Yesterday was a half-day at work. Unlike when a blizzard hit last year and management waited until the height of the storm to close the school, our new president informed us all in the morning that school would close at noon. So this time I didn’t have to take six hours getting home, by train, then trying to drive, leaving my car in the garage overnight, and getting back on the train to be picked up. Instead, I had a leisurely stroll to get some refreshments and settle in with a nice winter storm movie.
But this wasn’t the kind of day that called for a Christmas movie. No, this kind of day being trapped inside for a few hours, a week before Christmas called for a nice, warm, winter horror movie: Misery. I love watching movies at appropriate times: Christmas movies in December; horror movies in October; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when skipping work (it’s like my version of the museum scene- why would you do that on your day off?). Misery may be the perfect movie to watch during your time waiting out a storm. Why?
It’s legit! First, the movie itself is great. The performances are fantastic. James Caan is entertaining as the increasingly sarcastic writer Paul Sheldon who can’t escape his biggest fan. “You know, some people might consider this an oddball situation,” his character Paul Sheldon tells his caretaker Annie Wilkes, as she forces him to write a sequel he never planned.
Even better, is Kathy Bates in the role of Annie Wilkes, a former nurse whose current patient is her favorite author, who she doesn’t plan on letting go of. Kathy Bates won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance, and both are well deserved. She is all at once sweet, frightening, and funny. She’s a monster that you don’t relate to until she is shown sitting in bed watching The Love Connection, eating a bag of Cheetos with a 2 liter soda bottle on her nightstand. Or was I the only one who saw a bit of myself in her in that scene?
Misery all Winter long: I love Christmas movies, and there are a few that I HAVE to watch every year. If I didn’t love them, I would have gone to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when I visited Cleveland, because it was next to my hotel. Instead, I walked 4 miles downtown to visit the House from A Christmas Story. Misery is a winter movie that isn’t weird to watch when the holidays are over. You can watch it any time a snow storm comes, which in Boston can be from December through April.
Other movies are inappropriate: Um, there’s a blizzard going on outside. People are skidding around all irrational on their cars. Some may take hours to get home and there could be injuries and death. Wouldn’t you feel like a fool watching something like Snow Day with Chevy Chase should something unfortunate happen?
“The swearing, Paul”: I’m a bit of a potty mouth, so it’s good to find low-key alternatives to swearing by calling something an “oogie mess” or yelling “cock-a-doodie” in traffic. Annie Wilkes is also inspiring too any dirty birdy in the way she can invent new swear words like “bitchly” and “Christ-ing.”
Warm-fuzzy feeling: The whole time you watch this movie, you can just think “At least I’m not in Paul Sheldon’s situation,” and what could be more reassuring? When he’s being drugged and trying to slip knockout powder into Annie’s wine, you’re eating popcorn and slipping more Bailey’s into your friend’s or special someone's coffee.
The next time a storm hits, bring on the Misery. Grab a warm drink, wrap yourself up in a blanket, and be happy that no one is going to take a sledgehammer to your ankles.