6/25/13: Upside Down, As Luck Would Have It, Supporting Characters, Pusher, Come Out and Play, Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids CS

Upside Down (PG-13, 2013, Millennium Entertainment)
Adam (Jim Sturgess) loves Eden (Kirsten Dunst) and she loves him too, but circumstances have stupidly and then tragically forced them to part. It’s a story that’s been told a thousand times, and it’s funny how fresh it can feel when the storyteller applies a few unique rules to the proceedings. In the case of “Upside Down,” Adam and Eden not only live on separate planets, but reside on planets whose separate gravitational forces have them literally facing each other like a person standing on the floor would view a person standing on the ceiling. Connecting the two planets is a megacorporation, where employees from both worlds share a cubicle farm that exists at the intersection of the gravitational fields. But it’s also that corporation that drove a class warfare wedge between the two worlds that, along with some extremely fuzzy science, keeps the worlds (and the two lovers who meet in the middle) apart and mostly forbidden from interacting with one another. The aforementioned fuzziness of “Down’s” science cannot be overstated: To overthink its laws is to allow plot holes to open that are large enough to accommodate a third planet. But that’s the price of “Down’s” ambition, which is enormous and opens the door to some extremely creative ideas. If there’s a bigger problem here, it’s that the science behind these dual worlds is so fascinating that a movie is too short to take full advantage. Fortunately, while “Down” is smart enough to tell this particular story without leaving too many unacceptable loose ends behind, a few stray lines tease the possibility of more stories to come from this universe. With all due respect to the fuzzy logic-intolerant among us, here’s hoping that bears out, because there appears to be a ton more creativity and fun where this came from. Timothy Spall also stars.
Extras: Deleted scenes, three behind-the-scenes features, library of sketches, storyboards and previsualization footage.

As Luck Would Have It (NR, 2012, Sundance Selects)
When an iron rod penetrating the back of your head enters the running as the arguable best thing to happen to you that day, you’re probably having a bad day. Or perhaps, like Roberto (José Mota) — who finds himself pinned by just such a rod to the floor of a soon-to-be museum just as a throng of media has come to check it out, and it’s a long story how he got there — it simply represents a different way of looking at things. For the sake of enjoying “As Luck Would Have It” at its fullest, it’s best to curb the details of what happens next (even if the back of the box is happy to spoil away, so try and resist the urge to peek). But in a vein similar to that of its incapacitated main character, “Luck” doesn’t see only one road from what at least seems to be an inevitably tragic turn of events. It’s observant of that sadness, if not necessarily sad itself. But “Luck” also invests in irony and dark comedy, and it doesn’t invest lightly in either. Exactly how it parlays impalement into funny parable is (or should be) part of the surprise, but if you already know what happens next, it’s worth noting that this is neither the only surprise nor the biggest one that awaits. Rather, the real surprise is the way “Luck” smartly mixes its completely contrary moods so that they cease feeling contrary despite never getting blurred together. That, in turn, gives “Luck” the freedom to be unpredictable as the second act gives way to third, and the movie seizes the moment with similar deft. Salma Hayek also stars. In English with Spanish subtitles. No extras.

Supporting Characters (NR, 2013, Tribeca Film)
Film editing isn’t a thankless job, but when the film isn’t very good and a temperamental tandem of directors and producers constantly interferes with any attempt to fix it, it probably feels like one. From the looks of things, that’s the predicament in which longtime editing collaborators and head-butting friends Nick (Alex Karpovsky) and Darryl (Tarik Lowe) find themselves, and with a new project in the pipeline that wants Nick but not necessarily Darryl on board, the light at the end of the tunnel may be even dimmer than the lights inside it. Isn’t making movies, as Darryl remarks, supposed to be fun? “Supporting Characters” is a story about a story in limbo, and fittingly, it exists in a kind of limbo all its own, with relationships, friendships and assessments of one’s self-worth hanging precariously from a ledge alongside the movie Nick and Darryl are editing. Taken the wrong way, that’s a diplomatic way of saying nothing happens. But when nothing happening is the catalyst that that launches the plot into the air in the first place, is that a compliment instead of a dig? Given how well “Characters” captures it — all the while developing some sneakily strong characters and relationships and giving them some funny and insightful wisdom to play with — it may actually be. Anyone who has ever been mired in group project hell — in film, elementary school or anywhere else — will certainly be able to relate. Arielle Kebbel, Melonie Diaz, Kevin Corrigan and Sophia Takal also star.
Extra: Cast/filmmaker interviews.

