Homesickness is often associated with a child’s first foray into summer camp or a college freshman’s first semester away from the comforts of his childhood bedroom, but it’s actually a feeling that can strike almost anyone at any time, whether you find yourself snowed in at the airport over the holidays or living abroad for work.
Should you find yourself experiencing that sinking ache that corresponds with an all-encompassing desire to see loved ones and experience a familiar, trusted routine, don’t push it aside. Instead, give in to the feeling, curl up with a blanket, and take in one of these six movies that will gratify your feelings of homesickness and help alleviate them.
1. “The Royal Tenebaums”
This memorable, eccentric, and dysfunctional family will make you long for your own even while you remember that individuality within a family unit can be a tricky thing to protect and a dangerous thing to over-identify with. In this film, the patriarch of the Tenebaums seeks to reconnect with his children and estranged wife, only to find that everyone is embroiled in his or her own drama. When you’re far from home, use a proxy server to unblock Netflix, and revel in the mysteries and intricacies of family loyalty, love, and difficulty.
2. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
When your homesickness feels pathologically existential, there’s no greater ally or cure than Charlie Kauffman’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Two star-crossed lovers embark to eradicate their memories of one another, only to find that science might actually prove to be no match for true love and familiarity — even when these things cause us pain.
3. “Little Miss Sunshine”
A family road trip movie, “Little Miss Sunshine” follows the dysfunctional and financially challenged Hoover family as they set out to ensure their youngest daughter gets to participate in the finals of a beauty pageant. The movie highlights the frailties we can all feel in our family connections, wondering whether the ones closest to us actually have our backs, and do we have theirs?
There are many small victories and massive disappointments along the way, but in this movie’s triumphant final scene, loyalty and love emerge victorious in a hilarious and heartwarming striptease. When your homesickness is about your siblings or your parents, this is the film for you.
One of the best cures for homesickness is laughing your head off, and in 2011’s “Bridesmaids,” the mile-a-minute laughs are accompanied by some of the tenderest expressions of love and friendship you’ll find in a film. It’s a perfect companion film for when you miss your best friend. The movie follows six different women who, together, form the most interesting bridal party in history. Annie has been best friends with Lillian for years, and when Lillian gets engaged, Annie is troubled by her feelings of jealousy, especially in regards to Helen — a new and glamorous friend of Lillian’s. As she seeks to keep herself in line on behalf of her friend’s happiness, the six women embark on some of the funniest and most humiliating adventures in film history, and friendship triumphs in the end, for everyone.
5. “The Wizard of Oz”
Perhaps the greatest movie about wanting to go home of all time, “The Wizard of Oz” and its cast of questing characters is more a part of the United States’ movie DNA than almost any other film. After a tornado takes Dorothy and her dog up into the air and lands them in the magical and terrifying land of Oz far away from her Kansas home, Dorothy and her friends must brave perils that are external and internal as they travel to see the wizard, who will give them what they seek. Dorothy’s repetition of the phrase, “There’s no place like home,” makes this the ultimate homesickness movie.
6. “Where the Wild Things Are”
This Spike Jonze film based on the Maurice Sendak classic from your childhood will remind you of all the times your mother or father read to you as a child. The film is beautiful and nostalgic, and the world of the Wild Things that Max enters is just scary enough to help you recall childhood feelings of being misunderstood, helpless, or afraid, and the resulting ways in which those feelings were resolved. It’s an impressive movie adaptation of a treasured book, and it will give your homesickness free rein in a context that’s familiar.
When homesickness strikes and you can’t go home, settle in and turn on a movie filled with characters who can lift your spirits, because they know how you feel.
Wizard of Oz image by MGM from Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)