John Patrick Shanley's Tony-winning stage play "Doubt" tells the story of a brittle nun and the likable priest she accuses of child sexual abuse, and on stage at least, "Doubt's" measured, troubling inquiry into faith and cultural values left audiences shattered. The film version -- directed by Shanley -- doesn't have quite the same impact. The words still sparkle and the performances remain strong (especially Philip Seymour Hoffman as the priest and Viola Davis as a coolly pragmatic parent), but Shanley's staging is unnecessarily fussy, and the play's more theatrical elements come off a little corny. Still, the DVD and Blu-ray are smartly adorned, with a warmly personal commentary track by Shanley and an hour of comprehensive behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Disney, $29.99/$32.99; Blu-ray, $39.99
Having apparently decided that his talents are best suited to comedies with a fantastical twist, Adam Sandler goes the full family-film route with "Bedtime Stories," in which he plays a frustrated handyman who discovers that the stories he tells to his niece and nephew every night are coming true the next day. The handyman tries to skew the stories to his personal advantage, but problems ensue, necessitating much over-the-top CGI effects and clumsy slapstick. And where there's slapstick, there are bound to be outtakes, which feature prominently on the DVD and Blu-ray (along with a handful of deleted scenes and making-of featurettes). Both are available today.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
20th Century Fox, $29.99/$34.98; Blu-ray, $39.99
The 1951 version was heralded for its realism, not so much because of its story -- about an alien scold who arrives on this planet and warns humanity to abandon its warlike ways -- but because of the cast's naturalistic reactions to the fantastic. The 2008 remake ramps up the special effects, adds more action sequences and changes the message of the alien (played by Keanu Reeves) from anti-war to anti-pollution, but the primary emphasis is still on making the situation believable. It's no patch on the original, but it's not bad -- a little over-earnest, but in the right spirit. The double-disc DVD and Blu-ray extend the earnestness with a full set of "why this movie matters" featurettes and a tech-heavy commentary by screenwriter David Scarpa.
The Tale of Despereaux
Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.98
Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Medal-winning children's novel is a complexly structured, multi-part story of a runty mouse who is inspired by fairy tales to become a chivalrous hero in a world of rats. The computer-animated feature film version streamlines the narrative but retains DiCamillo's dark shading and adds a fine voice cast that includes Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline. The DVD and Blu-ray come packed with kid-friendly bonus features.
Warner, $28.98/$34.99; Blu-ray, $35.99
Jim Carrey returns to broad comedy, playing an incurable cynic who makes a last-ditch effort to improve his outlook on life by agreeing to say "yes" to every proposition put in front of him. Suddenly he's playing guitar, learning Korean, bungee jumping and falling in love with a quirky waif played by Zooey Deschanel. Director Peyton Reed does his best to keep this outlandish premise grounded, but Carrey's mugging and Deschanel's mumbling prove to be impassable obstacles. The double-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions are also Carrey-heavy, focusing on his stunts and on-set antics.
All releases available Tuesday unless otherwise noted.
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