Escapism, please!
February 17, 2017 11:09 AM   Subscribe

It's been a stressful week (thanks, Trump!), and I would like some escapism. Movie and TV suggestions, please.

Absolutely nothing sad, depressing, disturbing or in any way a tearjerker. Comedies are great, thrillers are great, heartwarmers and dumb action movies are great. Since I've seen a lot of TV and movies (and probably most of the standard ones people would suggest), more recent is better. Maybe from the 5 - 10 years.

I just finished The Night Manager, which I LOVED. In my TV queue is Okkupert, Detectorists, Deutscheland 83 and Animal Kingdom. Last week I taped Central Intelligence, which looks dumb and funny enough to cheer me up (dumb and funny are usually a winning combo). I've seen and loved every Melissa McCarthy movie. I recently watched the The Visit and really liked it.

For escapsim I probably prefer movies to TV shows, because they're a quick pick me up. But I will take any and all suggestions. Thanks!
posted by triggerfinger to Media & Arts (50 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
Since you're clearly not subtitle averse, maybe Altes Geld, currently on Netflix? It has a great cast and has an enjoyable, dry sort of humor.

(I saw Okkupert, and it's good, but I don't know if I'd really consider it escapist at the moment.)
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:22 AM on February 17, 2017

Hi, I spent November watching all the episodes of Great British Bake Off that I could find. I even subscribed to the PBS Passport online service so I could stream them high quality. Guess what--they also have over 150 hours of Antiques Roadshow. And stuff like Sherlock and Downton Abbey. Absolutely worth the $5 a month.

GBBO is not a movie nor is it anything like the other things you mention here, but oh my god right after the election I can't tell you HOW GOOD IT WAS to just sit on the couch for an hour and hear nice people talk about water crust pastry and the ideal thickness of custard instead of anything having to do with real life.

If you liked The Visit, I can highly recommend pretty much any of the high budget trash horror movies from the last 10 years. The Insidiouses, Conjurings--really anything with Vera Farmiga like Orphan also, The Boy, Mama, Annabelle, gosh, Sinister, Ouija was pretty singularly awful but I watched that, too...I've watched a TON of these in the last two years and they're all perfectly fine escapism entertainment. And then there's good ones like The Witch and It Follows and The Ones Below. I like to go to the page on IMDB and in the middle where it says "people who liked this movie also like"...just watch all of them. I have watched SO MANY forgettable horror movies and I regret none of it.
posted by phunniemee at 11:28 AM on February 17, 2017 [19 favorites]

It's an older film, but it was gone in a cough and a spit so you probably didn't see it - Fandango. It's a film from the 80's and was Kevin Costner's first starring role, before he went all Dances With Wolves serious. There is comedy and there is heartwarming stuff. I love it so much I did an FPP about it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:31 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love Call the Midwife (disclaimer: I'm a midwife!) It can be emotional-heartwarming (but never emotional-scary) and I find the depictions of humanity, earnestness, and goodness very reassuring. I also really like the David Attenborough Planet Earth series when I'm in the mood you're describing. MST3K might also fit the bill?
posted by stillmoving at 11:33 AM on February 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

Classic movie recommendation: "To Catch a Thief"

Your mileage may vary but for me it's a two-hour mini-vacation to the south of France, with gorgeous colorful cinematography, stylish clothes, cars, and architecture, sizzling dialog between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, and Jesse Royce Landis popping in occasionally to steal the scene from both of them.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:35 AM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I keep recommending it, so here goes again: For escapist TV, Leverage. It's like the best bits of heist movies packed into each episode. The good guys beat the bad guys. There's a little violence but not much and not gory. All the seasons are on netflix.
posted by rtha at 11:38 AM on February 17, 2017 [8 favorites]

GBBO is not a movie nor is it anything like the other things you mention here, but oh my god right after the election I can't tell you HOW GOOD IT WAS to just sit on the couch for an hour and hear nice people talk about water crust pastry and the ideal thickness of custard instead of anything having to do with real life.

Everyone's genuinely lovely and civil to each other. It's absolutely wonderful. I watched GBBO and Detectorists around the same time and everything felt really okay.

