Five Movies I’ll Watch Every Single Time They are On

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This is not a “best-of” list. These are not my five favorite films of all time. I might be weird (don’t say anything) but there are certain films that I am drawn to. Films that no matter how many times I have seen them, if I happen upon them while scrolling through my channels, I will sit down and watch them. Every time. My guess, based on what I have observed, is that many others are the same way. Our lists are likely completely different, but most of us have our go-to films. Once again, not our favorites. Not the best. Just the films that work on us each and every time. Here are five of mine. In the comment section below, tell us about yours.


National Treasure

This one might be THE go-to film for me. I remember years ago, my wife and I would go to my parents’ house every Sunday afternoon for lunch. At that time, my parents had a decent cable package and inevitably, at some point in the afternoon, I would be in the living room in a comfortable recliner, flipping my way through their channels. I lost track of how many times I would stumble upon National Treasure and get sucked in. It didn’t matter that I already knew the story – the grand mystery behind it all. I knew the jokes, the action beats, the insanity of Nicolas Cage. If National Treasure was playing on television, I was watching.

My oldest son and I watched it a few days ago. I soaked it all up again. It never fails.


The Shawshank Redemption

I’m pretty sure this film might be the G.O.A.T.1 of all go-to films. There are endless jokes online about how often this film is always shown on TBS or TNT. (I have no idea which one, since I don’t have cable and those channels, seem pretty interchangeable to me.) All I know is that if someone is watching Shawshank and I walk in the room, I am also watching Shawshank. There is a rhythm and effortless charm to the film. It’s set in an ugly and harsh prison, and it still feels as much like a “feel-good” film as any I can find. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are perfect in their roles and their film friendship is a thing of movie legend. The movie is endlessly quotable and the resolution is brilliantly conceived and executed. I’ll spend time with these prisoners many more times before I die.


Sunshine

This one might feel a little weird for this article. It’s a sci-fi, horror film. It’s much more sci-fi than horror, but the final 20 minutes or so do fall into the horror category pretty neatly. Directed by Danny Boyle, of Slumdog Millionaire fame, Sunshine is the story of a desperate attempt to “restart” our sun. A spacecraft heads on its mission to the sun to detonate the largest nuclear bomb ever made in hopes that it will cause a chain reaction that will allow the sun to once again fully heat the earth. Without this, the human race and the earth itself only have a few years left. This is a film that I did not love on my first viewing. I saw it again a few months later and liked it a lot more. I saw it shortly after that, and I loved it. Each time, I couldn’t really figure out why I felt compelled to watch it again, but that didn’t stop me. I keep coming back to it like a moth to a flame. Or a spaceship to the sun…


Sahara

Based on the Clive Cussler series, Sahara had been Matthew McConaughey’s pet project for years. After a lot of time and money, he finally got it off the ground and completed the film. It was a complete box office disaster. Doesn’t matter to me at all. I enjoy this film every time I see it. I love the chemistry between McConaughey and Steve Zahn. There is nothing groundbreaking about the film – it borrows all sorts of things from other, “better”, adventure films. But the cast is affable and the film is exciting. For this type of film, what more could you want?


Hoodwinked

I love this retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story. It’s not perfect – the animation is just not great even though they do some things with it that is inventive and very striking. The story does lag a little at the end and the climax is not nearly as satisfying as the first 45 minutes. But even with those minor complaints, the film is a resounding success. The story is familiar yet told in such a unique way that you feel like you are really getting the best of the old and the new. I love the format that they use to tell the story. The four different, yet somewhat similar, viewpoints are a great conceit to really give the film some good laughs. The wolf is my favorite character, but all the characters have their moments. And the film is full of Fletch references, so you can’t go wrong with that.2 I get pulled in anytime my kids start watching this one. It’s just that good.

 

 

  1. For those keeping score at home, this means Greatest Of All Time.
  2. If you don’t know Fletch, then you really need to fix that immediately. Now that I think about it, Fletch probably belongs on this list as well. When you decide to watch it, just charge it to the Underhill account.

Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my church, my family, my friends, Firefly, 80's rock, Lost, the Tennessee Titans, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, Arrested Development, pizza, vacation, etc...

20 thoughts on “Five Movies I’ll Watch Every Single Time They are On

  • January 19, 2018 at 9:24 am
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    Very interesting list. Mine would be different, but that’s all right.

    Reply
    • January 19, 2018 at 9:43 am
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      Would you mind sharing at least part of your list? I would love to know what movies make the list for you.

      Reply
  • January 19, 2018 at 9:51 am
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    I’m no different than many in that Shawshank would be on mine. It’s such a long movie I’ve picked it up at varying places and I can enjoy it from any point in the middle on. Once you know the background the climax pays off bigly every single time to me.

