Disc Deals and Steals: The Other Guys and Despicable Me Beg to Be Stocking Stuffers

Here at Inside Pulse Movies, we compile all the best deals on new DVD and Blu-ray releases, as well as report on some that are so good they’re criminal. Brick-and-mortar stores include Target, Best Buy, etc. Amazon deals are also in the mix.

Decisions, decisions. Typically I open my column with a short review of what I think is the biggest new release on home video. But this week I’m at a loss. With five new movie titles vying for my affection, I don’t think I can pick just one. And the variety is just insane. A buddy cop comedy; a men-on-a-mission flick featuring a team that always brings its A-game; a Boston crime drama that proves Gone Baby Gone wasn’t a fluke for Ben Affleck and a pair of animated movies featuring brave owls and yellow minions. How can I pick just one with that line-up?

Depending on your preference, I think The A-Team offers the most in terms of replay value. In a summer of disappointing action movies (see Robin Hood, Prince of Persia), this update of the ’80s NBC television series works as well as it does because it doesn’t take everything so seriously. It may be big and dumb, but on a scale of one to ridiculous the action scenes are about what one should expect. I mean the team escapes a cargo plane about to be blown to smithereens by hopping into a tank and using its mortar shells to propel the tank over a body of water to sustain the impact. Foolish? Most definitely. Entertaining as hell? Absolutely.

For the longest time it looked like the film was going to be directed by John Singleton and star Ice Cube as B.A. Bruce Willis was considered for the role of Hannibal, and Woody Harrelson for Murrdock. When Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces) came on board, he assembled a crackerjack team. Bradley Cooper is perfect as Face and Liam Neeson continues to show his bad-ass streak. As Hannibal, he chews on that cigar and smirks. He has the gravitas to pull off Hannibal’s signature line, “I love it when a plan comes together,” and not have it be corny. When I read that the star of District 9, Sharlto Copley, was going to play Murdock, I had my doubts. But in an interview the actor recounted how much he was a fan of TV series back in South Africa. He totally nails the Murdock character, matching his squirrelly persona beat for beat. As much as these three actors were well cast, the role of B.A. is irreplaceable. I’m sorry, but Mr. T will always be B.A., just as Christopher Reeve will always be Superman. But MMA fighter Quenton “Rampage” Jackson is a little rough in terms of acting chops, but he’s definitely got the bad-ass part down. Besides, Mr. T wasn’t that big on acting; he was all about being an aura of intimidation, which he was.

Unlike a lot of TV-to-film adaptations, The A-Team succeeds because it adheres to the spirit and cornball escapades that made the TV show a hit in the first place.

On home video, the Blu-ray includes a number of extras not found on the DVD. They include a P-I-P track with director Joe Carnahan, deleted scenes and a gag reel, and three featurettes ( “Character Chronicles,” “Plan of Attack,” and “Visual Effects Before and After“). These are EPK-style friendly and may only be worth a singular viewing.

One other extra it includes is the ability to watch an extended cut of the film. Both The Other Guys and The Town have extended cuts as well. The A-Team adds 15 minutes to the theatrical cut, while the Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy adds nine minutes and Ben Affleck’s crime drama adds a hefty 28 minutes to its overall time.

The Other Guys was a comedy I enjoyed over the summer. You never know what you’re going to get with Will Ferrell, but whenever he collaborates with writer/producer/director Adam McKay, it’s usually one of the comedians better efforts. Together they’ve made Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Step Brothers. The Other Guys is a buddy comedy with Ferrell playing the straight man to Wahlberg’s I-want-to-go-fight-crime-but-I’m-partnered-with-a-desk-jockey cop. The opening scene alone was worth the price of a matinee ticket. It perfectly captured the ridiculousness of those buddy-cop films of the ’80s. But instead of it being a cop near retirement partnered with someone with a devil may care attitude, the sequence featured two macho detectives (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson) destroying prime real estate in New York City just to capture some dope dealers.

