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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

March 19: DVD alternatives to this weekend’s multiplex offerings

We know how it is: You’d like to go to the movies this weekend, but you’re on the run from cops, criminals, and your ex-husband the bounty hunter. 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 The Bounty Hunter this weekend?” you can reply, “No, I found plenty of other hateful romantic comedies to enjoy, so to speak.”
INSTEAD OF: The Bounty Hunter, in which Gerard Butler hunts down his former wife, Jennifer Aniston, and throws her in the trunk of his car until she falls in love with him again, or something…

WATCH: Fool’s Gold (2008), another unpleasantly themed “romantic” “comedy” from director Andy Tennant, which pairs Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson as awful exes who hate-banter their way back into each other pants. Or you could see how, separately, Butler and Aniston have made the inexplicable decision to base their careers around terrible, unfunny, sexist movies that slander men and women alike and make love look like nonstop warfare and humiliation: He starred in the disgusting The Ugly Truth (2009), and she starred in the excruciating Along Came Polly (2004) — and you’d think at least one of them would have learned to avoid these kinds of movies like the plague. If you want an actual comedy about a bounty hunter (though it lacks romance), see Midnight Run (1988), in which Robert DeNiro hauls bailjumper Charles Grodin from New York to Los Angeles; it’s one of the funniest movies ever made.

INSTEAD OF: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, about the trials and tribulations of being a boy in the jungle of middle school, right down to the de rigueur mortification of getting beat up by a girl…

WATCH: Hotel for Dogs (2009), also from director Thor Freudenthal, a nicer movie about an adolescent boy (and his sister) who put their growing-pain angst to good use by creating a shelter for street pooches. On a similar level of for-the-kiddies-ness — it’s fine for youngsters, but their parents will be bored — is Hoot (2006), in which a young Logan Lerman fights to save a habitat for endangered birds from developers. Kids and adults alike will enjoy one of the best movies ever made about how hard it is to be a kid: Holes (2003), a bittersweet dramedy starring a teenaged Shia LaBeouf as a good kid wrongly sent to a juvenile detention camp. For the grownups only is Lord of the Flies (1963), a movie so definitive about what little monsters kids can be — a gaggle of them shipwrecked on an island descend into barbarism — that its title has become shorthand for the untamed animalism of the pubescent.

INSTEAD OF: Repo Men, in which Jude Law and Forest Whitaker repossess the artificial replacement organs of those who fall behind on the payments (until Jude Law decides he doesn’t like this work anymore)…

WATCH: Repo Man (1984), science fiction of a different stripe about the guys who bring in the cars of deadbeat drivers and the mysterious car they and the CIA are after. On a more related theme is Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008), a goofy musical about financing organ transplants that has quickly acquired a cult following. Two genre classics that surely inspired, at least in some small part, this new film are Logan’s Run (1976), in which everyone must die at the age of 30 (until one man decides otherwise), and Blade Runner (1982), about a hunter-downer of rogue androids — the latter film also lends considerable visual style to Repo Men, especially in its neon-advertising-drenched urban landscape.


Where to buy:
Along Came Polly [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Blade Runner [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Fool’s Gold [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Holes [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Hoot [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Hotel for Dogs [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Logan’s Run [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Lord of the Flies [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Midnight Run [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Repo Man [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Repo! The Genetic Opera [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Ugly Truth [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]



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