New on DVD


About a Boy (PG-13)

(MCA, $26.98): It's about two boys actually - a 30-something case of arrested development case brilliantly played by Hugh Grant and the lonely 12-year-old (Nicolas Hoult) who befriends the man against his will. Based on Nick Hornby's even funnier book, the film benefits from higher emotional stakes than your average comedy. It's marred by its big finish - a talent-show sequence that even Grant's abundant charm can't save. The making-of documentary is fairly ho-hum, but some of the deleted scenes are amusing. Pleasantly, the filmmakers, brothers Chris and Paul Weitz, use their commentary to single out behind-the-scenes work and bit players. Hearing Hollywood directors apologize to an actress whose one scene was cut for time (and is included in the deleted material) is alone worth the rental. - Yvonne Zipp

The Barbershop (PG-13)

(MGM, $26.98): The locals talk straight about the "whenever and whatever" in the barbershop, the cornerstone of a South Side Chicago neighborhood. In between the snips and shaves, there is dancing, laughing, and discourse, too. The subplot focuses on two thugs who steal an ATM. In the extras, the director said it was hard finding machines to film because no company wanted to give anyone ideas about stealing one. (Not an easy task: an ATM weighs about 400 pounds.) In "The Hair Club," actors reveal their worst haircuts, and real barbers discuss how styles have changed. Lightning bolts are out, natural styles are in. One barber put it succinctly: "Styles come and go, like life." - Lisa Leigh Connors

24 Hour Party People (R)

(MGM, $26.98): To watch this Monty Pythonesque "rockumentary" from England, I had to activate an emergency DVD feature: the English subtitle option. Once you get past the Manchester dialect, however, the witty dialogue is a treat as we follow the haphazard exploits of Tony Wilson, a TV presenter whose record company and nightclub launched bands such as Joy Division and New Order. Wilson is superbly played by comedian Steve Coogan, whose commentary track doesn't disappoint. Better still is the unvarnished audio track by the real Tony Wilson, who takes issue with several items in the film. With deleted scenes and featurettes on the hedonistic Manchester scene between 1976 and the '90s, this DVD is essential for music fans. - Stephen Humphries

Blue Crush (PG-13)

(Universal, $26.98): Anne Marie and her surfer girlfriends wake up at the crack of dawn to catch the best waves. After all, they do live near the mecca of surfing - Oahu's infamous Bonzai Pipeline. The director describes it as "Niagara falls with a razor-sharp reef," and very few girls surf it. This movie is surprisingly smart and thrilling. It's refreshing to see women surfers as the subject of a Hollywood movie. The extra features take viewers inside the waves and show how the cameramen hopped on surfboards and jet skis to film the surfing scenes. Even though the actresses did most of their own board work, filmmakers used "face replacement" (filming a pro surfers and putting the actresses' faces on the surfer). - L.L.C.

The Good Girl (R)

(Fox Searchlight Pictures, $27.98): Justine is in a rut. Fed up with her lazy, pot-smoking husband and a drab job at the Retail Rodeo discount store, she seeks solace through an extramarital affair with a young co-worker. But she soon discovers that her lover, a wannabe writer played brilliantly by Jake Gyllenhaal, is seriously depressed. Jennifer Aniston and John C. Reilly give sensitive performances as Justine and her husband in this small-town drama with tinges of dark humor. The DVD offers standard extras, including a gag reel and commentary by director Miguel Arteta and Aniston. We learn the film was shot in a mere 33 days and that Aniston did her own driving, "almost throwing the cameraman out of the car." - Stephanie Cook Broadhurst

Signs (PG-13)

(Touchstone, $29.99): A family lives in a tranquil "American Gothic" farmhouse surrounded by acres of corn. But when the stalks begin rustling at night, you just know there's something creepy lurking in this field of screams. Director M. Night Shyamalan emulates the ominous tone of Hitchcock's "The Birds" but, alas, a contrived plot twist scuppers the ship. In the DVD extras, there are several 'making of' documentaries that are little more than "Entertainment Tonight" style clips of Mel Gibson and Co. Shyamalan's commentary, however, provides an excellent insight into how the director frames each shot for maximum effect. Also included is a hilarious film that Shyamalan made on home video as a child. It's apparent that, even then, the auteur was mapping out movies in his head. - S.H.

The Bourne Identity (PG-13)

(MCA, $26.98): Matt Damon plays a spy with amnesia trying to discover his purpose and identity in this thriller that's as zippy as the Mini he and his love interest drive through narrow European streets. While the film is filled with hair-raising car chases and shootouts, the Hollywood formulas come at the expense of depth. However, the foreign setting and Damon's sidekick, German actress Franka Potente, give the film a distinct Euro feel. DVD features include a Moby music video, deleted scenes, and an alternative ending that's more passionate than the original. Damon trained in martial arts for the role and did most of his own stunts, including a grueling climb down the face of a 70-foot building. - S.C.B.

All About Eve (Not rated)

(20th Century Fox, $19.98): The most nominated film in Oscar history (14) comes to DVD. Bette Davis plays an aging star who "adopts" a seemingly devoted fan (Anne Baxter) in this brilliant, biting backstage drama. Fox is releasing bare-bones editions of many of its "golden age" films, including "How Green Was My Valley" and "An Affair to Remember." A commentary track about legends like Davis and Marilyn Monroe would have been wonderful, but the crackling dialogue and terrific performances make it a special edition all by itself. - Y.Z.

101 Dalmatians II (Rated G)

(Disney, $29.98): They're cute, cuddly, and now have starred in too many films to keep track of. But as direct-to-DVD sequels go, you could do far worse. More in the spirit of the 1961 original than the farcical live-action films, this tale stars Patch, a puppy who's feeling lost amid his large family. His self-esteem gets a boost after he teams up with his TV hero, Thunderbolt, to vanquish Cruella and her plodding henchmen. Martin Short, Barry Bostwick, and Jason Alexander lend their voices to the enterprise. The extras include "Lost in London," a game I can't see kids playing more than once, and a look inside Thunderbolt's trailer. - Y.Z.

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