Pusher (R, 2012, Anchor Bay)
After a drug deal goes south and the cops give chase, Frank (Richard Coyle) does the only thing he can do to preserve his freedom: run, run some more, jump into the nearest body of water, and watch the evidence literally dissolve. Pretty crafty, right? Sure, were it not for the part where Frank now hangs on the hook for $55,000 worth of unsold cocaine, considerably deepening his debt to some dangerous people who already had him on thin ice. So who tipped the cops? And how does the traditionally affable Frank strong-arm his customers into paying their debts to him before his own debt makes him wish he was in jail instead? If all this sounds a little familiar, it’s no deception, because if “Pusher” has any qualms about being yet another movie that reinforces just how quickly the exciting life of drug pushing can break for the drain, it certainly isn’t showing them. Tasked with adding anything new to this long-known conventional wisdom, it simply can’t: Frank’s a likable but forgettable lead, most of the cast that surrounds him could pass for cartoon characters, the soundtrack design is straight out of the self-consciously cool movie playbook, and the bevy of twists aren’t as clever as they are just entertaining. But there, right there, is “Pusher’s” saving grace. Among the many things it lacks, energy and tempo aren’t two of them, and the frantic way the movie merges the ugliness and silliness of its world is, while never special or memorable, plenty entertaining enough to offset its lack of imagination.
Extras: Cast/crew Q&A, behind-the-scenes feature.

Come Out and Play (R, 2013, Flatiron Film Co.)
To celebrate the imminent birth of their child, Francis (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Beth (Vinessa Shaw) have not only ventured down to Mexico for a romantic getaway, but have rented a boat and taken it to a sleepy resort town where they can celebrate in complete tranquility. And boy, is the spot they picked ever deserted. The adults have seemingly completely disappeared, and all that remains is a legion of children who together form a cross between a cult and a pack of hungry lions. Talk about an unnerving turn of events. Problem is, “Come Out and Play” — which isn’t even an original movie, but a remake of 1976’s “Who Can Kill a Child?” — has next to no idea what to do with it. Plenty of what happens next is creepy and occasionally gross, but until maybe the very end, it’s all a product of an idea just coasting on inertia alone. Francis and Beth wander around in terror but don’t really do anything truly desperate or crazy. The kids, meanwhile, are even less interesting — creepy for sure, but completely deficient of anything remotely resembling motive or desire or even will. What turned these kids feral? Eh, who knows? “Play” either can’t think of a clever answer or doesn’t care, and the first 95 percent of the film seems like a stall for time until the remaining five cashes in with a culmination that may surprise some of the audience. Unfortunately, past potential shock value, even this part comes up mostly empty.
Extras: Deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes feature, cast interviews.

— “Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids: The Complete Series” (NR, 1972, Shout Factory): Fat Albert’s adventures have received a smattering of DVD releases before, but this set — finally available following a last-minute delay last year — is the only way to get all 110 episodes across all three of his shows. Also included: A behind-the-scenes documentary, commentary with Cosby and a 20-page companion booklet.

6/18/13: Quartet, Stoker, 21 & Over, Movie 43

Quartet (PG-13, 2012, Anchor Bay)
Dull moments are rare as is in Beecham House, a retirement home for musicians that, consequently, is a haven for retirees whose mouths, egos and gifts of self-expression haven’t much aged at all. Still, what’s the harm in a little more excitement? It’s on the way in the form of Jean (Maggie Smith), an opera singer who not only achieved significant fame as a soloist, but who became a star only after bolting from a quartet that included the husband (Tom Courtenay) she left behind as well. Guess what? All four members now live under the same roof. And as Beecham House’s annual concert gala looms on the horizon, a reunion might be in order were it not so completely out of the question. Heartache is in ample supply in “Quartet,” and we haven’t even touched on the theme of aging and whiling the nights away in a retirement home instead of on a stage. But if you believe at all in that adage about aging well, “Quartet” is the movie that validates it several times over. There’s an art to laying all that heartache on the floor, sifting through it, and picking out the pieces that make it worthwhile without completely hiding the rest under the rug. “Quartet” masters this, toeing the line between poignance and sharp, sniping comedy and occasionally using its four terrific main characters (and their comparably free-speaking housemates) to crisscross and tangle that line beyond recognition. How does a movie so thoroughly about heartbreak address it head on and still feel this good? Hard to explain, but “Quartet” does it, and it’s a sight to behold. Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon also star.
Extras: Commentary with first-time director Dustin Hoffman, behind-the-scenes feature.

