Fast forward two days: It’s Sunday morning, and you feel like shit. The weekend was a blast, but let’s just say you overindulged and woke up feeling as though someone had repeatedly jammed a fork into your cerebellum. Not fun. Well, grab a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of Advil and rejoice. We’ve got the cure for your self-inflicted pain — a movie marathon that requires minimal brain activity and is designed to slowly bring you back to life.
No, not the TV series with Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson (the twists and turns of that soap would make you feel even dizzier). This Empire is Andy Warhol’s infamous eight-hour movie that’s made up entirely of black-and-white footage of the Empire State Building. Before there were channels that just showed a Yule Log during Christmas, Empire was the original sit-back-and-veg entertainment — a tranquil, soundless study of an architectural marvel that could either be enjoyed mindlessly or completely overthought. Go for the former.
Planet Earth (2006)
No doubt plenty have savored Planet Earth’s gorgeous images taken from across the globe while being massively stoned, but whether you see it with David Attenborough’s original narration or with Sigourney Weaver’s Americanized rendition, Planet Earth is a sympathetic companion that will aid you your road to recovery.
March of the Penguins (2005)
OK, now you’re ready to start engaging a bit. This Oscar-winning documentary is a massively cute look at emperor penguins, but unlike the first two movies in this marathon, this actually has something of a narrative — as these Antarctica natives try to survive amid harsh weather conditions. Plus, it’s a good movie to gauge just where you are on the hangover recovery spectrum. If certain moments make you tear up (like when a mother and father penguin are reunited after being separated for months), you may want to make sure you’re staying hydrated. Try the blue Gatorade.
Is Ghostbusters the most quotable movie of the 1980s? Hopefully, because at this stage of your hangover, you really just want something that you can follow along with super-easily. You know the story: Three lovable dorks get into the business of busting ghosts, and pretty soon all hell breaks loose. But with a much-anticipated reboot coming this summer, now’s a fine time to be reminded all over again what a classic high-concept blockbuster comedy this was, how Bill Murray’s blasé brilliance meshed perfectly with dearly departed Harold Ramis’ uptight fussiness. Annie Potts was never better. Ditto Ray Parker Jr.
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Robert Altman made one of the great 1970s hangout movies with this riff on Philip Marlowe. As played by Elliott Gould, author Raymond Chandler’s iconic gumshoe is mostly a screw-up wandering around Los Angeles accidentally stumbling into a mystery once one of his best friends goes missing. The plot matters a whole hell of a lot less than the atmosphere, and Altman films the City of Angels as a place where weirdos and bathing beauties coexist under a haze of pot smoke. By this stage of your hangover, you should be well enough to concentrate sufficiently on this delightfully meandering, wonderfully funny pseudo-whodunit.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
After you’ve finished The Long Goodbye, it’s time for the other superb laidback L.A. noir-comedy. On the heels of Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen’s most acclaimed film, the brothers switched gears for this stoner cult classic. You already know Jeff Bridges plays “The Dude,” but The Big Lebowski is more than the actor’s indelible portrayal of that burnout bowling aficionado. It’s also a pretty fun thriller, albeit one in which the suspense keeps getting interrupted by great, ridiculous conversations between The Dude and his loser buddies (Steve Buscemi and John Goodman). And you deserve it! The Big Lebowski is a fine reward after a long day suffering on the couch waiting for the throbbing behind your eyes to disappear.
Tim Grierson is one-half of The New Republic’s film column Grierson and Leitch. He is also a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone and Vulture as well as the author of six books, including Martin Scorsese in Ten Scenes.