I have often described cable TV as 800 channels of nothing to watch. I get tired of the offerings on my usual channels, or feel guitly about subjecting my family to hours of "murder death kill" programming, so I try to find something else to watch. Most often, as I'm flipping through the channels, I pause at a movie I may have seen dozens of times and settle in for yet another viewing. Here, in no particular order, are a few of my tried-and-true favorites, movies I can watch over and over and never get tired of.
This movie is so silly and over-the-top, but it has a great cast and lots of fun moments. I love Will Patton as the deadbeat dad who finally gives his son a father to look up to. Steve Buscemi's character is nuts and practically steals the movie. I adore Owen Wilson and will watch him in anything, although his deplorable hairstyle is almost a dealbreaker in this film. And I always tear up at Bruce Willis's final scenes.
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
This movie feeds into my fascination with post-apocalyptic fiction. I admire the people in the library for doing whatever it takes to ensure their survival. I love that Dennis Quaid will go the distance to rescue his son. I don't especially like the politics of this movie, but the story draws me in every time.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE
I first read this book when I was in the sixth grade and was a huge fan long before Rob Reiner filmed it. My husband and I were living in Panama the first year we were married when the film came out, and I made him take me to see it. Mark Knopfler's score is perfect, the ensemble cast is one of the best ever, and practically every line of dialogue is instantly recognizable in this eminently quotable script.
This movie reels me in every time (pun very much intended, lol). I love everything about this movie, especially the instances where it differs from the book. Lots of great lines, a solid cast, and one of the best movie monsters ever. My father-in-law never swam in the ocean again after seeing this film.
M. Night Shyamalan's movies are pretty much all remote-droppers for me, but this and THE SIXTH SENSE are probably my favorites. On another note, who knew that M. Night was psychic, correctly forecasting Joaquin Phoenix's future need of a tinfoil hat and Mel Gibson falling off his rocker?
13 GOING ON 30
Jennifer Garner is adorable in this movie as the girl whose wish to be 30, flirty, and fabulous magically comes true. It's a little hard to believe that a 13-year-old in a 30-year-old's body could bluff her way through her job as a magazine editor, but it's packaged so sweetly that I'm willing to suspend my skepticism. Andy Serkis is a sweetie, and Judy Greer deliciously loathsome, but it's Mark Ruffalo as the romantic lead who makes this an automatic pause for me.
JUST LIKE HEAVEN
Mark Ruffalo is the romantic lead in this charmer, as well, and Reese Witherspoon is a sassy smart-alec of a spitfire in this story of a doctor who slips into a coma after a car accident on the way to meet the man of her dreams. The delicious Donal Logue is amusing in a supporting role, and Jon Heder is a treat as a psychic.
I'm not a huge Katherine Heigl fan, and I swear I've read a book with this exact plot because nothing about this movie surprised me and it all seemed beyond familiar, but James Marsden was a charming surprise as the romantic hero, and Judy Greer shows up as the heroine's best friend in a likeable twist on her character from 13 Going on 30. Everything about this movie is a little larger than life, but in a good way.
This really ought to be at the top of my list, because I'm pretty sure my entire family is sick of it by now due to frequent exposure, but once I scroll to this, I almost always stop looking. I despise the First Lady scenes because her death is gratuitous and the characters' reactions to it shallow and short-lived, but those scenes go by almost quickly enough, and we can get back to kicking some alien butt. I love Margaret Colin and have always wondered why she didn't have a bigger career. This movie has a great ensemble cast, including the only good-looking Baldwin in Hollywood (Adam, who is NOT one of the brothers).
This movie maddens me because the soundtrack is so poor--some scenes are so quiet as to be almost unintelligible, and that drives me nuts every time I watch it. As a ghost story, however, it's a tale told seamlessly, truly frightening in its storytelling without a shred of blood or gore and one of the most intriguing plot twists in movie history. Being a fan of memento mori, I appreciated the use of the book of the dead in a couple of pivotal scenes. Nicole Kidman was frosty and refined, and the young actress who played her daughter was perfectly cast and did a wonderful job.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and THE RETURN OF THE KING
I like both of these films for different reasons. TFOTR cemented my crush on Sean Bean. TROTK wraps up the trilogy nicely. I rarely watch the second film, but I will stop for either of these two others pretty much every time.
THE BOONDOCK SAINTS
Okay, the truth is I've only seen this move twice. I became a fan of Norman Reedus because of the TV show The Walking Dead, and when I heard he was in this movie, I hunted it down so I could watch him in it. A few minutes in, I realized that I'd seen it before. Norman Reedus does a fine job, but Willem Dafoe OWNS this movie as the FBI agent in pursuit of the vigilante brothers and their psychotic sidekick. His performance is what will make this a stop and watch movie for me.
There are, of course, other movies on my list. I love 2010 (the sequel to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY) and 2012, yet another end-of-the-world as we know it disaster flick. SHANGHAI NOON and SHANGHAI KNIGHTS, A WALK TO REMEMBER, MEN IN BLACK, the last Harry Potter movie, THE BIRDS--my list could go on and on. The next time you find yourself watching one of these movies on HBO or some other channel, chances are, I'm probably watching it, too.