Stuck at home with the seasonal sniffles? Watch a couple of these and -- achoo! -- you'll feel better in the morning

By Gary Susman
Updated April 26, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Kobal Collection

The best movies to watch when you’re sick

They may not be classics of world cinema, but the following films are just what the doctor ordered when you’re feeling icky. They’re not too taxing and so familiar you can sleep through entire sections. Call it chicken soup for your couch potato soul.

Image credit: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Kobal Collection

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

(1986)

”Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE ’80s Teen Comedy

INGREDIENTS Matthew Broderick sicks out of school, plays hooky, and takes over Chicago while Javert-like prinicpal Jeffrey Jones hunts him down.

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH Anything with Ferris’ pill of a sister (Jennifer Grey)

STAY AWAKE FOR The part where Ferris commandeers a parade and gets the Windy City shimmying to ”Twist and Shout”

HEALING POWERS Okay, Ferris isn’t really sick, but you’d have to be glummer than his pal Cameron (Alan Ruck) not to find Broderick’s teenage anarchy sweet and spirit-lifting.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Try other John Hughes favorites, like Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, or Home Alone. Also: Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Risky Business.

Image credit: The Parent Trap: Everett Collection

The Parent Trap

(1961)

”The Parent Trap” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE Kids’ Movie You Never Outgrew

INGREDIENTS At summer camp, Hayley Mills meets the identical twin sister (also Hayley Mills) she never knew existed. To bring their divorced parents (Maureen O’Hara and Family Affair dad Brian Keith) back together, they switch places when they leave camp to go home.

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH ”Let’s Get Together,” the girls’ horrible rock & roll song, performed for both parents

STAY AWAKE FOR The camping trip, where the girls make short work of Dad’s gold-digging new fiancée (Joanna Barnes)

HEALING POWERS The movie evokes warm memories of childhood. And all that fresh air and outdoor activity will do you good.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, or National Velvet

Image credit: Giant: Everett Collection

Giant

(1956)

”Giant” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE Dreamy Epic

INGREDIENTS Texas horseman and gazillionaire Rock Hudson presides over a vast ranch. Lovely, patrician Elizabeth Taylor (pictured, at left) inspires endless gawking as his bride. Ranch hand James Dean (at right) broods over Liz until he strikes oil, gets rich, and makes himself truly miserable. All in all, not much happens, but it happens grandly, against a striking widescreen landscape.

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH Just about any scene where Hudson and the good ol’ boys sit around and talk bidness

STAY AWAKE FOR Dean’s drunken meltdown at a gala in his honor; the aging Hudson’s feeble fistfight in defense of his Latina daughter-in-law

HEALING POWERS It’s a three-and-a-half-hour lullaby with some pretty pictures and just enough quality acting to keep you interested.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Terrence Malick’s lush and lulling Days of Heaven, Dances With Wolves, Cold Mountain

Image credit: Zoolander: The Kobal Collection

Zoolander

(2001)

”Zoolander” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE Spoof

INGREDIENTS Witless male model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is an unwitting pawn in a Manchurian Candidate-like assassination plot masterminded by a ruthless designer (Will Ferrell)

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH Scenes with nosy reporter Christine Taylor

STAY AWAKE FOR Zoolander’s equally dimwitted fellow male models engaging in some ill-advised but well-choreographed horseplay involving gas station fuel pumps

HEALING POWERS Laughing is good for you, especially laughing at stupid people.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Dumb and Dumber, Blazing Saddles, the Austin Powers movies

Image credit: How to Marry a Millionaire: Everett Collection

How To Marry a Millionaire

(1953)

”How To Marry a Millionaire” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE Marilyn Monroe

INGREDIENTS Monroe (pictured, at right), who adds nearsighted klutziness to her usual smart-dumb blonde shtick, joins forces with fellow Manhattan gold-diggers Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall (at left and center) as they seek rich husbands and wear fabulous clothes

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH The lengthy orchestral pre-credit sequence

STAY AWAKE FOR Bacall telling a suitor she likes older men, like that ”old fella what’s-his-name in The African Queen

HEALING POWERS On screen at least, nothing bad ever happens to Marilyn Monroe. She and her girlfriends are not bad to look at, especially in Cinemascope and in chic 1953 fashions.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven-Year Itch, Some Like It Hot

Image credit: Everett Collection

Viva Las Vegas

(1964)

”Viva Las Vegas” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE Elvis Presley

INGREDIENTS The King, Ann-Margret, some fast cars, and the neon lights of Elvis’ spiritual hometown. As in most Elvis movies, there’s a negligible plot and some so-so songs that are redeemed by the rocker’s shiver-inducing voice.

