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‘The Campaign’ among new DVD/ Blu-ray titles

By Rich Heldenfels, Akron Beacon Journal –

Ohio may not be the best place for the release of the DVD and Blu-ray of “The Campaign” on Tuesday.

After all, viewers have been getting politics aplenty, in news coverage, in the many visits politicians make and in the commercials that dot, if not fill, every program break. I even run into ads when watching things online.

Still, Warner Bros. thought people might be ready for the laughs in “The Campaign” ($28.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray and $35.99 for a Blu-ray/ DVD combo). Maybe even for extra laughs, since the combo pack includes an extended cut of the film running 11 minutes longer than the theatrical version (which is also in the set).

That said, the laughs are sporadic. It’s hard to be funnier than real politics can be. But the movie makes a game effort in its tale of entrenched politician Cam Brady (Will Ferrell), whose erratic behavior has made him vulnerable enough that a couple of kingmakers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) decide to back a challenger, Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis). At first, it looks like no contest as the experienced Brady pulls a host of old, nasty tricks on Huggins — but Huggins, with help from a sinister associate (Dylan McDermott), proves no pushover; he even has some dirty tricks that Brady’s not ready for.

Unfortunately, the back-and-forth between the foes grows tiresome long before the movie has to play out its plot. And Ferrell falls back on his raving-loon bits too often. Galifianakis is actually the more interesting character and performer, although not enough to carry the film.

Besides the extended cut, extras include deleted scenes and a blooper reel.

While it may be October, video distributors already want you thinking about holiday shopping, especially big-ticket items. Hence “All in the Family: The Complete Series 1970-1979” (Shout! Factory, $199.99), a box set spanning the nine seasons of the landmark comedy from producer Norman Lear.

On the plus side, the box will take up far less space on your shelf than the episodes did when released in individual-season sets. And some viewers may be interested in bonus material including the first episode of “Archie Bunker’s Place,” the retitled continuation of “All in the Family”; the pilot for the spin-off “Gloria,” and even the pilot for “704 Hauser,” a short-lived 1994 series about an African-American couple living in Bunker’s old house. There is also a booklet with essays about the series,

That said, some of the extras, including a couple of documentaries about the making of “All in the Family,” have been released before, including in a 2009 mega-box of highlights from Lear’s work.

Other items of note this week include “Copper: Season One” (BBC, 10 epsiodes, $49.98 DVD, $59.98 Blu-ray), the series from Tom Fontana (“Homicide: Life on the Street”), about a police officer and sundry schemes in New York City in the 1860s.

Fans of “Parks & Recreation’s” Aubrey Plaza may want to take note of “Safety Not Guaranteed” (Sony, $30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray), the oddball comedy in which she co-stars; it concerns people who answer an ad inviting them to travel back in time — a trip where safety was not guaranteed. Reviews were very positive, with a 94 percent rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

“Safety Not Guaranteed,” by the way, boasts that it is “from the producers of ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’” And the directors of “Little Miss Sunshine” are behind another film, Ruby Sparks, arriving on Tuesday (Fox, $29.98 DVD or Blu-ray); in it, a writer discovers that one of his creations has become an actual person.

Down video road: “All in the Family” is not the only show going the complete-series route in time for Christmas. “JAG” will be in a complete-series “collector’s edition” on Dec. 11 and, that same date, a “Mission: Impossible” box with all of the original TV series and the 1980s TV revival. And don’t just expect big TV sets. Nov. 20 brings a Blu-ray collection of eight of Quentin Tarantino’s films.

November will include a real rarity, a comedy starring Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn that hasn’t been shown in this hemisphere — seriously — since 1966. It’s “The Iron Petticoat,” with Hepburn as a Russian pilot and Hope as an American assigned to convince her of the virtues of the U.S. way of life. TCM will air it on Nov. 29 and, 10 days before that, will begin selling it in a Blu-ray/ DVD combo via the network’s website.

The TV series “Southland” will release its second through fourth seasons in a DVD package on Feb. 5, leading up to the fifth-season premiere. The package isn’t huge; the second season consisted of six episodes and the other two of 10 apiece.

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