Call them "cult classics." "Guilty pleasures." "Comfort movies." We all have a mental rolodex of flicks that may not be terribly popular but, for one reason or another, they resonate in a very special way. Maybe you saw it at the right moment. Maybe you just see gold where everyone else sees feces. Whatever the case, these are the special favorites that you keep stashed away for sick days. Here are some of ours.
From "Road House" to "Point Break," there's no shortage of highly watchable Patrick Swayze films on display, but the actor's most poignant work -- particularly given recent events -- is undoubtedly "Ghost," the story of a man who had to die to learn about life.
In the film, Swayze plays Sam Wheat, who is killed when he and his girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore) are robbed at gunpoint. Sam's soul lingers on earth, unable to communicate with any living being except for Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a con artist that pretends to speak with ghosts. With Oda Mae's help, Sam unravels the tragic circumstances surrounding his death and learns that his co-worker and friend Carl (Tony Goldwyn) was ultimately responsible for the murder -- and worse still, an unwitting Molly might be his next target. In order to protect her and to bring Carl to justice, Sam must learn how to reconnect with the mortal realm both physically and emotionally.
"Ghost" isn't your traditional Sick Day Stash flick in the sense that it was both a popular and successful movie. It earned over $500 million worldwide and scored two Academy Awards, one for Goldberg's performance and the other for best screenplay, not to mention its various nominations.
For me personally however, this qualifies as both a guilty pleasure and a comfort movie. See, I'm the type of guy that pops "Equilibrium" in the DVD player when I'm feeling under the weather. I brainlessly soak in "Taken," fully aware that there's no story to behold but plenty of hilariously awesome Liam Neeson action to take me out of reality for a little while. Heck, I even love me some "Red Dawn," but it just isn't the first movie I turn to when it comes to Swayze.
No, that movie is "Ghost," a romantic dramedy that I have no business being a fan of. I don't love it for the infamous pottery scene or because "Unchained Melody" plays endlessly in my head -- which it does -- but because it's simply unforgettable cinema. It's filled with classic one-liners -- the ever-amazing "Ditto" among others -- and terrific characters, including the late Vincent Schiavelli's portrayal of a crazed ghost that teaches Sam how to interact with the physical realm.
Above all, it's the movie that makes me feel most at ease with Swayze's death. It goes without saying that nobody is happy about his tragic passing, but for me, there's something very surreal about the actor's departure from this mortal coil... which might have a little something to do with the fact that I've watched him die here in "Ghost" so many times. And while his journey is certainly not easy, he does manage to find peace in the end.
When Sam Wheat finally allows himself to follow the white light, his final words comfort me into knowing that not only is Swayze doing fine wherever he is now, but he's probably doing even better.
"It's amazing Molly," he says as he moves on into the next life. "The love inside, you take it with you."
That sounds pretty good to me.
What are your fondest memories of "Ghost" and Patrick Swayze?