DVD Alternatives to This Weekend's Theatrical Offerings

Your dilemma: Is your friend-with-benefits coming over this weekend? Or perhaps you're just too depressed from getting laid off to leave the house. Whatever is keeping you indoors this weekend, you can still have a multiplex experience without venturing past your front step. Just pick the right DVDs...

INSTEAD OF: No Strings Attached, in which Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher are friends with bedtime benefits, until -- we can presume -- one of them wants to get serious and emotional and ruins their good thing...

WATCH: My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006), director Ivan Reitman's previous terrible romantic comedy, in which Luke Wilson is harassed by his former lover, Uma Thurman, whose superpowers make her a bitch with bite. For more of Ashton Kutcher in a bad rom-com, check him out in My Boss's Daughter (2003), in which tries to get it on with Tara Reid, even though it's a safe bet that his boss wouldn't like it. Natalie Portman hasn't made any bad rom-coms, so you'll have to settle -- if you want more of her in love -- for the charmingly quirky Garden State (2004). For a relatively classic sex comedy, check out The Last American Virgin (1982), in which three male teen pals try to figure out the whole sex-and-love thing.

INSTEAD OF: The Way Back, an adventure tale of extreme survival about a group of escapees from a Soviet gulag during World War II who walk thousands of miles to freedom...

WATCH: Fearless (1993), one of the best previous works by director Peter Weir, about a man (Jeff Bridges) who is another kind of survivor -- of a horrific plane crash -- who is having trouble coping with life after that trauma. For another story of endurance and perseverance that's based on real life -- as The Way Back is purported to be, though there is some evidence to the contrary -- don't miss the harrowing Touching the Void (2004), about two mountaineers in the Andes who get separated, believe each other dead, and make their own hard ways down. For more from Jim Sturgess, who heads up The Way Back's ensemble cast, see him as a risk-taker of a different stripe as a Vegas cheater in 21 (2008). For more from Ed Harris, playing an unlikely American in the gulag -- unlikely because he's not a prisoner of war -- check him out as a doddering general in the bitter satire Buffalo Soldiers (2001).

INSTEAD OF: The Company Men, in which Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, and Chris Cooper cope with being laid off from their swanky high-paid three-piece-suit careers...

WATCH: The classic The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956), in which Gregory Peck lives the career conundrum of his day: should he live life on his own terms, or give body and soul over to a corporate job? For a more intense look that Company Men offers at what happens when a man devoted to his work loses his job, see Michael Douglas and his crewcut go ballistic in Falling Down (1993). If you need to laugh at our ongoing economic woes, see the laid-off get comical revenge against their former employers in Office Space (1999). For more from Chris Cooper -- the best reason to see Company Men -- don't miss him as a man defined by a very different kind of work, in the coal mines of 1950s West Virginia, in October Sky (1999).

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MaryAnn Johanson is never a woman in a gray flannel suit at FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)