This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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OBSERVE AND REPORT
It’s understandable that Observe and Report would polarize audiences. That the film even received financing remains surprising to me. Generally, studios wouldn’t dare greenlight a film as uncompromising as this without the promise of Oscar nominations down the line. I can only imagine they were banking on the financial viability of Seth Rogen, a casting decision that is both one of the film’s greatest assets and, temporarily, its greatest weakness. That weakness is not an issue with the film itself, but rather audience expectations. As much as I’d like to blame the trailers for misleading viewers, this is not an easy film to market, and as such, most ticket buyers walked into their screening ready for a simple, familiar formula: Seth Rogen + raunchy R-rated comedy. They were not, I suspect, prepared for a dark, cynical satire about American machismo and the country’s absurd obsession with guns, violence, and, to put it bluntly, obtaining satisfaction off inflicting pain on others. Even in watching the film though, these undertones may not be immediately clear; where other directors may have felt the need approach the material in a way that more clearly condemns Ronnie’s actions, writer/director Jody Hill wisely adopts the mindset of his insane lead character, playing the entire twisted tale as an inspirational underdog story. This was a brilliant decision on Hill’s part, but it came at a cost: fail to pick up on those elements, and much of film’s humor is lost. What should be (and is) scathingly hilarious instead comes across as ugly and dumb. Is it really any wonder that the film failed to find success at the box office? Thanks to DVD though, Observe and Report finally has a chance to find its niche audience. This is a movie that’s destined for cult status, where viewers can fully appreciate what Jody Hill was trying to do. The year’s not quite over yet, but as of now, Observe and Report is my pick for funniest movie of the year, as well as a lock for my Top 10 of ’09.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – No extras. Blu-ray – A picture-in-picture commentary track with Seth Rogan, Anna Faris, and director Jody Hill, three featurettes (‘Seth Rogen & Anna Faris: Unscripted’, ‘Forest Ridge Mall: Security Recruitment Video’, ‘Basically Training’), additional scenes, and a gag reel.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.99 $16.99 $16.77
Amazon – $16.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$25.99 $25.99 $24.77
Amazon – $24.99

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I’m a sucker for the animation of Nick Park. Though it was good to see him working in features, I think that Wallace and Gromit are much better off anchoring short films. Park’s most recent short with the man and dog pair, his first film project with the characters since 2005′s Curse of the Were-Rabbit and their first new short since 1995(!), is A Matter of Loaf and Death. The short aired in the UK and Europe over the last Christmas (i.e., if you’re not in the US this is old stuff) but will finally be getting a real US release via DVD next week.

We’ve got a clip from that, and for something new, check out the trailer for a very pretty German short film called Urs, after the break. Read More »

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