As the DVD rental store enters what is surely to be the final phase of its existence, it is still no easier for most people to simply wander into one and choose a movie.

Or at least it isn't according to friends of mine who are always asking me for recommendations. So in this blog I'm gonna highlight several new releases worth taking a look at on DVD.

It's hard to know what to make of Our Idiot Brother by looking at the DVD cover - at a glance it looks like yet another 'bromantic' comedy starring Paul Rudd, who's carved himself out a niche playing such roles.

Further inspection suggests a one-note indie comedy with slumming studio actors.


It's actually neither of these, and instead a surprisingly affecting ensemble dramedy with pertinent observations to make about sibling relationships, the burden of family and what it means to be happy.

It's also very funny and features a cast of comic heavyweights all doing stellar work.

Rudd's character is endearingly guileless, but the true arcs of the film belong to his sisters, played by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer, and they're a joy to witness play out.

With supporting roles filled by such dynamos as Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Steve Coogan (The Trip) and Rashida Jones (I Love You, Man), the film has no end of pleasures.

I fell victim to prejudging Our Idiot Brother, but I implore you not to - it's a delightful little gem of a film that is very much worth renting.

Although their previous work repelled me, the latest film from director Jason Reitman (Up In The Air - yeech!) and screenwriter Diablo Cody (Jennifer's Body - ugh!) charmed me to pieces.

Young Adult stars Charlize Theron as the ghost-writer of a Sweet Valley High-esque series of young adult fiction who returns to her small home town.

There she awkwardly attempts to romance her (now married) high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson) and gets mixed up with a fellow student she doesn't remember as well (played to perfection by stand-up comic Patton Oswalt).


What struck me most about Young Adult is how awful they were willing to make the main character. Theron's Mavis is not without her endearing moments, but overall she's a vapid, selfish snob.

And it's a joy to watch - how Theron didn't garner an Oscar nomination for her work here is something I'll never understand.

Movies are usually so overly concerned with maintaining character empathy that they push all semblance of reality to the sidelines. Young Adult welcomes the reality that people are (very) flawed creatures, and the film is richer for it.

Far from the flick-chick it appears to be, Young Adult is one of the most well-observed character comedies to come out of a studio in years.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a loose remake of a '70s TV movie that haunted Guillermo Del Toro's youth. He wrote and produced (but did not direct) the new version, which isn't completely successful, but very entertaining in a slightly nasty Amblin-esque manner.

Bailee Madison (the insufferable moppet from Sandler's Just Go With It) plays Sally, a young girl sent to live with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in the huge country manor they are renovating. But the manor has unpleasant secrets that only reveal themselves to Sally.

The film takes considerable inspiration from Gremlins but pushes the story to a more evil place, resulting in a viewing experience that provides plenty of old-fashioned Brothers Grimm-style thrills.

If you're looking for a slightly scary story that stops short of being a horror film, you could do a lot worse than Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.

Chronicle is a film I was eagerly anticipating before it's release, and while it didn't completely blow my socks off at the time, my affection for it has grown with time, and it presents a highly entertaining alternative to all the current big budget superhero movies.

Adopting the "found footage" style repopularised by the success of the Paranormal Activity series, it follows three teenagers who gain telekinetic superpowers, and their varying reactions to them.

Part Carrie, part Akira, part X-Men, Chronicle may throw up more questions than it's willing to answer, but it's a welcome grounding of the increasingly pervasive superhero trend.

* Are you excited to see any of these films on DVD? Any new release recommendations of your own you'd like to share? Comment below!