New on DVD: ‘Black Nativity,’ ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,’

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

A timid magazine worker goes on a true-life adventure. Ben Stiller stars as Mitty, a man who has lived most of his life dreaming of adventure. That’s the nature of Mitty.

Despite the film’s endearing qualities, it loses its way when Mitty goes from dreamer to doer. It is a beautifully shot movie.

Grade: B-minus

“Black Nativity”

“Black Nativity” rises above the standard holiday film because of the strong writing, acting and music. There’s always going to be a certain amount of sentimentality that comes with such emotional redemption tales. That’s cushioned by the smart choices director Kasi Lemmons makes.

The standard approach to this kind of story is to have the protagonist already well down the path of sin. Bringing someone back from such a long and winding road often feels manipulative or forced. Because Lemmons quickly shows that the film’s central figure has a good heart and is only facing bad decisions, the transformation that eventually comes feels real and grounded.

Grade A-minus

Also new on DVD:

“Philomena”: Judi Dench plays a woman searching for her son.

“Better Living Through Chemistry”: Pharmacist starts a drug-and-alcohol-fueled affair.

“Ride Along”: High school security guard (Kevin Hart) must prove his worth on patrol.

“Boys of Abu Ghraib”: American soldier forms bond with a prisoner he’s guarding.

“The Practice: The Final Season”: Legal drama that paved the way for “Boston Legal.”

“Barney: Happy Birthday Barney!”: Kids throw Barney a birthday party.

Camp Dread”: Director wants to resurrect summer camp horror genre.

“Making of a Lady”: Educated but penniless Emily Fox Seton (Lydia Wilson) struggles with love.

“Thomas &Friends: Railway Mischief”: There’s trouble on the tracks.

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