20 Best Upbeat Movies & TV Shows To Escape During Isolation

Photo: getty
Best Upbeat Movies & TV Shows To Escape During Isolation
Entertainment And News

Let's just start by saying, if you really want to get through this quarantine without full-on freaking out, avoid movies like, I Am Legend. I watched this last night because I happen to be a massive glutton for punishment who thrills to disaster films, and this one is just... no. 

Speaking of Will Smith to the rescue, with Coronavirus forcing us to go into isolation and stay home, it's a great way to make use of your time. But with so many options available, what should you watch?

Well, when you need an escape from COVID-19, watching the best movies or TV shows to keep you uplifted can ease your worries.

Trust me, you're going to need feel-good movies and TV right now, and you're going to want that entertainment to take you away, rather than get you sucking your thumb in the corner of your shelter-in-place closet space.

So, kick back, toss your mask and gloves into the hyperbaric chamber of isolated anti-septic bliss, and let's get started.

RELATED: 15 Movies To Watch When You Want To Feel Inspired

1. Hitch

Love Doctor, Alex Hitch (Will Smith), comes to the rescue of Albert (Kevin James), who is madly in love with the rich, elite and gorgeous Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta). While Albert makes progress, Hitch falls in love with Sara (Eva Mendes), a writer who happens to be reporting on Allegra Cole's love life.

In truth, this is a silly film that rides on the amazing comedic talent of both Smith and James, who are perfect in this romantic comedy. Hilarious, stupid, goofy and totally worthy of your time spent in quarantine.

2. Analyze This

Mob boss, Paul Vitte (Robert De Niro), suffers anxiety attacks which lead him to visit a psychiatrist, Ben Soble (Billy Crystal). With a reputation for macho brutality, Vitti is worried about that he may be going soft when he finds himself bursting into tears over television commercials.

An odd trust forms between the two characters, something that might even turn into a great friendship. This is an unexpected buddy movie that will completely take your mind off the woes of the world.

3. I Now Pronunce You Chuck and Larry

Some like Adam Sandler and some hate him, but I couldn't make a list like this without adding in this movie. It's just hilarious, gut-busting laughter, with Chuck (Sandler) as the womanizing fraud who, in order to get away with certain lawful restrictions for the sake of his kids, pretends to marry his best friend, Larry (Kevin James). Love interest Jessica Biel adds to the comedy.

The friends become front-page news and are then expected to carry out this charade when an overzealous bureaucrat (Steve Buscemi) becomes suspicious of their true relationship. Watch this and laugh yourself sick.

4. Anger Management

A regular ol' guy (Adam Sandler, yes, again) gets caught up in a screaming match aboard a plane and has to pay for this wrong deed by being sent to anger management classes in order to avoid being sent to jail.

The teacher of the class (Jack Nicholson) is confrontational, completely unorthodox and ends up moving in with the man to help him fight his inner demons. Woody Harrelson makes an outstandingly hilarious cameo as a cross-dressing hooker.

If you wanna feel pretty, see this film. (You'll know what I mean after you see it.) Goosfraba!

5. Men in Black

If this isn't the getaway film of 'em all, then I don't know what else to suggest. Aliens here on earth! Who is going to take care of us all? Well, the MIB, of course. (Yes, I have a thing for Will Smith, and so will you if you haven't seen this classic comedy.)

Tommy Lee Jones is a veteran in black. The Men in Black are an organizational group who keep track of all the aliens that have come to Earth and are now living here, inside the bodies of people we know. Will does the soundtrack as well.

This is an older film, but it will not only stand up for all-time — it'll definitely get your through quarantine.

RELATED: 15 Best Raunchy Comedies On Netflix

6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Doo dee dee doo dooooooo. If you didn't sing that, then you need to watch CE3K now. Classic sci-fi with a touch of humanity and a whole lot of wonder, this one is right up there in the Pantheon of Best Films of All-Time.

Spielberg directs Richard Dreyfus, Francois Truffaut, and an amazing ensemble cast in this dear story about about the first time humanity makes contact with an alien race. Dreyfus plays Roy Neary, who becomes so obsessed by visions of things he doesn't understand, until he's compelled to seek the origin of his visions.

No spoilers here, but let's just say he finds what he's looking for. And guess what? The aliens are not here to hurt us!

7. What We do in the Shadows

Vampire roommates (Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh) try to deal with the complexities of modern life and show a newly-turned hipster (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) some of the perks of being undead. It takes a moment or two to cop this kind of humor, but once you're in, you're basically dying of laughter.

These vampires are hilarious and goofy. This film continuously makes fun of itself. It will go down in history as a true goofball film that will be remembered for its weirdness and its originality.

8. The Hangover

A few days before his wedding is to be held, Doug (Justin Bartha) and three of his friends (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis) drive to Las Vegas to throw the groom a wild stag party. The problem is, when they wake up the next day, they can't remember what happened because the hangover is so intense. And Doug, the groom is missing!

Oh boy. Retracing their steps, they need to find out what happened to Doug so they can get him to his wedding on time. You'll never forget the cameo appearances by Mike Tyson and Ken Jeong. Good stuff here!

9. School of Rock

One of my favorite films of all-time, and so necessary during harsh times like the one's were presently going through. If you want a taste of innocence, hilarity, insanity and a terrific ensemble cast, then make School of Rock your next go-to escape movie.

Spirited guitarist Dewey Finn (Jack Black) gets thrown out of his rock band and needs work desperately. Posing as a substitute music teacher at an elite private school, he teaches his young students all about the hard rock gods he adores, which doesn't go over well with the principal (Joan Cusack).

This is a darling film, and it's one you will want to see again and again. Plus, it features great kid actors!

10. Young Frankenstein

Classic monster comedy right here, folks, and possibly one of the best films ever made. Mel Brooks to the rescue!

Respected medical lecturer Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) learns that he has inherited his infamous grandfather's estate in Transylvania. Once settled into "castle life," Frankenstein find his grandfather's medical journal and tries to recreate granddad's experiments with the help of servants Igor (Marty Feldman), Inga (Teri Garr), and the stoic and ghastly Frau Blücher (Cloris Leachman).

Peter Boyle plays the Monster, with Madeleine Kahn as Frederick's fiancé. It's Mel Brooks at his finest — and it's filmed in black and white. This movie is a masterpiece of both comedy and aesthetics.

Now, it's not all movies. 

If you want to pass the time effectively and in good humor, you must take advantage of some of the best TV shows and series available right now.

RELATED: 25 Classic Movie Quotes You Probably Use All The Time (And Don't Even Realize It)

Old and new, get thee to a TV now and binge!

TRENDING NOW on YourTango

11. Lost

With 7 seasons to binge, you'll probably be able to watch this in quarantine and out. It's a long haul with LOST, but every single episode is both fascinating and compelling. Forget all you've heard about not understanding the ending — it doesn't matter. Just ride the wave of LOST for all its worth.

The survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 were 1,000 miles off-course when they crashed on a lush, mysterious island. Each person possesses a shocking secret, but they've got nothing on the island itself, which harbors a monstrous security system, a series of underground bunkers, and a group of violent survivalists hidden in the shadows.

What else? Naveen Andrews, for one. Michael Emerson, for two. A warning: this series is addictive, so plan on hunkering down for a long, long stay.

12. Avenue 5

The other night, I put this show on and, I swear, I laughed so hard that I lost my breath, which naturally sent me into terrors as I don't want to lose my breath during this COVID-19 pandemic. Even though I'm a total Hugh Laurie fanatic and think everything he does is perfection, it's even better than that.

Avenue 5 is listed as Sci-fi, but it's straight-up slapstick comedy. There's no substance to this show at all, no great takeaway, no profound lesson to be learned. Avenue 5 is Star Trek with a cast of comedians as the helm. The jokes are stupid, the plot is dumb, and all of it is impossible to believe.

You go in for this one because you want to detach from everything just so you can laugh your butt off and feel good about it.

13. Dispatches From Elsewhere

Now this is what escape is all about! Purely fictional, and filled with what one could only call Super Whimsy, Dispatches from Elsewhere is like nothing you've ever seen before.

The story centers around four ordinary people — Peter, Simone, Janice, and Fredwynn — who are brought together by chance after they all respond to a mysterious flyer. Feeling as though something has always been missing from their lives, the characters are brought into a series of events, taking them from parades to business meetings.

It's a mix of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Vanilla Sky and The Game. Featured is an ensemble cast including Jason Segal (creator of the series), Sally Field, Richard E. Grant, André Benjamin, and Eve Lindley.

14. The Kominsky Method

I'm not altogether sure everyone in the country can get into this, but I'm absolutely positive that if you're from New York, you'll adore this incredibly clever series about a couple of older male friends who deal with the hilarious downside of aging.

It's a smart two-season series that allows us to delight in the glorious talents of Michael Douglas, Adam Arkin and Paul Reiser. It's honest and down to earth, and every single episode is both eye-opening and downright hysterical.

Arkin is a genius in this. If you want to erase your troubles, then get to binging this now!

15. Santa Clarita Diet

Not for everyone, but definitely for someone — and that someone has to be the kind who finds humor in really gross gore. This show is just that: a gore fest, but it's a gore fest of comedy.

You've got this adorable couple — Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant — as the lead characters. Drew's character, Sheila, eats something that really goes the wrong way on her, and it's not mere food poisoning but something much, much worse. In fact, Sheila is now a zombie who needs to eat flesh in order to survive.

Hubby Joel adores his zombie wife and wishes to help her out, to the best of his ability. There's plenty to binge here, just don't stuff too much in at one time.

RELATED: 10 Totally Underrated Movies On Netflix To Watch This Weekend

16. Flight of the Conchords

If you've never treated yourself to this series from New Zealand, then it's time. This is the hidden treasure you didn't know existed.

From the same ensemble group that brought us What We Do in the Shadows, both movie and series, comes this off-beat story about two friends who situate in New York City, while trying to keep their folks band alive.

Each episode contains original music. The entire show is similar to Seinfeld in its "about nothing" plot line, but there are really special moments in this. Check out the episode devoted to David Bowie — so good!

17. Curb Your Enthusiasm

This series could be considered quite escapist as it's just nonstop goofy plots that don't really save the world. It's a snarkastic look at every day life though the eyes of Larry David, of Seinfeld notoriety. If you're presently in Los Angeles, then you might enjoy delving into this series as it's very California-based.

Larry David plays a version of himself on the improvised series. He faces a constant barrage of life's little annoyances, which are all remarkable as well as forgettable. That's the fun part of Curb — you don't have to remember it, you just have to enjoy the moment.

18. American Gods

Alright, let's just pour ourselves into pure fantasy. Not a comedy, but definitely a ride nonetheless, American Gods, written by Neil Gaiman, is a masterpiece — in acting, direction, photography and writing.

Ex-con Shadow Moon is left to his thoughts after the recent, tragic death of his wife. He meets a mysterious con man named Mr. Wednesday, who offers him a job as his bodyguard. As their journey begins, Shadow learns of a hidden America where magic is real and it lives with the New Gods: Technology and Media.

Mr. Wednesday, an Old Dod himself, prepares to launch a way against the New Gods. This cast is sublime, with Ian McShane heading it up. Orlando Bloom is exceptional as Mr. Nancy. (Watch for his monologue in the first season, aboard the slave ship. You will never forget it. Chills all the way.)

19. Hannibal

Look, it can't all be happy-happy joy-joy when we're in quarantine, but it most certainly can be intelligent, mysterious, dastardly and murderous, right? Maybe even... cannibalistic? I'm not suggesting you eat your housemates, but I do suggest you take on this three-season masterpiece of a series.

Hannibal, played my Mads Mikkelson, is indeed the Hannibal we've come to know and love from the movies and books, but better! This Hannibal takes place before Silence of the Lambs and puts together the story of Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, and their odd story of love, murder, deception and long pig.

Homoerotica never looked as hot as it does in this series. Thrills, chills and mega-tears. Worth every minute. Most gorgeous photography ever, too.

20. Breaking Bad

If you're looking to hunker down for a long while, you might as well get yourself a series that's worth its time, and that, my friends, is and always will be Breaking Bad.

High school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is not doing well. His teacher salary is trash, and nothing is improving, especially now that his wife is pregnant. His son battles cerebral palsy and Walter himself has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Realizing that his illness probably will destroy him financially, Walter hooks himself up with a street hood drug dealer named Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), and the two of them create a new form of a street drug: Crystal Blue Meth.

This six-season series is just the thing to take you away from your troubles, and every single episode is both interesting and engaging. Upbeat? Yes, if you enjoy watching masterful acting and an outstanding story.

RELATED: The Best Life & Love Advice From The Greatest Movies Of All Time

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Dori Hartley is a portrait artist, essayist and a journalist. She's been published in The Huffington Post, ParentDish, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today, XOJane, MyDaily and The Stir. Her art books ‘Beauty’, ‘Antler Velvet’, and 'Mads Mikkelsen: Portraits of the Actor' are all available on Amazon.

Author
Author