Top Ten Movies to Watch on Vacation Break

Vacation is a time for everyone to relax, but movie watchers have a chance to sit back and relax too.  They have a rich list of choices around Christmas especially, from hyped new releases to old favorites sitting on shelves, waiting for reruns.  My favorite movies around vacation time involve those old favorites I can pop in and enjoy, a list which mostly includes blockbuster hits and cherished favorites.  However, this year I’m looking for a couple of underrated gems to add to the archive.  Will any of these make the cut?

10.  Rocky III – This one sneaks onto this list for nostalgia purposes.  The original Rocky almost feels like an art film, and the sequel ups the ante and the critical appeal, but the third one goes a lot further.  Rocky III has the formula down pat at this point and ropes in the general audience with action, drama, and brawny spectacle.  This is only outdone by the spectacle of Rocky IV, but that’s another story.

9.  Diamonds Are Forever – I put this movie on this list begrudgingly because it’s so damn funny.  Jill St. John is so terribly awful in this movie that it makes James Bond’s one liners even more funny.  I think Mike Myers saw this movie and capitalized on the spy comedy formula, which works in Austin Powers.  However, Diamonds Are Forever does have elements worthy of the spy genre, like the car chase scene through Vegas, but these moments are too short to save it from being just a silly romp.  It’s light and it’s over-the-top fun, that’s why it’s good for vacations.

roller18.  Rollerball (1975) – Rollerball also fits the bill for over-the-top fun, but I dunno about light.  It has elements of a Vincent Price horror movie, a bloody action film, and a satire.  And it has a good cast.  Much like Charlton Heston in Soylent Green, James Caan carries this movie but  John Houseman puts on an underrated performance as the plotting businessman, Mr. Bartholomew.

7.  Running Man, The (1987) – Okay, so if you don’t want to think AT ALL, watch this movie.  I guess you could throw in any Arnold action movie in place of this dumb movie, or any of his other mindless outings, like The Terminator or Total Recall.  I guess you wouldn’t need to think much about choice either, because there’s usually one or all of them on at any point during the week, running like a sad obsession with Arnold that will never end.

6.  Star Wars – The original trilogy is perfect for vacations, because everyone likes these movies, because they’re just as mindless as Arnold.  The action is nonstop and the dialogue is perfect.  These days, I’ve seen this movie so much I have to do something else while I’m watching it.

5.  Highlander (1986)  – This is a movie that’s been declining in showings on TV, but it’s still there, mostly to remind us how much of an icon this movie is in our culture.  I think Sean Connery’s role is a real highlight, because Christopher Lambert isn’t Connery.

4.  Flash Gordon (1980) – So you can watch a brutal action movie or an Arnold romp, or you can watch this movie.  This movie is fun, plain and simple.  Yeah it’s campy, but it’s vacation time, you’re not supposed to care about that sort of thing.  Max von Sydow looks like he’s really having fun with his role as the evil Zarkov.  The music is the best part.

3.  Blues Brothers (1980) – I think if I had to pick a comedy for this spot, it’d probably either be Ghostbusters or this movie.  Since I’ve seen Ghostbusters as many times as I’ve brushed my teeth, I think the Blues Brothers is an adequate replacement.  This is also probably the highlight of John Belushi’s career and it’s a good one.  This movie is as raucous as it is funny, which works for the right group of people watching it all together.

2.  Star Trek IV – This is quite possibly the most fun Star Trek movie ever made, and it’s a good choice to watch on a carefree vacation.  It has the action and comedy all the masses enjoy.  It even has a subtext for the girlfriend to think hard about.  Yep, it has just about everything.

  1.  Back to the Future – Michael J Fox makes the original fun.  It’s a classic, plain and simple.  It’s also a great comedy but has this speedy pace which makes it unique amongst comedies.  There’s also something about it which gives it a universal appeal, which is why it’s still on TV to this day, played in endless reruns between Batman and Star Trek.  Maybe the reason everyone likes it is because of Fox’s performance, or maybe it’s the story.  I think it’s a combination of things, and the chemistry between the cast, which makes all the gadgets and scenes seem not so implausible after all.
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