New on DVD this week:
- Season Five of Mad Men opens with a surprise party, a protest and a health scare, bathed in Canadian Club and that ever-present cigarette smoke. As Don Draper (Jon Hamm) settles into a new domestic reality, things get tense at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, as budgets tighten and clients come and go. The AMC drama shows no signs of coasting, narrative-wise, and features a doozy of a cliffhanger until season six starts up in Spring 2013. Special features include an exhaustive assortment of audio commentaries, extras on the score, Mad Men Say The Darnedest Things (featuring writers and producers discussing the progressions of character dialogue over the seasons) and several other extras that set up the time period, including a look at Truman Capote's 1966 Black and White ball.
- People Like Us stars workaholic Chris Pine as Sam, who, after hearing of his record-producer father's death, discovers that most of the inheritance has gone to the half-sister he never knew he had. Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) is a single-mom who is initially suspicious, then grateful, for Sam's friendship and help with her precocious-verging on obnoxious-11-year-old son (Michael Hall D'Addario). Michelle Pfeiffer co-stars as Sam's mom, keeping a long-buried family secret. A standout performance by Banks elevates this tale above standard family feel-good fare. Special features on the Blu-ray include audio commentary, bloopers and deleted scenes, improv extras at Pine's favourite taco stand, and the true story behind the based-on-a-true-story.
- Most people of a certain age have a soft spot for E.T., Steven Spielberg's 1982 film about a toddler-sized alien stranded on Earth. (My sister still covets her stuffed E.T. doll, 30 years later.) The 30th anniversary edition includes new special features, including interviews with Spielberg about his movie-making experience (he had wanted to write a film about kids and divorce, and E.T. provided an opportunity to blend those elements in a different type of tale). The E.T. Journals exposes original 1981 behind-the-scenes footage of director and crew at work; there's a cast reunion from the 20-year mark; design and marketing extra, trailers, deleted scenes, an extra on John Williams' score and a featurette on the creation and evolution of E.T., which remains "a little piece of wonderment in my life," says Spielberg.
- Gift-giving alert: One re-release that lives up to its hype is Disney's Diamond edition of Cinderella, restored to new brightness and detail thanks to an HD upgrade to both picture and sound. The classic 1950 tale of a neglected-stepdaughter-turned-princess includes a never-seen opening sequence as well as a new animated short based on the movie Tangled ("Tangled Ever After"). Digital storybook, extras on the Real Fairy Godmother and a making-of extra are only some of the hours' worth of special features.
- The latest Adam Sandler offering, That's My Boy, features a middle-schooler hooking up with his teacher and fathering a son before his bar mitzvah. While teach goes to jail, Donny does the talk-show circuit, squandering all his money on beer and bad decisions. He shows up at his estranged son's wedding, hoping for a reality-show payday more than a touching reunion. Crass without laughs is no fun at all, and the best thing about the film may be the father-son pairing of Sandler and SNL's Andy Samberg. Otherwise, we've heard the sex-with-grandma jokes and seen all the bodily fluid gags in previous Sandler offerings. Extras on the blu-ray include a gag reel, deleted scenes, more "Whassup" humour, and Who Are These People? cast bios.
- Marty the Zebra, Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe are back in action in Madagascar 3, a surprisingly fresh sequel, which features the animals still trying to get back to their beloved New York City zoo, by crisscrossing Europe and putting their stamp on a traveling circus. New characters inject life into the journey, while old favourites (those enterprising penguins, a franchise in their own right) are back for the third installment. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron-Cohen and Frances McDormand are featured. Great extras on the blu-ray including a game for kids, music mash-up, filmmaker commentary, animation extra, trivia track, deleted scenes and more.