- The Washington Times - Friday, May 22, 2009

New in Town (Lionsgate, $29.95) — This chick flick, predictable from start to finish, is proof you can’t simply slap down two actors who are experts in the genre and expect them to carry a film without at least a little help from the screenwriter.

Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. star as a corporate-climbing fish out of water and the union rep with whom she spars when she moves to clean up a low-performing plant in small-town Minnesota. The concept has a lot of potential, especially in these economically troubled times. The filmmakers, however, would rather make crude jokes than actually say something interesting about the world we live in now.

Extras include an audio commentary with some of the cast and crew — though not Miss Zellweger or Mr. Connick — and deleted scenes. There also is a strange collection of featurettes — on the tapioca pudding used in the film, the art of scrapbooking and how cold it was making the film in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The Closer: The Complete Fourth Season (Warner, $39.98) — Kyra Sedgwick has really grown into her role as the star of TNT’s cop drama “The Closer.” You can catch up with her Los Angeles police squad before the fifth season begins on June 8. There are some changes in store: Until the end of the fourth season, the squad handled only high-profile homicide investigations. The palette will get broader now that the team also will solve other crimes, including kidnapping and fraud.

Extras include deleted scenes, three making-of featurettes and a gag reel.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — The Ninth Year (Universal, $59.98) — “SVU,” as it’s known, is the highest-rated of the series in the “Law & Order” franchise. Let’s hope that’s because of the acting and not its sensationalistic story lines. Then again, NBC seems to be banking on its being about more than leads Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni — their contracts have not been renewed yet for an 11th season, purportedly because of a salary dispute.

Friday Night Lights: The Third Season (Universal, $29.98) — “Friday Night Lights” has been an interesting experiment. It ran for two seasons on NBC but never garnered great ratings. It was a critical darling, though — the American Film Institute twice named “Lights” to its “culturally significant” list — and executives were reluctant to kill the show. They came up with an interesting solution — its third season ran not on NBC, but on the satellite service DirecTV. The numbers don’t have to be as big to make a show a success there, and this spring, NBC ordered two more seasons of the Middle America sports drama for DirecTV.

Ice Road Truckers: The Most Dangerous Episodes (A&E, $12.95) — This is it, a scary show pared to its essentials — the four most dangerous episodes from the first two seasons of the History Channel hit “Ice Road Truckers.” The man’s men of the show haul loads of close to 100,000 pounds over the slippery frozen lakes of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Season three is set to begin May 31, with an important change — the location has been moved from Canada to Alaska. It remains to be seen whether American risk-takers are as much fun to watch as Canadian ones.

The Machinist, Enemy at the Gates, Changing Lanes, Paycheck, 3 Days of the Condor (Paramount, $29.99 each for Blu-ray) — Christian Bale’s performance in “Terminator Salvation,” which opened in theaters this week, isn’t getting great notices. Do yourself a favor — skip what sounds like a sloppy reboot and use that money to pick up “The Machinist,” which is being released on Blu-ray. Mr. Bale might be making a name for himself in big-budget spectacles such as “Terminator” and “The Dark Knight,” but his talents are put to much better use in smaller films like this. In the psychological thriller, he stars as a man disturbed by something that’s causing him to lose sleep — and weight. (Mr. Bale lost an astounding 42 pounds for the film, in which he weighs in at just 120 pounds.) The only comfort he gets is visiting an airport cafe and a prostitute played with real feeling by Jennifer Jason Leigh. The Dostoevski-inspired film is as haunting as the tragedy that’s troubling the title character.

Paramount also is releasing four more films on Blu-ray for the first time this week. The other can’t-miss of the bunch is the Robert Redford thriller “3 Days of the Condor.”

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