Stoker (R, 2013, Fox)
“Stoker” begins almost straight away with the news that the father of India (Mia Wasikowska) and husband of Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) has died in a completely senseless accident, and it is considerably more fitting than is initially apparent that this story begins this way. As it happens, it’s far from the only thing happening that’s hard to explain. India seems unusually dour even without the news of her father’s death further souring her mood. Her mother seems completely out of place in her own skin. And her uncle Charles (Matthew Goode) … well where did he even come from? Evelyn can’t really explain, and India never even knew he existed before he appeared, moved in, and provided an uncomfortably calm presence to complement the other strains of discomfort currently choking the house of any life. “Stoker” only gets stranger from here, both in terms of what happens and how it makes everyone feel, and the senselessness that encompasses the early themes doesn’t exactly disappear in favor of neat explanations (or, one could deftly argue, explanations of any variety). What potentially makes this allowable is how deliberately “Stoker” pursues the weird mood it achieves and the many ways it takes advantage of that mood once it has it in hand. Put another way? It’s extremely creepy, but confidently and freshly so. It doesn’t take much skill simply to be strange or unsettling just for the sake of it. But “Stoker” develops its own unique strain of uneasiness, and while it won’t remotely explain that sensation to everyone’s satisfaction, it sure is fun to try and read its mind.
Extras: Deleted scenes, four behind-the-scenes features, soundtrack song performance.

21 & Over (R, 2013, Fox)
Everything that happens in “21 & Over” has sorta happened before. Miller’s (Miles Teller) the friend who dropped out of college and wants to carry on pretending he isn’t an adult yet. Casey (Skylar Astin) is the business school guy who’s spending his final spring break in a joyless internship. In between is Jeff (Justin Chon), whose 21st birthday arrives the day before a crucial medical school interview that, along with immense pressure from his admittedly scary father (François Chau), has him too stressed to celebrate. But Miller persuades him to sneak out for an early-night celebration, Casey rolls his eyes while going along with it, and “Over” embarks on a wild night out that, again, has sorta happened before in other movies. At its stupidest, slapstick-iest and most outrageous, “Over” is both a remix of the classics (without fully imitating them) and an occasional attempt to out-shock them (without going overboard and prioritizing shock over comedy). In every respect, it does adequately — entertaining at worst, mostly amusing throughout, and legitimately very funny here and there. But “Over’s” best asset, amid a storyline that’s often hopelessly predictable, is Jeff. There’s an advantage to being the character sandwiched between two cliches, and without spoiling why, Jeff makes good on those advantages en route to some good surprises and a stab at sincerity that should completely fall flat but instead turns a serviceable movie into a genuinely likable one.
Extras: Two behind-the-scenes features, bloopers.

Movie 43 (R/NR, 2013, Fox)
Depending on criteria, there may be no movie in 2013 more extraordinary than “Movie 43,” which convinced a cruise liner’s worth of Hollywood superstars (Dennis Quaid, Emma Stone, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Naomi Watts, Stephen Merchant, and the list goes on) to slum it in what easily goes down as one of history’s worst attempts at making a funny movie. “43” stitches together multiple short films into a storyline about a screenplay pitch meeting gone wildly wrong. Those shorts’ premises vary, as does the cast of each skit, but every last one of them cherishes the same method of comedy that involves doing or saying something “outrageous” (to a fourth grader, anyway) and beating that revelation into submission in a manner even a bad “Saturday Night Live” skit would find overlong and boring. Outside of a benign double take or two, the nerve that tells the brain the body is bored is the only nerve “43” really touches. For all the talent and appetite for subversion it wields, all the movie produces is 94 long and lame minutes of A-listers suffering from enough amnesia to feel a need to show up and collect the paycheck but not enough to put in the kind of effort that keeps this whole thing from feeling strangely pitiful. Have you ever wondered what Kristen Bell’s career might look like in an alternate universe where someone else lands the lead in “Veronica Mars” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall?” Here’s your chance, and there goes the only sliver of a reason to one day catch a few minutes of this on cable or Netflix.
Extras: Unrated cut, behind-the-scenes feature.

