Minding the kids

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Warwick Davis stars as Willow Ufgood, the unlikely hero of the epic adventure “Willow,” now available in time for the film’s 25th anniversary.
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Generation gaps evident in ‘Parental Guidance’; ‘Willow’ turns 25

This week, we begin with a little guidance:

Parental Guidance  Bette Midler and Billy Crystal ham it up like the two hams they are in this broad — very broad — comedy directed by Andy Fickman and written by Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse.

Diane and Artie Decker (Midler and Crystal) have a daughter, Alice (Marisa Tomei), who heads out of town with her husband, Phil (Tom Everett Scott) — leaving their three unruly children with their grandparents. Old school meets the new ways in the comedic clash of cultures and generations.

Rated PG-13, 105 minutes. The DVD, available in all formats and platforms, offers commentary by Fickman and Crystal, 13 minutes of deleted scenes, a 13-minute gag reel, and a five-minute “In Character” segment with Midler, Crystal and Tomei.

Willow: 25th Anniversary Edition  Ron Howard directed this fairy tale treat from George Lucas’ story and Bob Dolman’s script about an abandoned baby girl ordained to stop mean Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh).

Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) finds the child and joins forces with self-proclaimed great swordsman Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) to protect the child. Dennis Murren provided the special effects, in one of the first uses of computer-generated imaging, while Howard creates a warm family tale filled with monsters, lavish landscapes and ample humor.

Rated PG, 126 minutes. The new Blu-ray edition holds both new and previously released supplements, including 13 minutes of deleted scenes and Davis’ 11-minute video diary. Plus: a 24-minute “making of” featurette, 17 minutes with Murren explaining his use of CGI, matte paintings, an Easter egg and more.

Day of the Falcon   The shadow of Lawrence of Arabia haunts this desert thriller starring Englishman Mark Strong and Spaniard Antonio Banderas as two Arabian chieftains who battle over their progeny as well as a strip of land loaded with oil.

In the early 20th century, Emir Nesib (Banderas) wants to modernize with oil profits, while Sultan Amar (Strong) sees oil as the tool of Western devils. Meanwhile, a son (Tahar Rahim) marries the other's daughter (Freida Pinto) in an effort at reunification.

Along the way, director Jean-Jacques Arnaud delivers some gorgeous desertscapes and a decent menu of action.

Rated R, 130 minutes. The DVD, in all formats, includes a 40-minute “making of” featurette, and brief segments on the special effects and on a storyboard-to-screen piece.

The Hudsucker Proxy   The Warner Archive Collection releases this stylish 1994 satire from the Coen brothers — directed by Joel Coen and written by Ethan and Joel Coen and Sam Raimi.

Tim Robbins plays Norville Barnes, a naive, small-town fellow plucked from the mailroom to head Hudsucker Industries as part of a scheme by board chief Sidney Mussburger (Paul Newman) to devalue the stock and take over the company.

Jennifer Jason Leigh fast-talks her way through her role as a hard-edged reporter out to break the story, whatever it is, in this Capra-esque fantasy.

It all looks stunningly beautiful thanks to Dennis Gassner’s art deco sets and Roger Deakins’ always-imaginative photography. Rapidly paced, filled with whimsy, and with an eclectic supporting cast including Steve Buscemi, Bruce Campbell, Charles Durning and Anna Nicole Smith.

Rated PG, 111 minutes. Manufactured on demand and available on Blu-ray.

The Big Picture  Although derivative in many of its plot points, this French thriller delivers a few chills in its story of Paul (Romain Duris), who accidentally kills a photographer having an affair with his wife (Marina Fois).

Afterwards, Paul — like Tom Ripley (Matt Damon in The Talented Mr. Ripley and Alain Delon in Purple Noon) dumps the body in the water and then takes the photographer’s identity. Paul travels to Hungary as his new self, but encounters unexpected difficulties in assuming another persona. Not rated, 115 minutes.

Shadow People  This horror-drama — allegedly based on true events — sports documentary elements to complement the story about several people who die under the same mysterious circumstances.

Director Matthew Arnold intercuts interviews with some of the real-life people connected. Dallas Roberts plays a radio talk-show host who becomes involved in the phenomenon known as Sudden Nocturnal Death Syndrome, in which people die in their sleep. Of course, this outbreak can only be traced to something squeezed for sinister, and horrific, effect. Allison Eastwood plays a CDC investigator.

Rated PG-13, 89 minutes. The DVD holds a 13-minute “More to the Story” featurette.

The Frankenstein Theory  In this hybrid faux-documentary/horror (think The Blair Witch Project), a documentary crew is hired by John Venkenheim (Kris Lemche), a discredited academic who believes that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein story was based on fact and wants to prove it.

He hires a guide to go along with him and his skeptical crew, dragging them to a frosty Northern Canada, where the quickly dwindling group meets a series of surprises and disasters. Not rated, 87 minutes.

Tom Green Live The irreverent comic performs his first stand-up in this filmed concert. Green shows he can be just as outrageous onstage as he is on his Internet talk show or in his video high jinks.

Not rated, 54 minutes. The DVD also includes the featurette “The History of The Tom Green Show.”

And, finally, for kids this week:

The Springtime Collection Featuring Max’s Chocolate Chicken Scholastic Schoolbook Treasures releases this three-disc collection of 13 animated stories. Easter-themed stories appear along with Rosemary Wells’ title story of Max.

Other additions include Chicken Little and other animal stories, and The Red Hen and more cooking vignettes. Lily Tomlin, Randy Travis, Michael McKean and others supply the voices.

Not rated, 177 minutes. The set also contains read-along captioning, cake recipes, and interviews with Wells, Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley.

Digimon Adventure: Volume 2 and The Official Digimon Adventure Set: The Complete Second Season The popular Japanese Digimon anime phenomenon returns in a pair of abundantly filled releases.

It may sound confusing, but the Digimon Adventure: Volume 2 is a three-disc set with 18 episodes from the first season, featuring the exploits of Tai, Sora, Izzy, Matt, Mimi, Joe and T.K. as they battle Myotismon in an intergalactic adventure.

The Official Digimon Adventure Set: The Complete Second Season holds 50 complete episodes on eight discs and is the sequel to season one, taking place four years later and with some of the original cast returning. A new adversary, the Digimon Emperor, has arisen for them to confront. They are joined by Ken, Yolei, Cody and Davis. Supplements includes a 32-page booklet and more than 40 villain sketches.

Volume 2: Unrated, 420 minutes. Second Season: Unrated, 19 hours.

Also available on DVD: Hitler’s Children, The Kitchen, LUV, Meet the Fokkens.


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