- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Away We Go (Focus, $29.98 for DVD, $39.98 for Blu-ray) — “Away We Go” was a departure for director Sam Mendes, a look at America that suggests the country might not be without hope after all.

Best known for angsty dramas like “American Beauty” and “Revolutionary Road,” Mr. Mendes finally has offered something that might even be described as a comedy. John Krasinski of “The Office”and Maya Rudolph of “Saturday Night Live” star as a couple about to have their first child who travel across the continent looking for the best place to raise the baby in this film, which turns out to be a heartfelt ode to the American pioneering spirit.

Extras include a featurette on the making of the film and one on how the filmmakers made producing it more environmentally friendly. There also is a commentary track with Mr. Mendes and the writers, husband-and-wife novelists Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida.

Management (Image, $27.98 for DVD, $35.98 for Blu-ray) — Jennifer Aniston is on the big screen in one unconventional romantic comedy — “Love Happens” — while another appealing romcom comes to DVD. In the intimate and charming “Management,” Miss Aniston is Sue, a corporate climber who makes a big impression on motel owner’s son Mike (Steve Zahn) while on business in Arizona. He follows her back to Maryland in hopes of showing her that her lonely life is in need of a lovable loser like him. This is Mr. Zahn’s film, but the endearing star is helped along by Miss Aniston’s considerable charms as well as a hilarious Woody Harrelson as her ex-boyfriend, a yogurt mogul. Unfortunately, there are no extras on this disc.

Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection (Lionsgate/HIT, $29.98 for DVD and Blu-ray) and Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death ($14.98) — The good-natured but absent-minded inventor Wallace is back, along with his dog Gromit, speechless but communicative nonetheless. “A Matter of Loaf and Death” is the stop-motion clay-animation duo’s first short film since the feature-length “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” in 2005 — and the winner of the short-animation BAFTA. The half-hour mystery follows the pair as they open a new bakery business. Extras include a making-of featurette, commentary with director Nick Park and editor David McCormick, an episode of the spinoff “Shaun the Sheep” series and a video-game demo.

You can get “Loaf and Death” on its own or as part of a complete collection of “Wallace & Gromit” short films. The four-disc set also includes “A Grand Day Out,” “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave.” The last two won Oscars for best animated short, while the first was nominated but lost to another Park creation, “Creature Comforts.”

There are extras for each film: Besides the aforementioned extras for “Loaf and Death,” each film has a commentary with Mr. Park and a making-of featurette.

Traffik: 20th Anniversary Edition (Acorn, $39.99) — Steven Soderbergh may have earned his best-directing Oscar for his 2000 film “Traffic,” but this 1989 British miniseries on which it was based has received even more acclaim over the years. The serial explores illicit drugs through the intertwined stories of those who use, grow, smuggle and combat them. Bill Paterson is the government minister charged with stamping out drugs while his daughter (played by Julia Ormond) is a heroin addict, and Lindsay Duncan is the woman who surprises herself by stepping up to the plate when her smuggler husband is arrested. All six 50-minute episodes are here on two discs, newly remastered.

Kelly Jane Torrance

The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Set (Warner, $69.92 DVD, $84.99 Blu-ray) — This new appreciation of America’s most beloved movie is, quite simply, a little bit daunting. There are so many extra features that it’s unclear where one should begin.

With “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” a 1990 TV special? With the six-hour “MGM: When the Lion Roars” documentary? With the brand-new feature-length documentary on Victor Fleming, who (in the same year) directed both “Oz” and “Gone With the Wind”? Or with one of the silent films produced by L. Frank Baum himself before the 1939 feature so revered by audiences and critics alike?

That list barely scratches the surface: There’s a commentary track with a film historian, a sing-along track new to this collection, outtakes and deleted scenes, trailers for the movie and its re-releases over the years and much, much more.

On top of the days of special features, the collector’s edition (limited and numbered to 243,000 copies) comes with a coffee-table book chronicling the making of the movie, a reproduction of the sales kits given to theaters and an emerald-green watch.

Sonny Bunch

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