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Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013

Home Movies/Out on Digital: Sept. 24

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The English Teacher

Julianne Moore is believable as an inspiring educator in her high school classroom but a lonely heart at home. Literature has set a high bar of manhood that the puerile, arrogant, dim guys she meets can never reach. Life gets more exciting when a male former student returns with a great play she wants performed at her school. The English Teacher is a modestly amusing story about finding inspiration in a banal world populated by clichés. Also stars Nathan Lane and Greg Kinnear.

■ “Top Gear: The Worst Car in the History of the World”

Fast-paced as American cable but suffused with British drollery, this BBC-TV special test drives a plethora of truly dreadful motorcars, including Communist Poland’s sputtering Polanez and India’s cheap Mahindra jeep knock-off. Worse still: such expensive rubbish as Ferrari’s Mondial, a slow-moving, poor handling, ergonomically ridiculous budget buster. The hosts have fun pitting a dashing BMW against a lumbering Lincoln, showing Detroit’s finest to be an ostentatious slug by contrast.

■ “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts”

Dean Martin looked a bit tipsy at times while hosting his televised celebrity roasts—all 12 collected on this six-DVD set—but that only infused the scripted romps with spontaneity. The casts assembled for a single episode were often a little mind-boggling. Picture fright-wigged Phyllis Diller with Gen. Omar Bradley in full dress and Nipsey Russell tossing a barb at Gov. Ronald Reagan. Some of the humor has evaporated over time but many moments still crackle with hilarity.