There's an American version -- the Great American Baking Show -- that's on Hulu, too. Nice Americans from different walks of life being good bakers and nice people in general.
posted by mochapickle at 11:39 AM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Heartwarming fun: Sing Street, 1980s Irish teen boys form a band

Heartwarming punk fun: We Are The Best! , 1980s Swedish teen girls form a band

Thriller: Blue Ruin, a man hunts down the man who killed his parents (not as much fun as the others, but compelling as helllll)

Thriller fun: Murder Party, a loner finds an invitation to a party and decides on a whim to attend (same director as Blue Ruin)

Dumb action-y fun: The Nice Guys, a private eye and an enforcer team up to investigate the disappearance of a teenager. It's a Shane Black movie, so if you liked Kiss Kiss Bang Bang & Iron Man 3, you will enjoy this one a LOT.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:43 AM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

dumb action movies are great

_Dredd_ (the newer one with Karl Urban) and _John Wick_ are nearly perfect action movies. Great sense of style, super SUPER lean and focused, not one whit dumber than they have to be but fully embracing the necessary amount of dumb, good attention to character, easy to follow action.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:43 AM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have you seen the Fast and Furious movies? Because that is some serious escapist fun, and there are definitely people who think the sequels only get better.
posted by msbubbaclees at 11:49 AM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also _Shoot 'Em Up_ with Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti, which has about one katrillion times more concentrated dumb than any movie needs but is super good by that standards. There is a shoot-em-up scene to the tune of "Ace of Spades" and another bit later where Clive Owen is shooting a bunch of bad guys whilst shagging Monica Bellucci.

_Drive Angry_ with William Fichtner and Amber Heard and William Fichtner and Nic Cage is also in the same style of great and must be watched for Fichtner. 440 or the hemi?

_Ghosts of Mars_ is less recent and more horror-ey but it has Pam Grier and Ice Cube shooting more-or-less zombies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:50 AM on February 17, 2017

I love the pants off of Death in Paradise. As murder mysteries go it can be a bit formulaic, but I find that the setting and the characters completely elevate it into something endearing. The murders are also not gruesome, and aren't shown on screen.

The first few seasons are available on Netflix.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:50 AM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you haven't seen it, The Good Place had a short first season this fall (13 half hour episodes), and it was hands down one of the best seasons of tv I have ever seen. It's a wonderfully complex, fully-formed world from the guy behind Parks & Rec and Brooklyn 99, it's genuinely laugh out loud funny, and this'll maybe sound weird for a comedy, but do not read any spoilers.

Seconding the recommendation for Death in Paradise. I agree with spinifex23, the setting & characters really do elevate it above the standard murder-of-the-week fare.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:55 AM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

From TV: Downton Abby
Movies: Sideways, The Commitments
posted by jtexman1 at 11:59 AM on February 17, 2017

(Call the Midwife is also available streaming through PBS Passport, which also-also has really excellent, customizable captioning options for our friends who are deaf/hoh.)
posted by phunniemee at 12:06 PM on February 17, 2017

The Expanse.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:30 PM on February 17, 2017

I just got into Mozart in the Jungle (on Amazon Prime streaming for free) and like that it's different from all the other shows I like, is a bit light-hearted and intense and adventurous at the same time.

I'm also thinking of renting Edge of Seventeen on Amazon (it just came available to rent on Tuesday). There's nothing like a good high-school angst comedy for me when I'm stressed.
posted by shortyJBot at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2017

So far, this fall/winter I have been liking the following TV - some mindless, some great:

- Speechless
- Powerless
(sheesh, the names are even ironically a theme)
- The Mick
- Lethal Weapon
- Blackish (gets political, but... can't avoid that - one of the reasons I like it)
posted by jkaczor at 12:45 PM on February 17, 2017

Also, Superstore fits the "dumb but funny" description. It's lighthearted, and it has a talented and diverse cast. It's streaming on Hulu.
posted by shortyJBot at 12:53 PM on February 17, 2017

I think Galaxy Quest is on Netflix...dum and funy!
posted by sexyrobot at 1:07 PM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding Antiques Roadshow, and adding absurdist, light-hearted feel-good comedy TV (like The Office, Parks and Rec, and 30 Rock, to name a few). Also I am surprised no one has mentioned Bob Ross yet, so I'm saying it: Bob Ross.
posted by lovableiago at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2017

