As we enter 2009 it is time to look forward. Each new year is a clean slate, a chance to right the wrongs of the previous year. It is once again time for New Year's resolutions.
Money has gotten tight for everyone and some things need to be changed to make the dollar stretch. Frivolous follies of the past must be cut back or removed altogether. So where does that leave moviegoing?
Entertainment is always necessary as a means of escape and comfort, so by no means should seeing or renting movies be removed from a budget, but moviegoing habits may need to be altered. In 2009 make a resolution to become a better filmgoer.
Going out to see a movie, a especially as a family, can be an expensive endeavor, so do your research. If you are only going to see one movie over several weeks or months make sure it is the right one. Read several reviews for a movie that has peaked your interest. Make a point to read a sampling of negative and positive reviews because a negative review may reveal a fault that you might not see as a bad thing, in fact it may be exactly what you are looking for. A great resource for this is the Web site Rotten Tomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com), which compiles reviews of a given film and gives a percentage of good to bad reviews.
If you haven't yet, sign up for NetFlix or Blockbuster online. Both services provide home delivery of DVDs for a monthly fee. Depending on the plan you sign up for you can get movies one, two or three at a time and no restriction on the number of movies sent. Best of all there are no late fees. There is a benefit of going to a video store, namely browsing, but the cost of renting is too much. So, go to a video store for browsing purposes and make a list of films to put on your NetFlix or Blockbuster queue at home.
Video stores are a valuable resource for buying films cheaply. Instead of rushing out to buy a movie the week it comes out on DVD wait a month or two for it to show up in the previously viewed bin in video stores. DVDs that were selling for $20 to $30 will be half, or even a third of the price.
My biggest tip: avoid direct-to-DVD sequels. These are made to do one thing and one thing only: take your money by banking on the goodwill a popular title has built. Disney is notorious for this. How can you tell if a sequel has gone direct to DVD? There are clues. The first heads up should be that you heard nothing about it because, obviously, it never made it to theaters.
Another hint will be none of the actors of the original are in it. If one of the actors does appear it is because he or she is a washed up former star desperate for a paycheck. The most recent offender: Corey Feldman in "Lost Boys: The Tribe." A previous offender: C. Thomas Howell in "The Hitcher 2: I've Been Waiting." Even if the thought, "Oh, I liked the first one" pops into your head, don't be fooled.
Actually, let me be more specific, make it a rule to not rent or buy anything that does direct to DVD, even if it has big stars. More often than not there is a reason it skipped a theatrical release. Save your money.