Everybody feels a little under the weather occasionally, it’s part of life. So when life gives you poor health, what is the best solution? Well, after a doctor’s visit and some enriching broth, the best thing to do is settle on the couch with a perfect movie.
But the perfect movie is elusive, it is heavily dependent on the circumstance — and the perfect selection of a movie while not feeling one hundred percent is wildly different from the selection when firing on all cylinders. The melancholy mood of being sick requires a film with an opposing spirit; it needs to have energy and identity, or otherwise be conceptually wide enough to distract the viewer from their aches and / or pains.
‘The Princess Bride’ (1987) – I’m Not Left Handed!
The Princess Bride is the perfect movie to watch while sick, not least because it is framed as a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading the story to his ailing grandson (Fred Savage). Its invigorating charm will brighten even the most cloudy of moods.
Just like the grandfather assures the grandson about the book in the movie, this film has it all: Adventure, romance, sword fighting, giants, magic, rodents of unusual size… Everything. These details make this movie timeless and endlessly rewatchable, making it the perfect choice to return to any time the situation requires a boost.
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968) – Do You Read Me, HAL?
2001: A Space Odyssey falls firmly in the category of ‘distract yourself from how you feel’. Its visual intrigue and rollercoaster of lofty concepts mean that it’s impossible to think about anything besides this movie while it is playing.
In a film that many consider to be director Stanley Kubrik’s most compelling work, the imposing concepts of space travel and the nature of humanity act as merely jumping-off points to even more complicated philosophical quandaries. With an ending that requires several viewings (at least) to form a coherent opinion, it is virtually impossible to have any other topics on your brain (like feeling under the weather) while attempting to pick this film apart.
‘School of Rock’ (2003) – Turkey Sub
There are few remedies for a bad day as effective as the infectious energy of Dewey Finn (Jack Black) in School of Rock. Black is electric in this role, and the performances of the young cast are impressive — especially considering most of them were hired for their musical ability rather than their acting chops.
What sets this film apart from some other films surrounding music and rock & roll, is that the music is spectacular and unbelievably catchy. There is no doubt that this classic film inspired a whole generation of young people to grab a guitar and learn to shred.
‘Airplane!’ (1980) – Do not call me ‘Shirly’!
Everybody is familiar with the old adage that ‘laughter is the best medicine’, which if true means that the movie Airplane! is some of the best medicine out there. A comedy classic, ‘Airplane!’ is a literally non-stop stream of bits, jokes, and puns from start to finish.
This film is excellent to rewatch on a sick day because of its sheer comedic density; it’s easy to blink and miss a hilarious joke, or clever visual gag. And if somehow all this concentrated comedy is not enough to lift your spirits, fear not, there is a sequel: Airplane II: The Sequelwhich offers even more laughs.
‘Amadeus’ (1984) – I Absolve You All
This highly decorated (eight oscars!) Biopic about the turbulent rise and fall of musical genius Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) is one of the best films around, period. So what better way to dissipate a cloudy disposition than by watching some academy nominated performances while listening to some beautifully executed Mozart music?
Besides the acting and music, Amadeus also benefits from some spectacular set and costume design, which transports the viewer from their modern, advil strewn couch, to the gilded court of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (Jeffery Jones) leaving any cloudy weather behind.
‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979) – Napalm in the Morning
Sometimes it can be good to be reminded that no matter how bad things are or how badly we feel — things can always get worse. And frankly, it does not get a whole lot worse than some of the situations in Apocalypse Now!, which displays some grizzly realities of the American War in Veitnam, and explores some of the darkest corners of the human spirit.
On top of this, it is simply an entertaining movie, with some classic performances from Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando, and a well curated selection of Veitnam war era rock and roll music. Not to mention some highly quotable moments — the “Napalm in the Morning ” being perhaps the most famous example.
‘La La Land’ (2019) – Classic Rope-a-Dope
A romantic musical is essential viewing while under the weather, and the academy darling film. La La Land fits the bill perfectly. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling remind us why they are regarded as some of the best leading actors in Hollywood by portraying relatable characters in nearly fairytale circumstances.
However, the talent of the leading actors would have been wasted in this film were it not for the spectacularly fun music and dance choreography which accompanied it. Each musical piece in the film is full of distinct character and identity, which in combination with all the other details, elevate this film slightly above some of its contemporaries.
‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985) – When You Grow Up, Your Heart Dies
The Breakfast Club is such an 80s classic that it sometimes feels a bit more like a time capsule than a film. This movie can be surreal to re-watch because it is easy to forget how classic each scene is. None more-so than the dance montage, which sees an incredibly hyped up Emilio Estevez execute some wicked moves on top of a desk.
While there may be some outdated notions in this film (it is almost 40 years old), it is no doubt brimming with 80s nostalgia and an endlessly relatable anti-authoritarian, or at very least anti-principal energy.
‘Knives Out’ (2019) – Donut Hole
Knives Out is the type of film that hooks a viewer and does not let go. A modern classic whodunnit, modeled expertly on Agatha Christie-esque principals, it resembles some of the most legendary murder mysteries commited to film.
What really brings this movie together is the excellently cast group of actors who portray the morally-thin family at the center of the mystery including: Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Chris Evans, Kathrine Langford and Micheal Shannon and the investigation team of Daniel Craig and Lakeith Stanfieldas well as the nurse, playedby Ana de Armasaround whom, the mystery swirls.
‘Bridesmaids’ (2011) – Maid of Dishonour
Bridesmaids is another example of laughter being the best medicine put to the test. This film is so full of funny people it is hard to know where to begin. The milti-faceted Kristin Wiig heads the ensemble, she is flanked by the hilarious talent of Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolphand that’s just the start.
The humor in this film offers a little bit for everybody; there are crude moments, cringe inducing ones, clever ones, and slapstick ones. Bridesmaids really is one of the most universal comedies of the 2010s.
NEXT: Best Comedies of the 2010s, Ranked