New releases: This week’s DVDs in review

Rating: PG
Length: 96 min.
Now available

When film critics and audiences alike believed no animated film could top the incredibly innovative and heartfelt WALL-E, Pixar Animation Studios upped the stakes — again — with Up, the colorful, slightly more mature tale of misanthropic 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Edward Asner).

A former balloon salesman left alone an disgruntled after the death of his wife, Carl attaches thousands of balloons to his unassuming two-story house and sails into the air, his sights set on South America. What Carl doesn’t account for, however, is the company of a motor-mouth of a boy scout, Russell.

Between Russell’s irritating but well-intentioned mannerisms and the presence of the spunky canine Dug and protective jungle bird Kevin, Carl’s hardened heart gradually cracks, turning the wild adventure through the Amazon into an emotionally complex journey.

Although it’s difficult to capture the film’s visual beauty on the small screen, much of Up’s breathtaking cinematography is preserved in the DVD’s widescreen format. The one-disc DVD set also features a couple bonuses, notably the feature-based short film Dug’s Special Mission and the theatrical short Partly Cloudy, which was screened in theaters prior to the film.

The Ugly Truth
Rating: R
Length: 105 min.
Now available

Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up, 27 Dresses) and Gerad Butler (300, P.S. I Love You) star in this clichéd romantic comedy that doubles as a slapstick battle of the sexes. Heigl plays Abby Richter, a high-strung morning TV show producer whose program is in danger of cancelation because of low ratings.

To garner more viewers, the station hires the rough, brash and pseudo-misogynistic TV personality, Mike Chadway (Butler), who almost instantly clashes with Abby’s control-freak nature. Mike begins to teach Abby how to relax and find her inner femme fatale, Abby teaches Mike a little bit about relationships, the two slowly put aside their differences, acknowledge their sexual chemistry and fall in love — fade to black, roll credits.

Like the film’s trite plot, the DVD includes the expected: alternate endings, deleted scenes and an exclusive gag reel. Perhaps the only feature worth-watching is “The Truth is Ugly: Capturing the Male and Female Point of View,” something the film tried — and failed — to do.

The Merry Gentleman
Rating: R
Length: 110 min.
Now available

Unlike its title, this intense indie drama is anything but merry.

The Merry Gentleman, which stars Michael Keaton (Batman, Beetlejuice) and Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting, Choke), first premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival to lukewarm reviews.

The film, which is Keaton’s directorial debut, follows Kate (Macdonald), a young woman who flees her abusive policeman husband and moves to Chicago. There, she meets Frank, a depressed hired killer, and the two kindred spirits find themselves connected almost instantly. As their connection grows, the pair must come to terms with who they are and what their lives have become.

The DVD is released in widescreen format.