DVD Alternatives to This Weekend's Theatrical Offerings

We know how it is: You'd like to go to the movies this weekend, but you've been shanghaied by a spy -- or is he a just a crazy guy? -- into jetting around the world chasing a Very Important Macguffin. But you can have something like a multiplex experience in whatever fancy foreign hotel you're holed up in at them moment with the right DVDs (ask the concierge to go buy them for you). And when someone asks you on Monday, "Hey, did you see Knight and Day this weekend?" you can reply, "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

INSTEAD OF: Knight and Day, in which Tom Cruise does some spy stuff and races around urgently while Cameron Diaz screams and runs around like a girl after him...

WATCH: The 39 Steps (1935), an early Alfred Hitchcock classic in which Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll are mismatched maybe-spies. Or go with Romancing the Stone (1984) for Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas bopping around intrigue-ridden South American jungles and getting into all sorts of exciting trouble. If you need Tom Cruise spy-age, why not go to the original with Mission: Impossible (1996) -- he runs a lot in this one, too. Director James Mangold has made some good movies. Kate & Leopold (2001) is not one of them, but it is similarly bad to Knight and Day with a terribly mismatched couple (Hugh Jackman and Meg Ryan) and an utter lack of any genuine humor.

INSTEAD OF: Grown Ups, in which Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade get together to reminiscence about their childhoods and spend 90 minutes demonstrating how little they've actually grown up since they were 12...

WATCH: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), another deeply horrifying comedy from director Dennis Dugan and starring Sandler and James as two straight guys who pretend to be gay even though that's so icky. Or try the classic comedy Meatballs (1979), in which Bill Murray leads campers in a summer adventure the likes of which the Grown Ups guys would have had. For further nostalgia for the '80s and summer camp, go with Wet Hot American Summer (2001). Dumb summer movies are no recent invention; perhaps the original is Beach Party (1963), starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello frolicking in the sun.


It's like summer camp every day at MaryAnn Johanson's FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)