‘Ted,’ ‘Girls,’ ‘Bourne’ among new releases on DVD and Blu-ray

By Rich Heldenfels Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross in a scene from "The Bourne Legacy." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Mary Cybulski)

There’s plenty to ponder in the new DVD and Blu-ray offerings, including a rambunctious teddy bear, women looking for direction in their lives and two additions to film franchises.

The bear is the titular star of Ted (Universal, $29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo), the raunchy tale of a man (Mark Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, which has grown older and more, uh, mature along with him. But how will the bear fit in as Wahlberg’s girlfriend (Mila Kunis) wants a relationship that is not so Ted-inclusive?

The film is from Seth MacFarlane, the mastermind of Family Guy and American Dad, and Ted’s box-office performance explains why MacFarlane will be hosting the Oscars; it took in more than $200 million in the U.S. and more than $500 million total worldwide.

It did so with considerable raunchiness (and the DVD and Blu-ray include an unrated version that is seven minutes longer than the also-included theatrical cut), pop culture references in abundance (among them an homage to the 1980 version of Flash Gordon, complete with an appearance by star Sam J. Jones), drugs, slapstick, a thin plot and more than a few laughs. And, I should add, with a very believable bear, even in Blu-ray.

Extras include a blooper reel, an audio commentary and, on the Blu-ray, deleted scenes and alternate takes.

The HBO series Girls, which begins a second season on Jan. 13, captivated me in the opening scene of its first season, as drifting twentysomething Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham, also the show’s creator, main writer and frequent director) finds out over dinner that her parents will no longer pay her bills.

Confronted with this faceful of financial cold water, Hannah sums up the sense of entitlement in so many young people as she argues for continued support; I should have hated her, but the whole business was also funny, well-cast (Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker played the parents) and defined both Hannah and the show very, very well. It may have been about four women friends, Hannah among them, but Sex and the City it deliberately was not. The lives were grubby, the homes cramped, the sex iffy — but the lives very much worth watching.

You can see for yourself why the show became both admired and controversial on Tuesday with the release of Girls: The Complete First Season (HBO, 10 episodes, $39.98 DVD, $49.99 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo). And after you have sampled the series, you can dip into extras, including a booklet of Dunham’s “Twitter journal” during the making of the first season, a making-of piece, five audio commentaries and Dunham’s interview on radio show Fresh Air. And, if that does not satisfy your interest in Dunham, look for her marvelous, pre-Girls movie Tiny Furniture, also on DVD and Blu-ray.

As for the franchise efforts, when Matt Damon ended his association with Jason Bourne after three films, the hit series tried to revive itself with another Bourne-like character, Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy (Universal, $29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo). The casting made sense, since Renner has established himself as a man of action capable of heroics and villainy across a series of films, much as Damon did, although Damon’s vulnerability has a boyishness that Renner lacks.

That said, Bourne Legacy starts very slowly and too often feels like an attempt to pull together the best pieces of previous Bourne movies without a strong core sensibility. (The same thing often happens in by-the-numbers James Bond movies, although Skyfall ably managed to avoid that trap.) And the major action sequence is way too long. It was just good enough to draw some viewers, but nowhere near the success of Damon’s last Bourne.

Extras include a making-of segment, deleted scenes and, on the Blu-ray, a piece about the movie’s location, and looks at the sequence in which Cross deals with a pack of wolves.

Ice Age: Continental Drift (Fox, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo, $49.99 in a combo adding the 3-D version), the fourth film in the animated series, was a bit of a disappointment at the U.S. box office, taking in less than any of the earlier films even though Continental Drift was also shown in a premium-priced 3-D version. Critical reception was also poor; the Rotten Tomatoes website found only 38 percent of the reviews were positive, less than any other Ice Age, and half the 77 percent favoring the first movie.

But this does not remotely look like the end of the Ice Age, since Box Office Mojo’s data shows the movies are an enormous draw overseas, where Continental Drift took in more than four times as much money as it did in the U.S., for a final global tally approaching $900 million.

Down video road: Dance Moms presents its second season in two DVD sets on Jan. 8. That same day, the first season of Smash arrives on DVD and Blu-ray; the second season begins Feb. 5 on NBC. Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated will be on DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 19. Cosmopolis, with David Cronenberg directing Robert Pattinson, will be on DVD and Blu-ray on Jan. 1.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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