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DVDs In Brief: August 3, 2011

For animation fans above the age of 10 or so, Rio (Fox) functions as a wearying scrapbook of toothless gags, gimmicks, and plotlines from the last decade of profitable CGI kids’ movies: It’s a mighty familiar mash-up of wacky animal comedies past, with borrowed characters and ideas abounding. But viewers under 10 will probably process it as a perfectly acceptable collection of bright colors, fun characters, slapstick, and passable songs…

Based on the true story of a 13-year-old competitive surfer who lost an arm to a shark but returned to the competitive circuit, Soul Surfer (Sony) is a Christian message movie that doesn’t get too shrill about its message, and features some terrific surf sequences. That said, it’s much more conventional, saccharine, and strained than it needs to be…

Grateful Dead music is the cause and the cure of a fierce generation gap in The Music Never Stopped (Roadside Attractions), a moving drama based on an Oliver Sacks book about a father and son who reconcile after a bitter estrangement. In a quietly powerful performance, J.K. Simmons stars as a father who learns to love the hippie music that resonates profoundly with his seriously ill son (Lou Taylor Pucci) when nothing else does…

The first season of Eastbound & Down held together so beautifully as an inclusive, self-contained narrative that it was open to debate whether a second season was even necessary. Thankfully, Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season (HBO) continues Danny McBride’s ribald sports comedy by radically shifting in latitude, if not attitude. It finds McBride’s debauched fireballer reclaiming his mojo in Mexico with the help of sidekick Steve Little. Season two retains the first season’s 1970s Hollywood vibe, but adds a scruffy Amores Perros feel…

A fusion of 28 Days Later viscera and Terrence Malick-style poeticism, the vampire apocalypse film Stake Land (Dark Sky) isn’t as vital as its influences, but it works as a thoughtful, skeptical take on the righteousness of Christian rapture stories like Left Behind. Writer-director Jim Mickle sends two men on an odyssey through a ravaged landscape where the real danger comes as much from a fundamentalist cult as it does from monsters that bite.