January 22: DVD alternatives to this weekend’s multiplex offerings
We know how it is: You’d like to go to the movies this weekend, except your kid is sick and the doctors don’t know what you do about it, so you’re gonna be busy revolutionizing medical science in your garage. 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 Extraordinary Measures this weekend?” you can reply, “No, I did all my scientific research via DVD.”
INSTEAD OF: Extraordinary Measures, in which anxious dad Brendan Fraser cajoles cranky medical researcher Harrison Ford into inventing a treatment for his children’s fatal disease…
WATCH: Lorenzo’s Oil (1992), in which anxious nondoctor parents Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte do their own research and develop a treatment for their son’s rare disease. Medicine is generally not recommended as a do-it-yourself endeavor: to see real pros at work (or at least excellent Hollywood approximations of such), check out the NBC TV series ER. (I recommend Season 8, for the subplot in which Dr. Mark Greene confronts his own mortality.) For Brendan Fraser in another medical context, see the three episodes of Scrubs he guest-starred on, in Season 1 (2002) and Season 3 (2004). For more Harrison Ford as an eccentric crank, if not of the doctor variety, see The Mosquito Coast (1986), in which he uproots his family to the jungles of Central America.
INSTEAD OF: Legion, in which God decides to smite us puny humans, and only one renegade angel (Paul Bettany) heads down to Earth to take up our cause…
WATCH: Constantine (2005), in which the Almighty’s battles get played out among his underlings, including Peter Stormare as Satan and Tilda Swinton as the most awesome and unctuous Gabriel ever. Celestial beings walk among us, too, in Dogma (1999), some more defectors from heaven in Matt Damon’s and Ben Affleck’s former angels of death, though their primary weapon now is wiseassery. For solemn meditations on angels on Earth, check out City of Angels (1998), in which Nicolas Cage is a mopey seraph in Los Angeles; for the good version of that film, go with Wings of Desire (1987), from which City was swiped. For Paul Bettany in other religious garb, don’t miss the British film The Reckoning (2003), in which he portrays a medieval priest who unravels a murder mystery.
INSTEAD OF: Tooth Fairy, about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a hockey player shanghaied into serving as a magical being who snatches children’s dental residue in the middle of the night…
WATCH: Darkness Falls (2003), a slasher horror movie about the Tooth Fairy, which is, ironically, funnier than Tooth Fairy, which is intended as a comedy and is simply horrific. For more of the nightmares that director Michael Lembeck can inflict, see Connie and Carla (2004), a misfire of a gender-bending comedy about two idiots (Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette) who hide out from mobsters, by pretending to be male drag queens. (It’s even worse than it sounds.) If Dwayne Johnson humiliating himself is your thing, try The Game Plan (2007), in which his football player is saddled with a frilly pink surprise daughter. Perhaps the most unintentionally horrifying example ever of human possession of fantastical creature is Jack Frost (1998), in which the ghost of Michael Keaton inhabits a snowman. The creepiness factor is off the scale.
Where to buy:
City of Angels [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Connie and Carla [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Constantine [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Darkness Falls [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Dogma [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
ER: Season 8 [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Game Plan [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Jack Frost [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Lorenzo’s Oil [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Mosquito Coast [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Reckoning [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Scrubs: Season 1 [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Scrubs: Season 3 [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Wings of Desire [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
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