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Movies to Stream While You're at Home

There's plenty of film options you can watch from the comfort of your couch

Movie seats on a computer keyboard

AARP

Mike Ellison:

I'm happy to be here with AARP film critic Tim Appelo once again because I do believe in the magic of movies and the ability that movies have to give us some reprieve or even inspiration during challenging times. Movie magic can be great medicine right about now. What do you think, Tim?

Tim Appelo:

Oh, absolutely. I mean, we're all stuck at home so we might as well put the time to good use. You can educate yourself and elevate yourself at the same time.

Mike Ellison:

Hi, I’m Mike Ellison with an AARP Take on Today.

Mike Ellison:

Before we get into our main topic today, we have 2 short announcements.

First up - Every Thursday at 1pm Eastern Standard Time, AARP will host a national Coronavirus Information Tele-Town Hall. Top health officials will answer your questions if you call in or join online. 

Our Take on Today podcast will be publishing each tele-town hall as quickly as possible so you can listen on your laptop or mobile device whenever you want. The first two are already available. See this episode’s description for more information, or visit AARP dot org slash Coronavirus.

Second - AARP Community Connections. It’s a new online platform that allows people to find help, or give it, during the coronavirus crisis. You can go online right now to AARP community connections dot org to find a local volunteering group -- or to start your own. These groups help communities stay connected at a time when people have to practice social distancing to stay safe. 

For more information, see our show notes.

Mike Ellison:

Like many of you, I’m home right now following the social distancing guidelines that we’ve all been encouraged to practice. I’m recording from my home studio about a dozen miles from our regular studio – and like many of you my family, friends, and I are doing everything we can to remain peaceful, powerful, positive, patient, and progressive. Together we’re gonna get through this.

And we acknowledge that people are facing certain hardships right now. We’re worrying about our own health, our loved ones, we’re taking care or children or just having to stay home. Some of you don’t have the benefit of having company right now. Well if your schedule allows for you to take in some entertainment that will lighten the burden just a bit, then that’s what we’re here for.

We recommend you sit down with a bowl of popcorn and watch a good movie – and believe me, we have some fantastic suggestions for you because on today’s show we have AARP film critic Tim Appelo. He’s back to give you his best quarantine movie recommendations for whatever mood you’re in. Need a good laugh? A good cry? Some inspiration? He’s got you covered.

Tim, really happy to speak with you again, first and foremost, which movies do you recommend for a good laugh and where can we watch them?

Tim Appelo:

It isn't exactly straight ahead comedy, but I like A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks's movie in which he's a hard drinking manager of an all female baseball team, including Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, and Geena Davis in about her best performance. And it's based on a real story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of 1943 and it's written by the authors of Parenthood and Splash and directed by Penny Marshall, who did Big, which is another great Tom Hanks movie. Terrific comedy.

But in A League of Their Own, it's just got great comic spirit and it has the famous line that Tom quoted when he was in coronavirus quarantine. "There's no crying in baseball.” It'll make you stop crying and fall in love with baseball all over again.

Mike Ellison:

Quick note: Tim’s recommendations are all streaming-friendly. You can find all the TV shows that Tim mentions in the show notes and which streaming platforms to find them. Check out AARP dot org slash movies for grownups to find movie coverage that keeps up with the times. 

Since we last spoke, I actually had the opportunity to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Tim Appelo:

That's another Tom Hanks. It was good for its time, but it's even better now because he plays Mister Rogers, the children's show host and nicest guy in TV history. And Tom is the nicest guy in Hollywood history. So what a role, and he conveys his crinkly eyed goodness, but also his gravitas and his personal vulnerability. He could bond with kids because he knew what it was like to feel those terrible emotions that kids sometimes feel. And it isn't just a kid's show, it's also an intergenerational movie that might interest grownup viewers because it's about this journalist who really did interview Mister Rogers and he was having father problems in his own life.

And in a way, Mister Rogers became a surrogate father figure for him in real life. And the movie beautifully just conveys that. And it's like taking a warm bath, that movie.

Mike Ellison:

Obviously it's a new movie, but it's a movie about nostalgia and I thought they had these moments where you were transported back to your childhood and you forgot you were watching a movie and thought you were watching Mister Rogers' show again that we used to see as kids. And then as you said, it dealt with some real life themes in a really beautiful way. So definitely high on my list. Now that I'm the critic, that's your job.

Tim Appelo:

Everybody is a critic. Some people just write it down.

