Good hangout movies rely on two things - the strength of the characters and the dialogue because the viewer is not able to rely on action to propel the story forward. In a hangout movie, the story arc is far more subtle, and its effect tends to linger longer than films that are more "in your face." We all hang out; we all bond with friends and family; and, on occasion, we all isolate; the films featured below reflect elements that are universal to everyday life.
While several movies on this list are critically acclaimed, they didn't see big box office numbers. Plus, they did make their mark on viewers who look for inspiration and feeling in smaller stories. Which of these films makes you feel better about doing a whole lot of nothing?
- Photo: Gramercy Pictures
In 1993, director Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused was a box office flop, but it has found cult status and popularity among audiences and critics since. Set in 1976, it follows the exploits of a group of seniors and freshmen on the last day of the school year, which, in the '70s, would have involved plenty of hook ups, illicit substances, and rock 'n' roll. There's not much that happens in the movie, but that's the point for Linklater, who said that things played out more slowly then than they do now:
I don’t remember teenage [years] being that dramatic. I remember just trying to go with the flow, socialize, fit in, and be cool. The stakes were really low. To get Aerosmith tickets or not? That’s a big thing. It was really rare when the star-crossed lovers from the opposite side of the tracks and the girl gets pregnant and there’s a car crash and somebody dies. That didn’t really happen much. But riding around and trying to look for something to do with the music cranked up, now that happened a lot!
Look for early roles from some of today's A-listers, including Matthew McConaughey, Renée Zellweger, and Ben Affleck.5212Good excuse to do nothing?
- Photo: Miramax Films
This ode to Gen-X slackerdom put director Kevin Smith on the map. Clerks follows a day in the lives of Dante Hicks and Randal Graves as they ponder the world around them from behind a cash register in a convenience mart and video store, respectively. Smith made the movie as a homage to Richard Linklater's style of filmmaking:
Seeing Linklater’s Slacker on my 21st birthday showed me that movies didn’t have to blow up the Death Star - they could just be a snapshot of where you were in life. Clerks came out of a demand for representation: There was a time when that world of dead-end jobs didn’t exist in the movies, when pop culture wasn’t the culture, when you didn’t see people who talked in movie quotes.4010Good excuse to do nothing?
- Photo: The Orchard
Vampires are just like us! What We Do in the Shadows, directed by Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), shows how the undead really live - they argue about chores, enjoy a night out at the club, and surf the web. Despite being supernatural beings that feast on blood and fry in sunlight, they're just trying to get along like the rest of us, according to Waititi:
I like the idea of seeing what vampires do when they’re not hunting. It’s like if you watch Interview With The Vampire or The Lost Boys but what you get is the scenes they’d cut out. Lestat would never do the dishes. There would be big arguments about that... "One time, Lestat wore my frilly shirt and gave it back and there was blood on the collar. He didn’t even wash it."318Good excuse to do nothing?
- Photo: Universal Pictures
In The Breakfast Club, five students - "a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel, and a recluse" - find themselves in detention on a Saturday and have nothing else to do but get to know each other. This seminal movie from 1985 shows the group as they're given the opportunity to move beyond their stereotypes, find common ground, and become real friends. Molly Ringwald, who played Claire, said director John Hughes was the first of his kind in portraying teens of the time:
No one in Hollywood was writing about the minutiae of high school, and certainly not from a female point of view. That two of Hughes’s films [this and Sixteen Candles] had female protagonists in the lead roles and examined these young women’s feelings about the fairly ordinary things that were happening to them, while also managing to have instant cred that translated into success at the box office, was an anomaly that has never really been replicated.2811Good excuse to do nothing?