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.
- ‘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.
- ‘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)
- ‘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.
- ‘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.
- ‘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.
- ‘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!
- ‘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)
- ‘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.
- ‘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?”
- ‘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.
- ‘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.