Kevin James observes and reports in the mega-blockbuster(!) 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop.'

No matter what this summer's big-budget action movies make at the box office, it'll be hard to find a bigger surprise this year than the $164 million take of 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop.' Less surprising is that the harmless, PG-rated 'Blart' did so much better than the astonishingly similarly plotted Seth Rogen raunch-fest 'Observe & Report.'

Also out on DVD today: 'Valkyrie,' aka 'The Tom Cruise Eye Patch Movie,' and 'Fanboys,' the long-delayed road trip comedy/love letter to 'Star Wars' geeks everywhere.

Get the full scoop on this week's DVD and Blu-ray releases, plus our recommendations from weeks' past.


'Paul Blart: Mall Cop'
What It's About: An overweight "security officer" (Kevin James) who lives with his mother, crushes on a counter girl (Jayma Mays), aspires to be a real cop and finally gets a chance to prove himself when some totally extreme criminals (they skateboard! They bike! They leap through the air like ninjas!) invade his mall.

It's Kind of Like: 'Observe and Report' minus the date rape

What We Say: OK, so for as astonishingly similar as the plot is to the "other" 2009 mall cop comedy starring Seth Rogen, the movies' tones couldn't be more different. Where 'Observe and Report' is unromantic, edgy and vulgar, 'Paul Blart' is mushy, cheesy and squeaky-clean (James actually expresses anger by exclaiming "Sugar!") Even more astonishing? How 'Paul Blart' made $145 million at the box office (!!!).

Rent from Netflix | Buy the DVD | Watch the first 5 minutes

'Valkyrie'

What It's About: Otherwise known as 'The Tom Cruise Eye Patch Movie,' Bryan Singer's WWII thriller stars Cruise as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer who plotted to assassinate Hitler.

It's Kind of Like: 'Defiance' meets 'Mission: Impossible'

Critical Consensus: Considering its long delay in release, and the previously mentioned fact that Cruise plays an eye-patched German officer named Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, many expected 'Valkyrie' to flop. But the film performed admirably among critics, registering a 60 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (many called it "thrilling" and "compelling") and racked up $83 million in U.S. ticket sales.

Rent from Netflix | Buy the DVD | Watch trailer & clips

'Fanboys'
What It's About: Fall, 1998. When one of them falls fatally ill, four hardcore 'Star Wars' fanatics (Sam Huntington, Christopher Marquette, Dan Fogler and Jay Baruchel) travel cross-country to the Lucas Ranch, where they plan to steal an early copy of 'Episode I: The Phantom Menace.'

It's Kind of Like: 'Road Trip' for 'Star Wars' geeks

What We Say: Set 10 years ago -- perhaps even before the term "fanboy" was popularized -- this broad comedy feels slightly stale and outdated (I just felt so bad for them knowing how 'Phantom Menace' worked out in the end). But an endless string of amusing cameos (Seth Rogen, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher) make it watchable, especially on DVD.

Rent from Netflix | Buy the DVD | Watch trailer & clips

Other New Releases This Week:
'My Bloody Valentine'
'Yonkers Joe'
'Outlander'

New on Blu-ray:
'Batman'
'A Bug's Life'
'T2: Judgment Day' (Skynet Edition)


New DVD Recommendations

    'Frost/Nixon'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About:The true story of David Frost (Michael Sheen), a British TV personality who ponied up a cool $600,000 for the exclusive first interview with disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) ... and somehow got his money worth.

    What We Say: It takes some serious directorial skill to condense 12 days of interviews into two hours of tense and gripping entertainment, but that's exactly what Ron Howard does in crafting this exciting battle of wits. It also helps that Langella's humanizing portrayal of Tricky Dick is phenomenal.

    Special Features? The DVD offers a making-of doc, footage from the actual interviews and a feature on additional recordings of the ex-prez (perfect for the Nixon completist).

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Universal

    'The Wrestler'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About: Randy 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a former pro wrestling sensation, is a shell of his former self. He now lives in a trailer park, wrestles for pennies at local New Jersey holes where using a staple gun (yes, a staple gun) in the ring is perfectly acceptable, and obsesses over a friendly neighborhood stripper (Marisa Tomei).

    It's Kind of Like: The anti-'Hogan Knows Best'

    What We Say: Darren Aronofsky's superb indie made the most noise for Rourke's triumphant comeback as a gentle giant, but the film itself was one of the year's best: It's a powerful, brutal and grueling yet still inspiring human drama.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Fox Searchlight

    'Notorious'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About: Just 12 years after his death comes this biopic about legendary rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard), aka Biggie Smalls, Big Poppa, Frank White and Christopher Wallace; also appearing are Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur and Derek Luke as P. Diddy (aka the man with too many aka's to list).