6/11/13: House of Cards S1, Wedding Band S1, Wrong, The Newsroom S1, Oz the Great and Powerful, Fred Won't Move Out, Richard Pryor: No Pryor Restraint: Life in Concert

House of Cards: The Complete First Season (NR, 2013, Sony Pictures)
Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is the House Majority Whip, and there’s obviously zero shame in that. But when you’re openly banking on a promotion to serve as the incoming President’s Secretary of State — and the first episode of “House of Cards” makes it clear this is Francis’s plan A, B and C — getting passed over and settling for anything less is nothing less than a slap in the face. Fortunately, Francis has a plan D, and it involves sticking his hand in any open pocket, stockpiling a reserve of secrets, favors and alliances, and speeding down the shoulder of the Underhanded Expressway until the new administration becomes putty in his hands. Those with Netflix accounts have had three months to get acquainted with Francis and his large and comparably conniving supporting cast, but for those on the outside, the physical disc release provides an enticing look at the future model of must-see television. And “Cards,” for its part, absolutely is worth seeing — not so much because it’s yet another show that cynically reduces the pretense of public service to nothing more than exchanges of favors and threats among the entitled, but because it filters that cynicism through a man who is genuinely giddy about the liberating personal power trip on which he has decided to embark. Francis’s journey isn’t his alone to enjoy, either: By regularly turning to the camera and delivering a confession or secret to the broken fourth wall, he’s inviting us, as his new best friend, to scorch the earth with him. It all feels so wrong, but when you see who Francis is up against, turning the volume down on your conscience feels more right — and more fun — with each passing episode. Robin Wright, Kate Mara, Michael Kelly, Kristen Connolly and Corey Stoll, among others, comprise a stellar ensemble cast.
Contents: 13 episodes, no extras.

Wedding Band: The Complete First Season (NR, 2012, Fox)
In terms of introductions, the very literally-titled “Wedding Band” is in no mood to mess around. It is, in fact, a show about a wedding cover band, and the gig that encompasses the first episode just so happens to be the wedding of our lead singer’s (Brian Austin Green) most pain-inducing ex-girlfriend. “Band” does right by getting the climactic episode out of the way, because if the mostly silly good time that ensues is this show’s idea of a melodramatic special episode, imagine what it does to unwind. Or just watch the second episode and see for yourself. “Band” takes a pretty simple idea and takes something of a chance by opting for 42-minute episodes instead of the usual 22 minutes, which would seem to strain the gimmick past its welcome. But the mood is way too upbeat to drag, and the stories and themed weddings are too ridiculous to run out of angles before time is up. Also important: “Band” is actually funny — not necessarily in that razor-sharp-and-working-on-multiple-layers way, but certainly on a level that’s likable, silly and smart enough to thoroughly enjoy. Throw in some genuinely great covers of songs you probably haven’t heard in years but will instantly recognize, and “Band” may be the most potent feel-good television show in commission today. Melora Hardin, Harold Perrineau, Jenny Wade and Peter Cambor also star.
Extras: 10 episodes, plus two behind-the-scenes features.