The comedy tries to be timely with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg investigating a shady character (played by Steve Coogan), who tries to cover up some major losses on Wall Street. Solving the case to finish the story is important, but in doing so the comedy falters a bit near the end. But it has a good mix of action and comedy throughout with a nice supporting cast that also includes Eva Mendes and Michael Keaton. (The Dark Knight returns! Where have you been, Keaton?)

On home video, if you buy the single-disc DVD, you get short-changed. The Blu-ray has a King’s Ransom of supplemental material. If you have ever poured through the contents of an Adam McKay release, then you know that the guy loves him some deleted scenes and gag reels. The Other Guys has them aplenty, and the Blu-ray includes numerous comedy bits not found on the DVD. Over 100 minutes of bonus material in all, like a line-o-rama, a “Pimps Don’t Cry” music video, alternate action and eight more featurettes.

Whatever career advice Ben Affleck got after the whole J-Lo episode, that person should be paid handsomely. The one-eighty he’s taken is extraordinary. In the early part of this decade his resume was littered with crap like Surviving Christmas and Pearl Harbor. But in 2006 his fortunes started to change. He got good reviews for his performance as George Reeves in Hollywoodland. A year later he adapted the Dennis Lehane novel Gone Baby Gone. The private detective yarn signaled his debut as a director. Three years after getting rave reviews for his directing he returns with another adaptation, this time Chuck Hogan’s Hammett Prize-winning novel Prince of Thieves. Not to be confused with Robin Hood: PoT, the film was titled The Town. Set in Boston in the neighborhood of Charlestown, The film is a crime thriller that plays up to genre conventions. It’s basically a smaller scale version of Michael Mann’s Heat, but set in Boston. The similarities aren’t uncanny but expected. You have Ben Affleck in the lead role as career criminal Doug MacRay. Able to plan the perfect bank heist, one day a robbery doesn’t go accordingly and a bank manager (Rebbecca Hall) is taken as a hostage. Later, after her release, Affleck begins to develop feelings for the lass, while being pursued by the FBI unit commanded by Don Draper. With pressure coming from a local crime boss (Pete Postlewaite) and heat from the FBI looming, Doug has some serious decisions to make. Should he try to make a go of it with his new girl, or should he remain loyal to his friend (Jeremy Renner) and do one last job?

The Town is a very good flick because of the supporting cast involved – Renner, Hamm and Hall are all good – but it is Affleck who is the strength of the film, able to pull the audience in to his world and make us care about a hoodrat from Charlestown. Even better may be Affleck’s decision to use real citizens as opposed to actors to take up space in the background – at bars, on the street, etc. For a while the film was circling the bottom half of my top 10 year list of the year. But after its release in October, I’ve seen many more films that are just as worthy for top 10 consideration. So not in my top 10. Top 20, maybe.

The Town is not a feature-laden title, but it does have an extra that should be the norm for future extended cut releases from now on. When you select the “Extended Cut Scene Indicator,” a small icon will appear on the screen to denote scenes that didn’t appear in the theatrical release. Other notable features include a commentary track with Ben Affleck flying solo, plus six featurettes that can be viewed as one long 31-minute feature, or while watching concurrently with the theatrical cut.

The last two films I’ll keep brief, because I know you want to see all the DVD and Blu-ray deals of the week. Despicable Me was the biggest surprise of the summer. With more invested in advertising than production, Universal was able to sell the hell out this movie about a supervillain who is upstaged by another. To get revenge he uses a trio of orphans (and an army of minions) to get the upper hand once and for all. Despite an impressive vocal cast (including Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand and Julie Andrews), it is the yellow minions that steal the movie. Like Scrat in the Ice Age movies the minions are the comic relief. (Not that there isn’t anything wrong with that.) Apparently Universal and the creators saw how much the kids enjoyed the minions, because with the release of Despicable Me one of the extras is three new mini-movies under the heading “Minion Madness.” Other special features include featurettes on the making-of Despicable Me, the vocal cast and music, plus interactive games (“Super Silly Fun Land,” “Gru’s Rocket Builder”), and the option to view all the behind-the-scenes footage with “Gru-Control.”