    It's Kind of Like:

    What We Say: The fact that Woolard raps over B.I.G. instrumentals is distracting (and we're not as wowed as we should be) but otherwise the actor delivers a strong, confident performance, and the fresh, stylish 'Notorious' builds up to a surprisingly potent peak.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Fox Searchlight

    'The Reader'

    Release Date: April 14

    What It's About: A middle-aged lawyer (Ralph Fiennes) recalls the days of his post-WWII youth (played by David Kross) he spent having hot and heavy sexytime with an older woman (Kate Winslet), only to discover later she's a Nazi accused of war crimes.

    It's Kind of Like: 'The Graduate' meets 'Schindler's List'

    What We Say: In a year where "sympathetic Nazi" films were amazingly abundant (see also 'Good' and 'Boy in the Striped Pajamas'), 'The Reader' was the most high-profile, the most controversial ... and the most superior. Far from a black-and-white portrait, it's intriguing and deeply thought-provoking. Once we get past all the flesh, that is. (We will say: It's harder to enjoy sex scenes when you know one's a Nazi.)

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    The Weinstein Company

    'Doubt'

    Release Date: April 7

    What It's About: An icy, conservative nun (Meryl Streep) and younger, progressive priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are the Hannity and Colmes of a Bronx Catholic church and school in 1964. But when she suspects him of molesting the school's first black student, their relationship transforms from one of passive difference to hostile opposition.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Priest' meets 'Dead Man Walking'

    What We Say: Any time a film gets four Oscar nominations for acting, you know you're in for some dramatic screen magic. Don't hold it against the film that its writer-director John Patrick Shanley's last movie was 'Joe Versus the Volcano.' This is a much better conflict.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Miramax

    'Slumdog Millionaire'

    Release Date: March 31

    What It's About:The nuggets of wisdom an uneducated teen (Dev Patel) learns growing up in the cruel slums of Mumbai (and beyond) correspond perfectly with the questions he faces on India's version of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'

    It's Kind of Like: 'Quiz Show' meets 'City of God'

    What We Say: For having a plot as gimmicky as detailed above, the fact that 'Slumdog' works so well is almost shocking. It's a fantasy steeped in a harsh reality that combines elements of drama, comedy, romance, action and adventure in conjuring up pure movie magic. Now I wish every movie ended with a Bollywood dance number.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Fox Searchlight

    'Quantum of Solace'

    Release Date: March 24

    What It's About: After losing the love of his life, a vengeful James Bond (Daniel Craig) is out to take kick ass, take names and -- of course -- entertain on a couple new bed buddies in this direct sequel to 'Casino Royale.'

    What We Say: Whereas 'Royale' spent plenty of energy acclimating us to the new (blond!) 007 with wit, charm, romance and action, 'Solace' is all about the turbo-charged action. This didn't play well with some critics, but we'll take stylish Bond carnage over your average actioner ('Transporter' anyone?) any day.

    Special Features? Unless you're only in it for the Jack White-Alicia Keys music video for 'Another Way to Die' (the sole bonus feature on the single-disc edition), opt for the two-disc, which features several making-of docs, and most importantly, more Olga Kurylenko.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD
    Craig-Forster Unscripted

    Sony

    'Bolt'

    Release Date: March 24

    What It's About: Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is not a super-dog, he just plays one on TV. Of course Bolt doesn't know that. When he unwittingly lands in NYC, the lost dog recruits a cranky cat and hilarious hamster (aren't they all?) for a cross-country jaunt back to his loyal owner/co-star (Miley Cyrus) in Hollywood.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Underdog' meets 'Homeward Bound'

    Critical Consensus: There's no stopping talking dog movies -- but there are no singing Chihuahua armies in this animated adventure, which is probably why it fared well with critics, scoring an impressive 86 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD
    50 Best Movies of 2008

    Disney

    'Elegy'

    Release Date: March 17

    What It's About: Believing it's to good to be true and thus doomed to fail, a celebrated college professor (Ben Kingsley) does everything in his power to screw up his relationship with a sexy student (Penelope Cruz).

    It's Kind of Like: 'The Visitor' with sex appeal

    What We Say: This underseen romantic drama about dealing with self-doubt in relationships is elegant, sophisticated and yes, even sexy (never thought we'd say that about a Ben Kingsley movie this decade). And it also reinforces the immortal words of Aaliyah: Age ain't nuthin' but a number, Sir Ben.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD
    Watch the trailer

    Sony Classics

    'Milk'

    Release Date: March 10

    What It's About: Sean Penn is Harvey Milk, the iconic San Francisco politician who became the first openly gay man elected to office in the U.S. in 1977. Josh Brolin is the jerk who assassinates him.

    What We Say: Gus Van Sant's biopic of the slain leader is much more conventional than you might expect, but not any less affecting or inspiring. Penn's performance is a triumph. And given the recent passage of Prop 8 in California, the film is as topical as they come.

    Awards & Nominations: Penn prevailed in the closest major race at the Oscars, edging out Comeback King Mickey Rourke ('The Wrestler') for Best Actor. The film also won Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black), but lost pretty much anywhere it was up against 'Slumdog.'

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD
    Oscars Movies Made Easy

    Universal



CATEGORIES DVDs