Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Movies to Watch When You’re Sick

These winter months not only bring the joy of the holidays, but also the misery of cold and flu season. Our Dick Ward experienced this firsthand recently, and suggested this topic for the Roundtable. What’s you’re favorite movie to watch when you’re sick?

The entries don’t necessarily have to do with illness in any way. They can just be movies that make you feel better when you want to curl up under a comfortable blanket and watch something on the television. (We’ve got one pick for a TV show and one for a TV miniseries here, so I’ll cut everyone some slack about expanding the scope beyond just movies if you want.)

Since Dick suggested the topic, we’ll let him lead things off.

Dick Ward

  1. My Neighbor Totoro‘ – When I’m relegated to the couch with an illness, there’s only one guaranteed cure: whimsy. The right combination of naivety and optimism combined with a happy ending is all that it takes to get me up and rolling again. Since I first discovered it at the age of 10, the movie ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ has gotten me through colds, the flu, pulled wisdom teeth, and even a broken foot. It’s wonderful from start to finish, and returns me to childhood every time I see it. The direction and writing of Hayao Miyazaki and the amazing music of Joe Hisaishi come together to make one terrific movie. I go with dubbed audio so I can curl up on the couch and not miss anything. For the record, it absolutely has to be the original U.S. dub. As much as I like Dakota Fanning as Satsuki, Elle Fanning just doesn’t work as well for me as Mei. Hopefully when the film comes out on Blu-ray, both dubs will be included.

Drew Taylor

  1. Total Recall‘ – A couple of weeks ago, I was sick. For some reason, my mind didn’t wander to the cuddly sick day basic cable staples (like ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off‘) but instead to, of all things, ‘Total Recall’. Something tells me that it has to do with the journey aspect of the narrative. I would be shocked (SHOCKED, I tells ya) if some of my fellow writers didn’t pick movies about being transported somewhere else (the obvious choice being ‘The Wizard of Oz‘). Mars beats Oz any day, though. Watching Arnold Schwarzenegger mow through dozens of conspiratorial, occasionally mutated bad guys is better than any pill or herbal remedy on Earth. Sometimes, when you’re sick, what you really need to do is “Get your ass to Mars.”

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘ – When I get sick, I black out the windows and curl up for a ‘Buffy’ marathon (the TV show, not the movie). Since the only Blu-ray player I have in my bedroom is in my PC, I take getting a cold as an excuse to catch up with neglected DVD sets like that. It’s perfect sick day material. I know and love the show so much that it’s kind of like comfort food. Whedon and company assault me on pretty much every emotional level possible. (Funny! Thrilling! Heartbreaking! You name it.) So there’s always something to hold my attention, I don’t have any trouble picking up if I happen to doze off, and I definitely don’t have to fret about running out of material before I start feeling better again.

Junie Ray

  1. Groundhog Day‘ – This is one of those rare movies that if I stumble upon while clicking around, I will always watch. It’s an imperfect movie in many ways, yet oddly compelling, lighthearted and uplifting. It’s akin to buying a lottery ticket and daydreaming about ways you could spend the winnings.

Mrs. Z

  1. 10 Things I Hate About You‘ – When the flu hits, there’s nothing to do but retreat to the couch with my favorite quilt, a cat, and a movie. It definitely can’t be a tearjerker, because when weakened by illness I’m likely to cry at a phone commercial. Crying plus snot is not a good thing. It also can’t be the latest new release that I’ve been wanting to catch up with, because there’s a good chance I might drift off to sleep and wake up right before the big twist ending. No, I want comfort food in movie form. For me, that means just one thing – the classic ’10 Things I Hate About You’. It has a story by Shakespeare, a fun ’90s alt-rock soundtrack featuring Boston’s own Kay Hanley, and most importantly the dreamy Heath Ledger at his most charming. It never fails to cheer me up. I don’t hate it, not even close. Not even a little bit, not even at all.

