy routine.  They could have easily made this a runaway train sent by a mad man, but instead chose stupidity as the villain and brains and bravery as the savior.  Not having a character as the villain allows you to think more freely about how to stop a disaster from occurring, putting you right in the mix as the action unfolds. 

    So while I’m not a train person and was a little concerned about sitting through the movie, I ended up having a great time watching it.  A-

New in Home Entertainment November 16, 2010

New in Home Entertainment   

November 16, 2010

The Kids Are All Right
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are a lesbian couple with two teenage children that are very curious who their biological father is.  When they track down their sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo), he attempts to work his way into their lives.  The film starts out as a sweet and funny alternate family comedy, but as tensions build, it becomes a thought-provoking drama that brings you into the fold.  This indie will most likely garner at least two acting nominations for Bening and Moore and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it ended up being one of the top 10 best picture noms as well.  A-

Mutiny on the Bounty: 75th Anniversary Special Edition
Not Rated
Available on Blu-ray

The infamous true story of the mutiny that took place on the HMS Bounty in 1789 gets the HD treatment in this beautifully packaged edition of the 1935 Academy Award winning classic starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable.  While the directing and acting styles are very much dated, the picture is stunning as is the collector’s packaging.  Unfortunately, the movie serves more as a historical relic than classic entertainment.  That being said, it would have been nice to have more special features, although the 1935 short Pitcairn Island Today gives a nice insight to the true story.  C+

Sondheim! The Birthday Concert
Not Rated
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When master composer Stephen Sondheim turned 80, his friends, of which there are more than you can count, threw him a party where the New York Philharmonic backed up some of his most famous songs, sung by some of Broadway’s best performers, past and present.  Among the many performances are Michael Cerveris, Joanna Gleason, Patti Lupone, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters and dozens of other celebrated actors singing selections from his hit shows West Side Story, Sweenie Todd, A Little Night Music, Company and many others.  Needless to say, it’s a must own for any musical theater lover.  A-

Disney’s A Christmas Carol
Rated PG for scary sequences and images
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) retells the famous Dickens story using the motion capture process that he previously used on The Polar Express and Beowulf.  The result is a gorgeous movie that ends up a little on the creepy side due to the looks of the characters.  Providing a lot more action than you would expect from a story about Scrooge, the pacing is perhaps a little too fast.  The special features provide a nice look at how the movie was made with this exciting new technology.  B

Twilight Zone: Season 2
Not Rated
Available on Blu-ray

Just like the recent Season 1 release, this second season set includes more Twilight Zone information than you will ever possibly need and is a fan’s must.  All 29 episodes with 25 new audio commentaries by a mother load of Twilight Zone experts, 22 isolated music scores, and many more features make this an exhaustive collection.  During its second season, TZ was really starting come into its own and the story telling set the pace for the rest of the series as well as much of the sci-fi and horror we see today.  This will be a fun one to watch and enjoy over the holidays.  A

Avatar: Three-Disc Collector’s Edition
Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Many of you probably already own the previous movie-only edition of Avatar and are wondering if you need to repurchase the new edition.  That all depends.  This new set is pretty fantastic.  It includes 3 versions including the Original Theatrical Version, Special Edition Re-Release, and the new 3-Hour Collector’s Extended Cut which starts out on Earth.  If you are an Avatar nut, the newest release is well-worth the time and money.  What you’ll really want this edition for are the tons of special features on discs two and three including 45 minutes of deleted scenes in various forms of completion and a feature-length documentary on how the film was made from beginning to end.  Also, for those that didn’t want their kids to watch it because of language, there is an all new family-friendly audio track.  And it’s all wrapped up in a beautiful box as well.  A+

Night of the Hunter: The Criterion Collection
Not Rated
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Actor Charles Laughton’s (Mutiny on the Bounty) only directorial effort is being released in this new Criterion set, fully restored and chocked full of special features.  This story tells the tale of a dirty preacher played by the creepy Robert Mitchum that hunts down a young family when he discovers that his cell mate has hidden $10,000 somewhere at their house before he was arrested.  Aside from Mitchum and Lillian Gish, the acting is atrocious, as is the directing and production, although the story shows real potential.  If you are a fan of this 1955 thriller, you will certainly appreciate everything included in the set, but most will wonder why Criterion chose this title to give their special treatment to.  Personally, I would really like to see this film remade with a more talented director and a solid cast of actors.  C-

Due Date

Due Date

Starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis
Directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover)
Rated R for language, drug use and sexual content
Appropriate for ages 17+

    Due to unfortunate events that take place on a plane, Robert Downey Jr is put on the “no fly” list and must hitch a ride with Zach Galifianakis in order to make it home for the birth of his first child.  Suffering one horrible catastrophe after another, the two trek on in an agonizing journey. 

