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DVDs In Brief: September 5, 2012 


DVD round-up

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The Five-Year Engagement (Universal) failed to replicate the critical and commercial success of previous Nicholas Stoller/Judd Apatow projects like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek, for understandable reasons. The Five-Year Engagement is shaggy and shapeless, but it’s also  charming and warm, blessed with delightful leads (Jason Segel and Emily Blunt) and an ace supporting cast headlined by a scene-stealing Chris Pratt as Segel’s goofball best friend. Though far from perfect, the film is a winning exploration of the myriad detours that clutter the sometimes rocky and tumultuous path to lifelong commitment. 

In his latest vehicle Safe (Lionsgate), Jason Statham is called upon to add a note of pathos to his usual grim purposefulness, and the look falls outside of his range. Nonetheless, the film is an admirable attempt to give Statham’s ass-kicking some emotional stakes. He stars as a cage fighter who refuses to throw a fight, a decision that leads the Russian mob to murder his wife and send him into exile. When he meets an 11-year-old Chinese girl who’s also a mob target, Statham wakes from his existential despair and, well, does his thing… 

The most consistently funny show on network television, NBC’s Parks & Recreation (Universal) cruised through its fourth season with one pleasing episode after another, driven by a great main plot about Leslie Knope’s (Amy Poehler) campaign for city council. Pitted against an amiable dimwit (Paul Rudd) with unlimited Sweetums family resources and a take-no-prisoners campaign manager (Kathryn Hahn), Leslie and her parks department team scrap their way into contention. Showrunner Michael Schur slips some political satire into the proceedings, but the season is notable mainly for the hilarious amateurism of small-time campaigns and the touching idealism of Leslie’s ambitions…

Of the combined major- and minor-league baseball players in the U.S., young men from the Dominican Republic compose a startling 20 percent, which speaks to the country’s passion for the game and its ease of access for professional scouts. But the fine documentary Ballplayer: Pelotero (Strand) reveals a double-edged sword: There may be opportunities for talented Dominicans, but prospective players can be examined and discarded with minimal investment. For the less fortunate, it’s a tough lesson in baseball globalization…