Life as We Know It – Romantic comedy machine Katherine Heigl juggles relationships with Josh Duhamel and Josh Lucas in this head-scratchingly bizarre tale. Duhamel and Heigl play mismatched roommates forced to raise the baby of their married mutual friends, who die early on in the film. The stilted premise and excruciatingly predictable plot curtail any chance for Heigl and Duhamel to generate any real chemistry, and Lucas is out of place as a stiff third wheel who tries to sweep Heigl off her feet. Extras include a look at Heigl and Duhamel’s preparation for their roles, deleted scenes and a “parenting survival guide” with goofy child-rearing tips.
Beauty and the Briefcase – Even by the standards of both films starring Hilary Duff and romantic comedies that are made for ABC Family, Beauty and the Briefcase is tremendously disappointing. Duff plays an aspiring magazine writer who pretends to be a businesswoman in order to pick up guys. The premise and dialogue sets back the women’s movement half a century, the writing produces a continuous stream of groaners, and product placement for a certain magazine is ludicrously overabundant. The disc is light on extras.
My Soul to Take – Horror maven Wes Craven proves he still has some scares in his 71-year-old bones, going with a cast of young unknowns in a tale of a small town cowering in fear of a serial killer called the Ripper. The high school-set plot recalls Craven’s horror mockery Scream, albeit with a more straight-up approach. My Soul to Take isn’t one of his better films, but took enough unpredictable turns to keep me hooked. Two alternate endings, deleted and extended scenes and a commentary track from Craven and a few of his actors round out a solid slate of bonus features.
The Romantics – In the spirit of The Big Chill, several college pals get back together several years after graduation for a wedding. Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, Josh Duhamel, Elijah Wood, Adam Brody, Malin Akerman, Glee’s Dianna Agron and Candice Bergen bolster a stunning cast for a film that barely made a blip on the box office radar, but packs plenty of laughs and thought-provoking drama. The movie is an enjoyable find for anyone willing to give it a look. Released only on DVD, extras include cast and filmmaker interviews and a making-of doc.
Tamara Drewe – Known for such serious fare as The Queen and Dangerous Liaisons, British director Stephen Frears tells a lighthearted tale of a sultry woman (Gemma Arterton) who returns to her childhood home, turns heads and causes general mayhem for all she meets. Arterton owns her role with aplomb but I found myself drifting away toward the middle due to the dry, dull plotting. Arterton joins costar Luke Evans on a commentary track, and a couple making-of documentaries fill out the package.
You Again – Kristen Bell plays a high-powered PR exec who is horrified to learn her brother is marrying her old high school enemy (Odette Yustman). The impending nuptials also reunite Bell’s mother (Jamie Lee Curtis) with her estranged BFF (Sigourney Weaver). The parallel rivalries lead to a ludicrous comedy of errors, presided over by Betty White, who checks in as Bell’s slightly wacky grandma. The misfired film continues Bell’s near perfect record of starring in awful movies. Deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes lead a decent lineup of extras.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Keir Gilchrist plays an overstressed teen who seeks refuge in a mental hospital to get away from it all, throwing his life into chaos as he tries to find himself. He befriends an older guy (the ubiquitous Zach Galifianakis) and falls in love with a girl played by Emma Roberts. The dark comedy packs its share of chuckles, as well as more than enough wince-inducing moments. Deleted scenes and a slide show of the film’s New York premiere lead a disappointing slate of extras.