    Minus the trains, this is essentially Planes, Trains and Automobiles for a new generation.  Unfortunately, it’s not quite as funny and doesn’t contain half of the heart. 

    It would be a mistake to claim that it’s not funny though.  Many of the jokes work here and Zach, apparently just being good old Zach, provides 95% of the laughter.  While his character here is nothing new, he is always interesting to watch just to see what he’ll do or say next.  He is so good at playing the idiot that it’s hard not picture him in the role.  He’s the very picture of the guy you love to watch but would never want to be around. 

    Downey, Jr, however is just your average straight man, perhaps too straight for this film.  He sets off on the journey as a no-nonsense, irritated and arrogant man and very little changes throughout the journey.  He does have a bit of an arc, but it’s too slight to be appreciated.  There is still good chemistry between the characters, but they are certainly no Abbott and Costello or Martin and Candy.  Perhaps it would have been a better film if Downey, Jr had switched roles with costar Jamie Foxx.

    As for the story, you can’t think too hard about the premise or you realize it’s too far fetched and extreme.  The whole incident that took Downey, Jr. off of the plane and onto the “no fly” list is too contrived and should have been made much bigger and funnier in order to have any chance of being believed. 

    But most audiences will only care about whether or not it’s funny, and it is certainly better at delivering laughs than most comedies this year.  That being said, it’s still nowhere near the hilarity of Jack Ass 3D.  B

New in Home Entertainment – November 9, 2010

New in Home Entertainment

November 9, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Rated PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Writer/director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) tells the story of a young Canadian nerd (Michael Cera) who falls in love with a mysterious new American girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).  Unfortunately, in order to win her, he must defeat her seven evil exes in battles to the death.  This is a prime example of a movie that was expected to succeed, and should have, but didn’t.  Perhaps the level of creativity that went into the film was too much or too different for most audiences, but despite stellar reviews and an impressive following, the movie bit the dust at the box office.  Hopefully home entertainment will be kinder to this brilliant little film that will no doubt make many critics’ top ten lists this year.  A

Love Ranch
Rated R for sexual content, pervasive language and some violence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci star in this retelling of the story of Nevada’s first legal brothel, The Mustang Ranch.  In this tale, only the names are changed as the marital bliss is destroyed between Mirren’s and Pesci’s characters when Mirren falls for an Argentinian boxer that Pesci has bought the management rights for.  Mirren’s real-life husband Taylor Hackford (Ray) directs the gritty drama and the performances are solid throughout.  While it’s an interesting story for sure, the style, just like in Ray, is more like an R-rated movie of the week.  B-

Antichrist: Criterion Collection
NR (but would be NC-17 or worse if ratings board saw it)
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) lose their son in a freak accident, the wife goes into a deep depression that her psychotherapist husband attempts to help her deal with.  When they retreat to their cabin in the woods, the depression starts to possess her, bringing the couple into a downward spiral of evil.  I will start out by saying that this is one of the most uncomfortable films you will ever watch, if you dare to do so.  According to numerous message boards, many fans love to dissect the movie due its complex nature, but I found the subtext to be more profound than the storytelling, and the film to be more of a puzzle that I didn’t want to solve.  I like a good horror film, but this one goes too far for my taste, combining violence and pornography into an art film that is meant to be upsetting and revolting to its audience.  This Criterion edition does provide a plethora of features that will help you better understand the film, if you want to, as well as give you an insight to how director Lars von Trier pulled off the spectacular visuals.  C

Grown Ups
Rated PG-13 for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider play childhood friends who come back to their home town when their basketball coach passes away.  In an attempt to catch up, they rent a big cabin in the area and get to know each other again.  There are probably some good scripts out there that could bring these guys together, but this one ain’t it.  Less of a script and more a bad opportunity for improv, the movie plods along from one lame joke to another where the high point is five men peeing in a public kiddie pool.  While a couple of lines will bring a smile, this is low-brow humor at its worst.  D

Lie to Me: The Complete Second Season
Available on DVD

Tim Roth stars in this Fox TV drama about a psychologist with the ability to read what a person is saying, not from their words, but from their non-verbal communication such as eye and body movement.  While his ability is good for him professionally, it works against him in his personal relationships as he knows when family and friends are trying to deceive him and he acts on his knowledge accordingly.  With a personality similar to House, its hard not to enjoy watching Roth work his talents, even though I think most people hate the idea of someone judging them in this manner.  I’m very surprised that the series is still able to come up with original plot lines, as I thought for sure that this would get stale quickly, but the talented writing team churned out a strong second season with these 22 episodes.  B

