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July 24: DVD alternatives to this weekend’s multiplex offerings

We know how it is: You’d like to go to the movies this weekend, but have you seen the price of a ticket these days? That’s the real “ugly truth” at the multiplex. But you can have a multiplex-like experience at home with a collection of the right DVDs. And when someone asks you on Monday, “Hey, did you see that new flick about the James Bond-wannabe hamsters?” you can reply, “No, I prefer my cinematic rodents not to be 25 feet tall.”
INSTEAD OF: The Ugly Truth, an ugly “battle of the sexes” would-be comedy about a mismatched couple (Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl) who hate each other until they don’t…

WATCH: An actual classic of the screwball comedy genre, such as 1940’s His Girl Friday, in which Cary Grant’s hard-edged newspaper editor squares off against his star reporter, played by Rosalind Russell… who also happens to be his ex-wife. You can imagine the fireworks. (Truth wishes it was worthy to lick the boots of a movie like this one.) If you need more Gerard Butler in a movie that’s actually romantic, try 2007’s P.S. I Love You, in which his letters to his widow (Hilary Swank) from beyond the grave inspire her to a new love. For more Katherine Heigl, there’s always 2008’s 27 Dresses or 2007’s Knocked Up… though they both cast her in roles just as depressingly antifeminist as Truth does.

INSTEAD OF: Orphan, in which Vera Farmiga and Peter Saarsgard unwittingly adopt a nasty little piece of work in Esther…

WATCH: An actual classic of the demon-child genre, like 1976’s The Omen, in which Satan himself arrives on Earth in the form of the wickedest little bastard you ever met. Or try a much more recent twist on the same theme: 2007’s Joshua, about a preternaturally composed nine-year-old who really really resents the arrival of his new baby sister; poor Vera Farmiga also plays the mom here.

INSTEAD OF: G-Force, in which a team of talking ninja guinea pigs saves the world, or something…

WATCH: 2001’s Cats & Dogs, which is exactly the same movie, except it’s, you know, felines and canines as secret super agents out to combat terrorism and deploy fart jokes. If you prefer a different rodent fix, try 1982’s The Secret of NIMH, about the world of rats and mice and the organization of men who experiment on them, or 2007’s Ratatouille, about a rat with the superpower of gourmet cooking.

INSTEAD OF: The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow’s compelling action drama about a bomb disposal squad in Iraq, which is expanding to many more theaters this weekend…

WATCH: Black Hawk Down, from 2001, the last great movie about the American military and how its mission has changed in recent years. For a more specific look at the challenges of the U.S.’s asymmetrical war in the Middle East, 2007’s The Kingdom is like CSI: Riyadh. For another look at Locker’s awesome star, Jeremy Renner, check out 2007’s 28 Weeks Later, in which he also plays a solider in a tough spot. Or see another of Kathryn Bigelow’s uncommon action movies, like 1995’s Strange Days, about a dangerous new technology that’s as addictive as a drug.


Where to buy:

Black Hawk Down [Region 1] [Region 2]
Cats & Dogs [Region 1] [Region 2]
His Girl Friday [Region 1] [Region 2]
Joshua [Region 1]
The Kingdom [Region 1] [Region 2]
Knocked Up [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Omen [Region 1] [Region 2]
P.S. I Love You [Region 1] [Region 2]
Ratatouille [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Secret of NIMH [Region 1] [Region 2]
Strange Days [Region 1] [Region 2]
28 Weeks Later [Region 1] [Region 2]
27 Dresses [Region 1] [Region 2]


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  • Victor Plenty

    MaryAnn, hate to nitpick about a typo, but it’s in your sentence on Renner’s excellent contribution to 28 Weeks Later, so I couldn’t help but notice it.

  • Kevin

    Not to nitpick about inaccurate information, but those “cinematic rodents” you refered to in Gforce are actually the size of normal rodents; not at all giant-sized like you implied when you wrote “25 feet tall”!