Football coach Sean Porter (Dwayne
Football coach Sean Porter (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) aims to turn inmates at a juvenile detention center into a fierce "Gridiron Gang." (By John Bramley -- Columbia Pictures Via Associated Press)
Friday, January 12, 2007

Notable DVDs being released Tuesday include:

· Gridiron Gang (PG-13) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as football coach Sean Porter in this fictionalized version of an inspiring real-life story. Porter, who was working at a juvenile detention facility in California, recruited 11 inmates to create a high school football team and took the squad to the championships. It's a great story, but the movie version is littered with cliches. (Saying it's "based on the truth" doesn't keep some of the film's events from seeming trite and hokey; "based on" gives the director room to fix that.) Despite that, it's not a bad way to spend a couple of hours. The Rock is a charismatic figure and clearly throws himself into the role. Xzibit, in a supporting role, is also a good screen presence. You'll feel like you've seen parts of it before, but you may still enjoy the experience.

· Employee of the Month (PG-13) This attempt at comedy stars Dane Cook, whose talent at marketing far surpasses his comedic skills, and Jessica Simpson, whose knack for cleavage, a primary focus of this film, outshines her other supposed talents. It's set in the world of a big-box discount store, where Simpson's character dates only winners of the "Employee of the Month" award. That sets off a duel for the title and a shot at hooking up with her. This moronic plot stretches 130 minutes and will more likely have you mentally adding items to your shopping list than laughing.

· The Protector (R) Coming to you with a "Quentin Tarantino presents" imprint, this flick stars Thai action star Tony Jaa. For devotees of martial arts movies, it's great. For those who aren't, not so much.

· Undisputed II: Last Man Standing (R) Ditto, minus Tarantino and Jaa. Instead, this one stars Michael Jai White in a typical prison boxing/martial arts story line.

· Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (available in R and unrated versions) Post film critic Desson Thomson wrote of this one: "Sadly, this movie is a far cry from the atmospheric, even thoughtfully crafted original, which made you truly scared for the unkempt, everyman victims. But this latest version, though just as grisly, is literally hackwork and stars a forgettable, airbrushed cast of slaughterees."

· That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana (G) Along the lines of a musical "mash-up," this has episodes in which the stars of three of the most popular shows on the Disney Channel interact. Raven of "That's So Raven" goes on a trip that takes her to the Tipton hotel, where she meets Zack and Cody from "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody." Then the titular heroine from "Hannah Montana" arrives. Extras include the "So You Think You Know Raven, Volume 2" game, a Hannah Montana music video and a previously unseen episode of "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody."

· Purgatory House (R) This film was written by a 14-year-old named Celeste Davis and examines what it's like to be a teenager in today's culture. Silver Strand is a lonely teenage drug addict who dies. She finds herself stranded somewhere between heaven and hell and is forced to examine her life.

· Border Radio (R) This Criterion Collection release of Allison Anders's 1987 debut (along with co-directors and fellow UCLA film-school students Kurt Voss and Dean Lent) will be of interest to indie-film fans. Music fans may also want to give it a look as it stars Chris D. (from the Flesh Eaters) and has smaller roles for Dave Alvin and John Doe. Chris D. plays a singer-songwriter who has robbed a club and disappeared, leaving his rock journalist wife (Luanna Anders) behind. She attempts to track him down with the help of his friends. The soundtrack, as you might have intuited, is pretty fine. Criterion gives the film a restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by Lent and Voss, and extras that include a commentary by Anders and Voss and one by actors Anders, Alvin, Chris D., Doe and Chris Shearer. Other extras include "The Making of 'Border Radio,' " a 2002 documentary, nine deleted scenes and a music video of the Flesh Eaters' "The Wedding Dice."

Also being released:

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