New DVD releases range from singing competitions to a sci-fi remake.
"Pitch Perfect": A college student (Anna Kendrick) finds herself hanging with the wrong crowd. This movie about college a cappella groups isn't sharp or flat. The script and cast are in such harmony in "Pitch Perfect." It would have been very easy to tune this film out after so many seasons of "Glee." But from the always dependable acting of Kendrick to the in-sync direction of Jason Moore, this production is a comedy octave higher than any episode of the TV series.
As an added bonus, John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks are hilarious as former a cappella singers who now do the announcing and color commentary for the competition telecasts. Banks is particularly funny with a delivery that's so deadpan it masks just how inappropriate her comments are. There hasn't been such a funny commentary team since "Best in Show."
"Total Recall": A man tries to deal with an identity crisis. Director Len Wiseman, the master of the "Underworld" movies and actress Kate Beckinsale's husband, has shifted the film focus away from the psychological elements for a more physical approach. Once the film starts, it is a white-knuckle thrill ride that doesn't offer too many chances to breathe.
The film has its problems, and it can be nitpicked into obscurity. The main one is the way Wiseman deals with the ambiguity of the story. Fact or fiction? He leans so heavily in one direction that it takes the pop out of the final scenes.
"Total Recall" isn't unforgettable, but it's the kind of movie you won't be sorry to see.
"Trouble with the Curve": An aging scout (Clint Eastwood) battles the new computerized baseball world. It's a by-the-numbers story of an aging professional baseball scout, played with cantankerous splendor by Clint Eastwood, and the daughter he's kept at a distance, played with perfect perkiness by Amy Adams. The movie thrives on the fastball pitches of aging, parenting and baseball, but it could have used a few change-ups to make it more interesting.
"House of Lies: The First Season": The cable series based on the best-selling book by Martin Kihn is a wicked and wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the world of management consultants. Don Cheadle plays the head of the team, a man who can masterfully spin any story.
The second season debuts Jan. 13 on Showtime.
Also new this week
"Blue Lagoon: The Awakening": Indiana Evans stars in this made-for-cable film.
"Cuban Missile Crisis: Three Men Go To War": Take a look at how John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro brought the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust.
"The Good Doctor": Orlando Bloom stars in this story of what happens when medicine goes wrong.
"Shameless: The Complete Second Season": William H. Macy stars.
"Without a Trace: The Complete Fifth Season": Anthony LaPaglia stars in the crime drama.
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days": A middle-school kid gets into more trouble.
"Hermano": Two men -- raised as brothers -- fight to become professional soccer players.
"Can Science Stop Crime?": NOVA takes a look inside the criminal mind with cutting-edge forensic techniques that help investigators.
"The Sarah Silverman Program: Season Three": Sarah Silverman stars in the comedy series.
"Funny or Die Presents: The Complete Second Season": Ben Stiller is featured in the sketch comedy show.
"Californication: The Fifth Season": David Duchovny stars in the cable series about a sex-crazed writer.
"Quincy M.E.: Season 4": Jack Klugman plays the mystery-solving coroner.
"Army Wives: Season Six, Part Two": The cable series looks at military life at home.
"Forced to Fight": Peter Weller and Gary Daniels star in the mixed martial arts film.
"The Hi-Lo Country": Best friends return from the war to face a battle over cattle ranching.
"The Millennium Bug": A family seeks refuge from Y2K hysteria, only to find that the threat of technological shutdown is the least of their worries.
"Sometimes A Great Notion": The Paul Newman film make its Blu-ray debut.
"Gandu": A poor young man dreams of being a rap star.
"Bro' ": A college student gets caught up in the wild lifestyle of professional motocross.
Dec. 24: "The Words"
Dec. 31: "Looper"
Jan. 1: "The Trouble with Biss," "Cosmopolis"
Jan. 8: "House at the End of Street," "The Inbetweeners Movie," "Dredd," "Frankenweenie," "Samsara"
Jan. 15: "Branded, "The Possession," "To Rome With Love," "The Other Dream Team," "17 Girls," "Taken 2," "Won't Back Down"
Jan 22: "End of Watch," "Searching for Sugar Man"
Jan. 29: "The Cold Light of Day," "Hotel Transylvania"
Feb. 5: "Alex Cross," "Celeste and Jesse Forever"
Feb. 12: "Bully," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Robot & Frank"
Feb. 12: "Silent Hill: Revelation"
Feb. 19: "Sinister"