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New on DVD – May 25, 2010 – Dear John, The Road, and Stagecoach

From the horrific postapocalyptic epic The Road to Nicholas Sparks’s bittersweet love story Dear John, we look at what’s good and merely so-so in this week’s somewhat-thin list of DVD and Blu-ray releases.

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Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum star in this Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules) adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel about a brief romantic fling between a college student and a soldier home on leave. We
weren’t sure why Sparks’s lovers always “have such a hard time staying
together” and were unimpressed by the “melodramatic coma of unconvincing
puppy love” but thought that some challenging emotional conflicts made
for a “worthy payoff.”

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Viggo Mortensen and newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee headline the long-delayed film of Cormac McCarthy’s bleak best-selling novel about a father and son struggling for survival in a savage postapocalyptic wasteland. Our reviewer thought that, though the “screenplay can’t quite capture the blunt poetry of McCarthy’s dialogue, this imperfect film ultimately delivers the original’s saddened forcefulness with a brave and near-remarkable conviction.”


In John Ford’s first great Western with John Wayne, a stagecoach full of
diverse characters charges through a desert full of hostile Indians.
Our reviewer liked how Ford “takes these characters, puts them together
in the enclosed space of a stagecoach and watches the cardboard
characters pop and explode.” Now available from Criterion on a lavish DVD
and in Blu-ray.


A trio of
wildly immature college kids who have an outsize sense of their own
abilities (genius, strongman) gets the opportunity to prove themselves
when a little girl hires them to solve the murder of her parents. We liked the
low-budget, grown-up Encyclopedia Brown vibe, which creates “one
of the funniest movies of the year.”

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