The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (PG-13)
This perfectly modulated film is one of the most strikingly original movies about the end of childhood I've ever seen, as charming 8-year-old Bruno (Asa Butterfield) slowly makes the discovery his adored father is an evil Nazi stooge. This tale of a tiny slice of World War II is told entirely through Bruno's eyes, as his family moves from Berlin to the countryside, where Dad (David Thewlis) is running the "farm" where the workers wear "funny striped pajamas." We watch with a sinking heart as Bruno's innocence is assaulted by propaganda, and realize he faces two terrible options: He will either be molded into a good little Nazi, or he will discover the awful truth about his father and his country. Bonus features include deleted scenes, commentary with writer-director Mark Herman and John Boyne (author of the novel upon which the film is based), and more. MaryAnn Johanson
Extreme Movie (NR)
The Weinstein Co.
Extreme Movie, which is not very extreme and barely a movie, is just the latest vapid straight-to-DVD teen-sex hijinks flick for the non-discriminating Superbad crowd. The film, directed by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, is made up of little sketches that more or less parody classic teen film set-ups. Sadly, its jokes are scattershot, and very few actually achieve any laughs. As a matter of fact, most of them disturb. I mean, have you ever really wanted to see Malcolm in the Middle troll Frankie Muniz having anal sex? Me neither. Other actors, like Michael Cera, are visibly embarrassed, while MTV refugees Andy Milonakis and Ryan Pinkston are just happy to have a paycheck. It's really no surprise that the film had 10 writers and grew dusty on Weinstein's shelf for a couple of years. Even watching it felt like a waste of time, talent and energy. Louis Fowler
Head Case: Season 1 (NR)
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment / Release date: March 17
Curb Your Enthusiasm meets modern celebrity pop-psychiatry in the moderately amusing Head Case, directed by Jason Farrand and originally broadcast on the Starz cable channel. The series follows forcibly bubbly Alexandra Wentworth as the clueless Dr. Elizabeth Goode, an unlikeable therapist who often hurts more than she helps. When not dealing with her own emotional issues, she sits down with actors such as Andy Dick, Cindy Margolis, Lea Thompson and Jeff Goldblum. Playing highly caricatured versions of themselves, the C-listers are charmingly funny enough to be the highlights of the show; any time the focus switches to Goode's love life, the action comes to a screeching halt. Still, I'm interested enough to check out season two, and fans of slice-of-life pseudo-improv could do a lot worse. Louis Fowler