Mike Attebery

  1. Wonder Boys‘ – I don’t really need to be ill to watch this movie. It’s one of my all-time favorites. But something about being a little under the weather, a little rough around the edges, just makes me relate to the characters on the screen that much more. If there’s any upside to being sick, it’s the feeling of giving yourself a deserved pass when it comes to being at all productive. YOU’RE SICK! You have every right to sit on the couch, watch TV, and bumble through your day, all the while clad in a ratty pink bathrobe. Michael Douglas’ aimless novelist/professor Grady Tripp spends a stoned, drunken, befuddled weekend wandering the homes, bridges, and literary hideouts of Pittsburgh with fellow word-junkies Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., and Frances McDormand by his side. This is a great, great little film. It has rightfully earned a solid cult following among literary and film fanatics, yet still manages to go overlooked by far too many viewers. Trust me on this; make yourself some tea, grab your favorite bathrobe, and plant yourself on the couch. You’ll lose yourself in the story by the end of the first scene. With any luck, by the time Grady snaps out of his disoriented haze of life confusion, you’ll do likewise. Why this movie hasn’t hit Blu-ray yet is beyond me!

Aaron Peck

  1. Gladiator‘ – I love movies, so when I’m sick I can pretty much stick in any movie and be more than happy with the outcome. If I had to pick one movie above all others, I would pick ‘Gladiator’. It has everything you’d want in a sick day movie: drama, some action, and a good long running time. The drama is nice, because I can’t do with a pure action movie when I’m hacking up phlegm and I get nauseated just standing up. That means any movies with car chases or shaky-cam is out. The action in ‘Gladiator’ gives me just enough to satiate my need for it. Its long running time means that I can pass out from sickness before it’s over, wake up in the middle of it and (because I’ve seen it so many times) not miss a beat. This is the most crucial aspect, because it’s hard to stay awake for a movie when you’re sick. If you watch a movie that you’ve already seen frequently, you can take breaks with a few lengthy naps and not worry about losing the story.

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

  1. The Stand‘ – This Stephen King miniseries is a very good adaptation of the novel, with some really creepy scenes of life on Earth during the spread of an apocalyptic illness. It grabs me right from the opening scene: a tracking shot showing government lab workers struck down while sitting at their desks, buying coffee from a vending machine or playing ping pong, slumped over with glazed eyes and blood pouring out of their noses, all set to the tune of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” It makes you realize that things could be worse.
  2. The Princess Bride‘ – Just as the young Fred Savage is comforted while sick by his grandfather reading him the story, so are we, the audience, distracted from our illness by memorable characters, a heart-warming and entertaining tale, and witty (sometimes ludicrous) dialogue. “No more rhymes, I mean it!”“Anyone want a peanut?”

Josh Zyber

  1. The Princess Bride‘ – Chris kind of stole my thunder on this one, but I have to second the pick. What more perfect sick day movie could there be than one that’s entirely about suffering through a sick day and being comforted by a great story? This movie is wonderful in every respect.
  2. Bring It On‘ – I was going to pick something a little more obscure and perhaps artistically worthy here, until Mrs. Z badgered me into just being honest. When I’m sick, I want the cinematic equivalent of comfort food. Nothing meets that need for me better than Kirsten Dunst (at her cutest), Eliza Dushku and Gabrielle Union in cheerleader uniforms. Does this movie even have a “plot” or a “story”? Who cares? It’s awesome. I can watch it over and over again in a repeat loop, drifting in and out of consciouness, and pick right up with it now matter which scene I happen to wake up to.

Now it’s time for you to tell us what you watch when you’re sick.


  1. How did ‘Princess Bride’ not come to my mind at any point? I was just laying there sick for two days and somehow I never even thought of putting it in.

    Oh, and ‘Bring it On’ is a lot better than people give it credit for. The dream sequence was delightful.

  2. Jane Morgan

    ‘State & Main’ by David Mamet is my sick movie. I don’t know why I find it more comfortable than all others. Maybe, like Drew, it’s a sense of transport. It feels like living in a small town in Vermont. Maybe because I studied playwriting at university and directed student productions of five Mamet plays that this quiet little comedy reminds me of my university days. Or maybe I just find it therapeutic watching Alec Baldwin play a pedophile.

