'Meatballs,' 'Cheaper by the Dozen 2' lead new Blu-ray titles

by Doug Nye

McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

6 January 2010


An animated movie based on a popular kids’ book, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (Sony, 2009, $39.95), and a well-done sequel, “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” (20th Century Fox, 2005, $29.99), top the latest releases on Blu-ray.

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is about Flint Lockwood, who lives in Swallow Falls, a town located on an island in the Atlantic. The town’s big business is canning sardines and shipping them everywhere. Then the factory shuts down and the people in Swallow Falls are left with a diet of nothing but sardines.

Flint, an inventor, is going to remedy the situation. He plans to make a machine that turns water into made-to-order food. Never mind that his previous inventions, such as spray-on shoes and a remote control that causes the TV to walk over to the viewer so he or she can change the channel, were failures.

However, this one actually works. After a rough start, the machine launches a huge cloud and it starts raining cheeseburgers. The citizens of Swallow Falls are ecstatic to be able to eat something besides sardines. Soon, Flint has other foods pouring down on the population.

It’s a fun film for all ages. Besides the Blu-ray disc, a regular DVD and a digital copy of the film also are included. Recommended.

“Cheaper by the Dozen 2” is a worthy sequel to the 2003 hit. Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt reprise their roles of Tom and Kate Baker, who oversee a brood of 12 children. Things are changing, however. Their oldest daughters are getting ready to fly the coop. Lorraine (Hilary Duff) is headed for New York and pregnant daughter Nora (Piper Perabo) and her husband are moving to Houston.

Tom thinks it would be great if the whole family spent one more summer vacation together at Lake Winnekta, Wis. After some coaxing, they all agree. It’s been a while since they have been there. They’re stunned to see how rundown the cabin is that they so fondly remembered. But the cheerful Tom is determined to make the best of it.

Then he discovers that his old rival Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy) and his wife, Sabrina (Carmen Electra), along with their eight kids, are staying in the huge, sparkling cabin across the lake. As both families try to enjoy themselves, the old rivalry between Tom and Jimmy flares anew.

This is a funny and often warm family film. Recommended.

Other Blu-ray releases:

“The Green Berets” (Warner Brothers, 1968, $28.99): It could be argued that only someone who grew up after the Vietnam War era could give an unbiased review of this film. Many of us were affected by that controversial period and it colors the way we look at John Wayne’s attempt to make a pro-American movie about the conflict. I tried to be as objective as possible. The combat sequences are well done and effective. It’s difficult to criticize Wayne, who co-directed and starred, for loving his country, which was his motivation for making “The Green Berets.” The truth is, the film is pretty routine and contains just about every war-movie cliche you can think of, including the soldier who is killed the night before he is scheduled to go home. David Janssen plays the skeptical newspaper reporter who eventually comes to support the war. Also in the cast are Jim Hutton, Aldo Ray and George Takei.

“Battlestar Galactica: Season 1” (Universal, 2004-05, $89.98): Edward James Olmos stars as Admiral William Adama and Mary McDonnell stars as President Laura Roslin. The war with the Cylons has ended and the 12 colonies have been destroyed. Now a group of refugees aboard the Battlestar Galactica flee across space searching for a supposed 13th colony known as Earth. Meanwhile, the Cylons attempt to overtake them. Includes 13 episodes on four discs. Recommended.

“Riding Giants” (Sony, 2004, $24.95): This is an absorbing and exciting documentary that tells the story of big-wave surfing. Even those who have never been on a surfboard will find this worth watching. Director Stacy Peralla uses vintage and contemporary footage to chronicle the exploits of pioneer surfers and today’s top wave riders. Among them is Greg Noll, nicknamed “The Bull,” who became a legend in Hawaii. There’s much, much more. It’s spectacular in high definition. Recommended.

“Chuck: The Complete Second Season” (Warner Brothers, 2008-09, $69.97): Secret agent Chuck Bartkowski (Zachary Levi) is back for another round of comedy and action. Yvonne Strahovksi returns as Sarah Walker. This has the 3-D episode of “Chuck Versus the Third Dimension.” A pair of 3-D glasses are included. It’s 22 episodes on six discs.

“10 Things I Hate About You: Special Edition” (Walt Disney, 1999, $29.99): This supposedly is the high school version of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” In this one, Patrick (Heath Ledger) and Kat (Julia Stiles) square off against each other while falling in love.

“Dogtown and Z-Boys” (Sony, 2001, $24.95): Sean Penn narrates this documentary about the evolution of skateboarding, which features kids from the tough Dogtown neighborhood of Venice, Calif. They supposedly took the sport to another level. It includes vintage footage as well as interviews with skateboarding legends.

“The Final Destination 3-D” (New Line, 2009, $35.99): Here’s another entry in the bloody “Final Destination” series with both 3-D and 2-D versions. The 3-D isn’t bad, especially if you don’t mind body parts being hurled at you from the screen.

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