This week's spate of DVD releases kicks off with 'The Blind Side,' a rags-to-riches football story about a poor black teenager mentored by a wealthy white woman to become an NFL star. Next up is 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' an animated delight about a con-man ... er ... con-animal whose attempts to steal from three nasty farmers gets his family and animal friends into deep trouble. And don't forget 'The Men Who Stare at Goats,' an absurd tale about U.S. soldiers being trained to become psychic warriors, which would be crazy if it weren't true. 'The Blind Side'
What It's About: A homeless black teenager in Memphis is taken under the wing of a wealthy upper-middle-class white woman (Sandra Bullock) and her family and is given a second chance at life. Along the way, his talent as a football player comes to the fore, and, with the aid and support of his new family, he becomes one of the most highly paid athletes in the National Football League. Based on the true story of NFL's Michael Oher.
It's Kinda Like: 'Hoop Dreams' meets 'Varsity Blues'
What We Say: A great old-fashioned sentimental tearjerker with an Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning performance by Bullock ... she's at her best here as the fast-talking, high-spirited, take-no-jive Leigh Anne Tuohy. It may be maudlin and sticky-sweet, but in these depressed times we need all the uplifting we can get, and 'The Blind Side' has plenty of it.
'Fantastic Mr. Fox'
What It's About: This stop-motion animated film, based on Roald Dahl's book, follows the adventures of the Fantastic Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) who, try as he will, can't give up his animal ways and, after 12 years as a respectable husband and father, decides to return to his roots as a chicken thief. Unfortunately, he stirs up the ire of three evil farmers who vow to destroy him, and he goes on the run -- by digging underground -- with his family and animal friends.
It's Kinda Like: 'Chicken Run' meets 'Bottle Rocket'
What We Say: Director Wes Anderson imbues Dahl's story with all the wit, offbeat ideas and quirky dialogue that have permeated his previous outings ('The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou,' 'The Royal Tenenbaums' and 'Rushmore') and, like those films, he's created an enjoyable, funny world unto itself. Anderson's worlds are inhabited by just-over-the-edge protagonists, and 'Fox' is no exception: You just can't believe some of the things Fox comes up with to try to outwit the farmers. A great grownup animated treat.
'The Men Who Stare at Goats'
What It's About: Here's another wacky outing starring George Clooney. A reporter (Ewan McGregor) in search of his next big story encounters Lyn Cassady (Clooney), a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit -- the New Earth Army of "Warrior Monks" created in the aftermath of Vietnam -- who train to use psychic powers to wage the wars of the future. Cassady takes the reporter along on his journey to find the missing leader of the group (Jeff Bridges), who was ousted by a renegade psychic (Kevin Spacey).
It's Kinda Like: 'M.A.S.H.' meets 'The X-Files'
What We Say: A very funny black comedy premise hampered by a loose story structure that lurches from vignette to vignette. At times outrageous, at times ludicrous, the film's main problem is that the low points last too long and there's just not enough high spots (so to speak) to keep viewers enthralled. Which is a shame, because the offbeat story is based on real-life events -- apparently the Army has been dabbling with psychic warfare for decades. Truth is stranger than fiction.
'The African Queen,' John Huston's memorable 1951 action-adventure starring Katharine Hepburn as a missionary in Africa during World War I who persuades a boozy riverboat man (Humphrey Bogart) to take her back to civilization and -- along the way -- attack a German warship, is finally coming to DVD in a stunning restoration (on DVD and Blu-ray) from Paramount.
In 'Red Cliff' (2008), director John Woo returns to China and reunites with actor Tony Leung (for the first time since 1992's 'Hard Boiled') for a spectacular epic drama about two second century Chinese warlords -- sworn enemies -- who team up to fight an aggressive Han Dynasty Emperor who wants to consolidate his power by eliminating them. Available in DVD and Blu-ray theatrical versions as well as DVD and Blu-ray original international versions (containing Part I and Part II) from Magnolia Home Entertainment.
Other New March 23 DVD Releases:
Check out other new March 23 DVD releases at OnVideo.