Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side — Fox’s scattershot animated comedy series sets Star Wars in its sights once again, mocking The Empire Strikes Back just as Blue Harvest satirized the original Star Wars. As usual with Family Guy, the gags are wildly hit-and-miss, with laugh-out-loud moments followed by head-scratchers. Dark Side is most impressive for its sheer geekiness, with inside jokes that will appeal best to Star Wars nerds — but who isn’t one? The laser-sharp Blu-ray, which includes a digital copy, dominate those on the DVD, but both have most of the same special features, including making-of featurettes and deleted scenes.
United States of Tara: The First Season — Toni Collette plays a disturbed wife and mother who suffers from dissociative identity disorder in a delightfully trashy Showtime comedy produced by Diablo Cody and Steven Spielberg. The storytelling is weak but the dialogue sparkles and Collette flowers as she gets to flex her hammier side, playing what amounts to be several different characters in the same role. The always-entertaining Cody checks in for some commentary, albeit on just one episode.
9 — An overlooked gem in a year overrun with spectacular animation, the post-apocalyptic story involving robotic toys who band together to find their identities and take on a dark menace, tackles similar themes to WALL-E. Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly and Crispin Glover make up the voice cast of this dark drama. Word of warning, though — this is dry, brainy stuff, and isn’t for little kids. The Blu-ray and DVD both have all the remarkable special features, including commentary deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes glance at what went into the character and backgrounds design.
A Perfect Getaway — The moderately exciting and clever Hawaii-set thriller stars Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich as honeymooners backpacking on a remote beach who run into another couple (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez) whom they begin to suspect of nefarious deeds. The movie-ending twist is a bit of a cheat, but the movie is a fun enough of a ride to warrant a rental. The lack of any mentionable extras make the disc seem like a rush-job unworthy of a purchase.
Phil Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel is available on Amazon.