Chris Rock lights up 'Top Five,' a smart addition to comedian's act

New on DVD, Blu-ray and/or VOD: 'Top Five,' 'Annie, 'Song of the Sea, 'Maude,' 'Exodus' and more

Top Five

Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD Tuesday

Chris Rock hasn't always had the best luck translating his fiery observational comedy to the big screen, but as the writer-director-star of this indie comedy, Rock has finally made a movie as strong as his stand-up. Rock plays Andre Allen, a popular comedian doing an interview with a reporter (Rosario Dawson) to promote his serious new drama while dealing with the daily gantlet of fans and friends who ask about his wild past and his older, funnier films. "Top Five" has similarities to Woody Allen, Louis C.K., Jerry Seinfeld and the novels of Nick Hornby, but it's mostly a straight shot of Rock, giving him the space to riff on politics and popular culture, hilariously and incisively. The DVD and Blu-ray add a Rock commentary track, deleted scenes and a bonus in-character stand-up routine.


Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $38.99

Available on VOD Tuesday

Last year's movie version of the beloved Broadway musical was fairly divisive, with some critics and moviegoers faulting writer-director Will Gluck for moving the story from the Depression to the modern era and for tweaking the music and the style to make it more appealing to 21st century kids. But Quvenzhané Wallis is so appealing as the eternally optimistic little orphan Annie, and Jamie Foxx is as charismatic as ever as the gruff industrialist who takes care of her. The film as a whole is over-aggressive in trying to delight and dazzle the audience, but its heart is in the right place, and Charles Strouse's songs are still catchy, even in the new hip-hop-inflected arrangements. The new "Annie" should become a staple at elementary school sleepovers, just like the earlier films have been. The DVD/Blu-ray combo-pack includes a Gluck commentary, deleted scenes and a generous set of behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Song of the Sea

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Available on VOD Tuesday

Animator Tomm Moore follows up his surprise Academy Award nominee "The Secret of Kells" with another lavishly illustrated riff on Irish mythology (and another dark horse contender for animated feature at this year's Oscars). Moore sets "Song of the Sea" in the 1980s, in the countryside and towns where he grew up, and follows a kid a lot like himself, obsessed with ancient tales of gods, witches and supernatural creatures. When the boy discovers that his own younger sister may be a magical half-seal/half-human, the two embark on a cross-country adventure to uncover a family secret. The plot's a little over-complicated, but "Song of the Sea" is a marvel of old-fashioned cel animation, with cute-looking characters set against densely patterned landscapes. The DVD and Blu-ray come with multiple Moore commentary tracks and featurettes.

Maude: The Complete Series

Shout! Factory, $159.99

The original hook for the Norman Lear sitcom "Maude" was that it was "All in the Family" with a liberal feminist as its center instead of a right-wing chauvinist. But over the course of 141 episodes between 1972 and 1978, "Maude" transcended politics and became a complex character piece, featuring a brilliantly funny Bea Arthur performance as a woman who is strong-willed, opinionated and frequently in over her head. Shout! Factory's complete series set has a fine collection of extras, including retrospective interviews and unaired episodes.


Exodus: Gods and Kings

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $49.99

Penguins of Madagascar

DreamWorks, $29.98; Blu-ray, $36.99

Ride the Pink Horse

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

The Soft Skin

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Turn: The Complete First Season

Starz/Anchor Bay, $49.98; Blu-ray, $59.99

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