Alien Anthology

Rated R
Available on Blu-ray

It’s been 31 years since Ridley Scott’s Alien played in theaters, introducing the world to one of the scariest monsters the human mind can imagine.  This long-awaited blu-ray set, features all four of the films in a beautiful box set with more special features than you could think possible.  While Alien 3 still suffers from lousy special effects and Alien Resurrection still suffers from a lousy script, the first two films, Alien and Aliens, remain two of the most horrifying films of all time and have never looked better.  Also of note is that rather than Fox only putting one version of the film in the set, each comes with the option to watch either the theatrical or director’s cut, and in these films, the directors cuts are very different from their theatrical counterparts in both content and even plot.  Alien A; Aliens A+; Alien 3 B; Alien Resurrection C+  

Fair Game

Fair Game

Starring Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, and Sam Shepard
Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity)
Rated PG-13 for some language
Appropriate for ages 13+

    Based on an unfortunate true story that unfolded in 2003, CIA agent Valerie Plame (Watts) was illegally outed by members of the Bush administration, and when her husband, Joseph Wilson (Penn), attempted to stand up to the injustice, the challenges they faced put a strain on their careers, their family, and their relationship.

    From the premise, this film sounds like movie-of-the-week material rather than a feature film starring two of the best actors in Hollywood.  But with a wonderful screenplay, terrific directing, and amazing performances by everyone involved, the movie was able to elevate itself to become a very good political thriller.

    What some might consider a very low point of the Bush administration, the events that inspired this film are brought to life in a way that actually makes you feel like it is you against the world, and there is no way of winning.  Penn pulls off the strong-willed defensive husband beautifully and  Watts is nearly perfect as the confused woman whose commitment to her work becomes increasingly dangerous for those around her.

    Director Doug Liman does an admiral job presenting this material in an exciting, fast-paced way that enhances the story-telling, allowing the audience to grow more and more angry at the enemies, who in real life were eventually prosecuted and even sentenced to prison.  His style almost  makes the film feel like a state-side version of Green Zone.

    While there is a strong political agenda to this film that many at Fox News will have a problem with, the script lends a credible historical accuracy to the events of the day and very much serves as a reminder of why not to blindly follow our national leaders when we should be keeping them in check as much as possible.  A-

New in Home Entertainment – November 2, 2010

New in Home Entertainment

November 2, 2010

The Pacific
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

It’s easy to describe The Pacific as Band of Brothers vs. the Japanese, but that comparison has also been a cause for unrealistic expectations.  After all, Band of Brothers is about a group of soldiers that for the most part knew each other and were close friends before going into battle.  Soldiers in the Pacific arena of WWII didn’t have that luxury and thus the stories became more about surviving with one’s humanity intact rather than fighting for the guy next to you.  That being said, when viewed without the expectations of Band of Brothers in Asia, the film is a deeper, more thought-provoking experience than its HBO predecessor.  The production is first rate, giving the audience the very uncomfortable experience of what it was like to be in the war.  Whether or not you have already seen the series, I highly recommend first watching the special feature Profiles of the Pacific in order to get a more in-depth perspective of the soldiers whose stories are being told.  Also recommended is the blu-ray exclusive Enhanced Viewing Mode which gives a picture-in-picture experience that will help you gain a stronger historical understanding of the war and the soldiers that fought there.  A

Toy Story 3
Rated G
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

It’s now November and I am not alone in the opinion that the two best films of the year so far are both animated.  While I hold How to Train Your Dragon in higher regard, Toy Story 3 ranks a close second.  In this third Toy Story tale, Andy is now going off to college and Woody and gang are mistakenly donated to a daycare.  While at first things look up for the old toys, events eventually turn south for them and Woody must find a way to help everyone escape.  So much talent and love went into this film that there is no wonder that it’s such a pleasure to watch.  I would suggest that you have some tissue handy for the ending which is sure to make you shed a tear or ten.  Also check out some of the features on the blu-ray including Cine-Explore which lends a greater appreciation for the behind-the-scenes of the movie, as well as some very entertaining short animated stories told by the crew.  A+

The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition
Rated G
Available on Blu-ray and Special Edition Collectors Blu-ray Set

Widely thought of as one of the greatest films of all time, The Sound of Music makes it Hi Def debut in style with this new 45th Anniversary Edition.    This new 3-disc set contains a breathtaking new remastered print with 7.1 DTS-HD sound and an immense archive of information on the making of the film as well as a deeper look into the actual events that inspired the story.  Check out the My Favorite Things mode which allows you to experience the film with picture-in-picture facts, trivia, production photos, and a sing-a-long.  My only complaint is that the blue menu for the Favorite Things mode doesn’t go away, but it’s a small price for such a great feature.  A

The Commish: The Complete Series
Available on DVD

Long before Michael Chiklis starred in The Shield, he was The Commish in this ABC dramedy about a former Brooklyn cop that becomes a police commissioner in a small town.  While the quality of the writing is a little inconsistent and sometimes a way too nice, the show still holds up as both entertaining and nostalgic.  Plus, it’s interesting to see Chiklis looking older in 1991 then he does now in 2010.  B-