"Ted," "When a Man Loves a Diva," and more
1 Loony, lewd and lovable, "Ted" takes place on a stratospheric plane of preposterousness. Underachiever Mark Wahlberg made a childhood wish that his teddy bear would come to life and be his best friend forever. It came true. Ted was a media sensation, but after his flurry of fame, our celebrity-glutted society shrugged him off. Twenty-five years later Wahlberg and Ted are affable couch spuds, living a juvenile getting-by life. This is the first film from Seth MacFarlane, creator of the animated "Family Guy" series, and it's a hoot.
5 On her way home from school, Mary, 12, encounters an odd woman in old-fashioned clothes. She seems to know an awful lot about Mary's family -- especially her dying grandmother. "Tell your granny it'll all be grand," the woman says. And so begins a wonderful adventure from Roddy Doyle, "A Greyhound of a Girl," his latest book for teens. The woman is a ghost, the mother of Mary's granny. It's a sweet story, unspooling effortlessly, weaving together the bonds of mothers and daughters, the sadness of passing, the love of family and the ever-present sense of the past.
3 From beginning to end, the second album from Canadian roar-rock duo Japandroids, "Celebration Rock," offers a frenzied, hair-raising, full-tilt blast of noise. Beneath the crashing drums and towering guitar wall, though, is a compelling theme of wild youth's fading glory, songs that fans of the Hold Steady or Replacements should appreciate right away. No wonder the twosome's 7th Street Entry gig Tuesday sold out in advance -- and is likely to be their last in a Twin Cities club that small.
4 In its third mounting, the revamped and improved "When a Man Loves a Diva" works like a charm. Dane Stauffer, Julius Collins III and Ben Bakken sing classics made famous by Aretha, Barbra and other divas. A newly added rhythm section joins pianist Sanford Moore. Smooth crooner Stauffer provides some comic moments on the Lab Theater stage, but these three guys are serious when singing "Natural Woman" and "Single Ladies." www.thelabtheater.org
2 This summer of superhero movies has nothing on Carnage the Executioner. The Minneapolis rapper has released a stunning new music video that lives up to his comic-book inspired name. In "Respect the Name," the tongue-twisting lyricist finds himself in the middle of an old-school hero vs. villain story line. Using guests Slug and Desdamona, director Arlo Myren employs some ingenious special effects to create a fun, madcap world reminiscent of a more playful "Sin City." Carnage has given us one of the most inventive videos to come out of the Twin Cities hip-hop scene in quite some time.