- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Duplicity (Universal, $29.99 for DVD, $39.98 for Blu-ray) — Some directors in Hollywood might not realize it, but you can make a rather sexy caper film that’s only rated PG-13 — at least Tony Gilroy can. “Duplicity,” starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, feels like an old-fashioned picture, one in which the chemistry and quips say more than any bedroom acrobatics. It’s made modern with its plot, which concerns a pair of government-turned-corporate spies who are trying to steal a company’s latest invention for its rival. As one character says, “These people take soap and shaving cream very seriously.”

The underrated 2004 film “Closer” proved Mr. Owen and Miss Roberts have chemistry, but they get to have a lot more fun in “Duplicity.” Their immense charisma makes the film quite fun for the viewer, too. (We’re just as speechless as Miss Roberts when the magnetic Mr. Owen tries to claim that she seduced him — and not the other way around.) There are twists and turns aplenty, but none of those thrills compares to watching these two pros sizzle and spar, leading to a surprisingly touching ending. The supporting players are also top-notch, especially the always-great Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti as the rival chief executives and Denis O’Hare as one of the other operatives. James Newton Howard’s sprightly score helps keep the action rolling along.

The only extra on this disc is a commentary with Mr. Gilroy and his editor, co-producer and brother, John Gilroy.

Adventureland (Miramax, $29.99 for DVD, $39.99 for two-disc DVD, $44.99 for Blu-ray) — This coming-of-age comedy charms but without winning any points for originality — we’ve seen this sort of thing a lot since the recently departed John Hughes reinvigorated the genre. Jesse Eisenberg stars as a high school graduate whose plan to see Europe over the summer of 1987 is shattered when his dad gets demoted. He’s forced to raise money for college by working at the titular amusement park, where, of course, he’ll fall in love (with Kristen Stewart of “Twilight”) and learn some valuable life lessons. The young stars carry a film filled with cliches, though supporting players including Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, playing the married couple who run the park, add much-needed humor — as does the recurring sound of “Rock Me Amadeus” that serves as the anthem for those rides.

The single-disc DVD includes just the film, while the two-disc DVD and Blu-ray add extras, including a commentary with writer-director Greg Mottola and Mr. Eisenberg, deleted scenes and a making-of featurette. In the latter, Mr. Mottola describes how his own experiences shaped not just “Adventureland,” but his other projects, including “Superbad” and “Arrested Development.”

Rudo y Cursi (Sony, $28.96 for DVD, $39.95 for Blu-ray) — Carlos Cuaron is best known as the co-writer of “Y tu mama tambien,” the sexy Mexican road movie for which he received a screenwriting Oscar nod. With “Rudo y Cursi,” though, he looks set to follow his brother Alfonso into an acclaimed directing career. This funny, affecting film manages to be many things at once — and even better, does all of them well. “Mama” co-stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna reunite to play two brother banana pickers plucked from obscurity to play professional soccer. Of course, one of them is better at it than the other — but it’s the one who’d rather be a singer than a soccer star. The film’s tone ranges from a sharp satire of contemporary Mexican society to a heartbreaking look at the often wide chasm between passion and talent.

Extras include a commentary with Mr. Cuaron, Mr. Bernal and Mr. Luna; deleted scenes; a making-of featurette; and the awful video of “I Want You to Want Me” that shows just how talentless that wannabe singer is, with a karaoke version so you can try to do better. The Blu-ray edition also includes an interview with the director and two stars.

Kelly Jane Torrance

Thirtysomething: the Complete First Season (Shout Factory, $59.99) — It was the waning years of the Reagan era when Hope and Michael Steadman and their often high-maintenance friends were introduced to ABC audiences. Most viewers didn’t quite know what to make of “Thirtysomething” — groundbreaking in its intimacy, its soundtrack and its plotlines, which were derived from all sorts of navel-gazing.

It was never great in the ratings, but it won an Emmy for best drama and changed the television landscape after its run (1987 to 1991). Without “Thirtysomething,” there would have been no “Party of Five” or “In Treatment” or even “Seinfeld,” whose characters were equally self-absorbed, only funnier.

Fans of the show have been asking for years why “Thirtysomething” wasn’t available on DVD. The answer: copyright problems over music use and the lack of clean master copies to transfer to DVD. The glitches finally have been worked out, and subsequent season collections will be released at about six-month intervals.

“Thirtysomething,” was unique for its time because it was styled like a movie as it depicted life — its triumphs as well as disappointments — among a group of Philadelphia baby boomers. Looking back on the first season is like peeking into a time capsule of the era as the “Me Generation” settled into midlife and wondered, “Is this all there is?”

True fans of the show will appreciate the special-features disc, with interviews with creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick and all the cast members. (In fact, it is fun to see them, like old friends who have aged over 20 years — just like the viewers.)

Karen Goldberg Goff

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