There's something for everyone this week on DVD. Disney and Robert Zemeckis have come up with a beautiful but quite harrowing animated version of Charles Dickins' 'A Christmas Carol,' with a rather scary Ebenezer Scrooge who starts out as one of the nastiest villains around but, of course, is transformed by the goodness of the Christmas spirit. For youngsters there's 'The Last Airbender,' a rather lackluster live-action interpretation of the celebrated TV series 'Avatar: The Last Airbender.' For adults there's 'The Kids Are All Right,' a postmodern family comedy-drama about a pair of lesbians whose two kids go looking for their "donor-father." For the wee ones, 'Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore' is a mind-numbing 80 minutes of baby-sitting dross. And, lastly, this is the week that Fox and James Cameron bring home their three-disc expanded version of 'Avatar' on DVD and Blu-ray. Get ready for Thanksgiving.

'A Christmas Carol'
What It's About: Disney's 3-D animated retelling of Charles Dickens' Christmas classic. Ebenezer Scrooge (voice of Jim Carrey) begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk (Gary Oldman) and his cheery nephew (Colin Firth). But when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey revealing truths Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will before it's too late.

It's Kinda Like:
'A Nightmare Before Christmas' in 19th century England

What We Say:
Robert Zemeckis sure loves special effects and CGI, laying down ground-breaking films such as 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit,' 'Death Becomes Her,' 'The Polar Express' -- and now this spectacular take on Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale. The animation is fabulous, the story line -- augmented by Zemeckis -- amps up the ghosts and hauntings and makes the redemptive tale downright scary and violent. It's rated PG but may pack a stronger wallop for the young ones. I loved the hair standing up on my neck.
• Extras: The DVD and Blu-ray versions include deleted scenes and a host of featurettes.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews | Buy DVD | Save DVD to your Netflix queue | Watch exclusive DVD clip
Scrooge Movies and TV Specials: The Best of 'Bah, Humbug!'
Jim Carrey's 'A Christmas Carol': Creepy in a Good Way



'The Last Airbender'

What It's About: Based on the hugely successful Nickelodeon animated TV series, this live-action kiddie flick follows the adventures of Aang (Noah Ringer), a young boy who discovers that he is the last Avatar (someone with the power to manipulate Air, Water, Earth, Fire) who must battle the evil forces of the Fire nation to restore balance to the world.

It's Kinda Like: 'The Karate Kid' meets 'Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief'

What We Say:
Poor M. Night Shyamalan. After a series of cookie-cutter horror-thrillers, he was given the chance to fly with an adaptation of the very popular 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' anime series and came up with this listless and lifeless outing. The acting was so weak and the pace of the story so turgid that we couldn't help but cheer for the villains to win and put us out of our misery as quickly as possible. And forget the fight scenes and special effects. Though the film made north of $130 million in the U.S., Paramount has yet to give a green light for the (already written) sequel.
• Extras: The DVD includes deleted scenes and a featurette; the Blu-ray version adds a nine-part behind the scenes documentary.
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'The Kids Are All Right'

What It's About: Annette Bening and Julianne Moore star in this portrait of a postmodern American family. Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore) are an average suburban couple raising their two teens, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), in Southern California. But when the kids secretly track down their "donor dad," Paul (Mark Ruffalo in a bravura performance) and try to integrate him into their family life, things slowly but surely get out of control, rearranging yet also reaffirming the family dynamic.

It's Kinda Like: 'Kissing Jessica Stein' meets 'American Beauty'

What We Say:
This low-key, semi-sophisticated adult comedy hits all the right notes for at least the first half of the movie as we're introduced to a functioning dysfunctional family and their heart-felt interactions. It's witty and funny and offers some interesting truths about sexuality and identity but, by the last half, starts to bog down in conventionality -- which, ultimately, is all right, since the lesson on tap is that relationships -- particularly in marriages and families -- require a lot of hard work and understanding.
• Extras: Commentary by director Lisa Cholodenko and a trio of featurettes.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews | Buy DVD | Save DVD to your Netflix queue | Watch exclusive DVD clip


'Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore'

What It's About: This sequel to 2001's live-action/puppetry/computer animation 'Cats & Dogs' has a rogue cat agent named Kitty Galore working on a diabolical device designed to not only bring her canine enemies to heel but also to take down her former kitty comrades and make the world her scratching post. This forces cats and dogs to work together to make the world safe for humans.

It's Kinda Like: 'Garfield' meets 'Austin Powers'

What We Say:
It took almost 10 years to make this sequel to 2001's 'Cats & Dogs' (which was definitely a low point in Jeff Goldblum's career) and we hope it will be 10 more before they try another one. Rotten Tomatoes summed it up thusly: Dull and unfunny, this inexplicable sequel offers little more than the spectacle of digitally rendered talking animals with celebrity voices.
• Extras: The Blu-ray version includes a couple of featurettes and a gag reel.
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Best in Blu-ray: 'The Night of the Hunter,' 'Modern Times,' 'Mutiny on the Bounty'

Other New November 16 DVD Releases:
'Avatar' Extended Collector's Edition: Three-disc set with three versions of the film, including the original theatrical release, a special edition re-release, and new collector's extended cut with 16 more minutes including an exclusive alternate opening Earth scene. Also includes eight hours of never-before seen material with over 45 minutes of deleted scenes.
'Don't Look Back': Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci star in this French identity mystery about a novelist whose world begins to become unrecognizable and whose body morphs into that of another woman.
'The Extra Man': Kevin Kline stars as an escort to wealthy widows in New York's Upper East Side who takes a young aspiring playwright (Paul Dano) under his wing.
'The Hunting Party': Terrence Howard, Richard Gere star in a thriller about a young journalist, a seasoned cameraman and a discredited war correspondent who embark on an unauthorized mission to find the No. 1 war criminal in Bosnia.
'Modern Times': (1936) Charlie Chaplin's last outing as the Little Tramp puts the iconic character to work as a giddily inept factory employee who becomes smitten with a gorgeous gamine (Paulette Goddard), offering a barrage of unforgettable gags and sly commentary on class struggle during the Great Depression. From The Criterion Collection.
'The Night of the Hunter': (1955) Stars Robert Mitchum as a wayward preacher chasing down two young kids to steal a hidden cache of money. It's an American fable on love and hate, good and evil, damnation and redemption. Directed by Charles Laughton with a script by James Agee and co-starring Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. From The Criterion Collection.
'Vengeance': This Hong Kong gangster outing stars Johnny Hallyday as a French chef who swears revenge after a violent attack on his daughter's family leaves her husband and two children dead; to help find the killers, he hires three local hit-men working for the Chinese mafia.


Check out other new November 16 DVD releases at OnVideo.

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