The Christmas/New Year's season is one of the busiest at the multiplexes, with kids and teens out of school and everyone looking to kick back and hang out. Which means that getting locked out of that hot flick you really wanted to see -- you know, the one everyone else is dying to see, too -- is a distinct possibility. But there are alternatives. Here's a handy guide to home-viewing options for when you get that sold-out smack at the box office over the holidays:
You wanted to see: The Pursuit of Happyness, about a dad desperate to make a comfortable life for his son after his wife abandons them.
Rent instead: Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979's Oscar-winning Best Picture about the struggles of a newly single dad to adapt to being the primary caregiver of his young son.
You wanted to see: Night at the Museum, when T. rex skeletons run amuck and armies of tiny Roman soldiers wage terrible, tiny war, and Ben Stiller is forced to become a bumbling accidental hero.
Rent instead: The Librarian flicks, starring ER's Noah Wyle as keeper of a secret archive of magical artifacts that invariably land him in the role of charmingly bumbling accidental hero.
You wanted to see: We Are Marshall, about a college football team's recovery from disaster, which broke new ground by fielding freshman players for the first time ever.
Rent instead: Glory Road, about the first integrated college basketball team, which is far more rousing than its clichés should allow it to be; plus, hunky coach Josh Lucas, who can actually act, trumps Marshall's hunky coach Matthew McConaughey, who can't.
You wanted to see: The Good Shepherd, about the rise of the CIA in the post-WWII period, and how a life of paranoia and secrecy ate away at the soul of one of its founders (Matt Damon).
Rent instead: The Conversation, Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 classic about a surveillance expert (Gene Hackman) whose life of paranoia and secrecy eats away at his soul.
You wanted to see: Rocky Balboa, the return of the Italian Stallion to the boxing ring.
Rent instead: Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg as another underdog in another sport -- football -- who arises from a 1970s Philly that could well have been encouraged by Rocky's original triumph.
You wanted to see: Curse of the Golden Flower, the sumptuous action drama of royal intrigue in imperial China.
Rent instead: Jet Li's Fearless, a far more dynamic -- and far more kung-fu-packed -- tale about the legendary martial arts champion who established a school of athletic philosophy and inspired generations.
You wanted to see: The Painted Veil, about an English couple abroad in China in the 1920s who reignite their failed marriage.
Rent instead: The English Patient, a far more romantic epic about distant lands and exotic peoples and doomed travelers.
You wanted to see: Apocalypto, an adventure set in a mysterious land amidst the lost culture of the ancient Mayans.
Rent instead: The Black Robe, Bruce Bereford's beautiful 1991 drama about a French Jesuit missionary in 17th-century North America who goes native among the Huron Indians he's supposed to be converting.
You wanted to see: Charlotte's Web, the wonderful new adaptation of the beloved classic.
Rent instead: Babe, who is also some pig, and humble, too.
You wanted to see: The Holiday, about how a change of scene at Christmas can do wonders.
Rent instead: Christmas in Connecticut (the 1945 original only, please), in which urban career gal Barbara Stanwyck is forced into a change of scene far more domesticated and suburban than she'd like.
You wanted to see: Dreamgirls, the musical rise and fall of a soulful '60s girl group.
Rent instead: That Thing You Do!, Tom Hanks' 1996 directorial debut about a '60s boy band and their impossibly catchy tunes.
You wanted to see: The History Boys, about a gaggle of British schoolboys preparing for Oxbridge entrance exams and learning about life and love.
Rent instead: Dead Poets Society, about a gaggle of American prep-school lads preparing for life after graduation and learning about how a predilection for the theater can doom a guy in redblooded hetero culture.
You wanted to see: The Good German, Steven Soderbergh's homage to 1940s noir.
Rent instead: Casablanca. It's the flick Soderbergh is most trying to evoke anyway.
You wanted to see: Blood Diamond, about the hidden awfulness of the diamond trade in Africa.
Rent instead: Hotel Rwanda, about the not-so-hidden awfulness of genocide in Africa.
You wanted to see: Eragon, though I'm not sure why; it's a poor imitation of the already dreadful made-for-the-Sci Fi Channel fantasy flicks.
Rent instead: Star Wars. It's exactly the same movie, except it's got landspeeders instead of dragons, and you actually care what happens to Luke Skywalker.
(Check out my reviews of many of these flicks at FlickFilosopher.com.)
minder of FlickFilosopher.com