DVD Alternatives to This Weekend's Theatrical Offerings

We know how it is: You'd like to go to the movies this weekend, but somebody left a cute baby and a grownup you can't stand on your doorstep, with a note to look after them both. But you can have a multiplex-like experience at home once to put everyone to bed. So when someone asks you on Monday, "Hey, did you see Life as We Know It this weekend?" you can say, "Pal, I'm living it."

INSTEAD OF: Life as We Know It, in which Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel can't stand each other, but agree to raise the orphaned child of their friends anyway, because an environment of seething resentment and hatred is hardly different from what other kids grow up in...

WATCH: Knocked Up (2007), which is practically the same movie, except the new parents didn't even get to have sex; it also features Katherine Heigl as a woman who doesn't want to be a mother but decides, what the hell, it seems like a lark. Or go with Raising Helen (2004), another obnoxious example of a woman (Kate Hudson) punished for having a career and freedom by getting saddled with her orphaned nieces and nephew (don't worry: she'll learn to love it just as Heigl keeps getting forced to). For another loathsome instance of that thing that happens only in Hollywood -- people who hate each other end up falling madly in love -- give a look at The Proposal (2009), in which the seething anger that exists between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds naturally morphs into true love. For the ur hate-then-love romance -- and perhaps the only one that actually works -- don't miss Pride & Prejudice (2005), in which Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen etc., etc.

INSTEAD OF: Secretariat, the true story of the fastest horse ever to win the Triple Crown, and his owner (Diane Lane), who took huge business risks to promote and race the animal in a time -- the 1970s -- when women making multimillion-dollar deals was not the done thing...

WATCH: Seabiscuit (2003), which also tells the amazing true story of a horse who won races and inspired a nation. See more of Diane Lane in an historical context, see the TV miniseries Lonesome Dove (1989), as another kind of businesswoman with an in-demand career on the Great Plains after the Civil War. For another tale of girls who love ponies, see Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (2005), in which Dakota Fanning nurses an injured horse back to health and on to racing victory. For more from director Randall Wallace, see his We Were Soldiers (2002), about a cavalry unit -- though not the horsey kind -- in the Vietnam War.

INSTEAD OF: My Soul to Take, in which Wes Craven warms up some horror leftovers in a tale about a serial killer whose soul has (maybe) been reborn into the body of one of a gaggle of small-town teenagers...

WATCH: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and remember the days when Wes Craven made movies that were at least mildly original, and somewhat scary. For a much more chilling tale of a killer reincarnated, don't miss Dead Again (1991), in which Kenneth Branagh's private eye investigates the case of amnesiac Emma Thompson, who is dreaming of a decade's old murder which may be about to repeat itself. Some classic reincarnation-and-murder cheese, check out The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975; scrounge around for an old VHS copy), in which a college professor dreams of a man's murder, and discovers later that he is the murdered man reborn (a twist that is rather spoiled by the film's title). For more of Max Thieriot, the young star of Soul, see him in the charming Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008), as a young man unfairly accused of a crime who is exonerated by the girl-reporter investigations of Kit (Abigail Breslin).


MaryAnn Johanson, her soul to take at FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)