Back in June an intriguing box-office battle was set up when two buddy movies premiered opposite each other. It was especially interesting because one was a tried-and-true male-action movie — White House Down, with Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum — while the other was a much rarer women-in-action pairing — The Heat, with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.
And the women won.
The Heat not only bested White House Down at the box office, but it is also currently the 10th most popular movie in America in 2013, according to Box Office Mojo. It outdrew such grandiose films as Pacific Rim (which, like The Heat, came to DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday), The Hangover Part III, The Wolverine, and Elysium. It underscored not only the box-office appeal of Bullock, currently floating in movie space in Gravity, but also that of McCarthy, who has co-starred in two hits this year, The Heat and Identity Thief. (And her TV series, Mike and Molly, begins a new season on CBS on Nov. 4.)
The Heat (Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 in a Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo) was amusing escapism in which a tightly buttoned FBI agent (Bullock) and an abrasive Boston police detective (McCarthy) are forced to work together. Bullock’s character carried echoes of earlier films such as The Proposal, and McCarthy undoubtedly reminded people of her breakthrough work in Bridesmaids.
There wasn’t much of a plot, but enough to pin on scenes of the two characters bickering and bonding. Though reviews were not all glowing — Rotten Tomatoes calculated only 65 percent were positive — it was enough to get people into theaters. And it might even be enough to get women more chances to be as tough and outspoken as other buddy movies have let men be.
Extras on the DVD include audio commentary and several featurettes. The Blu-ray combo adds more commentaries; deleted, extended, and alternate versions of scenes; and a second, unrated cut of the film.
Turner Classic Movies is offering a five-film set of works from director John Ford, including some DVD rarities.
John Ford: The Columbia Films Collection ($49.99, exclusively through hop.tcm.com) includes the 1935 comedy The Whole Town’s Talking along with later works The Long Gray Line (1955), Gideon’s Day (1958), The Last Hurrah (also 1958), and Two Rode Together (1961), all restored and remastered. It’s the American DVD debut for The Whole Town’s Talking, Two Rode Together, and Gideon’s Day, all previously available only on VHS or imported DVDs (and one import, of Gideon’s, is a shorter cut with a different title). And it’s a return to DVD for The Long Gray Line and The Last Hurrah, which were last on disc more than a decade ago.
The set also offers an interesting range in the later works: a Western (Two), a nostalgic look at West Point (Long Gray Line), a British police tale (Gideon’s Day) and a still-relevant political drama (Last Hurrah). In fact, Last Hurrah is both one of my favorite Fords and one of the best performances by Spencer Tracy, playing an aging Boston politician dueling with old and new opponents. Extras in the set include introductions by critic and historian Leonard Maltin.
If you have not seen the movie Love Actually (and you should) or do not own it (and you should), Universal released a 10th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / DVD / digital combo on Tuesday for $19.98. Following a group of interlocking characters at Christmas, it is funny and warm — and R-rated. And I watch it at least once a year. The new combo pack includes extras recycled from previous releases but adds a heart-shaped ornament proclaiming, as the movie itself does, “Love actually is all around.” A DVD / digital anniversary reissue also is available, without the ornament or other extras, for $14.98.
Down video road
The Smurfs 2 will be in various formats, including 3-D Blu-ray, on Dec. 3. The Tom Hanks classic Big marks its 25th anniversary with Blu-ray and DVD reissues Dec. 10. The Bishop’s Wife, with Cary Grant and Loretta Young, and The Best Years of Our Lives come to Blu-ray for the first time Nov. 5. The TV series Last Tango in Halifax will be on DVD on Nov. 12.