We know how it is: You'd like to go to the movies this weekend, but you'll be rehearsing for a dance rumble between your tough gang of street dancers and that other gang of tough street dancers. But you can have a multiplex-like experience from the comfort of your street-corner dance studio with the right DVDs. So when someone asks you on Monday, "Hey, did you see Step Up 3-D this weekend?" you can say, "No, but I danced cinematically anyway."
INSTEAD OF: Step Up 3-D, in which street dancers in New York City meet other tough dancers in a battle to the death, or something...
WATCH: West Side Story (1961), in which street gangs take dance seriously and a battle to the death is an actual battle to the death. For another classic look at dance as a distraction from the harsh realities of life, complete with the requisite make-or-break competition, try the essential Saturday Night Fever (1977). More contemporary stories of kids using dance to escape -- and with lots of great dancing that'll make you wanna jump up and join in -- see the underappreciated How She Move (2008), about a girl from a Toronto ghetto who needs to win a step-dance contest to raise tuition money, or Rize (2005), a wonderful documentary about intense, ganglike street dancers in Los Angeles.
WATCH: Step Brothers (2008), also from the team of writer-director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell, which uses a similar sense of deadpan humor to tell the tale of the rivalry of adult stepbrothers (Ferrell and John C. Reilly). For more of Mark Wahlberg in an unexpectedly comedic role, see The Departed (2006), a serious cop drama in which he plays the surprising comic relief. To see how buddy cop comedy can go wrong, see the TV reboot Starsky & Hutch (2004), starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as the titular cops. For a buddy crime comedy that works, don't miss one of the foundations of the genre, 48 Hrs. (1982), in which Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte have two days to solve a murder.
INSTEAD OF: Middle Men, in which Luke Wilson invents porn on the Internet and then thinks it's a bad idea, but no backsies, he's stuck with the Russian mobsters who want his money and him dead...
WATCH: Startup.com (2001), a fantastic documentary about how two friends lose their innocence and test their friendship when they go into business together online. Or try Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (1990), about the real-life mobster Henry Hill, the movie Middle Men seems to have been most inspired by stylistically. For a look at the early days of home computer that paved the way for the Web, don't miss Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999), in which Bill Gates' (Anthony Michael Hall) Microsoft and Steve Jobs' (Noah Wyle) Apple fight it out for dominance. For more of co-writer/director George Gallo, don't miss Midnight Run (1988), which he scripted, one of the most hilarious buddy comedies ever made.