MOVIES

AIDS drama 'Normal Heart' recalls days of 'gay plague'

'The Normal Heart,' 'Blended,' 'All That Jazz,' 'Welcome Back, Kotter' top this week's releases

The Normal Heart

HBO, $19.97; Blu-ray, $24.99

This year's Primetime Emmy ceremony — airing Monday — figures to prominently feature the star-studded HBO movie "The Normal Heart," which is up for nearly every major award in the miniseries/movie categories. Adapting Larry Kramer's Tony-winning play about the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York, director Ryan Murphy (creator of "Glee" and "American Horror Story") cast Mark Ruffalo as a writer who creates friction within his own community when he starts pushing for answers from the medical and political establishment abut the so-called gay plague. Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Julia Roberts co-star in a movie that's about how AIDS politicized gay men and led to people living more openly. The DVD and Blu-ray come with a featurette that puts the film and the play in historical context.

Blended

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD Tuesday

Adam Sandler has done some of his best work when paired with Drew Barrymore in the likable romantic comedies "The Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates." But Sandler's winning streak with Barrymore ends with "Blended." The stars play single parents who suffer through a bad blind date but then have a chance to reconnect when their families end up on the same African vacation. The Sandler-Barrymore chemistry is strong, but the comedy here is too driven by slapstick and gender stereotypes as his character struggles with raising daughters and hers worries about raising sons. The "Blended" DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes and featurettes.

All That Jazz

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Legendary choreographer Bob Fosse didn't direct many films, but the few that he made were distinctive. "All That Jazz" (1979) is the quintessential Fosse picture: a free-flowing, semi-autobiographical musical drama about a choreographer-director (played by Roy Scheider) who's stretched himself too thin by simultaneously working on Broadway and making a movie, all while juggling multiple women and filling his body with intoxicants. Criterion's DVD and Blu-ray editions come loaded with extras, including commentary tracks, vintage Fosse interviews and featurettes that look at Fosse's entire career, helping to explain all the thinly veiled self-references in the film.

Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Series

Shout! Factory, $129.99

Made back in wild days of the late 1970s, when New York was crumbling and Brooklyn had a reputation as one of the most dangerous areas of the country, the sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter" was a phenomenon for a couple of years, making a star out of stand-up comic Gabe Kaplan, who played a teacher returning to his crummy old neighborhood to be a high school teacher, and John Travolta, who played one of the underachieving students known as "sweathogs." Shout! Factory's complete series set contains all 95 episodes of the show's four seasons plus a pair of featurettes, and while the catchphrase-heavy humor hasn't worn that well, the performances and warmth still make "Welcome Back, Kotter" appealing, as does its depiction of a bygone NYC.

And …

Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas

Music Box, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95

The Dance of Reality

ABKCO, $19.98; Blu-ray, $21.98

Jackpot

Music Box/Doppelgänger, $24.95; Blu-ray, $29.95

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

20th Century Fox, $22.98; Blu-ray, $29.99

The Musketeers: Season One

BBC, $39.98; Blu-ray, $49.96

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season

Starz/Anchor Bay, $69.98; Blu-ray, $79.99

Young & Beautiful

MPI/IFC, $24.98

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