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DVD reviews: ‘Smart People,’ ‘The Wire’

Also new: ‘South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season,’ ‘C17’
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Smart People”Though smarter-than-your-average Hollywood comedy, this tale of academia and dysfunction still works only fitfully, despite a top-notch cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church and Ellen Page, who earned an Academy Award nomination for the title role in 2007’s “Juno.” Quaid plays a curmudgeonly college professor who sustains a head injury that throws him together with a former student turned doctor (Parker), while he copes with his shady brother (Church) and ultraconservative daughter (Page). The DVD and Blu-ray disc feature nine deleted scenes, cast and crew interviews and commentary with director Noam Murro and screenwriter Mark Jude Poirier. There’s also a segment on the film’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. DVD, $29.99; Blu-ray, $34.99. (Disney) Read the review.

“Brand Upon the Brain!”Canadian cult filmmaker Guy Maddin presents another film either truly wondrous or just plain weird, depending on your tolerance for the visual and sonic magic he layers onto his dense storytelling. His latest follows the adventures of a character named “Guy Maddin,” who returns to his family homestead — an island lighthouse — to paint the structure by request of his aging mother. From there, the film flits backward to a wild rush of suppressed childhood memories involving his autocratic mom, his basement-inventor father, a murder mystery and strange experiments conducted on orphans. Shot in black and white Super 8, with flickering images that hark back to the earliest days of film, the story also is presented as a silent flick with live music and narration that was provided by such actors as Isabella Rossellini and Crispin Glover for some of the movie’s theatrical runs. The DVD has narration tracks by Rossellini (who starred in Maddin’s “The Saddest Music in the World”), Glover, Eli Wallach and others, including Maddin himself. There’s also a deleted scene, a documentary on Maddin and two new short films he directed. DVD, $39.95. (Criterion)

“CJ7”Steven Chow, the martial-arts slapstick master of “Kung Fu Hustle,” returns with a family friendly tale utilizing his manic moves. Writer, director and star Chow plays a poor but loving blue-collar dad who stumbles on a strange orb that he presents as a gift to his young boy, the device turning out to be an alien entity that wreaks havoc and teaches some lessons to both father and son. The DVD and Blu-ray release come with a handful of behind-the-scenes segments, a video game and commentary with the cast and crew. DVD, $28.96; Blu-ray, $38.96. (Sony)

TV on DVD:

“The Wire: The Complete Fifth Season” — The street cred continues with this dense, authentic portrait of hard life in a hard city. The final season of this critical favorite expands from the realities of crime-fighting, corruption and politics in Baltimore to include the media as newspaper editors and reporters cope with the decline of their medium. The four-disc set has the last 10 episodes, with cast and crew commentary on six, plus a making-of segment. DVD set, $59.99. (HBO)

“Prison Break: Season Three” — How many prisons can one guy get tossed into? Wentworth Miller returns as a man who went to prison to help spring his brother, and now finds himself tossed back behind bars at a harsh Panamanian facility. Year three’s 13 episodes come in a four-disc package with a couple of featurettes. DVD set, $49.98; Blu-ray set, $79.98. (20th Century Fox)

“South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season” — The gutter-mouthed kids of South Park are back with a three-disc set packing all 14 episodes from the animated show’s 11th year. The show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, provide commentary. DVD set, $49.99. (Paramount)

“Caroline in the City: The First Season” — Lea Thompson stars in the 1990s comedy about the personal entanglements of a woman who uses her own life as inspiration for the newspaper comic strip she creates. The first 24 episodes are included in a three-disc set. DVD set, $42.99. (Paramount)

“Dave’s World: The First Season” — Humorist Dave Barry’s life and writings were the setup for this 1990s sit-com about a newspaper columnist (Harry Anderson) and his inner circle, including a wife and two sons, a couple of old college pals and his half-wit neighbors. The three-disc set has the first 23 episodes. DVD set, $44.99. (Paramount)

“The Love Boat: Season One, Volume Two” — Romance sails again with the show featuring a revolving passenger list of guest stars who find love aboard a luxury liner. The second half of the first season is packaged in a four-disc set. DVD set, $39.99. (Paramount)