Want to give a little something geeky to help the people in your life understand why you love sci-fi? Here's a DVD gift guide with the perfect cinematic presents for those close to you, from parents to lovers to Santa himself.
For Mom: CHARLY
This is a sort of a stealth bomb, in that there are no lasers, no robots, nothing shiny to betray this 1968 Cliff Robertson classic's science fiction roots. Based on that book everyone reads in high school, Flowers for Algernon, Charly is about a mentally handicapped guy who undergoes an experiment that'll boost his intelligence into the Mensasphere. It's a supremely human film, with Robertson's Oscar-winning performance at its tender heart.
For Dad: STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
Because all dads secretly like Star Trek, even if they've never seen it. And all dads will respond to this film's—the best of the lot—central theme: that you're not too old to save the day, one last time.
For the girlfriend: ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
If your girl scoffs at your love for sci-fi, here's the movie to show her that'll prove that science fiction can do anything, including romance. We'll not give too much away about this Jim Carrey-Kate Winslet Oscar winner, except to say that the conjoined nature of memory and love—and the fragility of both—play large.
For the boyfriend: SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
If your man can't get behind the unabashedly nostalgic brilliance of Edgar Wright's adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novels—about a Canadian man of leisure (okay, slacker) who must defeat a girl's seven evil exes in order to win her heart—then don't bother. There are flaming swords! Dudes are hard-wired to respond to flaming swords.
For the kid: THE LAST UNICORN
They've already seen all the Pixar movies, as well they should've. And they've also seen the Pixar wannabes, so it's time to go back into the vault for this 1982 gem from the Rankin/Bass factory. So long as you turn a blind ear to the soundtrack by America, there's a lot to love about The Last Unicorn: some very fine hand-drawn animation, a stellar voice cast—Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Christopher Lee—and some startlingly harrowing imagery. Every now and again, the sequence where a fiery red bull chases that unicorn through a forest bubbles up from my distant memory.
For the disaffected teen: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
The surest cure for the yeah ... whatevers is the threat of metal braces getting rammed into your eyes as you're force-conditioned to stop being a punk kid. Plus, if there's anything that can burn through teenage malaise, it's a little of the old ultraviolence.
For the lovebirds: STARMAN
John Carpenter's 1984 romance is probably as mushy a story about alien visitation as you'll ever see, but Jeff Bridges is so downy soft as an extraterrestrial who takes the form of Karen Allen's dead husband, and Carpenter manages to temper some of the schmaltz with just enough peril, that you end up surrendering to its soft-focus charms.
For Santa (or whoever's in charge of the presents): INCEPTION
Because you know he didn't get to see it in the theater.
For the ex: CHILDREN OF MEN
Even a world devoid of children—filled with the simultaneous sting of desperation and hopelessness, as a man (Clive Owen) struggles to prove that his life is worth a damn by escorting the first mother in a generation to safety—isn't as barren as what you've left of my heart.
For the ultra-pretentious grad student: THE FOUNTAIN
Let them ponder the multilayered emotional and storytelling strata of Darren Aronofsky's trippy, time-hopping drama, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. They'll spend hours trying to find meaning—hours you don't have to listen to them.
For the distant cousins who you never see but are crashing Christmas this year: THE POSTMAN
Since they neither kept in touch nor simply sent a holiday card, they've earned this Kevin Costner stinker.
For the kids' teachers: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
There are plenty of movies filled with teachers presented as heroes, but none of them carry a whip. Or save the world from a Nazi-controlled supernatural weapon of mass destruction. Or look quite as good in tweed.
For the handsy uncle: TEETH
Dentata. 'Nuff said.