  3. Kevin

    Star Trek. Be it the originals with Shatner & Nimoy, or Abrams’ reboot, there’s just something oddly comforting about the adventures of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and the crew of the starship Enterprise NCC-1701.

  4. Andy

    Favorite sick movie: Jurassic Park without a doubt! What could be better than going to a remote island and watching Dinosaurs wreak havoc in this all time classic? Although for about the last 2 years, I haven’t been able to watch this while sick, because I can’t stomach the thought of watching it on DVD. How is it not on Blu-ray yet?!?

    Favorite sick movie until Jurassic Park hits Blu-ray: I guess I’d have to say The Matrix or the Wizard of Oz. I think everyone can probably guess the reasons why. Dick touched on this initially.

    • I hear you. I finally found a 1080P version of the first movie (actually, its probably 1080i) and a 720p version of Lost World. Both the person who had put them up had gone through the trouble of replacing and synching up the DTS soundtrack off the DVDs. I then used some freeware software to write these to Blu-Ray (AVCHD format, though, as both were at 25fps and I was having a heck of a time with sound synching when I tried converting to 24fps) Got both on the same disc, and I can play it in my PS3.

      That being said, as soon as Universal announces it, its on my pre-order list on Amazon! I already own these movies on Laserdisc, VHS and DVD. I have no problem rebuying these YET AGAIN!

      • Andy

        Couldn’t agree more Mr. Henley! Wow that is some mighty impressive devotion! Makes me feel like I’m not even a true fan, even though the first JP was my favorite film from age 13 until about age 22. I literally cannot fathom how the JP trilogy wasn’t a top priority for Universal! Especially considering some of the other catalog titles they have put so much work into and released.

        • Its Spielberg not Universal, his movies I think are kept under wraps until he gives the say so, there are quite a few of his that havent made it out and from many different production companies, I’m still waiting for A.I. myself

    • Oh man, Jurassic Park. I can watch that movie any time. I could probably even watch it a few times in a row. Aside from the “Interactive CD ROM!” bits make me cringe a little, there’s nothing in that movie I don’t like. Great suggestion.

      The same goes for Jaws. If it’s on, I can and will watch it and love it.

  5. just recently had gull bladder surgery so i was laid up and on the first day had the worst pain ever and i sat there watching an old buck Rodgers ep. titled planet of the slave girls. felt better soon after.:)

  6. I like movies from my childhood that make me feel good. Flight of the Navigator, The Three Lives of Thomasina, Summer Magic, The Gnome Mobile, Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz. All of these make me feel warm inside.

    I also have a few new favorites. Dreamer, the live action Charlotte’s Web, Gone With The Wind and the American Girl movies. I think more than anything this is why I keep these movies around, they are perfect sick-day movies.

    The first Harry Potter movie also has certain feelings tied to it. It was the first date I had with someone who passed away on me. So it has very important sentimental value to me.

    That’s it, really. When I am sick, I just cannot handle comedies or action movies or sci-fi movies. Those get saved for when I get feeling better, and feel like blasting my sound system again!

    • Andy


      Am I sensing you’re in love with Dakota Fanning? You’re always talking about how Dick must be a long lost brother of yours. Wasn’t it him that also recently admitted he was i love with Ms. Fanning? I could be wrong, but maybe you two really are connected in some way.

      • Love is a freaky word. I think she’s a good actress, and she has the cute-kid thing going for her. I’ll leave it at that. I think Mel Gibson is a good actor too, and love his movies, but wouldn’t say I was in love with him. 🙂

  7. Shayne Blakeley

    Absolutely agreed on Buffy, nothing better. I also often find myself watching Mythbusters reruns when I’m feeling lousy.

  8. Callenby

    Because it was lent me, I watched “Cannibal Holocaust” when I was sick…no, wait. I think I watched the movie first.

    The last time I was home ill I through-watched “Lonesome Dove” on blu-ray. Television marathons, either seasons or mini-series seem to see me through a day of sickness.

