This year for Valentine’s Day, why not give that special someone a gift as timeless as romance? Flowers are nice, but do they come with a creator’s commentary? Nope. Candy is dandy, but how many times can you replay the same caramel? Sex may put a smile on the face (unless you miss), but how often do you get an extended take? Or a gag reel?
Here’s a rundown of some current and popular gift choices:
The Corpse Bride
Tim Burton’s (co-directed by Mike Johnson) Oscar-nominated, stop-motion macabre romantic comedy features the voice of Johnny Depp as Victor, who gets cold feet as his wedding day approaches. Rehearsing his vows, Victor accidentally resurrects and finds himself married to The Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter), who whisks him away to an underground world filled with the living dead. Beautifully rendered characters and scenes, wrapped up in a twisted sense of fun and mayhem. DVD digs up numerous fascinating featurettes. (Warner Home Entertainment)
Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Nick Park’s lovable creations, Wallace and Gromit, hop to the big screen in this clever, hilarious, Oscar-nominated stop-motion comedy. Wallace, the absent-minded inventor, and Gromit, his long-suffering canine friend, put aside their tea and crackers long enough to help rid their town of a rabbit infestation. When an invention transforms one of the bunnies into a towering hare, Park and co-director Steve Box pile on the puns and sight gags as Wallace and Gromit save the day and the giant vegetable competition. This ode to romance and friendship includes a commentary track, deleted scenes and production featurettes. (DreamWorks Home Entertainment)
Orlando Bloom stars in writer-director Cameron Crowe’s comedy-drama about a son returning home for his father’s funeral. Drew (Bloom) has lots on his mind. His latest athletic shoe design just tanked, his girlfriend just dumped him, and he can’t even kill himself. On the flight home, Drew meets attendant Claire (Kirsten Dunst), who helps keep him distracted through various family crises. Crowe invests a lot into his characters, giving them emotional ballast and meaning. We find ourselves immediately drawn into Drew’s world and the eccentrics who orbit it. DVD offers extended scenes, production featurettes, photo gallery and more. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Just Like Heaven
Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo are delightful in this supernatural romantic-comedy that finds Witherspoon playing Elizabeth, a tireless and dedicated doctor living in San Francisco. Elizabeth throws herself into her work, and then fate throws Elizabeth a curve. Trapped as a spirit between worlds after a car accident, Elizabeth is shocked to learn that David (Ruffalo) has moved into her apartment. As the only one who can see her, David eventually warms up to Elizabeth, agreeing to help her uncover the truth. Attractive leads, funny supporting characters, and a lot of heart. Deleted scenes, production featurettes and bloopers materialize on the DVD. (DreamWorks Home Entertainment)
The Thing About My Folks
Paul Reiser wrote and stars in this heartfelt, funny and occasionally tearful road trip. After more than 40 years of marriage, Muriel Kleinman (Olympia Dukakis) has decided to leave her husband Sam (Peter Falk). Stunned and confused, Sam relies on son Ben (Reiser) for guidance. What starts off as a necessary nuisance evolves into a wonderful bonding experience where father and son get a second chance to reconnect. Excellent father-son story. (New Line Home Entertainment)
A daughter’s undying love for her father is the potent equation in this adaptation of David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Gwyneth Paltrow is excellent as the daughter of a brilliant mathematician (Anthony Hopkins) and fears she may have inherited her father’s crippling mental illness. Hope Davis as Paltrow’s sister and Jake Gyllenhaal as one of the professor’s former students complete the cast. Director commentary with John Madden (Shakespeare in Love), deleted scenes and making-of featurette. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
In Her Shoes
Sisters at odds learn they have two things in common: the same shoe size and a grandmother they didn’t know about. Both play important roles in the lives of pretty but undependable Maggie (Cameron Diaz) and lawyer Rose (Toni Collette), who is always cleaning up after her sister. There’s little love lost between the two, but all that changes when Maggie and Rose uncover family secrets which could drive them further apart. Diaz and Collette are excellent as opposite sides of the same coin, while Shirley MacLaine shines as the wise grandmother. DVD includes production featurettes. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
There’s not much romance in this big-screen version of the popular video game, but boys love their toys, and there are plenty of high-tech toys on display in this shoot-’em-up sci-fi romp starring Karl Urban and The Rock as team members of an elite military unit sent to contain an outbreak in a research facility on Mars. There are plenty of monsters, evil scientists, beautiful women and splatter in the unrated director’s cut. I found myself constantly engaged, watching the heroes square off against the DNA-mutated monsters. DVD goes behind the scenes with numerous featurettes. (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
Left to their own devices by their divorced father, two brothers discover an antique role-playing game which, when activated, transports them (and their sleeping sister) into another galaxy filled with adventure, danger, heroes and a lesson about respecting your siblings. Better than Jumanji, this outer space edition features dazzling effects, fast-paced plotting and engaging characters. Filmmaker commentary, visual effects documentary, casting sessions, makeup and monster effects complete the package. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Writer-director Rodrigo Garcia (Six Feet Under) weaves nine vignettes celebrating womanhood into a detailed, gorgeous quilt. What’s remarkable is how the filmmaker accomplishes this. Garcia tells nine stories, all self-contained and complete, filmed in real time. This device allows the actresses (and occasional actor) to become part of the moment. The events and occasions are familiar, but the director and his winning cast (including Glenn Close, Dakota Fanning, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Holly Hunter, Mary Kay Place, Sissy Spacek and Robin Wright Penn) make them their own. DVD includes Q&A and featurettes. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Three high-profile directors contribute shorts films to this omnibus dealing with various forms of romance. Steven Soderbergh (Traffic), Michelangelo Antonioni (Blowup), and Kar Wai Wong (Chungking Express) lend their signature touches to tales about unrequited love, mysterious dream women and a ménage-a-trois. (Warner Home Entertainment)
