We all have those days when you have absolutely nothing going on; you’re taking a sick day from work, or you’re nursing a mean hangover, and you're just looking for some way to pass the time. Your choices are: organize your sock drawer yet again, do some wall-staring, or watch a movie. The last option is usually the most desirable, and that’s where we come in.
Here at Screen Rant we take our movies seriously, so when it came time for us to determine what films would do a lazy day justice, we had some pretty stringent parameters. Our picks needed to have insanely good replay value. They needed to have relatable characters and stories easy enough to invest in that even someone hunkered-down with the flu could still enjoy what’s going on. And lastly, longer movies took precedence in our research, for obvious reasons (read: time consumption).
Each of the following movies is a great choice for killing time when there’s nothing else going on in life. They seem to be almost custom-built for getting through boredom. And so with that, please sit back, relax, forget about your messy sock drawer, and enjoy Screen Rant’s list of the 12 Best Movies to Watch on a Boring Day.
12 Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
During the 1980s, director John Hughes was at the height of his powers, knocking out friendly comedy classics like it was nobody’s business — movies like The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Oh, and in 1990 he made a little movie called Home Alone.
In 1986, Hughes churned out Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a 2-hour jaunt starring Matthew Broderick in his most notable film role. Ferris (Broderick) is an incorrigible teenager who’s on the verge of graduating high school, but his principal is doing everything in his power to make sure Ferris doesn’t graduate. That’s because Ferris has made an art out of skipping school. Through the use of technology, charm, fast-talking, and a bit of elbow grease, Ferris has everyone around him convinced that he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well, everyone except his sister.
Ferris’ parents are none-the-wiser when, on his final opportunity before graduation, Ferris enacts his fool-proof plan one last time, getting his best friend and girlfriend out of school for the day, borrowing a priceless Ferrari, scurrying around Chicago, and evading both a prickly principal and a jealous sibling. This is a fabulous movie to watch when you’re having your own “sick” day home from school or work.
11 The Fast & the Furious (2001)
Yes it’s cheesy. Yes the characters are simple and the dialogue is a bit on the laughable side. But that’s why you we love it. The Fast & the Furious is an action movie made in 2001 by director Rob Cohen centered around rookie cop Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), who goes undercover in the Los Angeles street-racing scene to track a robbery ring, only to learn firsthand the loyalty and respect of the anti-authority personalities he meets. O’Connor gains the trust of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the hulking leader of a crew that takes Brian in as family and starts bringing him on their jobs. The movie is an intoxicating mix of fast cars, fights with rival crews, and a Ja Rule-laden soundtrack. It’s schlocky and lovable, and this film set the groundwork for what would become a nearly $4 billion franchise, one that would eventually rope into its orbit outsized personalities like Tyrese Gibson, Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges, and the hardest working man in Hollywood, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
If you haven’t seen The Fast & the Furious yet, then do yourself a favor and give it a go. This is a great movie to watch when you want something that’s pleasantly outdated, cheerful, and dorky. It's a good choice for that early-afternoon limbo, which works, because it just so happens to be a pretty common TV rerun.
10 The Princess Bride (1987)
The Princess Bride is one of our favorite movies, and it’s not inconceivable to see why. Based on the book by William Goldman, the film is about lowly farmhand Westley (Cary Elwes), who eventually wins the love of Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright), and, after years apart, must save her from the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon).
In hopes of securing them a future together, Westley tells his love that he must go out looking for treasure and that he will return once he has great wealth. But after time passes, Buttercup presumes her man has been killed, and she reticently moves on with her life. She falls in with the disagreeable Humperdinck, and reluctantly agrees to marry him. But on the eve of their wedding, Humperdinck orchestrates Buttercup’s kidnapping, so as to frame his enemy and instigate a war. The men he hires — Vizzini, Fezzik, and Inigo Montoya — kidnap her, but they soon run into a masked swordsman. He reveals himself to be Westley, and together the ragtag team takes on the corrupt nobility.
Dynamic, sweet and very funny, The Princess Bride has found itself on numerous best-ever lists, both in its capacity as a comedy and as a romance film.
9 Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump might be the best movie for a list like this. You have Tom Hanks, who may be the most likable actor ever. You’ve got a great story, a long running time (2 hrs 25 mins), and all the emotional touchstones and genre inter-mingling one could ask for.