    Or I read.

  9. besch64

    I watched Inland Empire last time I was sick. It felt like time slowed down and I was floating through David Lynch’s brain.

  10. mh

    Like William, childhood favorites are the ones that comfort me when I’m sick. My top two choices are LADY AND THE TRAMP and THE WIZARD OF OZ.

  11. Lahrs

    I wasn’t sick, just going through a nasty divorce and needed a pick-me-up, so a friend lent me and forced me to watch Galaxy Quest, and to this day I thank him for doing so.

    Galaxy Quest is now my default sick or need a pick-me-up movie, with Dorkness Rising a very close second.

    • Josh Zyber

      Galaxy Quest is awesome. I reviewed that when the Blu-ray came out. It had been a long time since I’d seen it, and I’d forgotten just how damn funny it is.

      Also, the “Galactopedia” feature on the Blu-ray is hilarious.

      Never give up, never surrender!

    • My dad made me watch ‘Galaxy Quest’ and I feel the same way. I saw Tim Allen and immediately thought it would be horrible, but it turns out I was way wrong.

      It’s also the first movie I really saw with Sam Rockwell in it. Turns out he’s awesome – go figure!

  12. EM

    I am sick right now, and so this question is already on my mind. Overall, my favorite movies to watch when I’m sick are, simply, my favorite movies. Familiarity is comforting, even in a seemingly discomforting movie. For example, years ago during a hospital stay, I was delighted to come across a 24-hour TV marathon of “Aliens”, despite its shocks and grue: it was a movie I knew I liked, and I knew it well enough that I could immediately drop back into it after any distraction (of which there were many). Conversely, this week I’ve repeatedly put off watching some unfamiliar movies from Netflix and my local public library, simply because I’ve been concerned that I might fall asleep during the movies or otherwise experience too much illness-related distraction to allow me to properly evaluate and appreciate them (if indeed it is possible for me to appreciate them at any time).

    While any familiar movie might do, like Adam Tyner I do like the idea of TV shows on disc. A couple of nights ago I gravitated to a Blu-ray disc of the original “Star Trek” for two reasons: 1) I was somewhat drowsy, and so shorter-form programming presented less risk of an incomplete viewing experience; and 2) I could watch more than one program without having to suffer the physical challenge of getting up and changing discs.

    Sometimes there are additional considerations. Have you ever heard the saying, “It only hurts when I laugh”? During the aforementioned hospital stay I was in pain most of the time, but I discovered that deep laughter greatly intensified the pain and also prevented me from inhaling. So, comedies were out!!

    If I’m in a state in which it’s hard to follow pretty much anything, I like to turn to the ambient videos in my collection, such as a fireplace or a kaleidoscope. Although such videos usually come with one or more soundtracks, I generally accompany them with various CDs instead—in sickness, something like Vivaldi violin concertos or Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” can be quite soothing.

  13. EvilResident

    I’d say Fantasia if I’m way sick. I also love watching Shelly Duvall’s faerie tale theater, the twilight zone, or Ray Bradbury’s scifi whatever show. Or tales from the crypt. And masters of horror. Basically any anthology show that I have, I guess.

  14. EvilResident

    Oh geez I meant to tell a quick story. The first time I ever watched Eraserhead, I popped it in and immediately came down with a fever of around 102 out of nowhere. I managed to watch the whole thing, but holy eff what an experience.

  15. Ferris Bueller is a good one! 🙂 I tend to find I go for either Little Women, The Alien movies (And all of their making-ofs), and anything by John Carpenter, especially Escape from new York, The Fog, Ghosts of Mars, Big Trouble in Little China… etc… 😉

  16. slimdune

    The Goonies, Big Trouble In Little China, The Explorers, Monster Squad, The Neverending Story. There is never a better time for eighties nostalgia than when stuck on a couch.

  17. Joe

    I’ve always found Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST as a supreme entertainment to make one feel better. It even cleard up post-Mardi Gras hangovers in my drinking days!