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH A gag as old as the Alamo in which Elvis clears a room full of Texans by singing ”The Yellow Rose of Texas” and marches them out, Pied Piper-style

STAY AWAKE FOR Elvis and Ann-Margret sizzle competing against each other in a talent contest

HEALING POWERS Elvis pictures are picturesque travelogues whose star remains impossibly youthful and vigorous.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Are Blue Hawaii, Paradise Hawaiian Style, and Clambake all the same movie? So what! It’s good clean fun, kids.

Image credit: Dark Victory: Kobal Collection

Dark Victory

(1939)

”Dark Victory” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE Old-Fashioned Romance

INGREDIENTS Bette Davis suffers nobly and glamorously as she finds both true love and incurable illness.

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH Scenes with Humphrey Bogart, of all people, as an Irish-brogued horse trainer

STAY AWAKE FOR Scenes with Ronald Reagan, of all people, as a cynical, drunken playboy

HEALING POWERS Hey, a good cry can be healthy too!

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Now, Voyager is another classic Davis weepie. For an old-fashioned tear-jerker of more recent vintage, try Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were.

Image credit: Love Actually: Kobal Collection

Love Actually

(2003)

”Love Actually” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE Modern Romance

INGREDIENTS A kaleidescope of Londoners in love, from the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) on down, with star turns from Emma Thompson (pictured, with William Wadham), Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, and others

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH The ”funeral scored to an inappropriate pop song” scene, swiped from The Big Chill

STAY AWAKE FOR Grant dancing in his underwear, a scene swiped from Risky Business

HEALING POWERS You can dream about falling in love with any number of these characters, and in your dream, you’ll be half as clueless about romance but just as witty in your repartee.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Any other movie written by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Tall Guy) or written by his equally glib counterpart on this side of the pond, director Nora Ephron (You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle)

Image credit: Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Courtesy Everett Collection

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

(1961)

”Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE The Free Spirit

INGREDIENTS Party gal Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) enchants neighbor George Peppard as he tries to keep up with her wild ways.

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH Mickey Rooney’s wince-worthy yellowface performance as Holly’s Japanese neighbor

STAY AWAKE FOR A pensive Holly singing ”Moon River,” while accompanying herself on guitar

HEALING POWERS It’s nice to think you too could be this carefree and heedless, if only you could get out of bed.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Other great free spirits include Barbra Streisand in What’s Up, Doc, Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, and Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey.

Image credit: Overboard: Everett Collection

Overboard

(1987)

”Overboard” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE Garry Marshall movies

INGREDIENTS Real-life cute couple Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn play a backwoods carpenter and a bitchy socialite brought together by her amnesia; he convinces her that she’s his wife and mother of his four hellions.

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH All the sequences on Hawn’s yacht

STAY AWAKE FOR Russell building a miniature golf course based on Hawn’s design and inspired by famous landmarks from around the world

HEALING POWERS Nothing goes down easier than a movie by director Marshall, the former sitcom guru (Happy Days) who brings sitcom values to the big screen. Everything’s peppy, no one gets badly hurt, lessons are learned, and loose ends are neatly tied up at the end.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Overboard reverses the usual Marshall formula, which involves a woman of modest means getting an expensive makeover, as in Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, or The Princess Diaries.

Image credit: The Long, Long Trailer: The Kobal Collection

The Long, Long Trailer

(1954)

”The Long, Long Trailer” is one of the best movies to watch when you’re sick at home

GENRE Supersized TV Show

INGREDIENTS In what’s essentially a long episode of I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz — here called “Tacy” and “Nicky” — spend their honeymoon driving across the country in a mobile home.

YOU CAN SLEEP THROUGH The gratuitous musical number, ”Breezin’ Along with Breeze.”

STAY AWAKE FOR The satire of ”modern” ’50s trailer culture, and the climactic sequence where Lucy and Ricky — oops, Tacy and Nicky — try to navigate a steep mountain pass

HEALING POWERS Such movies are the ultimate in TV comfort food, better even than the modern big-screen updates, since they keep the cast you know and love from the series.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the 1966 Batman starring campy Caped Crusader Adam West

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