January 8: DVD alternatives to this weekend’s multiplex offerings
We know how it is: You’d like to go to the movies this weekend, except you’re way too scared to actually ask out the girl you like. 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 Youth in Revolt this weekend?” you can reply, “No, I invented an alter ego who prefers to veg out on the sofa instead.”
INSTEAD OF: Youth in Revolt, in which Michael Cera seeks to lose his virginity to the girl of his dreams but must invent a meanspirited alter ego to do so…
WATCH: Paper Heart, last year’s mockumentary in which Cera, as himself, searches for the meaning of love with his pal, performance artist Charlyne Yi, as herself… sort of. (It’s just out on DVD in Region 1, and out in early February in Region 2.) Male sexual desperation is on full view in The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), in which Steve Carell is pushed to final rid himself of his pesky innocence by well-meaning but clueless friends; and Nice Guys Sleep Alone (1999), in which a “nice guy” doesn’t really understand that being a milquetoasty doormat doesn’t make a guy “nice.” For one of the best alter egos stories ever, revisit Fight Club (1999), in which — SPOILER! — Edward Norton invents badass Brad Pitt as an outlet for expressing his rage.
INSTEAD OF: Daybreakers, in which vampires have been roaming the Earth and kicking ass for 10 years and have taken over the planet and are — oops! — about to run out of human blood…
WATCH: Gattaca (1997), which is almost exactly the same movie, except in this one Ethan Hawke is a genetically imperfect astronaut but can do anything you can do better anyway, while in Daybreakers Ethan Hawke is a vampire scientist who thinks it’s uncool to drink human blood. For another example of vampires living out of the closet, see the HBO series True Blood, which debuted in 2008 and is now in its third season; Season One is now available on DVD. The Australian brother directing duo of Michael and Peter Spierig debuted a few years back with Undead (2003), about a little Australian village contaminated by alien mold spores that do nasty things to human flesh — it’s disgusting and pretty cool. Ethan Hawke’s vampire boss Sam Neill is a whole lot nicer in another Australian flick, The Dish (2000), in which he plays the owner of a satellite relay station that helps transmit Apollo moonshot communications.
INSTEAD OF: Leap Year, in which Amy Adams is forced to portray a woman-child whose greatest wish in life appears to be that she will find herself engaged to be married before she dies…
WATCH: The equally hideous Made of Honor (2008), also by screenwriters Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, which engages in much the same offensive ethnic “humor” (though its targets are Scots and Scotland rather than the Irish and Ireland), slapsticky pratfalls, and general degradation of both genders. If you want to see Amy Adams in a role truly worthy of her bubbly, screwball-esque talent — and one that does not reduce her to a spoiled brat, as if that’s cute — don’t miss the sheer perfection of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008), in which she portrays a ditzy but not dumb actress in 1939 London. For a look at a suaver Matthew Goode — he’s the bitter Irishman she hates and hates until she loves him — check out Woody Allen’s Match Point (2005) for his smooth scion of a wealthy English family. For a far superior example of the “American girl abroad in Ireland” romantic comedy, see The Matchmaker (1997), starring Janeane Garofalo as the anti-Amy Adams: it’s a cute movie for people who hate cute.
Where to buy:
The Dish [Region 1] [Region 2]
Fight Club [Region 1] [Region 2]
The 40-Year-Old Virgin [Region 1] [Region 2]
Gattaca [Region 1] [Region 2]
Made of Honor [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Matchmaker [Region 1] [Region 2]
Match Point [Region 1] [Region 2]
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day [Region 1] [Region 2]
Nice Guys Sleep Alone [Region 1] [Region 2]
Paper Heart [Region 1] [Region 2]
True Blood: The Complete First Season [Region 1] [Region 2]
Undead [Region 1] [Region 2]
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