’Twas the season to indulge, friends, but now ’tis the season to atone. Throughout the month of January, we’ll be bringing you all sorts of Wellness Realness—information and inspiration you can use to get out of lax mode and into good-for-you mode. Or, at least stop, eating cookies for lunch and skipping your morning run.
Just coming clean here: We’re not exactly ready to start working out yet, but we would like to think about working out while laying on the couch for just a little while longer. And ideally, the thinking we’d like to do on the topic of working out would really be creative thinking. Like, what can we do that counts as working out but isn’t exactly working out? Call it six degrees of separation from actual exercise, but right now, rollerskating sounds a lot better than running laps. Here are ten movies that might just put these sweats we’ve been wearing to actual use … someday.
The flick: Skatetown USA (1979)
The stars: Scott Baio and the late Patrick Swayze.
The vibe: Xanadu meets Boogie Nights meets The Karate Kid.
Swayze in action on YouTube | Skatetown USA soundtrack on iTunes
The flick: Paper Lion (1968)
The stars: Alan Alda and Lauren Hutton.
Why we like it: Because we’re writer nerds, and this is the somewhat-fictionalized (or at least non-documentary) account of Paris Review co-founder George Plimpton jumping the embedded journalist game by about three decades and inserting himself in the Detroit Lions’ preseason training ranks for the good of a Sports Illustrated story. I mean, what’s the most extreme thing you’ve done for your job?
“Conversation with George Plimpton” from 2000 on YouTube | Paper Lion on VHS (!!!) on Amazon
The flick: Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
The stars: Only the coolest skate rats of the ’70s.
Vital because: Skate style persists, and this is where—and how—it was born. An integral part of that style was adventure. Staying loose. Being in the moment and, more importantly, of the moment. More than most others, this movie makes you want to be a kid again—at least one of these really, really cool kids.
Z-Boys on Netflix | Z-Boys on iTunes
The flick: Honey (2003)
The star: Jessica Alba. But it’s really all about Missy Elliott’s cameo.
Good if you’re gearing up for: Getting back into your Zumba class. Or trying out for a music video. That’s pretty much what the titular Honey is up to.
Honey on Netflix | Music from Honey on iTunes
The flick: The Endless Summer (1966)
The star: Planet Earth and her glorious and various sun/sand/sea setups. Bro. Brah.
Watch it now if: You’re down to chase the sunny season the way surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August did for filmmaker Bruce Brown. Or if you just want to feed your wanderlust while getting a little waistline inspiro.
Endless Summer theme song by The Sandals on YouTube | Endless Summer on iTunes
The flick: Deep Water (2006)
The star: Tilda Swinton as the narrator.
Speaking of journeying the small planet: This documentary recounts Donald Crowhurst’s failed attempt to circumnavigate it. This time the waves are the bad guy.
Deep Water on Netflix | Donald Crowhurst interview on YouTube | Deep Water on iTunes
The flick: Cool Runnings (1993)
The star: Doug E. Doug. C’mon, right?
The scenario: Jamaican athletes out of their element, in the snow, smilin’, profilin’. Winning. Based on a true story.
Cool Runnings on Netflix | Cool Runnings, a reggae doc, on YouTube | Cool Runnings on iTunes
The flick: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
The star: The short story by Alan Sillitoe, upon which the movie is based.
Emo fitness movies are valid because: Exercise is a true release. A real depressurization mechanism. A way not just to firm up, but to face up—to whatever it is that’s staring you down.
Loneliness on Netflix | An Iron Maiden song of the same name on YouTube | Loneliness on iTunes
The flick: White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
The star: It’s probably a controversial answer, but we’re gonna go with Rosie Perez.
The vibe: Golden-era NBA (we’re talking Barkley, Malone and Shaq) meets Paul Newman in The Hustler meets Hoop Dreams and hoop earrings.
White Men Can’t Jump on iTunes
The flick: Paris Is Burning (1990)
The star: New York City’s 1980’s drag-queen scene.
Because: “Everybody wants to make an impression, some mark upon the world.” Theirs is indelible and crazy inspiring. And their moves are unreal—somewhere between dance and human sculpture.
Paris on Netflix | Paris on iTunes