Geoff Cox’s review of the new DVD releases

DVD pickings are traditionally slim in late October and early November as distributors hold fire on releasing their blockbusters until nearer Christmas.

Wednesday, 2nd November 2011, 12:46 pm

Big budget movies in the pipeline for seasonal stocking-fillers include Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Captain America: The First Avenger and Super 8, with Cowboys and Aliens available from Boxing Day.

Meanwhile, it’s worth having a look at comedy drama EVERYTHING MUST GO (15: Lionsgate), which you can get your hands on now.

Will Ferrell plays a sales executive whose heavy drinking costs him his job and leads to his wife kicking him out of the house.

With his life crumbling around him and with nowhere to go, he sets up camp on his front lawn, amid all the possessions she has chucked out.

He starts selling them, which leads to him forming new friendships with neighbours and gradually straightening his life out.

An unlikely ally is a lonely youngster ( a confident performance from Christopher CJ Wallace), and as a curious magic works on both of them, they each have a new sense of purpose.

Although Ferrell rarely looks like the hopeless drunk he’s intended to be, the film works well as a sombre study of human frailty and vulnerability.

> A sunny animation from the Ice Age team, RIO (U: Twentieth Century Fox) is a vibrantly colourful and hugely enjoyable eye-catcher.

Samba and bossa nova rhythms pulsate throughout as Jesse Eisenberg voices Blu, a domesticated rare macaw taken back to Rio de Janeiro from Minnesota to mate with the last female of his species, Jewel (Anne Hathaway).

But Blu is a neurotic pet who’s afraid of flying, while she’s a wild free spirit.

Feathers are further ruffled when they’re kidnapped and chained together by exotic-bird smugglers.

They manage to escape, but Rio finds himself lost on the streets of a strange city. To make it back to his owner, he will have to learn to fly.

Brazilian director Carlos Saldanha ensures his flock of engaging characters, including a villainous cockatoo and a constantly drooling bulldog, soar to a spectacular carnival finale.

There are the usual life lessons to be learned, but under Saldanha’s light touch they blend well with the airborne action and riotous musical interludes.

> LARRY CROWNE (12: Universal), available from November 15, is further proof that Hollywood studios should never allow a major player to direct his or her long-cherished pet project.

A wish-fulfilment fantasy masquerading as a comedy drama about the value of adult education, never at any point does it touch upon reality.

A-list stars Tom Hanks, the director and co-writer, and Julia Roberts, flashing her billion-dollar smile, team up for the first time since Charlie Wilson’s War.

Ex-Navy cook turned U-Mart employee of the month Larry Crowne (Hanks) gets the sack, swaps his gas-guzzling 4x4 for a second-hand scooter and signs up for a community college.

His public-speaking teacher turns out to be the jaded Miss Tainot (Roberts), who self-medicates with cocktails while her self-published loser husband surfs porn.

Innocent, hard-working Larry, an all-round good guy, but also a fish out of water, is immediately embraced by his young fellow students.

He also receives a sartorial and tonsorial makeover from the beautiful, free-spirited Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her scooter-riding pals before catching the eye of his equally lovely teacher.

While Hanks is as watchable as ever and he and Roberts make a charmingly mismatched couple, the script is flat and littered with lazy coincidences.

> The latest psychological shocker from celebrated horror director John Carpenter is THE WARD (18: Warner), in which Amber Heard awakens in a psychiatric hospital after setting a farmhouse on fire and finds herself stalked by a malevolent spirit.

> In THE WHISTLEBLOWER (15), Rachel Weisz is a Nebraska police officer who served as a peacekeeper in post war Bosnia and finds her world turned upside down when she outs the United Nations of covering up a sex scandal.