Wrong (NR, 2013, Drafthouse Films)
Dolph (Jack Plotnick) has lost his most cherished friend, his dog Paul. Turns out, Paul was kidnapped, and the people who kidnapped him are part of an organization devoted to kidnapping pets in hopes of making their owners care more about them upon their safe return. Dolph doesn’t need that lesson, but the kidnappings are random, so off Paul goes. This, by miles, is the most literal and normal thing that happens in “Wrong.” It may be the only literal thing that happens. Everything happening around it — Dolph going to work at a job (a) that fired him months ago and (b) where it rains indoors, a machine that creates video images out of memories somehow culled from a dog’s waste, and do you need more examples? — is either allegorical or just weird for weird’s sake, and “Wrong” makes no attempt to campaign for it being the former. Frankly, it’s probably the latter anyway. But if it is, “Wrong” is (arguable) proof that something can be weird just because and still be accessible enough not to completely wear out its welcome halfway though. The fun of watching “Wrong” is heightened for those who possess the dogged determination to decipher what it all means, even if it means arriving at a conclusion that’s completely at odds with the movie’s own design. But Dolph, by virtue of being a guy who just loves his dog, is too likable to let the weirdness stamp him out, and his looks of disbelief are a darkly funny source of comfort for all who wander into “Wrong” and find themselves totally confused but strangely entertained. If even he doesn’t totally get it, there’s no shame in us feeling the exact same way.
Extras: Three behind-the-scenes features, 20-page liner notes booklet with introduction by Eric Wareheim (of “Tim and Eric” fame).

The Newsroom: The Complete First Season (NR, 2012, HBO)
With its very first scene — wherein beloved but bland news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) fires a prescription medicine-induced rant about America at a terrified college student during a packed Q&A session — “The Newsroom” hits the ground with feet on fire. The rest of that first episode is never that good again, but considering how much table-setting it does while a Gulf Coast oil rig explodes in the background, the continuous attempts to shoot for those heights are commendable. Then episode two comes and goes, “commendable” turns to “wearisome,” and a few episodes later, even that word starts feeling generous. When personal problems aren’t running considerable interference, the cast of “The Newsroom” takes considerable pains to express its heartfelt concerns about restoring television journalism to a higher plane of relevance and credibility, and rarely does a moment pass where hearts aren’t running laps around sleeves. That’s fine, and the unapologetic slants “The Newsroom” expresses regarding not just journalism, but politics, American idealism, Sarah Palin’s intelligence and everything else that makes ideological pulses race, are certainly its right. But it’s that ideology that slowly but ultimately engulfs “The Newsroom,” reducing characters to vessels for an exhausting onslaught of self-righteous ranting, preaching and one grandiose speech after another instead of valuable pieces of a character-focused ensemble. The cast is sharp enough to mollify the damage, and Daniels in particular nearly makes the show fun to watch in spite of itself. Mostly, though, these talents are simply a tease — of a more exciting show about people making the news instead of an elaborate means for scriptwriters to moonlight as speechwriters and prioritize their message at the expense of their audience’s entertainment. Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr. and Dev Patel, among others, also star.
Contents: 10 episodes, plus commentary, deleted scenes, “Inside the Episodes” features and two additional behind-the-scenes features.

Oz the Great and Powerful (PG, 2013, Disney)
There’s no harm in having some fun with “The Wizard of Oz’s” backstory, and as “Wicked” already proved, doing so can be a ton of fun if done well. For a while, albeit with shaky footing, “Oz the Great and Powerful” does it well, framing the younger, pre-Oz Oscar Diggs (James Franco) as nothing more than a carny con man whose only magic trick is his incredible charisma. One scam-induced escape and hot air balloon collision with a tornado later, “Oz” whisks us into the Land of Oz with similar wobbly care: The threat of special effects overwhelming storytelling starts feeling like a reality, but that first look at the Land of Oz is incredible, and the characters Oscar meets initially are enchanting enough to make one believe that storytelling can engineer an upset. But it’s not to be, and it really isn’t even close. “Oz” begins well and sort of recaptures some of its imagination and humor in time for the finale, but the long road in the middle is paved with a loud, sense-dulling bombardment of violence, explosions and special effects that arranges a Wonka Factory’s worth of eye candy into something that says absolutely nothing. For too much of “Oz’s” two-plus hours, as armies charge each other and generals channel their inner Braveheart, the Land of Oz may as well be Middle Earth, and this may as well be a video game. Little touches and some heartfelt scenes aside, it’s a glorious, colorful, expensive but ultimately soulless waste of what could have been a truly wondrous origin story. Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz also star.
Extras: 10 behind-the-scenes features, second screen content, music video, bloopers.