I’ll be honest when I say I wasn’t wowed by Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole like Scott here, but that may because anthropomorphic owls as heroes are a tough sale. The film includes Zack Snyder’s (300, Watchmen) calling card, where he’ll slow down the action on screen to have things move at an infinitesimal speed and then quickly speed things up. Some call this technique “speed ramping.” With 300 Spartans the effect was all about depicting the veracity of combat, but here the movements are more poetic in nature, allowing us to see the ruffle of owl’s feathers as it glides in the wind. Owls is a pretty picture. What it lacks in story it make up for in visuals. Another plus is the actors that Synder has assembled to lend their voices. Among the actors included are Jim Sturgess, Ryan Wanten, David Wenham, Anthony LaPaglia, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving, and Geoffrey Rush.

Released earlier in the fall, the film got a fifty-fifty split by audiences and critics in terms of approval. And now on home video, Warner Bros. doesn’t offer fans and/or newcomers much in terms of extras. A 15-minute featurette, the Looney Tunes short “Fur of Flying” appear on both the DVD and Blu-ray releases. The Blu-ray has a few more features like “Maximum Kid Mode” where the film breaks away to a behind-the-scenes featurette hosted by an animated character – a first, I think. Also, there are two interactive games (“Armor Up with Soren and Eglantine,” “Match the Owl Treats”), four art galleries, a dreadful music video and a short feature that could have been an alternate opening for the film (“Legend of the Guardians: Rise of the Guardians”).

Well there you have it – a quick overview of five new releases worthy of your hard-earned money.

Noteworthy DVD (and Blu-ray) releases this week…

The A-Team – [DVD / BD]
The Town – [DVD / BD]
The Other Guys – [DVD / BD]
Despicable Me – [DVD / BD]
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole – [DVD / BD]
Nanny McPhee Returns – [DVD / BD]
Cyrus – [DVD / BD]
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work – [DVD / BD]Micmacs – [DVD / BD]
Mother and Child – [DVD / BD]
True Grit (1969) – [BD]
Hard Boiled – [BD]
The Black Pirate – [BD]
Exit Through the Gift Shop – [DVD]
America Lost & Found: The BBS Story (Head / Easy Rider / Five Easy Pieces / Drive, He Said / The Last Picture Show / The King of Marvin Gardens / A Safe Place) (Criterion Collection) – [DVD]
24: The Complete Eighth Season – [DVD / BD]
24: The Complete Series – [DVD]
Hawaii 5-O: The Tenth Season – [DVD]
Gunsmoke: The Fourth Season, Volume Two – [DVD]
Baseball’s Greatest Games: 1960 World Series Game – [DVD]
The San Francisco Giants 2010 World Series Collector’s Edition – [DVD]
WWE: Top 50 Superstars of All Time – [DVD]

Retailer Specials

America Lost & Found: The BBS Story (Head / Easy Rider / Five Easy Pieces / Drive, He Said / The Last Picture Show / The King of Marvin Gardens / A Safe Place) (Criterion Collection) – (BD, $69.99)
Ultimate Toy Story Collection – (BD, $59.99)
Shrek: The Whole Story – (BD, $39.99)
Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series – (BD, $34.99)
Glee: The Complete First Season – (BD, $34.99)
The Fast and the Furious Trilogy – (BD, $27.49)
Modern Times (Criterion Collection) – (BD, $19.49)
Pirate Radio – (BD, $15.00)
Gone with the Wind (Scarlett Edition) – (BD, $14.49)
Casablanca – (BD, $14.49)
Knight and Day (Holiday Gift Set – BD+DVD) – ($13.99)
Up in the Air – (BD, $12.49)
Rio Bravo – (BD, $10.49)
Big Fish – (BD, $10.49)
Sherlock Holmes – (BD, $10.49)
Terminator Salvation – (BD, $9.99)
Dumb and Dumber – (BD, $8.99)
Role Models – (BD, $8.99)
Let the Right One In – (BD, $8.99)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – (BD, $6.99)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – (BD, $6.99)

