Thursday, March 12, 2015

Movie Comfort Foods

by Melissa Uhrin
Some movies you can just depend on.

I recently started an eight week diet that has me craving all of my comfort foods of which I am not allowed within a ten foot radius. No gluten foods, no milk (lactose) foods, no TEQUILA(!!!!), why don't I just throw myself off a cliff now and be done with it. Ugh. It got me thinking about comfort foods, and how and why they seem to fill the gap when nothing else will do. Because the body wants what the body wants, you can try and trick it with alternatives, but it knows! Spin this 'round to movies and let's have ourselves a little chat about the films that we receive a real sense of comfort from, whether it be the familiar story that we return to time and again, or the characters we love (or hate... depends on your choice of comfort!), or the nostalgia of a great time.

In the early(ish) 2000's I had the opportunity to share an apartment with my brother and sister, which still holds up as one of the best time periods of my life. We partied too much, stayed up way too late and watched the same few movies on repeat until people stopped coming by our place because they just couldn't stand to hear us repeating “I made it to Shell City, I beat the Cyclops, and I rode the Hasselhoff!” We were a fine group of young adults that had a thing for the SpongeBob Squarepants Movie. What of it? Heh heh heh. Between that and School of Rock, those two are the comfort movies that tie me back in to the best times spent with my siblings and every so often I will pop them in just relive the “good ole days.” I have to admit, it's much different now singing along in an empty room to my favourite songs from both movies, but who's judging me... My cats? BAH! I did wear out my love for Dodgeball, though, another of our go-to movies of that era (era). The last time I started watching it, I think I made it partway through and had to shut it off. So maybe part of me has grown up?
Another must-mention from my childhood that I still love love love to this day and a definite must when it comes to movies that bring me comfort is The Witches (1990), starring Angelica Huston. I am always amazed at the amount of people that have never watched this movie (let alone never even heard of it... how is that a thing??!), especially considering both the book (by Roald Dahl) and the film were such a part of my world as a kid, throughout my teens and through to even today in my mid-thirties. It's never a bad time to watch little kids being turned into mice by severely hideous witches! BAM!

Aside from the nostalgia side of comfort movies that we love, we have all been home sick from work, (too sick to be at work, but not too sick to lay in bed and watch movies all day!). Back in the day before the grown up me had unlimited funds to spend on VHSs and DVDs, I was stuck watching TBS. And TBS would ALWAYS have What About Bob and Groundhog Day cued up for me. I don't know how it knew that THAT was the day to play it, but it always seemed to be there waiting for me on my sick days... Wait, ....what? TBS had those movies playing on a loop? Huh. You would think I that I would have tired of them by now... but NOPE! After hundreds of viewings on the station that seemed to own nothing but those two movies, I can still re-watch either of them whenever I am seeking the comfort of a quirky Bill Murray. Which always tends to be when I am feeling a little under the weather.
Which brings me to what I thought would be the most dramatic change, my go-to movies when there is just nothing else to watch. (Complete bullshit considering the range streaming on Netflix, the fact that I own several hundred and the world of availability to rent instantly at the tips of our fingertips on the world wide web.) Still, somedays there's just nothing to watch. With this article in mind, I gave my most questionable comfort movie another chance today, knowing that over a couple of the F This Movie! podcasts it had been criticized and left to sit as stagnant poop. Young me LOVED this movie, but I have been left questioning what the hell I must have been smoking back then. Four Rooms this time around was indeed that. Shit. Overworked yet bland, over-the-top, yet utterly boring, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth. Which really is a shame, because this was one of the movies that I was in love with back in the day! Quite possibly the only one on my list that I find unwatchable these days though, so perhaps I haven't changed that much? After I fit in Patrick's School Days 24 hour marathon, I think I will have to schedule in an entire weekend featuring nothing but my comfort movies, because I have only ever watched them staggered occasionally and never back to back to (Arnold Schwarzenegger Goes To Mars). I mean who wouldn't love sitting through this badass line-up?

Total Recall, Election, Oscar, Sam Raimi's Spiderman 1&2, Alien and Aliens, Pulp Fiction, Dirty Dancing, Mean Girls, the Kill Bills and all of the other movies I mentioned.
Hmmm... On second though there are probably a butt-load of people who wouldn't find my tastes all that appealing. However that would be why they are MY comfort movies... Mine! And however wonderfully or poorly movies are made, we all have those that speak to us on a comfortable level and that we come back to time and time again. They might not even be our favourites necessarily, but those that we know will never disappoint no matter the mood in which we view them.

Except for Four Rooms. Four Rooms can suck it. Also this stupid gluten-free crap. I want bread. And pizza. And cuppycakes. With extra gluten and tequila, please.


  1. Oh, a comfort movie marathon would be great. School of Rock, Groundhog Day, Back to the Future, Wayne's World, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Almost Famous, and Singin' in the Rain are all comfort movies for me that I could watch anywhere, anytime, and always enjoy.

  2. spider-man 2 and ratatouille for me. tho i will fight anyone who tries to tell me they aren't great.

    unfortunately i am biologically incapable of nostalgia so i can't enjoy any bad movies i liked as a kid. not even a little bit.

  3. For me, it's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I can't begin to tell you why. I'm not wholly sure myself. But there have been several points in my life when miserable stuff happened, and that's the movie I put on to feel better.

  4. Great post, Melissa, about a way of consuming flicks that most people don't talk about.

    Recently I was reaching out to Grizzly Man, Sideways and American Splendor as comfort movies (whatever that may say about me:)

    PS: Love The Witches, and ADORE What About Bob?, which is indeed a comfort movie.

    1. You find Grizzly Man COMFORTING??

    2. Yikes indeed:)
      I like the mellow soundtrack, the scenery, and Timothy is an amazing character.

      I think that almost anything can be a comfort movie if it catches you at the right time and ticks the right box. It does not have to be warm and fuzzy in tone ala What About Bob?, which I share with Melissa as a comfort movie, but which, if looked at another way, is a movie about the partial recovery of a severely handicapped man and the simultaneous unravelling of a high functioning one. Poor Dr. Marvin :(