Movie News & Reviews

Empathy, not sympathy

Three new DVDs take a look how friends and family can cause big changes in a person's life.

*" It's Kind of a Funny Story": The film, based on the novel by Ned Vizzini, follows Craig (Keir Gilchrist), a confused teen with thoughts of suicide.

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the writing/directing team behind "It's Kind of a Funny Story," use a delicate mix of smart writing, good acting and amazing visuals. Because they ask for empathy, not sympathy, for the characters, it's easy to look at the players in the mental melodrama and see a little bit of ourselves in them.

Some might have thought them mad for tackling such a tough subject, but they prove it was a very sane decision.

*" Life as We Know It": Two single people (Katherine Heigl, Josh Duhamel) must deal with a baby who comes into their lives.

Inconsistent characters, dark emotional jolts and predictable jokes break up the mirth meter and leave the movie a muddled mess.

*" You Again": A woman (Kristen Bell) who was tormented in high school must face her old foe because of a wedding. The title is supposed to refer to what happens when high school rivals are brought back together, but it also describes how this comedy is old and familiar.

Andy Fickman, who showed such a great directing style with "Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical," takes a lazy approach to telling this story. His shots lack energy and there's no doubt when the next joke is coming. Everything looks recycled.

Also new on DVD this week:

"Middle Men": A businessman gets pulled into a dark world during the early days of the Internet.

"Paranormal Activity 2": Prequel to the 2009 horror film.

"Beauty & the Briefcase": Hilary Duff TV movie about a magazine writer who finds love while working on a story.

"The Super Hero Squad Show: Vol. 3": Includes animated adventures of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and other Marvel characters.

"The Guardian: The Final Season": A lawyer (Simon Baker) works as a child advocate.

"Columbo: Mystery Movie Collection 1991-1993": Peter Falk stars in the mystery movies.

"The Romantics": Katie Holmes stars as one of seven college friends who reunite for a wedding.

"Nickelodeon Favorites: Sisters and Brothers": Includes episodes of "Dora the Explorer," "Go, Diego, Go!" and other Nick series.

"See You In September": A beautiful woman's afraid of commitment. Estella Warren stars.

"Eyewitness to Jesus": Matthew D'Ancona searches for evidence about a fragment of the papyrus believed to be the link to date the Gospel of Matthew.

"Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures": The DVD includes 14 cartoons.

"A Private Function": The comedy takes place during the extreme food rationing in England after World War II.

"Erich Segal's Only Love": A man must choose between practical love and romantic love. Rob Morrow stars.