Fred Won’t Move Out (NR, 2012, Virgil Films)
Fred (Elliott Gould) doesn’t want to move out. And who could blame him? His country home is extremely comfortable, and outside of some mild difficulty walking around, Fred is pretty able-bodied. Unfortunately, his wife Susan (Judith Roberts), suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, is not, and their son (Fred Melamed) and daughter-in-law (Stephanie Roth Haberle) have — without consulting Fred — begun the process of moving her to a nursing home in “the city.” They’ve made similar plans for Fred to live in the same building, but as the title implies, Fred isn’t having it. Around this premise, “Fred Won’t Move Out” aspires to build a dry, sentimental comedy, ostensibly with an eye on cherishing time gone by while also making the difficult admission that passing time cannot be stopped. Fleetingly, it is that. Mostly, though, “Fred” feels as strained as its namesake. It strains to lighten the mood with non-sequiturs that often come across as petty instead of funny. It strains to give Fred, as the catalyst of this whole story, much to do besides react. And because no one, not even “Fred,” seems to truly listen to those reactions, those watching may strain to see what the point of this whole thing even is. “Fred” run only 74 minutes long, and one must imagine there are numerous ways to easily fill that time with a truly affecting and funny story about a man clinging to the last strands of life on his terms. “Fred” fills that time with filler and still limps to the finish, as resigned to settle for irrelevancy as Fred’s unlikable son seems to think his father suddenly is. No extras.

— “Richard Pryor: No Pryor Restraint: Life in Concert” (NR, Shout Factory): The contents — three complete concert films and seven CDs spanning 27 years’ worth of material, some of it previously unreleased — make this compilation hard to resist even if it came as nine loose discs in a plastic bag. Fortunately, “No Pryor Restraint’s” hardcover-book presentation — which includes 60 glossy color pages’ worth of stories, essays, photos, history and liner notes before getting to the discs — is considerably nicer than that.

6/4/13: It's a Disaster, Mental, Wilfred: The Complete Original Series, Identity Thief, Breaking Bad S5

It’s a Disaster (R, 2013, Oscilloscope)
Almost immediately, the sympathy pangs rush in for Glen (David Cross) as his relatively new and not-necessarily-pleasant girlfriend (Julia Stiles) drags him to what, based on both assumptions and first impressions, should be one heck of a miserable couples brunch with her miserable friends. What follows, before food is even served, is such a soul-straining mashup of faux-edgy pretentiousness and bubbling angst that when the Internet dies, the power goes out and word spreads that dirty bombs have pummeled multiple cities nationwide, it almost feels like Glen caught a break. Lest there be any confusion, “It’s a Disaster” is a comedy first, any number of genre-bending things second, and a disaster movie a distant third if it’s one at all. And that, with an assist from a script that’s pretty funny despite being tasked with being intentionally grating, is what makes it so great. Without spoiling details, “Disaster” tells the kind of story that might actually unfold for real if a bunch of helpless snobs (and one well-meaning bystander boyfriend) suddenly found themselves staring down the end of days. It doesn’t try too hard to be funny (but is anyway), nor does it try and force us to find some sympathy for this group (even if some sort of seeps through anyway). Best of all, “Disaster” is that rare disaster movie that isn’t deathly predictable once it blows through its special effects budget. For starters, there are no special effects anywhere. More importantly, there are some terrific surprises in store, including a brilliant sequence that sends “Disaster” home on a note that’s jolting and fitting all at once.
Extras: Director/cast commentary, behind-the-scenes feature, Comic-con panel, viral videos.

Mental (NR, 2012, Universal)
Nearly everyone is somewhat or completely crazy in “Mental.” Shirley (Rebecca Gibney), haunted by her obsession with perfection and her delusions about it always being within reach, certainly is. Her politician husband (Anthony LaPaglia as Barry), despite his attempts to steer as clear of his family as possible, is as well. With a pedigree like that, their five daughters never stood a chance, and when Shirley gets committed and Barry hires a woman (Toni Collette as Shaz) to watch over the kids, she may be the craziest one of all. With a roster like that — and we haven’t even mentioned the shark hunter (Liev Schreiber) or the neighbors — it should come as little surprise that “Mental,” too, is rather crazy. Watch it casually or take your eyes off it for a scene here or there, and it may even appear incomprehensible. But there’s more than one meaning in play in that title, and while “Mental” isn’t much for literal clarity, it makes a point to convey that even the craziest among this group is just lucid enough to realize how crazy he or she is. That, if only barely, is all the clarity “Mental” necessarily needs. Deep down, beneath layers and layers of antics and irrational behavior, is a perfectly normal story about a woman connecting with five girls who need her. Hang onto that thread for dear life, and “Mental’s” wild, relentless and wonderfully silly exterior is simply icing — in colors, flavors and volume like perhaps you’ve never tasted before — on the cake.
Extras: Cast/crew interviews.

