With real travel off the table indefinitely, watching films set in places you’ve always wanted to visit becomes at best a poor substitute and at worst a bitter reminder of the long-anticipated plans you may or may not have had to sacrifice in the interest of herd immunity.
Here’s a list of films that are sure to rub it all in your face:
“The Trip”: A meandering, reality-adjacent story about two actor-comedian friends driving through the English countryside from restaurant to restaurant and writing about food while they wade through their respective identity crises.
This film is mainly Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan – playing themselves – doing impressions at each other over a series of Michelin-star lunches and dinners. There are three sequels: “The Trip to Italy,” “The Trip to Spain,” and, most recently, “The Trip to Greece.” International travel might be out of the question, but you can still make tea at home.
“Mamma Mia”: Greece, ABBA and Meryl Streep? Sign me up. On a small Greek island, soon-to-be-married Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) works out a risky scheme to find her real father in time for him to walk her down the aisle. This jukebox musical movie is a whirl of group dance numbers and comedy from start to finish, and the gorgeous settings will continually remind you how stuck at home you are.
“Roman Holiday”: An Italian princess (Audrey Hepburn) escapes the suffocating boredom of palace life. Roaming the streets of Rome, she meets an American newsman on holiday. The ancient grandeur of the streets and buildings in which the film is set combined with the knowledge that you can’t visit will annoy you to no end.
“Lost in Translation”: Two people adrift in Tokyo at different stages of life, Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), meet in a hotel bar. Struggling through culture shock, the pair start to form a mutual sympathy. After watching this Sofia Coppola film, you won’t be able to get Japan out of your mind.
“Leap Year”: Dramatic shots of the Irish countryside are woven throughout this 2010 film. Tired of waiting for her boyfriend to ask, Anna Brady travels to Ireland to take advantage of a local tradition that allows women to propose without fear of rejection on Leap Day. But, when a string of bad luck takes her off course, she meets Declan O’Callaghan, an innkeeper in a small Irish town. At first, Anna is unimpressed with Declan’s surly demeanor, but as his true character begins to manifest, she can’t help but compare him to the boyfriend she is supposed to propose to in Dublin.
“The Lord of the Rings”: A fellowship of nine sets off to destroy a ring, defeat a dark lord and return balance to the world. If you’ve never considered New Zealand a travel destination before, the extreme landscapes that fill just about every shot of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy are sure to change that. Just remember that it’ll be some time before you and your eight closest friends can attempt anything close to adventure.
“Midnight in Paris”: When Gil (Owen Wilson), a successful but artistically unsatisfied screenwriter, visits Paris with his fiance (Rachel McAdams), he finds that his love for the city might outweigh his love for her. Whether it’s the setting, the whimsical plot or the soundtrack, Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” is the kind of movie you’ll find yourself wanting to live in.
“Salt Fat Acid Heat”: This four-part Netflix original documentary series follows American chef, TV host and food writer Samin Nosrat as she travels from California to Italy, Japan, Mexico and back sampling what she believes to be the four unavoidable elements of cooking: salt, fat, acid and heat. The food will grab your attention, of course, but the setting of each episode will leave you wanting to hop on a plane as much or more than you’ll want to run to the grocery store.
“Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”: Will Ferrell and McAdams star in this absurd comedy about a pop duo from a small Icelandic fishing town. The dramatic landscapes and wildly staged performances will leave you asking: “Seriously, is Iceland a real place?” The answer is yes, and you want to go there. But you can’t.
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