Steve Carell, Julianne Moore

“Crazy, Stupid Love” (R) — This movie goes to show that with the right cast and a decent script, romantic comedies actually can have substance. Cal (Steve Carell) loses his cool when his wife (Julienne Moore) confesses that she has cheated on him. During their separation, Cal’s ineptitude in the dating scene leads him to enlist the help of player and ace wingman, Jacob (Ryan Gosling).

Carell’s comedy chops keep him loveable as always. Gosling and Emma Stone have crazy chemistry as two fast-rising stars in the Hollywood hierarchy. Even for those with low tolerance, “Crazy, Stupid Love” keeps the cinema cliches and staggering sweetness to a minimum — for the most part. Overall, the movie fights the formula and comes out as a fresh, charming romantic flick.

“Water for Elephants” (PG-13) — Circus life never looked so pretty. Or so melodramatic. Jacob (Robert Pattinson) is a veterinary student who takes up with a traveling circus and immediately falls for the boss’s wife (Reese Witherspoon). Of course, you’d want to rescue such a pretty girl if she were married to a villain worthy of portrayal by Christoph Waltz (the menacing Hans Landa from “Inglorious Basterds”).

With the exception of Waltz’s bad guy, many of the performances feel a little stiff. The visuals paint a landscape of fantastical and bucolic life in a bygone era. This pretty scenery gives the film a unique feel, and help to keep things engaging when the story runs a tad thin.

“Cars 2” (PG) — While this sequel fails to keep pace with its predecessor and its peers, it’s unlikely that true fans (read: the little ones) will notice. Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) are back, and this time they’re headed overseas to take part in the World Grand Prix. There’s also the matter of Mater’s extracurricular activities as a spy.

The film stays within the Disney standard of quality, but falls well below the mark set by Pixar films to date. The story just doesn’t have the heart that audiences have come to expect. However, the visuals are still stunning, and the cars still talk, so “Cars 2” probably will still place high in the race for a kid’s attention.

“Scrooged” [Blu-ray] (PG-13) — Bill Murray plays a narcissistic TV executive in this 1988 retelling of “A Christmas Carol.” Murray’s style takes the classic Scrooge archetype and makes him funny and loathable, but also wounded and human. Maybe it gets a bit too sappy at the end, but c’mon, it’s a Christmas movie that’s watchable every year.

“Transformers Beast Wars: The Complete Series”
“Deadliest Catch Season 7”
“Rawhide: Season Four V.2”
“How the States Got Their Shapes: Season 1”
“Life and Planet Earth” [Blu-ray]
“Californication: Four Season Pack”

© 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.