Short circuits 11/15: Hanks deals with modern problems in 'Larry Crowne'

  • Updated: November 14, 2011 - 1:41 PM

New and noteworthy experiences among DVDs, video games, gadgets and the Web.

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Julia Roberts plays a speech teacher, and Tom Hanks is a laid-off worker who returns to school in “Larry Crowne.”

Photo: Bruce Talamon, Universal Pictures

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DVD: Hanks deals with modern problems

"Larry Crowne" is a Cinderfella story for tough times. Tom Hanks (who also directed) plays Larry, a squeaky-clean divorced man who's fired from his job as a salesman. He dumps his house, switches from a gas-guzzling SUV to a secondhand scooter, takes a part-time job as a short-order cook and enrolls in college. His first course? A speech class whose teacher -- played by Julia Roberts -- is unhappily married and hot. You can see what's coming, even if Larry can't. He also signs up for an economics class, in which he meets the free-spirited Talia. Before you can say "bibbidi-bobbidi-boo," Talia has given Larry a makeover. Watching Hanks' transformation from Larry Crowne to "Lance Corona" is the film's chief pleasure. The DVD and Blu-ray (Universal, $30-$35) include deleted scenes.

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Out on DVD Tuesday

  • "Beginners"
  • "Being Human" (Season 1)
  • "Crime Story" (full series)
  • "It Takes a Thief" (full series)
  • "Vietnam in HD"
  • "White Chapel: The Ripper Returns"

Out on Blu-ray

  • "Evil Dead 2"
  • "Farscape" (full series)
  • "Giorgio Moroder's Metropolis"
  • "Looney Tunes Platinum Collection, Vol. 1"
  • "My Fair Lady"
  • "The Rules of the Game"
  • "Three Colors: Blue, White, Red"
  • "West Side Story"
GAME: Kirby finds new adventures

The primary objective in "Kirby's Return to Dream Land" ($50 for Wii; rated Everyone 10+) -- move from left to right and reach the exit -- is as pure as video game objectives get. Kirby's techniques -- strutting, jumping, floating, swimming and the always-wonderful ability to open his mouth, ingest enemies like a vacuum and briefly acquire their powers -- are just as they were during his first visit to Dream Land. As has become tradition, there's a surprisingly filling selection of bonus content, including challenge rooms, practice rooms and minigames. The core game play uses only the Wii remote, turning it sideways to mimic a traditional controller, but some of the minigames allow you to use the remote's motion capabilities. None of them are wildly original, but they're fun, well-made and suffice nicely as free sides for an extraordinary main course.

  • MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE
WEB: Poll - Online videos more offensive

Americans think online videos are becoming more offensive, according to a new survey. Qumu, an enterprise video service, says 34 percent of those responding to its Harris poll said the top-ranked trend in online videos is that they are becoming more offensive; 18 percent said they are getting funnier. The survey of 2,361 Americans 18 and older also found that more men had watched online videos (92 percent) in the past year than women (88 percent).

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