John Leguizamo and Elizabeth Peña are charming in this drama about a Mexican man dreaming of becoming a famous musician. Antonio (Leguizamo) decides to head to Los Angeles in search of fame and fortune. While looking for a break, Antonio meets Mirabella ( Peña), a former singer who holds the key to his future. Writer-director Renee Chabria takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary, turning a simple little story of star-crossed lovers into a whimsical slice of life. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
It’s hard to believe this gem is 45 years old. Audrey Hepburn is ageless as Truman Capote’s flighty heroine Holly Golightly, taking Manhattan and aspiring writer George Peppard by storm with her winsome charm, unfettered spirit and dark soul. With its signature moments, memorable score by Henry Mancini, and a radiant star turn that survives the ages, you’ll want to have Breakfast all day long. DVD offers producer commentary, production feature, Hepburn featurette and trailer. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Bill Murray is at his best in this comedy which finds the comedian, as bored television weatherman Phil Connors, trapped covering the annual Groundhog Day festivities. What Connors doesn’t know is that he’s doomed to repeat the same day over and over until he gets it right. Since right is purely subjective, that requires Phil to undergo various methodologies in order to complete the puzzle. Andie MacDowell shines as his love interest, a producer who slowly warms up to his various attempts to win her heart. Audio commentary, documentary, trailer. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Cary Grant Collection
Cary Grant was dashing, debonair, charming, romantic and incredibly funny. Is it any wonder women wanted him, and men wanted to be him? Five-DVD boxed set which includes five of Grant’s best films, including the hilarious Howard Hawks comedy His Girl Friday with Rosalind Russell, George Stevens’ The Talk of The Town, The Awful Truth with Irene Dunne, Only Angels Have Wings, co-starring the delightful Jean Arthur, and Holiday. DVD extras include featurettes, vintage newsreels and a collection of postcards. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Simpsons: Kiss and Tell
Four-episode compilation includes: “The Way We Weren’t,” where Homer and Marge meet as youths; “Three Gays Of The Condo,” examining the relationship that develops between Homer and two gay roommates after Homer is thrown out by Marge; “Large Marge,” the episode when Marge gets breast enlargement instead of liposuction; and “Natural Born Kissers,” which finds the couple spicing up their love life by making out in public. Four classic tales perfectly packaged for the one you love. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Ryan’s Daughter + The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Celebrating its 35th anniversary, director David Lean’s Ryan’s Daughter tells the story of a headstrong Irish wife (Sarah Miles) and the British officer (Christopher Jones) she falls in love with. Robert Mitchum is outstanding as Miles’ schoolteacher husband, while John Mills received an Oscar for his role as the village simpleton.
Director Philip Kaufman brings Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being to the screen in a display of erotic and emotional fireworks. Daniel Day Lewis stars as Tomas, a Prague doctor in the 1960s who satiates his sexual appetite with various women (Lena Olin, Juliette Binoche). As war rages on around them, the lovers explore numerous diversions.
Both 2-DVD sets include extensive production features, commentaries and more. (Warner Home Entertainment)
Martha’s Complete Weddings
Martha Stewart and her team of experts help guide you through every detail of a perfect wedding. Four DVDs cover flowers, wedding cakes, gowns and attire, and distinctive details. Over 800 minutes of valuable advice on invitations, registries, table settings, hair and makeup, plus visits to real-life weddings make this an extensive collection. DVDs also feature printable planning materials and never-before-seen tips and demonstrations. (Warner Home Entertainment)
Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall gets down and dirty in this eye-opening examination that explores both the physical chemistry and emotional complexity of raw sexual desire. Cattrall navigates us through an informative and occasionally funny history of all things sexual, taking us on exotic vacations, exposing us to erotic works of art, and talking with numerous people who make sex an adventure. Even if you think you know it all, be prepared to blush. Behind-the-scenes featurette, music video and biography. (Docurama)
Pride & Prejudice
(Universal Studios Home Entertainment) doesn’t hit shelves until Feb. 28, so pre-order the DVD and place the certificate inside a copy of the Jane Austen novel. I was completely enchanted by this fresh and spirited adaptation which finds Oscar-nominated Keira Knightley as the author’s independent-minded heroine, desperately trying to find true love instead of financial security for her parents and four sisters. Director Joe Wright instills a sense of magic and romance into the dry British sense and sensibility. Director and cast are featured prominently on the DVD bonus features including commentaries, HBO and production featurettes and more.
(Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) isn’t due until Feb. 21, but pre-gift the DVD by slipping a certificate inside the soundtrack from the film. I never saw Rent on stage, but I was blown away by the movie, a celebration of life, love and survival in New York’s gritty East Village. Filled with memorable and, at times, heartbreaking songs and outstanding performances from all involved, Rent deserved much better at the box office, and the 2-DVD widescreen edition gives the film and its author the respect they deserve with additional deleted musical numbers, a feature-length documentary and filmmaker and cast commentary.