Despicable Me Limited Edition DVD Double Pack with Best Buy Movie Mode that translates every word the Minions are saying in the movie and the 3 new mini-movies

The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole 1-Disc Blu-ray Release – ($19.99)

The Town 1-Disc Blu-ray Release – ($19.99)

Despicable Me
DVD – $14.99
DVD Double Pack (w/Best Buy Movie Mode) – $19.99
BD+DVD+Digital Copy (w/Best Buy Movie Mode) – $21.99
BD 3D+BD+DVD+Digital Copy (w/Best Buy Movie Mode) – $34.99

The Town
BD – $19.99
DVD – $17.99
BD+DVD+Digital Copy – $24.99

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
BD – $19.99
DVD – $17.99
BD+DVD+Digital Copy – $24.99
BD 3D+BD+DVD+Digital Copy – $34.99

The Other Guys
BD – $19.99
DVD – $16.99
BD+DVD – $24.99

The A-Team
BD+Digital Copy – $22.99
DVD – $16.99

New Releases
24: The Complete Eighth Season – (DVD, $39.99 – BD, $44.99)
24: The Complete Series – (DVD, $199.99)
Nanny McPhee Returns – (DVD, $17.99 – BD, $26.99)

Gift Sets
The Sopranos: The Complete Series – (DVD, $199.99)
Lost: The Complete Series – (DVD, $149.99 – BD, $179.99)
The Wire: The Complete Series – (DVD, $119.99)
The Golden Girls: The Complete Series – (DVD, $89.99)
Rome: The Complete Series – (BD, $89.99)
Deadwood: The Complete Series – (DVD, $89.99)
The Tudors: The Complete Series – (DVD, $79.99)
Ultimate Toy Box (Toy Story 1-3) – (BD+DVD, $59.99)
The Ultimate Matrix Trilogy – (BD, $49.99)
Back to the Future Trilogy – (DVD, $24.99 – BD, $39.99)
Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series – (DVD, $24.99 – BD, $39.99)
The Godfather Collection (Restored) – (DVD, $26.99, – BD, $59.99)

Other Deals
Inception – (1-Disc BD, $19.99 – DVD, $17.99 – BD+DVD+Digital Copy, $24.99)
Shrek Forever After – (DVD, $14.99 – 1-Disc BD, $27.99)
Lost: The Final Season – (DVD, $29.99 – BD, $39.99)
Knight and Day – (BD+DVD, $14.99 – BD+DVD+Digital Copy – $16.99)
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Live-Action) – (DVD, $9.99)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol – (DVD, $12.99)
Peter Pan – (DVD, $4.99)
Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat (Live-Action) – (DVD, $4.99)
Harry and the Hendersons – (DVD, $4.99)
The Little Rascals – (DVD, $4.99)
White Christmas – ($19.99)
Peanuts Holiday Collection – (BD+DVD, $29.99)
The Aviator – (BD, $9.99)
Marley & Me – (BD, $9.99)
The Dirty Dozen – (BD, $9.99)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith – (BD, $9.99)
Training Day – (DVD, $3.49)
Risky Business – (DVD, $3.49)
Rush Hour – (DVD, $3.49)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – (DVD, $3.49)

The A-Team 3-in-1 Combo Pack with DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Copy

Despicable Me Combo Pack with Wearable Minion Goggles

Despicable Me
DVD – $15.99
DVD Double Pack – $22.99
BD+DVD+Digital Copy (w/ Goggles) – $24.99
BD+DVD+Digital Copy (w/o Goggles) – $24.99
BD 3D+BD+DVD+Digital Copy (w/Best Buy Movie Mode) – $29.99