Hanks stars as Forrest Gump, a gentle-yet-dense man who, while waiting at a bus stop, recalls all of the major moments of his incredible life. As a boy, he was told he’d never walk without leg braces, but he would go on to be an elite athlete. He fought in Vietnam, was a ping-pong champion, helped start a successful shrimping company, and was there with the likes of Martin Luther King and JFK during many of modern history’s most important events.
It’s a sweeping epic with a great comedic touch from Hanks, and it's also a heartbreaking romance tale, as Forrest drops everything whenever his childhood love, Jenny (Robin Wright), comes crashing back into his life.
Robert Zemeckis does a wonderful job directing it, and at awards time, his direction received one of the 6 wins allotted to the film. It’s a sweet, funny, dramatic story that encapsulates everything we think of when we think of Hollywood magic.
8 Koyaanisqatsi (1983)
We’re cheating. While this list was sold to you as one made up entirely of movies with surefire plots and great characters, this movie has neither of those things. A plot-less documentary with no characters and no narration, Koyaanisqatsi is an experimental film that shirks all of the common movie-making rules and comes out an amazing experience to behold. Director Godfrey Reggio, cinematographer Ron Fricke, and composer Philip Glass worked as an integral unit to produce a film about the state of life on our planet. The word koyaanisqatsi is a real term from the Hopi language, meaning “life out of balance”, and this movie is meant to impress upon its viewers some of the more destructive and chaotic aspects that come with modern industrial society and in its precarious relationship to nature.
It’s a documentary, and a spellbinding one at that. The film beautifully blends image and sound like no other, using time-lapse and other techniques in juxtaposing scenes of natural splendor with the dizzying speed of human life. Since its release in 1983, Koyaanisqatsi has gained cult status and influenced a generation of pretentious think-pieces. When it comes to watching something that will knock you off your feet and have you questioning the meaning of your life, this is the one.
7 Alien (1979)
One of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, and one of the scariest horror flicks, Alien steamrolled much of what came before it and set new challenges for filmmakers in its wake. It was the breakout film for both visionary director Ridley Scott and lead actress Sigourney Weaver.
Set in space, a working transport shuttle called the Nostromo receives a distress signal from a nearby planet. When the crew lands on the planet, they discover some human remains and a thicket of alien eggs. Crew member Kane investigates a little too closely, and a baby alien attacks him and then retreats. Kane loses consciousness and they carry him back on board and leave the planet. But once back in space again, Kane regains consciousness and dies when an alien bursts from his chest and scampers into the bowels of the ship. The rest of the crew attempt to track down the creature and kill it, but the highly intelligent extraterrestrial seems to have the drop on them at every turn. Only the ship’s warrant officer Ripley (Weaver) seems to fully grasp the danger that they’re dealing with.
Alien is likely the best sci-fi horror movie ever made, and it’s great for any time you’re up late at night, bored, and feel like turning off the lights and scaring the Smartfood out of yourself.
6 The Matrix (1999)
The Wachowskis essentially invented a sub-genre when they made 1999’s The Matrix, a sprawling techno-thriller martial arts fantasy flick that they wrote and directed. Keanu Reeves stars in the role of his career as computer hacker Neo, who discovers that the world around him is actually a virtual reality rigged by sentient computer overlords. He meets Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who tell him that he is The One to save the world from destruction, and the pair train him to become the ultimate fighter. Together, they take on an army of henchmen unleashed by the angered technorati.
The Matrix delivered what were at the time groundbreaking special effects, which (somehow) still stand up today. The slow-mo bullet sequences in particular were considered to be next-level, and the 4 Oscars and 2 BAFTAs it took home that year all dealt with visual and sound effects. And while the 2 follow-up films in the series weren’t nearly as good, thankfully, The Matrix works as a standalone film. It is a great choice when you’re looking for a decent sci-fi action flick to throw on and somewhat mindlessly watch.
5 Spirited Away (2001)
2001’s Spirited Away is the only animated picture on this list, and it deserves this exclusive mention, because it may be the best animated movie ever. Strong words, yes. But the animated fantasy tale from the mind of legendary director Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli set the benchmark so high for visual artistic expression that it’s hard to see when it will be surpassed.
Young Chihiro and her family happen upon an old abandoned amusement park. Her parents are transformed into wild pigs, and all of a sudden the park comes to life with magical forces. Chihiro must work in the park and help the ghoulish beings there in order to save her parents. It’s a touching, mesmerizing and at times disturbing tale.
