“Dinner for Schmucks” (PG-13): Comedic castmates Steve Carell and Paul Rudd (“Anchorman,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) reunite for an undercooked remake of the 1998 French farce “The Dinner Game,” about a monthly competition where the guest who impresses is the one who brings the biggest buffoon to the party. Rudd’s a financial analyst up for promotion; Carell’s a nerdy IRS agent (and amateur taxidermist) who might be his ticket to the top.
And now for something completely different: “Machete” (R), the first movie (so far) spawned by those hilarious “Grindhouse” trailers, about a former Mexican cop (Danny Trejo) on a vengeful rampage against drug dealers, brutal politicians and other assorted baddies; Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and “Nash Bridges” co-stars Don Johnson and Cheech Marin join the bloody fun. In the chiller “Case 39” (R), a social worker (Renee Zellweger) fights to save a girl (“Twilight Saga: Eclipse's” Jodelle Ferland) from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected. Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane co-star. Elsewhere in the horror realm, an evangelical preacher who specializes in sham exorcisms (Patrick Fabian) agrees to let a camera crew expose his tricks performing “The Last Exorcism” (PG-13) on a rural teen (Ashley Bell) — until his final close encounter with demonic possession turns terrifyingly real. And “Catfish” (PG-13) focuses on a New York photographer and an 8-year-old Michigan girl who contacts him via Facebook, requesting permission to make a painting from one of his photographs. This controversial documentary broke out at last year’s Sundance film festival.
Turning to movies that never played local theaters, “127 Hours’ ” James Franco plays 1950s beat poet Allen Ginsberg in “Howl” (R). William Hurt, Maria Bello and “Twilight’s” Kristen Stewart headline “Yellow Handkerchief” (PG-13), about three strangers on a road trip through post-Katrina Louisiana. Twin brothers pursue professional baseball careers — and try to save their homeless, alcoholic father (Ed Harris) in the drama “Touching Home” (PG-13). And an old friend (Val Kilmer) saves a gun-running pal (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) in the Detroit actioner “Gun” (R).
One of Hollywood’s all time greats stars in his own DVD salute; “The Jack Lemmon Film Collection” (not rated) includes the DVD debuts of such comedy gems as 1954’s “Phfft” and 1964’s “Good Neighbor Sam,” along with such lesser titles as 1957’s “Operation Mad Ball,” 1963’s “Under the Yum Yum Tree” and a rerelease of 1962’s “The Notorious Landlady.” A host of familiar titles also debut on Blu-ray Disc, including “Backdraft” (R), an “El Mariachi”/“Desperado” two-pack (R), “Ever After: A Cinderella Story” (PG-13), “A Walk in the Clouds” (PG-13), “My Dog Skip” (PG), “Hope Floats” (PG-13), “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” and sequels “The Spy Who Shagged Me” and “Goldmember” (all PG-13), plus, in Blu-ray 3D, the stop-motion animated marvel “Coraline” (PG).
Topping today’s TV transfers (all unrated unless otherwise noted), Colin Firth and Greta Scacchi play star-crossed lovers in a 1984 “Hallmark Hall of Fame” version of “Camille” featuring Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud and Denholm Elliott, while Michael Kitchen stars in the BBC miniseries “The Guilty.” Other TV titles arriving on DVD today include “Last American Cowboy” (G), “Top Chef: D.C. — The Complete Season,” “The Ricky Gervais Show: The Complete First Season,” “Make It or Break It: Season One, Vol. Two,” “The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Season Two,” “iCarly: Season Two, Vol. Two,” “The Real Housewives of Orange County: Season Three,” “Mannix: The Fourth Season,” “Big Love: The Complete Fourth Season” and — hokey smoke! — “Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends: The Complete Series.”
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...
With no new music releases scheduled for this week, various record labels have assembled a bevy of greatest hits albums to drop in place of fresh studio offerings.
Some are kind of dubious (Vanessa Carlton? Really? What is it, a maxi-single?) others are a bit more deserved, albeit redundant (Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, etc.).
Mostly, though, they’re just cash grabs, so grab your cash and go get these collections: Vanessa Carlton, “Best of Vanessa Carlton”; Cher, “ICON”; Cherrelle, “Best of Cherrelle”; Jerry Clower, “ICON”; Sheryl Crow, “ICON”; El DeBarge, “ICON”; Ella Fitzgerald, “Love Songs”; Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, “Love Songs”; Imogen Heap & Frou Frou, “ICON”; Billie Holiday, “Love Songs”; Brian McKnight, “Love Songs”; Alexander O’Neal, “ICON”; Cliff Richard & The Shadows, “Move It: The Best of the Early Years”; The S.O.S. Band, “Best of S.O.S. Band”; and Lee Ann Womack, “ICON.”
“Awakened” by P.C. Cast: The eighth installment in the “House of Night” series finds Zoey on the Isle of Skye, being schooled by Queen Sgiach to ultimately take over. But the High Priestess Neferet has been exonerated by the Vampyre High Council, and she will use all her powers to get vengeance on Zoey.
The Swedish invasion continues this week with “Three Seconds” by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom. This crime thriller features a top secret operative who must pose as an inmate at a maximum-security prison in an effort to combat the drug trade.
Also hitting shelves this week: “The Comeback” by Gary Shapiro; “Damage” by John Lescroart; “Destiny and Desire” by Carlos Fuentes; “The Faeman Quest” by Herbie Brennan; “Family Affair” by Debbie Macomber; “A Hard Day’s Knight” by Simon R. Green; “Home for a Spell” by Madelyn Alt; “The Judas Gate” by Jack Higgins; “The Lake of Dreams” by Kim Edwards; “A Lonely Death” by Charles Todd; “The Lost Gate” by Orson Scott Card; “Of Truth and Beasts: A Novel of the Noble Dead” by Barb Hendee and J.C. Hendee; and “Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All” by Russell Simmons and Chris Morrow.
THE LIST: DVDs, CDs and books hitting stores week of Jan. 4