Hot Fuzz is from 2007, so just inside the ten-year period, and is really a really fun comedy-cop-buddy-crime picture. Bonuses: Bill Nighy and Martin Freeman.
posted by holborne at 1:17 PM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Funny and surreal and Swedish: Sound of Noise

Funny and Norwegian and heartwarming (sadness but closure and not marinating in woe): 1001 Grams

Tom Hardy driving a car and talking on the phone and not punching anyone for 90 minutes, which I find soothing: Locke

Excellent Cold War spy film: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Seven seasons of joy on Netflix: Parks and Recreation
(On the day after the election, I was home sick and realized I had missed out on the last season. This show is goofy and adorable and gives me hope.)
posted by esoterrica at 1:19 PM on February 17, 2017

For a serious escape, there is always Rare Exports, the world's best Christmas movie.
posted by esoterrica at 1:20 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding Hot Fuzz! And adding The World's End, which is the second in the team's trilogy. Yes, technically it's an apocalypse, but it isn't a "disease and death" kind of one, it's more like "21st century tech breaks down but people start muddling along okay on 19th century technology instead, especially since some robots help" kind of stuff.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2017

I will strongly second the Great British Bake Off. It's fun, distracting, and it never fails to cheer me up. Also, delicious baked goods!

I also like watching HGTV's House Hunters International. It's a TV show, but all the episodes are stand alone, so you can watch them in any order, at any time.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:07 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding Death in Paradise, I actually have a reminder on my phone when it comes on PBS.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:32 PM on February 17, 2017

The 100-year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared - partially in English, partially subtitled. Such a fun movie.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - great show. I always felt happier after watching.
posted by Neekee at 2:42 PM on February 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

For me, it's surfing movies: Step into Liquid; Blue Crush; North Shore; The Endless Summer.
posted by BibiRose at 2:49 PM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

In my TV queue is Okkupert, Detectorists, Deutscheland 83

I really loved Deutschland 83, however, if today's political situation is what's stressing you, be aware a major plot of the series involves an incident in 1983 that almost started a nuclear war.
posted by dnash at 2:50 PM on February 17, 2017

Doc Martin?
Arrival is out on dvd now. I found it fascinating. It does have a sad part but it turns out not to matter. Some people find it boring/too long but if you like words/language/communication it may grab your attention and give you a brief respite from the world. I found it hopeful.
posted by BoscosMom at 2:51 PM on February 17, 2017

The Shop Around The Corner is my favourite escapist movie. Almost every single frame and line of dialogue in it is a total delight, and there's no dead time in it at all. [It does briefly touch on a sub-plot dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts, but it's handled with a very light touch and doesn't end tragically. YMMV, of course, it depends how sensitive you are to those themes.]
posted by Aravis76 at 2:53 PM on February 17, 2017

Rat Race is mostly hilarious, all fun and no serious, with a wide and wonderful cast.
posted by anadem at 3:17 PM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here are a few great comedies, really fun to watch, with the bonus that none of them have casual racism, which is actually pretty hard to find in a comedy.

Chewing Gum (clip) is so silly and funny: Creator and star Michaela Coel is like a female Jim Carrey, absolutely no interest in being attractive (although she is) and her physical comedy makes her just the most elastic, hilarious weirdo, really an absolute a delight.

Atlanta (clip) is funny/moody and weird: Donald Glover as a nerdy misfit trying to make it in hiphop.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (clip) is warm and sweet: Andy Samberg goofy cop comedy
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:32 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Would I Lie to You? is my current favourite British panel show (although QI is very close behind). Unlike most panel shows, it's not really about which highly competitive comedian can crowd in the best joke. But the team captains are David Mitchell and Lee Mack, so there's always someone solidly funny on hand.

The topical content tends to be low to non-existent, but you can always go for shows that predate 2016 to be safe.

