A teddy bear, super spy and baby are fodder for this week's new DVD releases.
"Ted": A grown man must deal with his cherished childhood toy.
"Ted" works because Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and all of the non-Hasbro-created cast members treat the story seriously. Because they don't question a world where a teddy bear can come to life, it's easier for the audience to accept the concept and just laugh at the pull-no-punches humor.
Against a musical score that sounds like it was ripped off from the old TV series "That Girl," the film smoothly goes from romantic comedy to buddy picture to stalker movie. Ted has less tact than Don Rickles and Daniel Tosh combined, but Seth MacFarlane, who's both director and writer, finds places to make the character warm and fuzzy. How can you not like a teddy bear who laments that he looks like "Snuggles' lawyer" when he wears a suit?
"The Bourne Legacy": The series continues with a new hero (Jeremy Renner), whose life-or-death stakes have been triggered by the events of the first three films. For a film franchise that's going through a rebirth, "Bourne Legacy" looks a lot closer to retirement age. The film moves slowly with a convoluted plot, uninspired action scenes and too many people babbling scientific and spy jargon. This is not the legacy the series deserves.
The film's climactic chase scene starts with lots of running across rooftops. When it finally gets to street level, director Tony Gilroy plays the scene so long that the tension is drained long before the payoff. Even the bystanders watching two men battle on motorcycles seem bored.
Renner's a capable replacement for Matt Damon on the action side. What he lacks is the on-screen charisma of his predecessor, and that makes his Cross far less complicated -- and interesting -- than Bourne.
"Gayby": Director Jonathan Lisecki had success on the film festival circuit in 2010 with his 12-minute short "Gayby" (rhymes with baby). It's the story of two singles who have been friends since college -- Jenn (Jenn Harris) and Matt (Matthew Wilkas) -- who as 30-somethings decide to have a baby. The twist is he's gay, and she wants to conceive the child "the old-fashioned way."
Lisecki has turned that short into a feature film with the same storyline and actors. Although it's a sweet movie, it shows that more is not always better.
Also out this week
Dec. 18: "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days," "10 Years," "Trouble With the Curve," "Pitch Perfect."
Dec. 21: "Premium Rush," "Arbitrage," "Resident Evil: Retribution."
Dec. 24: "The Words."
Dec. 31: "Looper."
Jan. 1: "The Trouble with Biss."
Jan. 8: "House at the End of Street," "The Inbetweeners Movie," "Dredd," "Frankenweenie."
Jan. 15: "Branded, "The Possession," "To Rome With Love," "The Other Dream Team," "17 Girls," "Taken 2."
Jan 22: "End of Watch."
Jan. 29: "The Cold Light of Day," "Hotel Transylvania."
Feb. 5: "Alex Cross."
Feb. 12: "Bully," "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
Feb. 19: "Sinister."