Wilfred: The Complete Original Series (NR, 2007, Fabulous Films/Shout Factory)
Before “Wilfred” was a cult American comedy featuring a foul-mouthed grown man in a dog suit, it was this Australian series featuring a foul-mouthed man in a dog suit. And while the same actor (Jason Gann, who also created the series) embodies that suit in both versions, the two shows go in starkly different directions almost immediately from there. In this case, Adam Zwar (as Adam) has Elijah Wood’s role as the guy who can see and speak to Wilfred as a person dressed as a dog instead of the actual dog everyone else apparently sees him as. This time, Wilfred’s owner (Cindy Waddingham) is Adam’s girlfriend instead of a neighbor he fancies. And though his stance softens slightly over time, Wilfred is overwhelmingly devoted to menacing Adam, which he does to very funny but unabashedly dark effect. The rivalry stands in stark contrast to the American reboot, which Wood’s character kicks off by trying unsuccessfully to kill himself four times before meeting Wilfred and embarking on a dark, combative but also loving and almost spiritually enriching friendship. The more complicated relationship, along with the opportunity for Gann to refine his act on his second go, makes the American “Wilfred” a more unpredictable watch. But much of what makes that “Wilfred” so funny is well-represented here as well. If you like the American version, this rare opportunity to see an alternate-universe take, courtesy of the same creative spark in the middle, is not to be missed.
Contents: 16 episodes, plus outtakes, three behind-the-scenes features and bloopers.

Identity Thief (NR/R, 2013, Universal)
“Identity Thief” likely will best be remembered for the awful things fading film critic Rex Reed said about star Melissa McCarthy and the blowback that immediately followed. And in spite of the considerable effort “Thief” puts forth, that’s probably as good as it gets. In “Thief,” Sandy (Jason Bateman) finds his identity stolen by a woman (McCarthy) who subsequently uses it as a prop in a crime spree. And because this is the movies, and because “Thief’s” depiction of identity theft is comparable in terms of plausibility to “The Net’s” depiction of the big scary Internet, the only way for Sandy to repair his credit, get his job back, clear his name and undo the mess is for Sandy himself to confront his impostor and drag her back to his home state. Why not the police? Who knows. Don’t overthink it. “Thief’s” premise isn’t so much a what-if scenario as an excuse to put on some gags about mistaken identity while a simple road trip goes predictably awry. To the movie’s credit, everyone — major and minor characters alike — gives it their charismatic and energetic all, and by sheer energetic brute force alone, “Thief” soars past terrible and into something approaching enjoyable. That, unfortunately, is its ceiling, because spirit can carry a flat script only so far by itself. But if “Thief” is the kind of movie one forgets seeing almost as soon as it’s been seen, its eagerness to please at least keeps those two forgettable hours from being completely wasteful ones. That, along with the entertaining real-life lesson about hurtful language that followed “Thief’s” release, is a much better fate than such a mismanaged premise could have asked for. Jon Favreau, Robert Patrick and Genesis Rodriguez, among others, also star.
Extras: Unrated cut (adds nine minutes), alternate takes, two behind-the-scenes features.

— “Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season” (NR, 2012, Sony Pictures): The most exciting thing about this release for “Breaking Bad” fans? It means the eight final episodes that bring this show home are just around the corner. The second most exciting thing about this set? A new, eight-minute scene that provides some additional backstory for the episode that capped the fifth season’s first half. (No spoilers, obviously.) Also included, along with the eight episodes that have aired (three uncensored, all eight with commentary), are deleted/extended scenes, 19 episodes of “Inside Breaking Bad,” six other behind-the-scenes features, audition/rehearsal footage and bloopers.