DVDs In Brief: September 21, 2011

DVDs In Brief: September 21, 2011

It’s unfortunate that Bridesmaids (Universal) was freighted with so much responsibility: Not only did it have to be a funny comedy, it also had to prove that producer Judd Apatow didn’t have a female problem, and that Americans also didn’t, and could accept a raunchy Hangover-for-women that would bring men in, too. Happily, it did all those things, shrewdly fusing fresh observations about marriage and friendship with the obligatory outrageous setpieces. It looks too much like a TV show—those establishing shots of Milwaukee are very Laverne & Shirley—but writer/star Kristen Wiig and the cast score big laughs when it counts… 

The miniseries format could not be better suited to the dramatic saga of America’s greatest political family, but The Kennedys (New Video), from ultra-conservative 24 producer Joel Surnow, proved so toxic that it couldn’t find a network. After the History Channel and Showtime both passed, the series finally landed far down the cable dial on the Reelz Channel, and critics pounced on it mercilessly. Most singled out for ridicule: Katie Holmes, whose miscasting as Jacqueline Onassis is apparent in a New England accent that’s somewhere between a gangster’s moll and the Quimby family on The Simpsons

Romance and history whip into an amber swell in Bride Flight (Music Box), a gauzy melodrama about three “war brides” from different backgrounds who emigrate together from Europe to Christchurch, New Zealand, where their new husbands are waiting for them. Set in 1953, the film touches on a range of issues, from one woman’s Jewishness to the conflict between recent immigrants and the Maori population, but it’s mostly a soap opera aimed at an older audience… 

For generations in a Mexican circus family, tradition and hardship go hand-in-hand. One of many small ensembles that tour the poorest parts of the country, often to areas where people can’t afford admission, the Gran Circo Mexico, run by Tino Ponce, is a family operation where children learn to contort their bodies and train wild animals, but are otherwise uneducated. The fine documentary Circo (First Run) finds Ponce and his family at a time of transition, when the younger generation starts to question its proscribed role…

Classically trained actor and Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi does double duty as screenwriter and star of Today’s Special (New Video), a loose adaptation of a play he wrote about a sous chef whose dreams of studying at a prestigious French cooking academy are threatened by his father’s desire for him to take over the family business. It’s as generic as it sounds. Mandvi has an appealing, expansive presence, but there’s precious little here to differentiate this from plenty of other big-hearted but terminally bland comedy-dramas about dreamers trying to make it against long odds.

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