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Most of us are in the throes of the coronavirus lockdown. But being housebound need not be a punishment. In fact, it can be a kind of blessing if you plan your confinement carefully. From Fox Nation to Netflix to Amazon Prime … there are scads of films and specials to watch when you are not watching Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network.
While my first recommendation would be to read a book aloud as a family or as a couple, I know it’s probably easier to gather for a movie or a TV show.
The communal experience and the chance to share impressions as you watch-- to say nothing of the discussion afterward--are worthwhile moments that you will cherish long after this virus has receded.
Look at this extraordinary situation as a chance to expose your family, children, or partner to films they might have missed or otherwise might never watch. Here are my recommendations in a wide range of categories.
Comedy: We don’t laugh enough. As we battle this virus, laughter not only boosts your mood but your immunity. And so many young people have missed out on the greatest comedies of the 20thcentury. Here’s a chance to bring them up to speed. Among my favorites are:
"The Pink Panther" movies, the original six Blake Edwards films, starring Peter Sellers are all filled with slapstick hilarity. "A Shot in the Dark" (with a script by William Blatty) and "Revenge of the Pink Panther" may be the funniest of the lot.
For side-splitting performances and nonstop laughs, you can’t lose with "Tootsie," "Caddyshack," "Arthur" (the Dudley Moore original), "Some Like It Hot," "Young Frankenstein," "Murder By Death" (a send-up of murder mysteries with an all-star cast and a script by Neil Simon), and "Smokey and the Bandit" (Jackie Gleason’s improvisations are “attention getters”).
Jerry Lewis was a pal of mine. His films, perfect for the whole family, only get better with time. Beyond "The Nutty Professor," don’t miss: "Cinderfella," "The Disorderly Orderly," "The Ladies Man," "The Bellboy" (A nearly silent homage to Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keyton and Jerry’s other predecessors) and "Who’s Minding the Store?"
Look at this extraordinary situation as a chance to expose your family, children, or partner to films they might have missed or otherwise might never watch.
After you watch a few of these, check out this interview I did with Jerry Lewis a few years ago. It was one of his last-- touching on his long career, his contributions to film, and his comedy genius:
Rom-Coms: For these suggestions, I deferred to Mrs. Arroyo. She likes: "10 Things I Hate About You" (a "Taming of the Shrew" update without the baroque language), "Pretty In Pink," "When Peggy Sue Got Married," "The Proposal," "Somewhere in Time," "Moonstruck," "Clueless" (a modern take on "Emma"), and "Ghost."
Classics: There are a handful of films that everyone should see. If any of these have not been screened in your house, remedy the sin immediately. Gone With the Wind, The Godfather (one and two), Casablanca, Citizen Cane, Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, Meet John Doe (any Frank Capra film in fact), The Elephant Man, North By Northwest, The Miracle Worker, and The African Queen.
Heroes and Villains: The ultimate hero film, Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" is streaming this week on Fox Nation. My exclusive interview with actor, Jim Caviezel will accompany it. This is the perfect time of year to take in the "Passion" as a family.
If you’d like to see Mel Gibson before the camera, his Oscar-winning, "Braveheart" and "The Patriot" will fill the bill.
For more heroes, don’t miss: "One Eye Jacks," "Gladiator," "Ben Hur" (the Charleton Heston version), "A Man for All Seasons," "Rocky," and "The Champ." For the action-inclined folks in the house, James Bond is always a fun choice.
My son Alex is our resident 007 expert. His favorites from each era of Bond are: "You Only Live Twice" (Sean Connery, 1967), "Live and Let Die" (Roger Moore, 1973), "License to Kill" (Timothy Dalton, 1989), "Goldeneye" (Pierce Brosnan, 1995), and "Skyfall" (Daniel Craig, 2012).
Family Flicks: These magical films are fun for the whole family: "Back to the Future," "Goonies," "The Princess Bride," "Enchanted," "Holes," "National Treasure" and "Night at the Museum."
Musicals: Some of the best films ever made are musicals, and most can be enjoyed by the entire family. "Singin’ in the Rain" may be one of the finest movies of the studio era, period.
"Grease," "A Star is Born" (the 1954 version, with Judy Garland at her peak, not the Gaga thing), "Funny Girl," "Mary Poppin" and "Little Shop of Horrors" (by the same musical team that wrote the scores to "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid") are all worth watching together.
TV and Concerts: I am a sucker for classic TV. From "The Honeymooners" to "The Odd Couple" to "I Love Lucy" to "The Jack Benny Program," binging on these shows is always a joy. It is a tragedy that kids don’t know who Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, and Harvey Corman are.
Do yourself a favor and stream "The Best of the Carol Burnett Show" for the family. It’s on Amazon Prime. You will literally fall off the couch laughing. We always do. Nothing on TV today can rival it.
This past weekend the family and I watched Frank Sinatra’s "Concert for the Americas" from 1982 where the Chairman of the Board rocks all his classics, live.
Sinatra’s "A Man and His Music +Ella +Jobim" is a landmark TV special and the perfect way to introduce young viewers to three of the 20th Century’s greatest musical icons: Frank, Ella Fitzgerald, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Play either of these shows while cooking together as we did the other day and you’ll have a blast, my way!
While we don’t know how long this quarantine will last, use your time together well. These films and specials will help banish the blues, lift our spirits and remind us why community and being close is so important.