DVD reviews

NEW RELEASES
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (G)

(Paramount, $19.99): Even Arbor Day would be fraught with existential angst for poor Charlie Brown. He doesn't stand a chance against the greeting-card industry's biggest cash cow. But the entire Peanuts gang is seeing red - as Linus pines after an older woman (his teacher), Sally longs for Linus, and Lucy tries to terrorize Schroeder into being hers. The moment that most perfectly celebrates the scariest of holidays: Linus hurling chocolates off a bridge, screaming, "This is for Elizabeth Barrett Browning!" Also included are two so-so bonus cartoons. - Yvonne Zipp

Brown Sugar (PG-13)

(Twentieth Century Fox, $27.98): She's an editor at a music magazine. He's a record-company executive. Dre and Sidney have been friends since childhood. They share a love of hip-hop and know all about each other's lives, but they have never been romantically involved. Dre ends up getting married and Sidney gets engaged, but did they make a mistake? It gets tiresome when Sidney uses hip-hop as an endless metaphor for her love for Dre. The film has funny moments, but it never crystallizes. DVD extras include the typical director commentary and deleted scenes. - Lisa Leigh Connors

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (PG)

(IFC Films, $27.95): By now everyone knows the story of Toula (Nia Vardalos), a frumpy Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek man - much to the horror of her parents, who proudly display ancient Greek statues on their lawn and rattle off the Greek origin of words like kimono. Even the second time around, this romantic comedy will make you grin - and who can't relate to a character who's been embarrassed by her family? But DVD features are weak. The best aspect is commentary from Vardalos in which she reveals that she was once a vegetarian - until her Greek family "finally got to her." - Stephanie Cook Broadhurst

Sweet Home Alabama (PG-13)

(Buena Vista Pictures, $29.99): Despite mediocre reviews, I liked this Southern comedy about an up-and-coming fashion designer in New York, who makes a mad dash to Alabama to finalize her divorce. If only the DVD extras were as lively and charismatic as Reese Witherspoon. Some of the most interesting nuggets: The beginning of the movie was shot on the last day of filming. There was an alternative ending where Reese pretended to die from being struck by lightning (not funny), and the big scene at Tiffany's featured the jewelry store's real employees. - L.L.C

Thelma & Louise - Special Edition (R)

(MGM, $24.98): Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, and Brad Pitt return for a special edition of one of the best road trips ever. The DVD features a three-part documentary on the making of "Thelma & Louise," with new interviews from Sarandon, Davis, Pitt, Scott, and writer Callie Khouri. There's also commentary by director Ridley Scott and, for those who were disturbed by the original ending, there's an alternative one. - L.L.C.

ROMANTIC CLASSICS

Pity the poor romantic. Science-fiction fanatics, action buffs, comic geeks - in short fanboys of every stripe - can wear out their thumbs clicking through hour after hour of DVD bonus footage (to say nothing of easter eggs, interactive games, and other features that never seem to pop up on the movies I rent.) Hollywood seems to think that if a director didn't blow something up while making his movie, he just must not have anything to say. Pick up a copy of "Persuasion" or "A Room With a View" and you've got nothing to show for your trouble (well, besides a really great film). But for those who want lots of cool clickables to go along with their hearts and flowers, here's a Valentine's bouquet of romantic DVDs:

Bridget Jones's Diary (R)

(Miramax, $19.99): What Reiner did for New York couples in the 1980s, British author Helen Fielding did for London singletons in the 1990s. The film doesn't match the book's giddy heights, but it's still awfully funny. Director Sharon Maguire does the honors on the commentary track (this might be a good time to mention that all bonus material is unrated, since her language can get pretty salty.) Fielding appears briefly in the "making of" documentary, along with Renée Zellweger and Hugh Grant, and a few of her original newspaper columns are included as they appeared in the newspaper The Independent. As for the deleted scenes, some are as funny as the material that made it into the final film. - Y.Z.

Casablanca (Unrated)

(Warner Bros., $19.98): The bar gets a lot lower when it comes to judging the extras on classic films, since, for obvious reasons, most of the stars and directors are unavailable for comment. But a list of romances wouldn't be complete without Bogart and Bergman. Lauren Bacall hosts the documentary, which features some recently unearthed shots of the filming and interviews with people who remember working on it - Y.Z.

Groundhog Day (PG)

(Columbia, $24.95): Yes, one of the best romantic comedies of the 1990s features Bill Murray and a large rodent. Director Harold Ramis provides an entertaining hour and 41 minutes of conversation, and the documentary isn't bad. - Y.Z.

Keeping the Faith (PG-13)

(Touchstone, $19.99): There's a priest, a rabbi, and a girl. No, there's no punch line; that's the unlikely romantic triangle in this likable romance. In addition to the commentary track with Ed Norton and his producer, there are deleted scenes and a gag reel of bloopers - some of which are pretty funny. - Y.Z.

The Princess Bride (PG)

(MGM, $19.98): "Death cannot stop true love; all it can do is delay it a while." You can't get any more romantic than this lush, funny fairy tale. It also has some memorable, Errol Flynn-style sword fighting, which might explain the bounty of bonus features: two commentaries, one by director Rob Reiner and one by veteran screenwriter William Goldman, a home movie shot by star Cary Elwes during filming, and a new "making-of" documentary that actually includes most of the cast. - Y.Z.

Sense and Sensibility (PG)

(Columbia, $27.95): For those who long for the mid-'90s, when every book Jane Austen wrote got the full red-carpet treatment, here's a chance to relive the glory days. Two full-length commentaries - an exceptionally witty one featuring star Emma Thompson, who won an Oscar for the screenplay, and one with director Ang Lee - are the high point of bonus features that include deleted scenes, Thompson's Golden Globe speech, and the opportunity to listen to Austen in Thai and Korean. - Y.Z.

When Harry Met Sally (R)

(MGM, $14.95): Modern urban relationships have never received such a thorough or funny dissection as Reiner's bittersweet valentine. Among the nuggets to be gleaned from the director's commentary: Sally's, um, unique way of ordering from a menu is a direct lift from writer Nora Ephron's restaurant-going ways, and the extra who utters what is probably the most quoted line in the movie - "I'll have what she's having" - is Reiner's mom. There are more great "how we met" couples included in the deleted scenes, but Meg Ryan is absent from the otherwise terrific "making of" documentary. - Y.Z.

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