Mike Ellison:

How about a good movie series that is worthy of a marathon, The Godfather Trilogy or the Star Wars? What are we on, Star Wars 92 now or?

Tim Appelo:

Well, I think that you could just get lost in Star Wars. If you wanted to start, why not start with the first one that aired and just do the original trilogy, that makes more sense before it goes into complexities that mainly, well, that often are of more interest to obsessives than us general audience people. But yeah, The Godfather, you can't go wrong with The Godfather. It's the only movie series I can think of where the second one is better than the first one and the first one was a masterpiece.

Mike Ellison:

And how about if there's anything on the lighter side?

Tim Appelo:

I always feel better when I watch the Barbershop movies. People don't that he's not just a musician, Ice Cube is an actor of the first order.

Mike Ellison:

Absolutely.

Tim Appelo:

It's about the barber shops, which are very important in the black community. But they just feel like universal. I mean, it doesn't feel... it's for everybody.

Mike Ellison:

Absolutely. Now, where can we find good movies that are more unknown, perhaps, or even independently made?

Tim Appelo:

Well, there're some movies that didn't get their fair due in theaters and are now, they're going to find their audience because everybody's home. Something like Booksmart. It's about two smart girls, Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, nerdy girls in high school who've panicked because it's the last night of high school and they realize they missed out on all the fun of being teenagers. So they go and it's basically a girl's version of Superbad, and it's just as good as Superbad. And again, you can see that on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Hulu, Vudu, FandangoNOW.

Mike Ellison:

It's nice to see a coming of age movie also with women as the lead characters. We don't see a lot of that, right?

Tim Appelo:

No, no, you really don't. And that's part of the reason it didn't do as well. Marketing problems more... It wasn't artistic problems. It was marketing problems. And another movie last year that I don't think got quite it's fair do is Eddie Murphy's comeback movie, Dolemite Is My Name, where he plays this, the Ed Wood have blaxpoitation movies, Rudy Ray Moore, who's had this character called Dolemite and he's got corny jokes, danceable tunes, and talk about a cast, Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock, Keegan Michael Key. You could be offended at some of the humor because he wasn't polite.

Mike Ellison:

No.

Tim Appelo:

But I think most people like it. And that's only on Netflix.

Mike Ellison:

This is not a movie that the whole family can watch. What about movies that the whole family can watch together because now families are quarantined together. We're spending a lot of time together. What are some classics that we can all watch together?

Tim Appelo:

Something like Hoosiers, which is Gene Hackman playing a basketball coach, who's got the last chance of his career trying to take his small town high school team to the Indiana State Championship. And it sounds corny, but it's based on a real story. And that's a 1986 classic with Dennis Hopper playing the town drunk, the role he was born to play. But he really was good, hired as the assistant because nobody else would hire him. And he turns out to be quite talented. So I would say Hoosiers is right up there with Rocky and you could watch the Rocky series as well. But everybody's seen Rocky and not that many people remember Hoosiers. And you get the same kind of feeling from it.

And that is very widely available on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes. I could list them all, but basically you're not going to have a hard time finding it.

Mike Ellison:

Rocky is a good one though, because there're young adults, teens, and certainly kids who actually are not familiar with the Rocky series. And then those of us who've seen it, that's actually a pretty good pick. How about a family movie, did you happen to see Akeelah and the Bee?

Tim Appelo:

Yeah, that's a good choice. That was one that had a modest presence in theaters and then found a new life online.

Mike Ellison:

What about TV shows? I mean, I know personally I enjoy binge-watching a number of series. Are there any shows... now that could be a network television or a streaming service that come to mind.

Tim Appelo:

TV is going on in a way that movies are not, and a lot of movies are now moving to your home screen. Like you can watch Emma, the Jane Austen show, it was a wonderful new version of it. Or you can watch The Invisible Man, which is totally scary and they just switched from movie theaters to your home.

A lot of people want to go see concerts and they can't do that anymore, so why not tune in to see Garth Brooks get the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for popular song and he sings Bob Dylan songs, Piano Man, American Pie, Wild World, and he's got all these other big stars with him. That's a great show.

Mike Ellison:

That sounds fantastic.

Tim Appelo:

If you want a series though, I think that there's a couple of great ones that are just new. My Brilliant Friend is about a girl in Italy growing up in the mafia controlled South of Italy in the '50s and she's got a best friend who doesn't get to go to college because of her family situation. And she's the smartest person and they're kind of rivalrous because the hero or heroine gets to go to college and becomes the intellectual that her friend didn't get to be. And so it's... Oh, it's just wonderful. It's a coming of age thing that just started on HBO.

