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Your Highness (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

One of the year's biggest disappointments, this medieval stoner comedy from the director of Pineapple Express represents a huge leap backward for filmmaker David Gordon Green. It also suggests that Danny McBride is better off in supporting roles; James Franco can be really boring; and Natalie Portman should stay far away from comedic roles.

Only Justin Theroux scores big laughs, as an ugly wizard trying to do lascivious things to the Franco character's girlfriend (Zooey Deschanel, who goes to waste here). His spot-on performance stands out, because everybody around him is lost.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A good commentary with Green, McBride, Franco and Theroux. There are also deleted scenes, a gag reel, extended scenes and something called Line-O-Rama, which features alternate versions of the movie's lines. You get two versions of the film: theatrical and unrated.

Boyz n the Hood (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Holy Jesus, this movie is 20 years old.

Director John Singleton's groundbreaking film hasn't lost any of its power over two decades. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube deliver terrific performances as young men growing up among gang warfare. Laurence Fishburne gave one of his best performances as Gooding's father, a man who has managed to raise a good kid in the midst of madness.

Gooding, Ice Cube and Singleton have never topped their work in this film (although Gooding came close with Jerry Maguire). The movie is a bona fide classic.

A lot of films tried to copy and capture the glory of Hood, but most didn't come close. It's not a documentary, but it hit hard like a documentary, and brought awareness to the serious plight of black youths growing up in crime-drenched neighborhoods.

The film got directing and writing Oscar nominations for Singleton, but was ignored in the Best Picture and acting categories.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There is some great stuff on this Blu-ray, including a Singleton commentary, deleted scenes and audition videos. There's also a Blu-ray exclusive documentary called The Enduring Significance of Boyz n the Hood. Singleton, Gooding, Fishburne, Ice Cube and others participate in the 30-minute retrospective.

The Big Lebowski (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

In my world, it's huge news when the Coen brothers' movies make it to Blu-ray. Bowling alleys will never look better on your high-definition TV, and John Turturro's purple bowling outfit has never been so lushly beautiful.

This is, of course, one of the great cult films of all time, thanks to the iconic work of Jeff Bridges as The Dude. His work puts that of Cheech and Chong, and Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, to shame. His is the king of all stoner performances.

The kidnapping plot is fun, and John Goodman is great as The Dude's moody bowling buddy. Steve Buscemi excels as the meek member of the bowling team, while Peter Stormare and Flea get laughs as the nihilists. The best portions of the film are the dream sequences, especially when The Dude imagines himself in a bowling porno.

This is classic Coens.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There are lots of holdovers from previous DVD editions, including an interview with the Coens, a look at the bowling dream sequence, a short about the fan festival Lebowski Fest, and a look at the photos Bridges shot on set. It comes in a nice booklet and contains some fun trivia questions.

Paul (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Director Greg Mottola delivered a fine piece of geek entertainment with this love letter to the likes of Steven Spielberg.

J.J. Abrams tried to pay homage to Spielberg with Super 8, a film that failed on multiple levels and took itself a little too seriously. In contrast, Paul is a lighthearted, goofy affair, with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two British geeks touring UFO sites in America. They run into an actual alien (voiced by Seth Rogen), and the movie becomes a chase film as they keep the extraterrestrial away from evil government types so that he may go home.

With this film and Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig is having herself a banner year. She is warm and funny as a woman managing an RV park with her crazy dad; she winds up running with the boys.

Lots of credit goes to Rogen, who makes the CGI alien Paul a very believable and likable character. Rogen is an invaluable voice actor.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get a good commentary with Pegg, Frost and director Greg Mottola. There is also a blooper reel and making-of videos. You get the theatrical version of the film and, of course, the slightly longer "unrated" cut. There are lots of unrated cuts coming out these days.

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