Movie Genres and Sick Days

This past week has been a bit rough on me. Maybe it was the weather, maybe I overexerted myself. Maybe my body was in a malicious mood. I’ve mostly given up trying to identify one precise trigger as there are just too many variables to keep track of. Whatever the reason, I have spent the majority of these last few days hobbling from my couch to my bed. For some of us, days like these may come around once every couple of months. For others, like me, they may be a fairly regular occurrence. But we’ve all had sick days and will experience them again. And while we may dream of days off, spent cuddled up in front of the television with a cup of tea, the reality is never quite so pleasant. You see, to achieve a day completely devoid of responsibility you, generally speaking, must be incapable of handling said responsibility. Meaning that you are quite sick. Body shaking, sweat pouring, teeth clenched in pain kind of sick. And when you are in this state, trying desperately to hold on to your sanity and force yourself to heal, you face one of life’s most difficult challenges. You must decide what movie to watch. Now, there are some situations where a movie is not the ideal choice, but most of the time a movie will be your salvation, transporting you away from your aching body while allowing an opportunity for rest and recuperation. The problem is, not just any movie will do. Some will serve only to exacerbate your misfortune and the perfect decision is different for each situation. I will discuss a variety of movie genres here, but, when the time comes, it will be up to you to make the ultimate choice.

I am unabashed to admit that my instinctive first pick is usually a Rom-Com. There is something so fulfilling about knowing exactly how the movie is going to end. From the first glimpse of two strangers going about their morning routines you can be assured that by the time the credits roll, all of the loose ends will be tied with perfect bows. This comfort is ideal for sick days in many ways, as it allows you to relax and even nap, while never being completely out of your depth with the plot line. Unfortunately this very attribute of predictability can be this genre’s downfall as you may find yourself focusing more on your malaise as you become bored with the story. There can also be a situational problem where, if you are feeling a mixture of misery and frustration at your current state of being, you may begin to get angry at the shallow nature of the characters and plot.

Slapstick Comedy can avoid that problem as the major plot points are supposed to be ridiculous. It is also constructed to make you smile and is therefore ideally suited to bring your spirits up. The biggest problem with this genre is the laugh track. On a normal day those sounds of mirth barely register, only serving as punctuation to the script. But on a sick day you may find yourself becoming increasingly aware of the repetition of the track, that one voice that is practically screaming, and it’s criminal overuse. The unrelenting manufactured laughter will slowly work its way into your psyche, perhaps leading to you launching nearby objects in the direction of the television.

Opposite of this light and frivolous humour are Movies That Make You Think. I consider most foreign movies, documentaries, and historical films that aim for accuracy to be a part of this category. The only positive trait that I can ascribe to this genre is that you may, if in possession of an adequate amount of brain power while viewing, learn something new. A false sense of productivity can be created. In my experience, however, if you are able to think clearly enough to wade through and absorb subtitles, stuttering interviews, and cold hard facts without the cushion of an overarching story line built on character, you are probably also capable of something much more productive. And while I encourage movie watching for every state of being, ill or otherwise, a ‘just because’ movie choice involves a completely separate thought process that is not applicable to the subject at hand.

A commonly chosen genre for a sick day is that of the Tear Jerker. Movies that inspire watery eyes or, depending on the individual, full blown weeping. The best part of these movies is that you will most likely care about the characters, empathize with their struggles, and become immersed in the story. This process will allow you to forget your own troubles for a while. The issue, however, is right in the title itself. Tears. Depending on what you are sick with, you may be congested, your blood pressure may be high, you may be dehydrated, or possibly have a headache. And tears are the enemy of all of these conditions. When you cry, it increases the pressure it your head, causing all of the aforementioned problems to worsen dramatically. Furthermore, due to the fact that you are already in a fragile state, your weepiness levels will most likely be heightened leading to positively painful bawling. For this reason tear jerkers are most appropriate for injuries, joint pain, and anything as far removed from your head as possible.

By contrast, a severely underrated movie genre for sick days is that of Action and Adventure. The problems with this genre are obvious. The jerky camera, flashing lights, and loud noises can all be extremely difficult for those with migraines, or anyone trying to relax. There is, however, a wonderfully cathartic aspect to watching apocalypses and battles of all kinds while unwell. When you feel like your world must be ending it is sometimes nice to see your emotions mirrored on the screen. Moreover, you really don’t have to think to keep up with the story, which is always a good thing in these situations.

This brings us to the last genre of the list and my personal favorite: Disney Movies. I am quite favorably biased towards this category as it has been my salvation on numerous occasions. These movies are filled with childhood memories, solid morals, clever lines that used to slide right over our heads, straightforward plots, and happy endings. Unfortunately, I must admit that if you are in need of something strong to pull you out of your misery, these movies may not be the best choice for you. While they are created with the goal of holding a child’s attention, that power is somewhat lessened when you know exactly what is going to happen. Disney movies are akin to a cup of  chamomile tea or a glass of wine. Perhaps not the most exciting and not all that strong, but they will make you feel nice and warm inside which is sometimes all you need.

I hope that this helps when the time comes and I sincerely hope that you won't be facing this intimidating movie decision for a while. When a sick day does arrive, I wish you the best of luck, from my couch to yours, in both your recovery and choice of entertainment. The good news is, if your first selection doesn't end up being perfect, you can always choose a second one. And another one after that. After all, you have all day!