With holiday season done and flu season blossoming, many of us will be turning in our “fa-la-las” for “sneeze-cough-coughs.” Instead of pairing that chicken noodle soup and box of Kleenex with guilty-displeasure daytime television, try watching some of these great films to get you through a sick day.
Narrated by a grandfather reading to his sick and anti-romance grandson, Rob Reiner’s 1987 picture is a perfect flu flick. Farm-boy-turned-pirate Wesley (Carey Elwes) and queen-to-be Buttercup (Robin Wright) fight against her fiancé, the evil Prince Humperdink, with help from a Spanish swordfighter (Mandy Patinkin), giant and wizard named Magical Max (Billy Crystal). Quote along with lines like “Have fun storming the castle,” “Inconceivable!” and “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” When it’s done, you may ask if you can watch it again — as Wesley would say, “As you wish.”
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Poor Cameron. Even though he feels just as bad as you do right now, his friend Ferris (Matthew Broderick) refuses to let him sit at home and recuperate. From attending a baseball game to starring in a parade, the two boys and Ferris’ girlfriend Sloan play hooky one last time as their principal and Ferris’ sister (Jennifer Grey) try to catch them in the act. It’s the fantasy of every high school student imprisoned by cinderblock walls and academics, and it’s the perfect way to imagine what you could be doing on your day off other than sitting on a couch with a cold.
The Avengers (2012)
There’s nothing more soothing for a headache than watching five very attractive men and one very kickass woman battle another very attractive man in Joss Whedon’s comic-action masterpiece. America’s top heroes fight against Thor’s brother Loki, who wants to use an alien army to assume power over Earth. The plot is simple but the script and visuals are great. Chances are you’ve seen it before or will watch it again to catch all of Robert Downey, Jr.’s one-liners, so feel free to fall asleep right around when Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (RDJ) save the flying SHIELD fortress (but be sure to wake up for the final Battle of New York).
The Trouble With Angels (1966)
It’s an oldie but a $5-DVD-bin goodie. Launch yourself back to 1966 by following Mary Clancy (the original Parent Trap’s Hayley Mills) and her sidekick Rachel through four years of Catholic boarding school. The two incurable pranksters use hijinks to turn life into a holy hell for Mother Superior (Rosalind Russell). They fill the sugar bowls with bath soap, take classmates on tours of the off-limits convent and lie their way out of swimming lessons, all while developing a lifelong friendship. The movie is dated, cheesy and totally fun for anyone looking to laugh at a vintage, family-friendly comedy.
Duck Soup (1933)
Experience great comedy through the Marx Brothers, who will have you laughing so hard that you may just clear up that sinus headache without Dayquil. Groucho is, as usual, the leader, this time starring as fearless dictator Rufus T. Firefly of Freedonia. As war with neighboring Sylvania rears its fictitious head, he pursues the wealthy Mrs. Teasdale and evades double-agent spies (Harpo and Chico) in attempts to stay in power and preserve his country. Musical numbers and fast dialogue make the story move quickly, and the 70-minute runtime means it’s a good in-between-naps watch.
What was it about mid-80s films that make them so good for when you’re feeling so sick? Hoosiers is one of those feel good sports movies that brighten even the most sniffle-filled days. Gene Hackman is an erratic coach who teams up with the town drunk to coach a small Indiana high school’s basketball team — and succeeds in taking them to the state championships. As if the story wasn’t good enough, sports fans can rejoice in the fact that it’s based on the true story of the Milan Indian’s 1954 victory.
Sometimes Disney is better than chicken noodle soup. Enchanted is the perfect non-animated homage to the many princess films of old and stars Amy Adams as Giselle, a princess whisked away from her fairy tale life to the dirty streets of Manhattan. Aided by a handsome divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) and sought after by her prince (James Marsden) and the evil witch (Susan Sarandon), Giselle’s storybook outlook provides both charm and laughs. Songs like “That’s How You Know” and “A Happy Little Working Song” will trick you into singing that cough away.
Movies to stay away from: Contagion (2011), which will convince you that a cough is going to kill you and everyone you know; World War Z (2012), which will convince you that you’re about to become a member of the undead; Gone with the Wind (1939), which will convince you that you’re going to die as tragically as half the characters who contract typhoid fever.
Kate Everson is Chicago journalist and University of Missouri alumna. By day she is an associate editor for four HR industry magazines. By night, she reviews films, outlines fiction novels with tough female leads and dreams of being the first person to win two Oscars in the same night for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay. When her fingers aren’t getting exercise bouncing across her keyboard, she’s reading Palahniuk and Vonnegut, practicing her Batgirl skills in the dojo or waiting by the mailbox for her Hogwarts letter. As Katharine Hepburn said: “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”