The Town
DVD – $17.99
BD+DVD+Digital Copy – $22.99

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
DVD – $17.99
BD+DVD+Digital Copy – $24.99

The Other Guys
BD – $19.99
DVD – $16.99
BD+DVD – $22.99

The A-Team
BD+DVD+Digital Copy – $22.99
DVD – $17.99

TV on DVD and Gift Sets:
24: The Complete Eighth Season – (DVD, $36.99 – BD, $42.99)
24: The Complete Seventh Season – (DVD, $19.99)
24: The Complete Series – (DVD, $179.99)
Friends: The Complete Series – (DVD, $99.99)
Ally McBeal: The Complete Series – (DVD, $99.99)
I Love Lucy: The Complete Series – (DVD, $99.99)
Sex and the City: The Complete Series – (DVD, $99.99)
The Tudors: The Complete Series – (DVD, $79.99)
The Pacific – (DVD, $42.99)
Harry Potter: Years 1-6 – (DVD, $39.99)
Band of Brothers – (DVD, $29.99)
Planet Earth – (DVD, $29.99)
Life – (DVD, $29.99)
Star Wars: Prequel Trilogy – (DVD, $26.99)
John Adams – (DVD, $24.99)
The Godfather Collection (Restored) – (DVD, $24.99)
Spartacus: Blood and Sand – The Complete First Season – (DVD, $24.99)

$14.99 Blu-rays
The Boondock Saints
Fight Club
The Matrix
Sherlock Holmes
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Where the Wild Things Are
Gone with the Wind
The Polar Express

$9.99 Blu-rays
The Dark Knight
The Lost Boys
Interview with a Vampire
Office Space
Crank 2: High Voltage
Transporter 3

Other Deals
*Shrek: The Whole Story – (DVD, $34.99 – BD, $49.99)
**Robin Hood – (DVD, $17.99 – BD, $24.99)
**Predators – (DVD, $17.99 – BD, $24.99)
**Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – (DVD, $17.99 – BD, $24.99)
**The Kids Are All Right – (DVD, $17.99 – BD, $24.99)
**Charlie St. Cloud – (DVD, $17.99 – BD, $24.99)
**Marmaduke – (DVD, $17.99 – BD, $24.99)
The Last Airbender – (BD, $22.99)
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – (BD, $14.99)
Spider-Man 2 – (BD, $14.99)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – (BD, $14.99)
Up – (BD+DVD+Digital Copy, $22.99)
Ramona and Beezus – (BD, $17.99)
The Karate Kid – (BD, $17.99)
The Sound of Music – (BD, $17.99)
A Christmas Story – (DVD, $9.99)
Four Christmases – (DVD, $9.99)
Peanuts Holiday Collection – (DVD, $19.99)
It’s a Wonderful Life – (DVD, $12.99)
Home Alone: The Complete Collection – (DVD, $19.99)
The Original Christmas Classics – (DVD, $17.99)
He’s Just Not Into You – (DVD, $7)
Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat (Live-Action) – (DVD, $7)
Bride Wars – (DVD, $7)
Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! – (DVD, $7)
Alvin and the Chipmunks – (DVD, $7)
Benny & Joon – (DVD, $4.75)
The Blues Brothers – (DVD, $4.75)
The Little Rascals – (DVD, $4.75)
Tom & Jerry Tales – (DVD, $4.75)
Strawberry Shortcake: Big Country Fun – (DVD, $4.75)

*Free $10 Gift Card with purchase of either DVD or BD.

**Free $10 Gift Card when you buy 2 of these titles on either DVD or BD.

New Releases
Despicable Me DVD – $17.99
Despicable Me DVD Double Pack – $24.99
Despicable Me BD+DVD+Digital Copy – $29.99
The Other Guys DVD – $17.99
WWE Top 50 Superstars of All Time – $24.99

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