It’s spring of 2020 and chances are that you are either an essential worker or you are self-isolating and staying home. In either case, you are likely spending your down time bored in the house and in the house bored. Nevertheless, it is still springtime and that means visits from friends like allergies and the common cold, on top of the fact that there is a chance that you will catch COVID-19 and suffer flu-like symptoms—and, Maude willing, that is the worst it will be for you. That means you’re going to have some sick days and you’re going to need some entertainment specifically designed to help you through feeling yucky and puny.
And that’s where I come in! As a chronically ill person, I have spent a lot of time on the couch feeling miserable and just wanting a distraction from how crappy I feel. So, I have—and will continue to—curate a selection of movies that do just that. Granted, these are the movies that help me, your mileage may vary, but I’m willing to bet that at least one of the following will end up on your list of go-to movies too.
You have no idea how many times I’ve uttered this after sustaining some sort of klutzy injury.
First on the list is Jim Carrey’s 1997 film Liar Liar. Now, I have to admit that, at this point, I tune out about sixty percent of the movie. Why? A) As my roommate would put it, it’s my “brain turn-y off” movie. I put it in deliberately to shut my brain down. It’s background noise with some pretty choice slapstick bits thrown in the mix. Also, I pretty much know the entire thing by heart. Seriously. B) A lot of it is problematic. There’s fat-shaming, slut-shaming, and general dickishness afoot in this movie. I’ve grown up A LOT since I first saw and fell in love with Liar Liar and, while I was never *into* humor that punches down, I am really not about it at all anymore. So, to sum up, this movie is imperfect and some things about it did not age well but, if you’re into some amazing physical comedy, an adorable kid, choice one-liners, and/or Maura Tierney… this is the “brain turn-y off” movie for you.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Next up, is the incomparable Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This low budget comedy extracted from the collective brain pans of Monty Python—Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Pail, Graham Chapman, and John Cleese—debuted in 1975 and was the highest grossing British film of the year. This movie is iconic for a reason: it is friggin’ hilarious. Well, it’s not perfect and the hilarity falls off quite a bit toward the end of the film. That said, by the time I make it that far in the movie, I’m usually dosing off—this is a sick-day movie after all—and I just appreciate having the sound in the background. Still, this irreverent take on the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is pretty amazing and never fails to cheer me up. If you dig on some off-color jokes, physical comedy, and still-relevant social commentary wrapped in irreverent British humor, then grab yourself two empty halves of coconuts and bang ‘em together!
The Big Lebowski
Words meant specifically for whatever it is that is making me feel like garbage.
I have seen this 1998 Coen brothers movie described as “neo noir stoner comedy,” “crime comedy,” and “weirdly engaging.” All of those descriptions are accurate. I was introduced to this movie by my college roommate and I will never be able to thank her enough. With a stellar cast—Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, and Sam Elliott—this movie embodies the Coen’s surrealist sensibilities. And the one-liners are *chef kiss*. It is a Coen brothers’ film, though, so it is definitely for mature audiences. If you’re down with a lot of explicit language, stoner aesthetics, surreal takes on the early 1990s, and rugs that tie the room together, then make yourself a caucasian before you take to the couch—I’m sure the vodka will help knock out the germs that are ailing you*.
*Y’all. Don’t take this suggestion seriously. And if you really want to, then please check your meds for interactions before deciding to do some boozing while sick.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Alright, we’re going to move away from comedy and take a look at the visually stunning. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is my absolute favorite movie of the LotR franchise. This is not, for me, a “brain turn-y off” movie, it is an engrossing experience that distracts me from how I feel like death warmed over and spread on a crackers. It is action-packed, politically astute, and has amazing visual effects. There is nothing about this movie I dislike: it has men openly showing affection toward one another, great in-universe jokes, KICK-ASS fight scenes, talking trees, and it gave us Legolas stuntin’ on everyone. So, if epic battles, badass wizard comebacks, intense friendship and loyalty, and trees going to war is your bag—well—it looks like meat’s back on the menu boys!
