(Ratings for each film begin with a "star'' rating -- one star meaning "poor,'' four meaning "excellent'' -- followed by the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and then by a family-viewing guide, the key for which appears below.)
"The Big Sick": The critically praised comedy-drama, based on the life of star and co-writer Kumail Nanjiani ("Silicon Valley''), casts him as a comic whose heritage may get in the way of love. He falls for a graduate student (Zoe Kazan, as a surrogate for co-writer Emily V. Gordon, Nanjiani's wife), but his very traditional parents don't approve of the relationship. When his new love develops a health crisis, he has to connect for the first time with her parents (Holly Hunter, Ray Romano). Directed by Michael Showalter ("Wet Hot American Summer''), the film was produced by Judd Apatow. DVD extras: four "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Nanjiani, Gordon, Showalter and producer Barry Mendel; deleted scenes; South by Southwest Film Festival panel. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Hero": Veteran actor Sam Elliott gets a terrific showcase with writer-director Brett Haley's profile of a former Western star who, while dealing with illness, gets an unexpected chance at a career comeback. He also gets another surprise with a shot at love again -- with Laura Prepon ("Orange Is the New Black'') as the woman in question, a stand-up comic -- while trying to make amends with his estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter, "Marvel's Jessica Jones''). The fine cast also includes Katharine Ross ("The Graduate''), alias Mrs. Sam Elliott in real life, and Nick Offerman ("Parks and Recreation''). DVD extras: audio commentary by Elliott and Haley; photo gallery. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this Week:
"The Vietnam War": A new documentary series from genre master Ken Burns (the most recent recipient of the Television Critics Association's career achievement award) always is a major event, and his latest collaboration with fellow producer-director Lynn Novick -- making its home-video debut the same week it begins its PBS broadcast -- traces the title conflict with a particularly bountiful number of firsthand witnesses for a Burns project, from both the American and Vietnamese sides. Archival news footage, home movies, photographs and audio clips also are incorporated. Of special note is the very precise music soundtrack, with the original portions of it composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and contributions by Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble -- plus classic songs from the relevant era by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and many others. **** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Lethal Weapon: The Complete First Season": The popular buddy-cop movie franchise gets a fresh take with this Fox series version, casting Clayne Crawford in Mel Gibson's feature-film role as Martin Riggs, the personally distressed detective whose troubled history prompts him to take some big risks on the job. In turn, that distresses his new partner Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans Sr., assuming Danny Glover's part), a family man who's not a fan of taking unnecessary chances. Keesha Sharp plays Murtaugh's wife, Kevin Rahm portrays the cops' boss, and Jordana Brewster ("The Fast and the Furious'') appears as a psychologist who deems Riggs a very special case. Hilarie Burton ("White Collar'') guest stars in several episodes. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; deleted scenes; extended version of pilot episode; outtakes. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Bates Motel: Season Five": The A&E Network series that explained how Norman Bates (played by Freddie Highmore) became a titular "Psycho'' ended its run with this set of episodes, involving his mother (Vera Farmiga) in a way that might be suspected by devotees of the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie. The plot partially reinvents that suspense classic, even involving embezzler Marion Crane (music star Rihanna, assuming Janet Leigh's iconic don't-go-in-the-shower role). In a scene that evokes a very famous one, executive producer Carlton Cuse appears as a policeman who stops Marion. Kenny Johnson, Brooke Smith ("The Silence of the Lambs''), Austin Nichols (``The Walking Dead'') and Damon Gupton ("Criminal Minds'') also are featured. A complete-series set also is newly available. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Transformers: The Last Knight" (Sept. 26): The alien robots are determined to have a possible link to ancient times; Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins star. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"47 Meters Down" (Sept. 26): When their protective cage comes loose, vacationers (Mandy Moore, Claire Holt) are sent to the bottom of the ocean, where sharks target them. (PG-13: P, V)
"American Horror Story: Roanoke" (Oct. 3): The sixth season of the FX drama series takes the form of a re-enactment show about an encounter with the paranormal. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"The Book of Henry" (Oct. 3): A woman (Naomi Watts) and her surviving son try to carry out her late child's plans against a neighbor. (PG-13: AS, P)
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" (Oct. 3): Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has adventures anew as he seeks an artifact that will keep a murderous enemy at bay. (PG-13: AS, V)
"The House" (Oct. 10): To fund their daughter's college tuition, a couple (Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler) opens a makeshift casino. (R: AS, N, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"The Deer Hunter" (1978): The Oscar-winning drama thrusts several small-town friends (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Savage) into the heart of battle in Vietnam. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Lethal Weapon" (1987): The movie that launched the franchise makes a retirement-minded police detective (Danny Glover) wary of his unpredictable new partner (Mel Gibson). *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Lifeguard" (1976): Though he still likes his job, a longtime beach patroller (Sam Elliott) faces pressure to make a career change. ***
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending September 3, 2017, Courtesy of comScore)
2) "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"
4) "Alien: Covenant"
5) "The Boss Baby"
6) "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword"
7) "The Fate of the Furious"
8) "Kong: Skull Island"
9) "Going in Style"
10) " Ghost in the Shell"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence