DVD Alternatives to This Weekend's Theatrical Offerings

We know how it is: You'd like to go to the movies this weekend, but the rich aren't going to rob themselves and willingly hand over their treasures to the poor. But you can have a multiplex-like experience from the comfort of your own sofa with a collection of the right DVDs. And when someone asks you on Monday, "Hey, did you see Robin Hood this weekend?" you can reply, "No, I visited with a few other historical dealer-outters of justice instead."

INSTEAD OF: Robin Hood, in which star Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott give us the origin story of how a common archer in King Richard's army became a legendary champion of the common man...

WATCH: Gladiator (2000), the first of the several collaborations of Crowe and Scott throughout the 2000s, and the film that Robin Hood promised -- or threatened, depending on your perspective -- to be most like. For another unusual take on the legend of the hooded man, try Robin and Marian (1976), the delightful romantic adventure with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn as the iconic lovers late in life. For more of Ridley Scott in historical mode, go with the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven (2005), his previous look at medieval life and crusading warriors. Or see Russell Crowe take on another historical outlaw -- the Western gunslinger -- in The Quick and the Dead (1995), a sharp bit of pulp from director Sam Raimi.

INSTEAD OF: Just Wright, in which Queen Latifah inexplicably must battle Paula Patton for the affections of Common, because Latifah isn't skinny, shallow, and materialistic like Patton is, and this is apparently what men prefer...

WATCH: Last Holiday (2007), about a woman who spends her last few weeks of life indulging herself; it's not a great movie, but it is a great showcase for the awesomeness that is Queen Latifah. For another sweet, earnest romantic drama from Wright screenwriter Michael Elliot, try Brown Sugar (2002), also featuring Latifah, though not as a romantic lead. For more Common, check out Street Kings (2008), a highly intriguing, if difficult, cop movie that's been sadly overlooked. While Wright only nods obliquely to the strange notion that some women don't deserve love and romance because they don't fit narrow preconceptions about what women are "supposed" to look like, see Dogfight (1991), one of the very few films to explicitly tackle the idea.

INSTEAD OF: Letters to Juliet, in which Amanda Seyfried helps Vanessa Redgrave hunt down the man she should have married 50 years earlier but abandoned in the Italian countryside...

WATCH: Under the Tuscan Sun (2003), in which ugly old washed-up hag Diane Lane finds romance in Italy. For an even more romantic, more sexy romp through Tuscany, don't miss Kenneth Branagh's production of Much Ado About Nothing (1993), quite possibly one of the most life-affirming movies ever, and certainly one more packed with sunshine, wine, and delicious food than many others. See why the brokenhearted are inspired to write to the Capulet girl in Romeo + Juliet (1996), Baz Luhrmann's modern-day investigation into her famously awesome doomed romance. For something less mainstream from director Gary Winick -- now known mostly for crap rom-coms (13 Going on 30, Bride Wars) -- see his indie Tadpole (2002), about a teenaged boy who falls in love with a much older woman.


MaryAnn Johanson enjoys sunshine and wine at FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)