I am, without a doubt, a Browncoat through and through. Following the crushing disappointment of FOX’s cancelling Firefly, the film was exactly what I needed—well, except for that one thing, which was also a crushing disappointment… oh, wait—two things. In any case, Serenity was a worthy follow-up to Firefly and, while it did not answer all of them—and maybe even posed more—the movie did help answer some questions that us Browncoats had long wanted answers to: what specifically makes River so valuable and dangerous—I mean, aside from her being trained to be the most unassuming super soldier I’ve ever imagined; and what the actual fuck is the deal with the Reavers? It also delivers the snarky banter and delicious cast chemistry we came to know and love. So, do you like science fiction action and adventure, heroes rebelling against an oppressive government, and genius, neurodivergent, dancers who are killing machines? Well, strap in and “bring it on, bring it on, bring it on. From here to the eyes and the ears of the ‘verse, that’s my motto. Or at least it would be, if I start having a motto.”
I have, for a long time, identified my patronus as being half Pinkie Pie and half Bruce Banner/The Hulk. But the Captain Marvel movie has me reconsidering: I super-duper identify with Carol Danvers. I actually went as Carol Danvers for Halloween this past year—civilian-dress Carol Danvers: leather jacket, S.H.I.E.L.D. hat, NIN t-shirt, ripped jeans, boots. This movie just hits all the buttons for me: unlearning colonizer narratives, badass action sequences, so much Queer coding (just go ahead and make her outright Queer, you cowards!), and a focus on characters who aren’t straight, white, cisgender men. This is, as a Queer person who was socialized to be a woman, a paradise of an action movie. Plus—PLUS!—the soundtrack is just *swoon*.
And there’s a flerken!
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
This is not a great movie. It’s not. It does have an amazing cast, the bizarreness of any Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly movie, an awesome soundtrack, and some hilarious one-liners. Talladega Nights is not unproblematic—the things that make it a funny satire of NASCAR culture can only be funny when rooted in white privilege and male privilege. And it’s got issues with a less than clear approach to satirizing some Queer stereotypes, such that it sometimes seems to just be reinforcing them. Despite all that, I can’t help but absolute lose my shit when I hear Jane Lynch’s character describe how she met Gary Cole’s at a Rustler Steakhouse or Ricky and Cal’s bizarre late-night phone calls. So, if ridiculousness is your cup of tea, then Shake and Bake, baby!
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
I am so very much my mother’s child and, as such, I share her abiding love of Mel Brooks’ movies. LOVE. Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, Spaceballs… I enjoy the way he flips tropes on their heads and offers social commentary in a playful way. Robin Hood: Men in Tights is a fantastic installment in Mel Brooks’ filmography. There are some issues with misogyny, ableism, and Queer stereotypes but, more often than not, it’s clear that those things are being satirized. The anachronisms (like Achoo’s Reebok Pumps), fourth-wall breaks, and blatant innuendo give Men in Tights the mark of a classic Mel Brooks movie. Plus, Megan Cavanaugh, who I just adore, is in it AND Sir Patrick Stewart has a cameo. It makes me so happy.
The Princess Bride
I did not realize until just now that this is the third Cary Elwes movie on my list (granted, in Liar Liar, it’s a supporting part). Apparently, I get comfort from seeing Cary Elwes on screen. I can dig it.
Anywhoozle, The Princess Bride is just an absolute classic and I love it all the love. There is not much I can say about this movie because I get overwhelmed by all the things I like about it and I wordvomit. The cast is brilliant, the dialogue is A+, and the aesthetic is just perfect for a day when you just need a funny, sweet, adventure story. And, though not directly relevant, can we talk about Robin Wright’s glow-up from Princess Buttercup to General Antiope? Because OMG! YES!
What We Do in the Shadows
After losing it a bit back there about The Princess Bride, this may be a surprise but What We Do in the Shadows is my very favorite movie on this list. Taika Watiti and Jemaine Clement as vampires in a mockumentary?—it’s perfect for me. I cannot begin to tell you how much I adore this movie: it’s silly and endearing and bizarre and… let’s put it this way: if you haven’t watched it before, do yourself a favor and watch it ASAP. It is 100% worth your time, whether you’re feeling sick or well. Seriously.
So, there you have it. I hope at least one of the movies on this lists tickles your fancy and brings you some comfort when you’re feeling under the weather.
Be safe and stay as well as you can. And also: