Total Recall

12 New Year's Resolutions on Film

Happy New Year! In this week's Total Recall, we take a look at some films that correspond with the most popular resolutions.

by | January 6, 2016 | Comments

The holidays are behind us, 2015 is a memory, and a brand new year lies ahead — and for a lot of us, that means drawing up a list of resolutions that we all know we’ll probably end up breaking before St. Patrick’s Day. In the spirit of the New Year, we’ve decided to round up a list of movies that correspond with some of the most popular resolutions. Whether you’re trying to quit smoking, change your diet, or get your finances in order — of even if you feel like your life is in pretty good shape as it is — here’s a cinematic smorgasbord to help you ring in 2016. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, it’s Total Recall!


Drink Less Alcohol: The Shining (1980) 85%

01TheShining

For most of us, unwittingly gulping down a roofie is the biggest danger we face when accepting drinks from a stranger in a strange place. But for recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his decision to fall off the wagon in The Shining means striking up a deadly bargain with the malevolent spirits that really run the spooky old hotel he’s been tasked with looking after over a bitter Colorado winter. Next thing you know, ol’ Jack’s chasing after Shelley Duvall with an axe and wandering through the world’s freakiest topiary — food for thought the next time you think about ordering that extra drink. And as for The Shining? It is, as Emma Dibdin wrote for Digital Spy, “One of the most viscerally disturbing films ever made.”

Watch Trailer


Eat Healthier: Fast Food Nation (2006) 50%

FastFoodNation

A blistering non-fiction takedown of empty calories and corporate agriculture might not be the first place most people would look when hunting for books to adapt for the big screen, but Richard Linklater isn’t like most directors. Sadly, many critics felt Linklater’s ensemble-driven take on Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation failed to turn the book’s passionate argument against mass-produced meals into a compelling movie — although for an equal number of scribes, the powerful performances delivered by the impressive cast (which included Bruce Willis, Luis Guzman, and Patricia Arquette) made up for any narrative gaps. “For slicing through the euphemisms and getting to the heart of the matter,” argued Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Fast Food Nation is the most important American film of the year.”

Watch Trailer


Get a Better Education: Back to School (1986) 85%

BacktoSchool

Rodney Dangerfield’s schlubby humor and salt-of-the-earth persona made him the perfect fit for Back to School, starring the respect-deficient comedian as a self-made millionaire who, needing a distraction from his latest philandering trophy wife, decides to head back to college as a way of bettering himself while reconnecting with his uptight son (Keith Gordon). While it presents roughly the same cartoonishly unrealistic picture of campus life as any other 1980s college comedy, School has a sweet core lacking from most of the decade’s T&A-fueled romps, and it benefits greatly from charismatic performances by Dangerfield and a young Robert Downey, Jr. “It’s a good character for Dangerfield,” nodded the Chicago Reader’s Dave Kehr, “one that veers him away from the ‘I don’t get no respect’ pathos that comes too easily to him, and enough attention is paid to the minimal plot to integrate Dangerfield’s classically constructed one-liners.”

Watch Trailer


Get a Better Job: The Secret of My Success (1987) 57%

SecretOfMySuccess

No matter how many degrees you have, moving up the corporate ladder often comes down to who you know. Even then, as naive college grad Brantley Foster (Michael J. Fox) discovers early in The Secret of My Success, your family connections might not be good for much more than a gig in the mailroom — unless you opt for the non-traditional approach and invent a new employee who rocks the boardroom in spite of the fact that he doesn’t technically exist. A major box-office hit in 1987, Success received lukewarm praise from critics, although its frantic screwball pace and slapstick comedy took full advantage of Fox’s comedic gifts, and its corporate setting helped make it what James Sanford of the Kalamazoo Gazette referred to as a “Quintessential 1980s comedy.”

Watch Trailer


Get Fit: Stephen King's 'Thinner' (1996) 15%

Thinner

Atkins, Paleo, South Beach… there’s a diet for every week of the year, but for sheer effectiveness, none of them can hope to match the pound-shedding power of a gypsy curse. At least, that’s what we learn in Thinner, director Tom Holland’s rather misguided adaptation of the gripping Stephen King story about a slovenly lawyer (Robert John Burke) who picks the wrong old lady to run over and ends up losing weight at an alarming rate. While none of the story’s essential themes translated particularly well to the screen, Thinner still managed to raise a few critics’ neck hairs, including Clint Morris of Moviehole, who decreed it “Stephen King’s freakiest film in eons.”

Watch Trailer


Get out of Debt: Season of the Witch (2011) 11%

SeasonOfTheWitch

“But wait,” you might be saying. “What does Season of the Witch have to do with getting out of debt?” And while it’s true that in narrative terms, this 2011 fantasy action-adventure about a Crusader traveling to a remote monastery with a woman accused of witchcraft might not offer much in the way of lessons about managing one’s money, behind the scenes, it was all about getting back into the financial black. At least it was for star Nicolas Cage, who signed on for the project after learning he’d incurred a crushing $13 million tax liability with the IRS. Roundly panned by critics far and wide, Witch is just one of many debt-motivated movies Cage has starred in over the last few years — not that his motivations mattered to writers like ReelViews’ James Berardinelli, who opined, “Cage is effective as a falling down drunk in Las Vegas or a treasure hunter navigating goofy road trips but not as a disillusioned champion of the Church going one-on-one with a demon. Steven Seagal would have been more believable.”

Watch Trailer


Manage Stress: The Incredible Hulk (2008) 67%

IncredibleHulk

With the possible exception of Lewis Black on a good night, it’s hard to like anybody when they’re angry. Bruce Banner, however, takes this maxim to ridiculous green extremes — and while neither of his solo big-screen outings have come close to maximizing the potential of his counterpart on the printed page, Banner’s rampaging alter ego came tantalizingly close to cinematic glory in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton as the hunted scientist who morphs into an indestructible beast whenever he gets a little too ticked off. Packed with action and ripe with subtext, the 2008 Hulk tried to split the difference between portraying a man desperately trying to manage his anger and allowing audiences the simple joy of watching him give in to it all and break stuff. It doesn’t always work, but for David Cornelius of eFilmCritic.com, it all added up to “One of the great monster movies, exciting and scary and sad all at once.”

Watch Trailer


 Quit Smoking: Out of the Past (1947) 94%

OutOfThePast

This classic 1947 noir isn’t really about quitting smoking — in fact, ex-P.I. Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) has a cigarette in hand just about every time he’s on the screen — but it makes puffing tobacco look like such a stone cold cool habit that a viewer can pretty much inhale the vice’s visceral pleasures just by watching Out of the Past. In fact, no less an authority than Roger Ebert deemed it one of the all-time greatest smoking movies; as he put it, “There is a lot of smoking in all noirs, even the modern ones, because it goes with the territory. Good health, for noir characters, starts with not getting killed. But few movies use smoking as well as this one; in their scenes together, it would be fair to say that Mitchum and [Kirk] Douglas smoke at each other, in a sublimated form of fencing.”

Watch Trailer


Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: WALL-E (2008) 95%

Wall-E2

It’s hard to imagine any studio other than Pixar having success with a family film this idiosyncratic — a movie about a lonely trash-compacting robot with a mostly dialogue-free first act doesn’t exactly scream “summer blockbuster” — but audiences trusted the Pixar brand enough to show up in droves for WALL-E, and they were rewarded with not only one of the best-reviewed animated releases of 2008, but what was, in the words of the Boston Globe’s Jay Carr, “the best American film of the year to date.” The movie’s eco-friendly storyline came with a surprising bit of controversy, drawing fire from conservative pundits who were annoyed with what they interpreted as a left-wing, anti-business message, but its 96 percent Tomatometer and massive $534 million gross drowned out the chatter. As with just about everything Pixar has done, it works whether you’re looking to be edified or simply entertained; as the New York Times’ A.O. Scott noted, “it is, undoubtedly, an earnest (though far from simplistic) ecological parable, but it is also a disarmingly sweet and simple love story, Chaplinesque in its emotional purity.”

Watch Trailer


Spend More Time with Family: Max Dugan Returns (1983) 69%

MaxDuganReturns

Nothing’s more important than family, but sometimes it’s hard for us to see that until it’s almost too late. For example, take Max Dugan (Jason Robards), whose decades of estrangement with his daughter (Marsha Mason) come to a sudden end when he shows up on her doorstep to right old wrongs and start a relationship with his grandson (Matthew Broderick) — and share the bitter news of his impending death. Boasting a screenplay by Neil Simon and typically light-fingered direction from Herbert Ross, Max Dugan Returns entranced critics like Janet Maslin, who wrote for the New York Times, “There are certainly some questionable ingredients to the story, but you’re not likely to notice them while the film is under way. You’re likely to be laughing.”

Watch Trailer


Take a Trip: National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) 93%

Vacation

Vacations are always fun in theory, but it’s very rare that every member of the family is equally on board with whatever the person planning the trip has in store — especially if said planner is an arrogant-yet-well-meaning dunderhead like Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), who miscalculates basically every possible preparation for the family trip to Wally World in National Lampoon’s Vacation. From getting saddled with a lemon of a car to refusing to ask for directions, Clark makes plenty of mistakes — and when he isn’t messing things up on his own, he’s beset with annoying family members (like Randy Quaid’s legendary Cousin Eddie) who do it for him. The final act descends into lunacy, but underneath it all is a frantic desperation for an unattainable ideal that lies at the dark, splintered heart of any vacation gone wrong. “The Griswolds,” decreed Fred Topel for Crave, “are a national treasure.”

Watch Trailer


Volunteer to Help Others: Volunteers (1985) 58%

Volunteers

Lawrence Bourne III (Tom Hanks) doesn’t exactly start donating his time for the most altruistic reasons — he’s trying to dodge a gambling debt by fleeing the country — but once he ends up on a plane full of Peace Corps volunteers bound for Thailand, he’s in for the experience of his life, in terms of manual labor as well as the many misadventures he gets into alongside fellow volunteer Tom Tuttle (John Candy). And while Volunteers may not have drummed up the sort of box office totals the studio was hoping for from reunited Splash vets Candy and Hanks, it tickled Walter Goodman of the New York Times, who wrote, “Take a healthy helping of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a dollop of The Bridge on the River Kwai, a dash of any Tarzan movie, a soupcon of Casablanca, a whiff of The Wizard of Oz and a stunt or two from a favorite Saturday serial, stir frenetically, and if you’re lucky enough to have snappy dialogue by Ken Levine and David Isaacs, you may end up with as funny a movie as Volunteers.”

Watch Trailer

Tag Cloud

television book WGN vampires slashers blaxploitation USA Network Winter TV E! Star Trek Starz Musical The Arrangement CBS All Access GLAAD Trophy Talk facebook doctor who Chernobyl Country Sony Pictures RT21 Schedule Spring TV cars New York Comic Con Fantasy social media video Sundance Now Ovation Amazon batman joker Captain marvel 007 Teen 24 frames MSNBC Superheroe Holidays Superheroes MCU ghosts singing competition Polls and Games Walt Disney Pictures PBS Comedy Central Mystery Heroines Comedy Pop Brie Larson adventure Freeform Ghostbusters VICE TLC TCM harry potter Binge Guide Countdown Disney Plus golden globes miniseries TV Land Spike BBC America movies LGBTQ DirecTV Amazon Prime Video comic TNT Paramount Network Syfy anime Black Mirror casting politics cancelled TV series ESPN Biopics Universal Red Carpet Valentine's Day PaleyFest Sneak Peek science fiction BBC tv talk Showtime IFC space Winners Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt free movies nature psychological thriller quibi The Witch SXSW DC Comics animated Fox News TCA based on movie Food Network Shudder political drama festivals Anna Paquin jamie lee curtis 21st Century Fox medical drama NYCC Cannes CMT 2016 Martial Arts FXX Warner Bros. FX supernatural spain Election San Diego Comic-Con south america Mary Tyler Moore WarnerMedia halloween Dark Horse Comics 2019 crime drama disaster SundanceTV MTV Sundance sequel Rocky adaptation Rom-Com Thanksgiving Apple TV+ ABC Family Opinion canceled 45 Animation USA Disney Channel justice league mutant aliens boxoffice Kids & Family Columbia Pictures Western Pet Sematary dc OWN Summer RT History Hulu Epix ratings YouTube Christmas thriller Video Games witnail series Writers Guild of America talk show children's TV 71st Emmy Awards war foreign cops CNN zombie Emmy Nominations Calendar Vudu Arrowverse YA police drama dceu Trailer discovery ITV zero dark thirty cats green book HBO Max period drama Shondaland DGA Lionsgate Lifetime Mindy Kaling Peacock renewed TV shows See It Skip It Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Pirates composers Trivia SDCC Star Wars TruTV Cartoon Network HBO NBC game of thrones latino Mary Poppins Returns toy story docudrama Adult Swim unscripted Horror Infographic cooking TV renewals Netflix Mary poppins spinoff teaser Drama elevated horror American Society of Cinematographers Box Office travel President DC streaming service Comic Book First Reviews Disney A&E Ellie Kemper Year in Review Watching Series Family Mudbound 2018 award winner strong female leads finale cancelled TV shows X-Men GIFs Amazon Prime The Walking Dead psycho National Geographic Bravo Reality Competition Film kids E3 Women's History Month Esquire Comics on TV anthology Interview TCA 2017 true crime Rock comiccon Song of Ice and Fire Music Crackle game show CW Seed Set visit cancelled technology IFC Films First Look cults Awards Tour Rocketman Apple LGBT sports 2017 Acorn TV spanish language APB Extras biography The CW Podcast robots streaming spider-man Pixar Marathons what to watch FOX 20th Century Fox zombies dramedy DC Universe Film Festival VH1 theme song historical drama YouTube Red Nickelodeon Masterpiece CBS serial killer mockumentary romance natural history Disney streaming service El Rey Elton John crime thriller Emmys Tarantino crossover Logo Best and Worst transformers hispanic TIFF revenge Awards Spectrum Originals Nat Geo diversity Super Bowl GoT ABC hist binge cancelled television Cosplay Photos canceled TV shows spy thriller Television Academy Quiz Premiere Dates Musicals Fall TV Creative Arts Emmys sitcom Lucasfilm YouTube Premium TBS 2015 Tomatazos Britbox BET Oscars Toys Grammys Sci-Fi Reality Action stand-up comedy richard e. Grant dragons Nominations Tumblr crime Marvel Certified Fresh AMC TV History Stephen King Pride Month cinemax Paramount Character Guide