CATEGORIES DVDs
This week's releases are all about the choices we make in life -- and whether or not we can shake our fists at fate. Leading the pack is 'The Fighter,' an old-fashioned boxing film about a young fighter who has to make crucial choices to spark his career in the ring. In 'The Switch,' a young woman chooses to go it alone and have a child (artificially inseminated) on her own, only to discover that her choices are influenced by her human connections. And, in 'Hereafter,' three people are brought together by the choices they make -- and the paths laid out for them by fate (or the supernatural). Read on.

'The Fighter'
What It's About: Inspired by the life story of boxer "Irish" Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his trainer brother, ex-fighter Dick Eklund (Christian Bale), chronicling the brothers' early days on the rough streets of Lowell, Mass., through Eklund's battle with drugs and Ward's eventual world championship in London. The real story is Mickey's fight to take control of his life -- and career -- from his domineering manager-mother (Melissa Leo, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) and figure out the best way to deal with his spaced out brother.

It's Kinda Like: 'Rocky' meets 'Raging Bull'

What We Say: This stirring -- and we mean stirring -- underdog fighting saga has everything going for it -- terrific direction, story line, acting and camera work. But as much as we love Wahlberg, Bale (who won an Oscar for his role) steals the show with his eccentric turn as whacked-out brother Dick. And please, oh lord, don't let us ever have a dysfunctional family like this, with harsh yet loving mater Leo and seven of the nastiest sisters one would never wish on the worst reprobate. Amy Adams turns in a real change-of-pace role as Mickey's foul-mouthed barmaid girlfriend who urges him to be his own man. Did we say this was stirring?

• Extras: In-depth commentary by director David O. Russell, a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes.

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'The Switch'
What It's About: Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) is a smart, fun-loving, 40-year-old single woman who, despite her neurotic best-friend Wally's (Jason Bateman) objections, decides it's time to have a baby -- even if it means doing it herself ... with a little help from a charming sperm donor (Patrick Wilson) and a turkey baster. Wally, however, gets drunk at a party celebrating the soon-to-be artificial insemination, and surreptitiously replaces the donor's semen with his own -- without remembering a thing. When Wally and Kassie reunite years later, he gets acquainted with her cute -- though slightly neurotic -- son, and is then forced to live with the secret that he is the boy's real father.

It's Kinda Like: 'Nine Months' meets 'When Harry Met Sally ... '

What We Say: A slight twist on the typical rom-com setup of boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-and-girl-get-together-at-the-end; here we have best friends coming together and finding what really matters in life. It's oh-so predictable -- and unrealistic at times, especially the infamous "switch" scene and the day after -- but has enough cuteness to overcome its shortcomings. Aniston walks through her part -- she's done this too, too many times -- giving the always likeable Batemen center stage. But it's the supporting actors who really steal the show -- second-fiddles Juliette Lewis and Jeff Goldblum and the angst-ridden six-year-old Thomas Robinson. A trifle.

• Extras: A drab behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes and alternate scenes.
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'Hereafter'

What It's About: Director Clint Eastwood takes a change of pace with this fantasy-drama (or is it?) on death and the hereafter. The film connects three people who are haunted by mortality in different ways. Matt Damon stars as George, a blue-collar American who has a psychic gift to communicate with the dead. Marie (Cecile de France), a French journalist, has a near-death experience that shakes her reality and causes her to investigate the supernatural. And Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren), a London schoolboy, loses his twin brother in a truck accident and desperately wants to reconnect with him. Each are on a path in search of the truth, and their lives intersect in a way that alters each's life path.

It's Kinda Like: 'The Sixth Sense' meets 'The Bridges of Madison County'

What We Say: 'Hereafter' is not one of Eatwood's stronger films, but even his weakest ones are eminently watchable. Eastwood has always imbued his stories and characters with a humanism that harks back to a simpler time in American film history (think Cukor, Capra, Sturges) and 'Hereafter' is no exception. His characters just drip angst and pain; they're so fraught with human frailties that it's almost painful to watch. Despite a plodding story (aside from the bravura opening), we're still glued to the screen to find out what's going to happen to Eastwood's characters. We care for them -- what more can we ask?

• Extras: Several interesting featurettes on the supernatural, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a documentary on Eastwood.

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Top 5 Blu-ray Picks of the Week: 'The Fighter,' 'BMX Bandits'

Other New March 15 DVD Releases:

'Hemingway's Garden of Eden': Romantic drama starring Mena Suvari and Jack Huston in an adaptation of Hemingway's last novel.
'How I Won the War' (1967): Richard Lester's anti-war statement (co-starring John Lennon) arrives this week on the anniversary of John and Yoko Ono's highly publicized "Bed-In" protesting the Vietnam War, and John and Yoko's actual wedding.
'No One Knows About Persian Cats': An indictment of artistic repression in Iran's exciting underground music scene as a pair of musicians want to perform one last gig before leaving for the West.
'Sugar Boxx': A Southern-fried women-behind-bars actioner.
'Spooner': Quirky romantic comedy about a 30-year-old used car salesman who faces eviction from his parent's house and meets the girl of his dreams, all on the same day.



Check out other new March 15 DVD releases at OnVideo.

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