And if you liked Big Little Lies, you might want to try Hulu's answered Big Little Lies, which is called Little Fires Everywhere. Reese Witherspoon plays a similar role as this rich woman who's very repressed and she gives a job in a home to Kerry Washington who's an artist who's living in her car. And everybody's got lots of secrets and tells lots of lies and it's not quite as good as Big Little Lies, But I think once you... I had that attitude, but I watched the whole thing and that's on Wednesdays on Hulu.

Mike Ellison:

I know we don't favor one network over the other, but my mother is a huge fan of the Chicago series, Chicago P. D., Chicago Fire, Chicago MED. She is devout to that series.

Tim Appelo:

Oh, all the Chicago shows are huge hits with grownup viewers. We are very important in the viewership of those and we're not being foolish to watch them because all are very reliable.

Mike Ellison:

From a serious standpoint, by the way, I hear the Self Made series about Madam C. J. Walker is fantastic. I've not started it myself. Have you seen any of those episodes just yet?

Tim Appelo:

That was the next one I was going to recommend. It's one of our greatest actresses and it's a very inspiring true story again about the woman who had trouble with her hair and so she founded a haircare empire that became enormous and made her a millionaire. And it's quite entertaining. And again, it's kind of a story... I think that we like stories now where we are all sharing some obstacles in our life. So seeing somebody overcome obstacles is quite inspiring now. And to see Oscar winner, Octavia Spencer, as America's richest African American business woman and richest self-made woman of any color, playing haircare product entrepreneur, Sarah Breedlove, I mean, she was the child of slaves and she was worth 8.8 million in modern dollars when she died in 1919.

Mike Ellison:

That is amazing. She was the child of enslaved Americans or enslaved African Americans, and then she herself was worth $8.8 million.

Tim Appelo:

The thing I felt was inspiring, and I thought about it when I watched Self Made, was that Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson died in debt greater than the US national debt. And two of his black grandchildren became self made millionaires.

Mike Ellison:

Really?

Tim Appelo:

Yeah. I think that also when America is floundering, it's good to see something where the American dream is realized. And I think Self Made, inspired by the life of Madam C. J. Walker is a real good example of that that's current.

Mike Ellison:

Well, we definitely need a reminder that the American dream is still alive and well. And I like to believe that we will emerge through this a stronger, more united nation. And I think we'll be a kinder, more compassionate society. And I think some of the movies that you mentioned speak to those values. I think the listeners are really going to appreciate a lot of the recommendations you've given us.

Tim Appelo:

Perfect.

Mike Ellison:

That was Tim Appelo. One recent article of his lists all the streaming services’ free trial offers. See our show notes for more details and visit AARP dot org slash entertainment to find other pieces he’s written.

If you have a story of you and your loved ones watching movies together, we’d love to hear from you.

Our email address is newspodcast@aarp.org.

Thank you to our news team:

Producers Colby Nelson and Paola Torres

Assistant Producer Danny Alarcon

Production Assistant Brigid Lowney

Engineer Julio Gonzales

Writer Jill Higgs

Executive Producer Jason Young

And, of course, my co-hosts Bob Edwards and Wilma Consul.

Become a subscriber on Apple podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher and other apps. Be sure to rate our show as well.

For an AARP Take On Today, I’m Mike Ellison. Thanks for listening.

Weary from hearing coronavirus updates? Movies could be the perfect escape. On this week’s episode, AARP film critic Tim Appelo is back to give his best streaming-friendly movie and TV recommendations.

Tim’s movie and show recommendations:

  • A League of Their Own (1992) - Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, Youtube
  • Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI - Disney +, Amazon Prime, Google Pay, Vudu, Youtube, iTunes
  • The Godfather (1972) - Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, Youtube
  • Barbershop (2002) - Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, Youtube, Hulu, iTunes
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) - Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, Youtube
  • Booksmart (2019) - Hulu, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, Youtube
  • Dolemite is My Name (2019) - Netflix Original Movie
  • Hoosiers (1986) - Hulu, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, Youtube
  • Akeelah and the Bee (2006) - Hulu, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, Youtube
  • Emma (2020) - Amazon Prime, Google Play, Youtube
  • My Brilliant Friend (2018-present) - HBO 
  • Little Fires Everywhere (2020) - Hulu Original Series
  • Self Made (2020) - Netflix Original Series

For the latest updates and information on coronavirus, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus or aarp.org/coronavirus.

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