YouTube used to have the full set of 10 series, but it's a little picked over right now. You can get a taste of the show via various excerpts at WILTY? Nope! Some good ones:

Lee Mack's set of keys
Bob Mortimer's cushion for his pet owl
One of the best "This is my ..." bits where a random silent civilian is brought on stage and team members have to lie/tell the truth about their connection to the person
David Mitchell's best bits
Was Henning Wehn listed as a missing person by Interpol?
posted by maudlin at 3:43 PM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Pineapple Express...don't argue.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2017

Totally not recent, but Airplane! never fails to cheer me up.

Much more recent: Angie Tribeca. Absolutely hilarious. I enjoy Superstore too.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:27 PM on February 17, 2017

Parks and Rec, The Office, Frasier, and Bob's Burgers. These are my go to tv shows.
posted by hazel79 at 7:52 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Black Mirror isn't a terribly heartwarming show overall, but the recent-ish (October 2016) episode San Junipero was incredibly heartwarming and has a great soundtrack! Each episode is stand-alone, so no need to watch other episodes to get up to speed.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 8:10 PM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Far too many ideas are swirling in my brain, so will edit down to my most current escapism rotation :

The Kindness Diaries, on Netflix. Seems limited to one season from 2015, so I am exercising great restraint in savoring only one episode per week.

Derek, also on Netflix. One of the most original, heartwarming, thought- provoking, quirky, and downright humorous shows to come along in an age. Simply lovely, start to end. <3

Blue Bloods, on Netflix/YouTube/Hulu/CBS(.com). Outstanding series, with excellent acting (Donnie Wahlberg! I KNOW, RIGHT?? Who knew!).

Finally, as a throwaway, I have been binge-watching the Saturday Night Live app from the Google Play store. It encompasses all seasons, and cast lineups. Besides, Stefon. just. slays. me. Heh!

Hope the recommendations help. Happy escaping!
posted by Amor Bellator at 6:37 AM on February 18, 2017

"Still Game" is a riotously funny Scottish sitcom and it's on Netflix. You'll love it.
posted by james33 at 8:41 AM on February 18, 2017

Of new shows this season (so there's little to pick up), I've been watching The Mick (mostly because you can always trust Kaitlin Olson to be entertaining) and Superior Donuts (based on being adapted by two Community writers and stars Judd Hirsch).
posted by lmfsilva at 11:04 AM on February 18, 2017

Seconding Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, a series set in 1920s Melbourne Australia, with fabulous clothes, a great cast, and wit and panache. Great fun! Lots of eye candy. The books the tv series is based on, by Kerry Greenwood (the series is up to #20), are also wonderful.

Also nthing the Great British Bake-off and the American version, too. I'm in no way a baker but watching these nice people put their hearts into turning out a spetacular creation is soothing and exciting at the same time.

Also, shows about train travel. I just watched a PBS documentary on The Ghan, a train from Adelaide to Darwin across Australia's interior and it was fascinating.
posted by MovableBookLady at 12:20 PM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories. Gentle, funny, soothing, not sad at all, a couple seasons available on Netflix and the rest on YouTube.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:01 PM on February 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding Sing Street - just watched it on Netflix last night and was delighted.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 4:51 AM on February 19, 2017

Not everyone's taste but if it happens to be yours, The Other Guys is pants-pissingly funny..

(Rating: PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, language, violence and some drug material))
posted by raider at 9:39 AM on February 19, 2017

Oh, and this isn't a TV show, but the youtube channel Primitive Technology Guy (FPP here: "Australian Man builds clay roof hut in the woods using only primitive tools and his own two hands") is very soothing to watch and also has this escapist element to it.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 10:01 AM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Sandbaggers.
"The missions of an elite British Intelligence covert operations unit." Amazing British television series that ran from 1978-1980.
posted by shackpalace at 3:58 PM on February 19, 2017

Big Trouble - highly underrated screwball comedy from 2002, based on a Dave Barry novel. Staring Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, and many others.
posted by Neekee at 5:15 AM on February 20, 2017

Thanks everyone, these are all great suggestions and surprisingly, though I've heard of most of them, I haven't seen the vast majority. I've added as many as I could find so far to my queues and have started watching some of them (I've watched The Nice Guys, Hot Fuzz and several episodes of WILTY, which had me crying with laughter). Next I think I'll start The Good Place. These will all keep me busy for awhile, thank you so much!
posted by triggerfinger at 7:45 PM on February 20, 2017

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