For ‘This Is the End,’ the show never stops

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This Is the End

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $40.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

A generation of comedy stars has been dominating movies for the last decade by playing “themselves,” so it was only a matter of time before they went all-in on the joke. This bold, funny film stars Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill and about a dozen other amusing young folks in a story about a decadent Hollywood party that gets disrupted by the biblical apocalypse. The actors riff on their screen personae while giving fans a glimpse into how petty, selfish and small-minded they can be “in real life.” Whether they’re portraying themselves accurately or not, these celebrities understand how in the Twitter/YouTube age, the game of Let’s Pretend doesn’t end when a director yells “cut.” Case in point: the DVD and Blu-ray, which have all the bloopers, deleted scenes, behind the scenes and alternate scenes that have become essential to 21st century comedy. The show never stops.

The Big Parade

Warner Brots., $14.97; Blu-ray, $27.98

One of the biggest hits of the 1920s, the King Vidor-directed WWI film stars John Gilbert as a carefree playboy who joins the Army and learns about sacrifice, friendship and the fraternity of man. The battle sequences were as realistic and thrilling as any that had been filmed to that point, influencing war movies for decades to come. But what makes the film a classic is its satisfyingly full narrative arc, as it moves from mansions to muck. The new DigiBook Blu-ray edition is an impressive package, adding a documentary about Vidor, a vintage short, a big booklet full of rare art and a scholarly commentary track.

Big Sur

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

It took decades for Jack Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical “On the Road” to become a movie, but now the screen has suddenly gone Kerouac-happy, with the upcoming “Kill Your Darlings” covering the Beat writer’s college years and the current “Big Sur” adapting Kerouac’s 1962 account of his drunken, depressed retreats to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s coastal cabin in the wake of “On the Road’s” success. Jean-Marc Barr plays Kerouac (or “Jack Duluoz,” as he’s pseudonymously known), with Anthony Edwards as Ferlinghetti, Josh Lucas as Neal Cassady and Kate Bosworth as Neal’s mistress, with whom Kerouac has an embarrassing affair. Written and directed by Michael Polish, “Big Sur” is a slow-paced, moody film, meaning to capture the author’s deep melancholy. It’s not much fun to watch, but Kerouac fans should find it rings true.


The Little Mermaid: Diamond Edition

Disney/Buena Vista Blu-ray, $39.99/$44.99/$49.99

One of the greatest comebacks in showbiz history began in 1989, when the sputtering Walt Disney animation department returned to the world of classic fairy tales for the first time in decades, scoring a surprise hit with this heartwarming musical. In the context of the success Disney had over the next decade — and in particular when placed alongside the masterpiece “Beauty and the Beast” — “The Little Mermaid” today seems a little slight, with its curtailed story of a sheltered undersea princess who wishes for legs. But Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s songs are some of the best ever to appear in an animated film, which is why so many of the three hours’ worth of special features on the spiffy-looking new DVD and Blu-ray are dedicated to the music.

And …

The Croods

DreamWorks, $29.98; Blu-ray, $38.99/$48.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

The Wizard of Oz: 75th Anniversary Edition

Warner Bros., $16.95; Blu-ray, $19.98/$35.99