Ever since I started earning my own spending money, I’ve shopped the bargain bins at the record stores. My collections of Elvis Costello and Jethro Tull cassettes come courtesy of the $3.99 section of my local Sam Goody store. Sure, you’ve got to wade through a lot of crap, but there are definitely some undervalued gems to be had if you know what to look for.
Lately, I’ve taken to perusing the low-price DVD racks at Target and Walmart. No, I’m not crazy like some people I know, who buy up DVDs from their local dollar store. I value my marriage too much to bring home movies I’ll never watch to clutter up the DVD shelf (even if they are just a dollar — fifty cents for the double features!). But I did succumb twice last month to the siren call of the under $8.00 movie.
Home Fries — $5.50 at Walmart. I’m not sure why I rented this movie years back, but it is one of our favorite all-time underappreciated flicks. Starring Drew Barrymore, Luke Wilson, Jake Busey, and Catherine O’Hara, and written by Vince Gilligan, who wrote many of the best X-Files episodes (the plot of the movie feels a little like one of those classic X-Files episodes). Drew Barrymore plays Sally, a sweet girl pregnant with her married ex-lover’s baby who overhears some suspicious activity over her headset while working at the drive-thru at the local Burger-Matic. Luke Wilson and Jake Busey are brothers who are responsible for said suspicious activity, and who are trying desperately to discover exactly how much Sally knows. Catherine O’Hara is divine as the scheming, manipulative mother of the two boys, who oozes evil from every pore behind an innocuous smile while masterfully maintaining plausible deniability in all of her schemes.
Joe Versus the Volcano — $7.50 at Target. The movie that started it all between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Would we have had Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail without this quirky story of a man hired to fling himself into a volcano to appease an island of half-Jewish, half-Celtic Polynesians with an unusual fondness for orange soda? Maybe, but even so, Joe Versus the Volcano deserves a spot on your shelf. Full of quotable lines from the pen of John Patrick Shanley (who also wrote Moonstruck, which is also available for under $8.00) such as, “I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?” and “I have no response to that.” Buy it today!