    Dumb and Dumber is a movie like this for me, though since I don’t have cable I don’t get to see it all the time on TNT/TBS like I used to. Three others I’d mention are Groundhog Day, A League of Their Own and Armageddon. All of those have such an emotional punch at several parts and loads of humor that never gets old to me. They all have aged well to my mind also.

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  • January 19, 2018 at 9:54 am
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    My list would have Sandlot, The Matrix, any of the original Star Wars trilogy, and (though it probably doesn’t count) any movie getting the MST3K treatment.

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    • January 19, 2018 at 9:54 am
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      MST3K always counts.

      Always.

      Reply
  • January 19, 2018 at 9:57 am
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    1-a. A Few Good Men
    1-b. Shawshank Redemption
    *Seriously, I watch them every time I notice that they’re on TBS, TNT, or AMC. Of course, they’re edited for TV, which makes them watchable.

    3. The Replacements (The only Keanu Reeves movie worth watching)
    4. Bedtime Stories (Adam Sandler)
    5. Tin Cup

    Reply
    • January 19, 2018 at 12:04 pm
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      You said The Replacements when you meant to say Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

      Reply
  • January 19, 2018 at 10:13 am
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    I agree with David’s mention of A Few Good Men. I would also have Tombstone on my list with all of its quotables and interesting characters.

    While I wouldn’t add it to a “must-watch” list, a movie I recently rediscovered is Last of the Mohicans, with its “must-have soundtrack to study by” that was all the rage during my undergraduate years in the mid-90’s.

    The OP reminds me that it’s been too long since I’ve seen “National Treasure”.

    Up until the final entry on the list, I was wondering if it’s really the movies that Phill likes, or if it’s just movies that have theme posters that are predominantly black and gold. :)

    Reply
    • January 19, 2018 at 10:18 am
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      I realized after I put it together that most of the posters did follow that design. Weird. Not why I picked them – though that would be funny.

      The Last of the Mohicans is one of my favorite films of all time. I watched it for the first time with my best friend in high school at his house. (He had seen it already.) When the movie ended, he looked at me and asked, “Did you like it?” I nodded yes. He then asked, “Do you want to watch it again?” I nodded yes. So we watched it again.

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  • January 19, 2018 at 11:19 am
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    1) The Sons of Katie Elder
    2) Armageddon
    3) Second Hand Lions
    4) Lonesome Dove
    5) Rocky (ivacilate between I and III as my go-to for the series)

    Reply
    • January 19, 2018 at 11:26 am
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      Nice. I own the Rocky’s (you may as well) so I didn’t consider them. But my wife and I could watch those all the time. We just watched every single one in December and my wife turned to me last night and said she wants to watch them again, especially 1-4.

      Reply
  • January 19, 2018 at 11:35 am
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    I appreciate your vulnerability in this list. I’ve never seen a Lytle praise Nic Cage, but I get it. As I thought about mine it’s almost a guilty pleasure admission. I don’t want anyone to know I can’t pass by “the Resurrection of Gavin Stone” without watching it. I have trouble not watching anything with Robert Duvall. Open range is the latest Duvall movie that’s in the rotation. And for some reason Zombieland is hard to pass by. Oh and I think I speak for all of us when I say I’d love to see what Steve Lytle’s list WOULD be.

    Reply
  • January 19, 2018 at 1:19 pm
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    I have a lot of movies I always watch when they are on. My five main ones are probably The Great Escape, Last of the Mohicans, Nacho Libre, Napoleon Dynamite, and School of Rock.

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  • January 19, 2018 at 9:35 pm
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    Since there are no comments by females, I decided to add one. I would watch Nacho Libre, Napoleon Dynamite, Pride and Prejudice (any version), and anything Alfred Hitchcock.

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  • January 19, 2018 at 10:16 pm
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    I’ll add another female comment:

    1. Gone With the Wind
    2. Chances Are
    3. Something to Talk About
    4. You’ve Got Mail
    5. Manhattan Murder Mystery

    Reply
  • January 25, 2018 at 2:19 pm
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    Gladiator, Dumb and Dumber, Billy Madison, and Happy Gilmore

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    • January 25, 2018 at 2:21 pm
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      Those would all be on my list – if I expanded it.

      Reply
  • March 1, 2018 at 9:09 pm
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    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Babe
    The Color of Paradise (probably has never been on TV)
    Persuasion (1995)
    The Best Years of Our Lives

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    • March 1, 2018 at 9:39 pm
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      1, 2, and 5 are huge for me.

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  • March 3, 2018 at 7:47 pm
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    Another six:

    A Man to Remember
    The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again
    Dave
    The Sixth Sense
    Apollo XIII
    Henry V (1989)

    Reply

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