It’s also hard to see how it will be beaten commercially. Spirited Away earned over 30 billion yen at the Japanese box office, a record that has yet to be topped on that side of the pond.
4 Jackie Brown (1997)
Perhaps Quentin Tarantino’s most misunderstood film, Jackie Brown debuted 3 years after Pulp Fiction, and it left many audiences befuddled and noting how “boring” it was. Maybe they were expecting the bravado and violence of Reservoir Dogs, or the interweaving narrative style of Pulp Fiction, but what they got instead was a relatively slow-moving tale about a drug-smuggling flight attendant trapped between a dangerous pimp and federal officials. It never meant to be its predecessors, and in time, the film eventually received its due from critics and fans.
Pam Grier stars as Jackie Brown, a flight stewardess who’s arrested while smuggling drugs and money from Mexico. Just a lady trying to get by, Jackie feeds the feds what she thinks they want to hear, and takes counsel from her bondsman Max (Robert Forster). She makes a deal with the government to entrap her boss Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson), and meanwhile works with Ordell to continue with their drug shipments. Jackie is clearly smarter than all of the other parties involved, and she must determine what moral path she needs to take.
The soundtrack is awesome, as with any Tarantino joint, and the acting is spellbinding. This 2-hour-and-40-minute behemoth doesn’t feel as long as it is, which makes it perfect for a list like this.
3 Office Space (1999)
Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) hates his dreary job working in a cubicle at tech firm Initech. He’s unsatisfied in his personal relationships, and he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. As he navigates through his predictably-terrible days of stop-and-go traffic, blowhard bosses and obnoxious coworkers, Peter is ready for a change. He wants to be more assertive, and he wants to enjoy himself. And when a hypnotherapy session goes wrong, it leaves Peter in a prolonged state of blissful ignorance. He asks out his crush, only comes to work when he feels like it, and tells it like it is to the consultants his company hired to weed out the under-performing, who end up being enamored with him and giving him a promotion.
Mike Judge’s black comedy shines a surprisingly acute light on the soul-crushing nature of the modern workplace. The characters are all memorable, every line is instantly quotable, and it has endless replay value. Office Space is one of the finest comedies out there, and is essential viewing anytime you’re dreading going to work — er, when you’ve “got a case of the Mondays.”
2 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Besides maybe Han Solo, Indiana Jones is the coolest character in movie history. He’s an archaeologist by day and a country-hopping bushman by night — a superhero whose powers are his intellect, wit, and a crazy cool bullwhip. Jones is at once a character we can all relate to, as a regular guy who gets himself into terrifying and mysterious situations, but also someone we wish we could be, who takes what he wants and pummels Nazis while trying to get ahold of the keys to immortality. And out of the 4 Indiana Jones films, the first, Raiders of the Lost Ark, may be the best.
It’s the 1940s, and we meet Indiana (Harrison Ford) as a professor who is recruited by the government to find the Ark of the Covenant. As he travels around the world with his ex, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), in pursuit of the Ark, he discovers that Hitler is also after the powerful relic, and whose hands it falls into first could determine the fate of the world.
And it’s no coincidence this movie’s set in the '40s; more than anything, it is a throwback to the serials of the wartime period, and it has an indescribable nostalgic feel. Perfect for a lazy Saturday.
1 Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
If it’s a profoundly boring day and you require a really good time-depletion system, you could burn 9 hours (and 18 minutes) watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Maybe no other movie or series of movies out there, besides perhaps Star Wars, gives viewers a more expansive and escapist experience. Peter Jackson’s masterful 3-part imagining of Tolkien’s tale revolves around hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and his quest to deliver a darkly powerful ring to a volcano in order to have it destroyed. The Lord of the Rings draws viewers into a fantastical world of dwarves, hobbits, and dwarves, and effortlessly blends adventure, drama, and action, with epic battle scenes and thrilling moments of intrigue and evasion. Through the journey, we see Frodo make new friends, and encounter evil forces that would obtain the ring at any cost.
The 3 parts — The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King — are a perfect trilogy in how they are structured, which makes for a seamless binge-viewing experience. So, throw on your wizard cap, draw the curtains, and wile away the better part of a day with this awesome story.
What’s your go-to flick when you’re bored? What's the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday? Sound off in the comments.