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Marley and Me: 3-Disc Bad Dog Edition (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

The previews for this one had me preparing for maximum suckage—and it didn't help that the unreliable Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston were starring. The two of them, though talented, have been getting on my nerves. I went to the theater thinking I might just witness something akin to Beethoven 13: Big Stinky-Assed Dog!

Color me stupid, because this movie is not only cute as heck, but also heartwarming and ultimately heartbreaking. Yes, the dog Marley has some moments when he takes center stage, but this is really a movie (and a very good one) about family, marriage and the way a pet is integrated into that system. It has some slapstick, with Marley eating jewelry and drywall, but it has some seriously good scenes of marital discourse and career struggles.

It's sort of The Notebook with a dog involved. Wilson's final speech to his beloved Marley at the veterinarian's office had me bawling both times I've seen it. It's shockingly good, with some of Wilson's best acting since Bottle Rocket. Aniston gets to remind us that she can act as well, and the two make a convincing couple.

Of course, the movie wouldn't have worked so well if they hadn't cast some of the cutest dogs ever to play the world's worst puppy. The canines are true winners, with sterling personalities and great expressions on their faces. This movie is easily one of the best family films of the last 10 years.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Blu-Ray package also comes with a standard DVD and a digital copy. Deleted scenes, commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes and gag reels make this one a worthy watch.

The Tale of Despereaux (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

This well-meaning animated film, based on the Newbury Award-winning book, is a little bit on the slow side. While the animation looks OK in spots, it is also herky-jerky at times. It looks like the animators took some short cuts and sometimes didn't quite finish their jobs.

It's the story of a mouse with big ears named Despereaux (the voice of Matthew Broderick) who refuses to be afraid like other mice. He befriends a sad princess (Emma Watson) and must race to save her from rats who plan to eat her. Blecch!

The film comes off as a mishmash of too many different stories. While it might have some cute and clever ideas, many of them are not fully realized.

There are far worse animated movies out there, but this one failed to hold my interest.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The most interesting special feature is a couple of songs (set to sketches) that were cut from the film. Judging by these tracks, producers made the right choice to keep this music out of the movie.

Tell No One





(OUT OF 10)

This French thriller has enough twists and turns to throw off even the savviest mystery filmgoer. A meek pediatrician (François Cluzet) may or may not have had something to do with the lakeside murder of his wife. Around the eight-year anniversary of her death, he starts getting weird e-mails, and he becomes a suspect in her murder again.

Because I've watched so many mystery movies, I often work—too hard—to guess what's going on. When I guess the ending well before it is revealed, it kills the fun. I tried to guess what was going on here, and I didn't quite get it right. The film is good at throwing you off the trail, and while it's possible to guess part of what's going on, good luck guessing it all.

This is a good-looking movie that has one of the better foot chases I've seen in recent years. A lot of critics put this on their top 10 lists last year, and it's easy to see why.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes and some outtakes. Not a lot of stuff.

Quantum of Solace (Blu-Ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Wow, I've been watching a lot of Bond the last few weeks. This second Bond flick with Daniel Craig in the lead isn't as good as Casino Royale, but it's still good. It picks up where Craig's first effort left off, with Bond hell-bent on revenge for the death of a girl he sort of liked. The movie lacks the coolness of a good "Bond Girl," and it's a little short in the fun department. It's serious, dark Bond, and Craig plays it well. Here's hoping they let him smile a little more in the future.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A bunch of behind-the-scenes featurettes, including one about the epic boat-chase scene, and one about director Marc Forster.

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