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DVD reviews: Make 'Smart' choices this week on DVD
Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell star in the action-comedy "Get Smart," now on home video.

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Get Smart"

Steve Carell steps into Maxwell Smart's shoe-phone and Anne Hathaway takes over as Agent 99 in the hit update of the 1960s TV spy comedy. Inheriting the roles created by Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, Carell and Hathaway do an origins story for the duo as Max, a desk-jockey analyst for the spy outfit CONTROL, gets his shot at field operations and is paired with skeptical 99, a star agent who doubts her new partner's abilities. Single-disc DVD and two-disc DVD versions and the Blu-ray release have alternate scenes. Other extras on the two-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions include a handful of behind-the-scenes segments and a digital copy of the movie.

"A Christmas Story"

The studio puts new wrapping on one of Hollywood's best holiday flicks, an adaptation of Jean Shepherd's hilarious tale of a 1940s family Christmas featuring a lovably blustery dad (Darren McGavin), a doting mom (Melinda Dillon) and a boy (Peter Billingsley) who is desperate to find a Red Ryder air rifle waiting for him under the tree on the big morning. Marking its 25th anniversary, the movie is repackaged in a collector's edition tin case that comes with Christmas cookie cutters shaped after key objects in the film, along with a chef's apron and a book of recipes inspired by the flick. The Blu-ray collector's edition comes with a string of Christmas lights in the shape of the gaudy leg lamp McGavin's character wins as a prize. The film also comes in a separate release with just the Blu-ray disc.

"Planet of the Apes"

Chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans become lords of the primates again as the franchise marks its 40th anniversary with a Blu-ray boxed set packing all five movies released from 1968-73. The five-disc set is led by the original tale, "Planet of the Apes," starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut stranded on a strange world where humans are mute animals ruled by talking simians. The set also packs "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," "Escape From the Planet of the Apes," "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" and "Battle for the Planet of the Apes." Many of the extras were previously available on DVD releases, but the Blu-ray set packs new segments featuring scientists discussing the possibilities of apes turning the tables on humanity and tracing how the story evolved from Pierre Boulle's novel to the screen.

"The Gregory Peck Film Collection"

Six Peck classics are gathered in a boxed set, led by previously available DVD releases of "To Kill a Mockingbird," with Peck as a compassionate widower raising two children while defending a black man accused of raping a white woman, and "Cape Fear," in which he's a lawyer terrorized by a psychotic criminal (Robert Mitchum). Making their DVD debuts in the seven-disc package are the Middle Eastern mystery "Arabesque," the thriller "Mirage," the wartime tale "Captain Newman, M.D." and the seafaring saga "The World in His Arms."

TV on DVD

• "Shrek the Halls" - The not-too-jolly green ogre muddles through his first family Christmas with this special that first aired last year, featuring "Shrek" voice stars Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas. The DVD includes holiday singalongs with cartoon creatures from "Madagascar" and its upcoming sequel.

• "Futurama: Bender's Game" - The animated idiots of the 31st century return in the third feature-length tale that follows their weekly series. This time, the delivery crew of the future face an energy crisis and steer their spaceship to the heart of the galaxy's prime fuel source. Series creator Matt Groening and some of the voice cast offer commentary.

• "Spin City: The Complete First Season" - "Family Ties" star Michael J. Fox returned to TV comedy with this series that debuted in 1996, playing top aide to a New York City mayor who's a political handful. A four-disc set packs the first 24 episodes, plus interviews with Fox and his collaborators and commentary.

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