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DVDs In Brief: March 23, 2011

A piece of cosmopolitan fluff like The Tourist (Sony) needs a lot of style to imitate Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief properly. Instead, the studio hired German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose Oscar-winning The Lives Of Others was exceptional in every area but style. The inert result is a film that will endure more as a Ricky Gervais punchline than as the intended escapist delight…

Though a stretch at feature length, the live-action Yogi Bear (Warner Bros.) successfully recaptures the winning formula of the popular Hanna-Barbara cartoon, meaning it’s every bit as horrifying as it sounds. Yogi and Boo-Boo swipe their pick-a-nick baskets and spout their catchphrases, but after five minutes of that, there isn’t much movie left…

In spite of an initial wave of negative reviews and a dismal box-office run, several prominent critics embraced How Do You Know (Sony), an off-kilter romantic comedy from Broadcast News director James L. Brooks. In its favor, the film is no cookie-cutter rom-com, but its opposite, an attempt to sort out the uncertain future of two protagonists—a former Olympic softball great (Reese Witherspoon) and a disgraced businessman (Paul Rudd)—who are trying to figure out their second acts. Unfortunately, it seems like a few rewrites away from greatness…

The effects duo responsible for Skyline (Sony), Colin and Greg Strause, have been accused of parlaying their work for the recent blockbuster Battle: Los Angeles into a similar-but-cheaper science-fiction action movie and releasing it months earlier. Sony recently dropped the complaint and declared itself satisfied that the Strauses didn’t directly re-use any of the effects they designed for Battle: LA. Looking at the movies solely on their dubious merits, though, the more atmospheric, resourceful Skyline is far more approachable than the nonstop cacophony of Battle: LA, in spite of Skyline’s distinct straight-to-DVD feel.