Some days, you just need to bury your head under a pillow and block the rest of the world out. Today may be one of those days. When you’re depressed or despondent and it feels like the entire world is falling apart, what movies, TV shows, games, music, etc. do you fall back on to lift your spirits?
The real question this week is when am I NOT depressed, despondent and feeling like the whole world is falling apart? But I’ll digress and play along. For me, it has to be ‘Seinfeld‘ – perhaps because the show’s characters are as shallow as I often am, but mostly because it’s perhaps the best-written comedy ever to air on network television. Even though I own all the episodes on DVD (where are those Blu-rays, Sony?), it’s one of those shows I’ll always stop and watch a few minutes of if I’m flipping through channels looking for something to watch. Even though I know many of the episodes word-for-word by this point, it always manages to make me feel a little better about my miserable existence.
For some sick reason, instinct leads me to fuel the feelings by watching emotionally heavy films with characters who are somewhat messed up, but show signs of getting better. My subconscious may need to see others overcome their hurdles in order to help me get through whatever has got me down. If you know me, then you can probably guess what my go-tos are. At the top of this list would be anything from Cameron Crowe – even the movies that most people consider duds. Everyone loves ‘Say Anything‘, ‘Jerry Maguire‘ and ‘Almost Famous‘, but I also enjoy basking in his charming characters and witty angst-filled banter from ‘Elizabethtown’ and ‘Aloha‘. As flawed as those movies may be, they hit the sweet spot. When I’m really down in the dumps, I’ll pop in what’s arguably his darkest film to date, ‘Vanilla Sky‘. Rich with loneliness and longing, I eat it up.
After that, I’ll consider the late 1990s and early 2000s films by John Cusack. My personal belief is that Cusack’s everyday, down-to-Earth characters perfectly capture the way that most men are on the inside. ‘Grosse Pointe Blank‘ is a nice lighthearted one. ‘High Fidelity’ is a little darker, but still fitting. If I’m in the need for sappy romance, I’ll throw in ‘Serendipity‘. Adding the lovely Kate Beckinsale to the Cusack formula makes for a wonderful combo.
Not only do the stories, characters and dialogue in these films have the power to calm me down, but they all feature stellar soundtracks. Each is loaded with a great collection of songs, and many of Cameron Crowe’s films are driven by Nancy Wilson’s melodic piano and acoustic guitar scores.
I’m going to my niece’s wedding on Friday, so I already have a distraction from a day I’m hoping to endure but not acknowledge. If we weren’t going to be with family, there’s a good chance my wife and I would be home watching a movie to lift our spirits, and if I know us, we’d be watching ‘High Fidelity‘.
I first introduced my wife to Nick Hornby’s book in college. It’s one of my favorites, and one of hers now as well. In 2000, we were in the first audience to see the movie version, and though it moved the action from London to Chicago, it kept the heart and soul of the book intact. We loved it, and the movie has only grown on us over the years. We usually watch it once a year, and by the time we reach the end, with “I Believe (When I Fall in Love)” playing over the credits, we’re in a pretty great mood. We could definitely use that feeling right now. I have a feeling we’ll be rewatching ‘High Fidelity’ when we get back from the wedding.
Since I live too far away from Disneyland to go every time I feel down, I usually turn to a few of my favorite movies to cheer me up. I find that infinitely rewatchable comedies are the way to go here – movies that you’re familiar with, but make you laugh even though you have every line of dialogue memorized. For me, one of those movies is ‘The ‘Burbs‘. No matter the funk I’m in, this movie puts me in a good mood every time. Much more recently, I’d say ‘La La Land‘ will be one I revisit often. It has me smiling right from the opening musical. Oh, and speaking of musicals, ‘Sing Street‘. It’s hard to be mad if you watch ‘La La Land’ and ‘Sing Street’ back to back.
M. Enois Duarte
The genres I’m quickest to jump on when feeling down are slapstick comedies and brainless action flicks. Basically, something I can watch to shut off my brain and ignore the world outside. With a drink in one hand and the remote in the other, I’ll always laugh my ass off at ‘Airplane!‘, ‘Spaceballs‘ or ‘The Naked Gun‘. The same goes for ‘Clueless’, ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ and ‘Back to the Future‘.
When I’m feeling a bit friskier and wishing something dead, you can catch me eating unhealthy food while kicking back to ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark‘, ‘The Fifth Element‘ or pretty much any Schwarzenegger flick from the late ’80s and early ’90s. I don’t have one specific movie that I’ve consistently watched when I’m feeling bad, but most recently I’ve seen ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘ quite a bit since it premiered.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
When I’m feeling melancholy and have to drag myself to work anyway, I’ll grab Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane over the Sea” on my way out the door. Though it’s not exactly a pick-me-up, there’s just something about Jeff Mangum that heightens those emotions in a way I find completely irresistible, and screaming along in the car is always cathartic.
I don’t have a go-to at home when I’m feeling down, but there are a couple of recurring themes. Unsurprisingly, I gravitate towards very familiar movies that are howlingly funny – say, ‘UHF‘ or the accidental comedy of ‘Troll 2‘. (The aging college radio DJ in me deems it necessary to point out that I was into ‘Troll 2’ in the early-to-mid ’90s back when it was an HBO staple. You Johnnys-come-lately with your YouTube videos…) I also turn to films that inspire a sense of awe. ‘Forbidden Planet‘ and the near-entirety of Hayao Miyazaki‘s filmography are staples there. I’ve never really thought about the reason why, but I guess the visually entrancing majesty of those fantasy worlds inspires me to look at this one through a more optimistic set of eyes.
When I’m feeling dejected, it’s time to binge-watch ‘Star Trek‘ – mostly ‘The Original Series’ and the first six movies with the Kirk & Spock crew. Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic vision of a future where humanity eventually gets its act together and pulls itself out of the catastrophic shitshow we’re living through today sure seems reassuring right about now.
What picks you up when you’re down in the dumps? Tell us in the Comments.