I’m not recommending these as classics or as family viewing fun or even movies you’ll enjoy. But these 10 movies have profoundly impacted my life in a way that I feel deep, deep down inside.
1. Joe Vs. The Volcano (1990). Tom Hanks / Meg Ryan
IMDB plot summary: “When a hypochondriac learns that he is dying, he accepts an offer to throw himself in a volcano at a tropical island, and along the way there, learns to truly live.”
Like Joe I suffer from the evil powers of fluorescent lights. Like Joe I find it easier to retreat from a dream than to take the leap. His prayer to the “god I do not know” convicted me of my complacency.
Patricia: Nobody knows anything, Joe. We’ll take this leap, and we’ll see. We’ll jump, and we’ll see. That’s life, right?
2. Philadelphia (1993) Tom Hanks / Denzel Washington
IMDB plot summary: “When a man with AIDS is fired by a conservative law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.”
O.K., let me start with saying I hate the word homophobic. People come down on people for being ‘homophobic’. That’s like coming down on someone (like me) who is claustrophobic or arachnaphobic or agoraphobic. And that’s dumb.
This movie, however, caused me to see that people I perceived as being as different from me at E.T. were really just like me. There is no conspiracy, just people.
Librarian: Sir, wouldn’t you be more comfortable in a study room?
[Andrew looks up and sees people in the library staring at him]
Andrew Beckett: No. Would it make you more comfortable?
3. Groundhog Day (1993) Bill Murray
IMDB plot summary: “A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again.”
When a man gets to the end of himself what does he have to live for but everyone else and in living for everyone else he finally finds himself. Harold Ramis + Bill Murray = Genius. I could watch this movie everyday…
Phil: [Phil has described several people in the diner.] What about me, Phil? Do you know me too?
Phil: I know all about you. You like producing, but you hope for more than Channel 9 Pittsburgh.
Rita: Well, everyone knows that!
Phil: You like boats, but not the ocean. You go to a lake in the summer with your family up in the mountains. There’s a long wooden dock and a boathouse with boards missing from the roof, and a place you used to crawl underneath to be alone. You’re a sucker for French poetry and rhinestones. You’re very generous. You’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel.
Rita: [in wonder] How are you doing this?
Phil: I told you. I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
4. Clean and Sober (1988) Michael Keaton / Morgan Freeman
IMDB Plot Summary: “Michael Keaton plays Daryl Poynter, a hot shot real estate agent who just happens to have a cocaine and drinking problem.”
I think probably Michael Keaton’s greatest performance. This movie let me see the people behind the problem and prepared me for friendships with A.A.ers and addicts like counseling courses never did. It’s also an honest story of this struggle, not everyone makes it out alive.
Darryl: What is it with you guys and food?
Richard: Addicts are compulsive.
5. Buckaroo Banzaii: Across the Eighth Dimension (1984) Peter Weller / John Lithgow
IMDB Plot Summary: “Adventurer/surgeon/rock musician Buckaroo Banzai and his band of men, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, take on evil alien invaders from the 8th dimension.”
Honestly, do I need to add more? This movie made me hungry for great friends and community and for being more than what I have been. This movie worked for me on so many levels from touching my inner geek (who loves it when I do that) to seeing guys having deep and tight friendships that go beyond sports and power tools (not that those are bad things…).
Part two tomorrow – don’t forget to comment to enter the contest!