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Self-isolation film guide: Sometimes there's no place like home 

click to enlarge Gael García Bernal and Maribel Verdu in the film “Y Tu Mamá También.”


Gael García Bernal and Maribel Verdu in the film “Y Tu Mamá También.”

After more than a month in quarantine, everyone’s getting antsy. Even so, none of us should be traveling right now. Despite the fact that a few states are starting to open back up, most medical experts suggest that the best course of action is to stay the course and continue to self-isolate a while longer.

To help overcome the cabin fever, CITY has put together a selection of bad-trip movies to remind us that sometimes it’s better to just stay home.

The following film trips, vacations, and travels are each ranked by how catastrophic things get, with a breakdown of the pros and cons to decide whether any of these excursions were even worth it in the first place.

“National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983)
The Griswold family embarks on a road trip vacation from their Chicago home to the Disney-esque Walley World amusement park in California, but experience one hilarious mishap after another along the way.

Pros: “Quality” time with the family.
Cons: Middle-class suburban entitlement, animal cruelty, thwarted infidelity, dated racial stereotypes, inadvertently transporting a body across state lines, and general obnoxiousness.
Worth it?: No. Technically everything turns out fine, but wouldn’t everyone have been better off if the Griswolds had just stayed home? They’re the absolute worst.

“Y Tu Mamá También” (2001)
Two Mexican teenagers convince an older woman acquaintance to accompany them on a road trip to a secluded beach, and the trio experiences a bit of drama, sex, and heartache along the way.

Pros: Soaking in the sun, finally expressing some deeply-held resentments, and experiencing a cathartic breakthrough in your friendship.
Cons: The morning after is going to be unbearable.
Worth It?: No. Sure, those relationships might have run their course on their own. But why rush it?

“Force Majeure” (2014)
A luxurious family ski vacation in the French Alps hits a rough patch after dad freaks out and abandons the family during a near-miss with an avalanche. This year's "Downhill" starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell is a remake of "Force Majeure."

Pros: Crisp mountain air and plenty of exercise.
Cons: Realizing the solid foundation of your marriage isn’t as solid as you’d assumed.
Worth It?: No. Always seek professional counseling before deciding to vacation at a ski resort.

“127 Hours” (2010)
Inspired by a true story, James Franco plays a mountain climber who gets trapped under a boulder while hiking the canyons alone in the Moab desert, and resorts to unimaginable measures while fighting for his life.

Pros: Beautiful scenery.
Cons: Spoiler alert...self-administered amputation.
Worth It?: No. Remember, Mother Nature couldn’t care less about you.

“Spring Breakers” (2012)
Four college girls turn to crime to fund their spring break Florida vacation and fall under the sway of a local drug and arms dealer named Alien while partying to their heart's content.

Pros: Hitting the beach and getting a sweet tan.
Cons: A life of crime can be a slippery slope.
Worth It?: No. Spring break + college students = a recipe that will inevitably end in disaster and death.

“The Hitch-Hiker” (1953)
Two fishermen friends pick up a sadistic escaped convict who threatens to kill the men unless they shuttle him across the Mexican border.

Pros: Learning that loyalty to one another can get you through anything.
Cons: Didn’t anyone tell you picking up hitchhikers is a terrible idea?
Worth It?: No. And it’s time to deal with the real reason you and your buddy have been taking these fishing trips together and lying to your wives about them. We can all see it.

“The River Wild” (1994)
Meryl Streep plays Gail, whose family whitewater rafting vacation turns deadly when they’re taken hostage by an armed Kevin Bacon and his cohorts, who demand help getting downriver.

Pros: Fresh air, learning new skills, and crisis bringing the family closer together.
Cons: Hostage situations, murder, child endangerment...and hey, is mom getting flirty with Kevin Bacon?
Worth It?: No. There are far more efficient ways to strengthen your marriage and bond as a family than being taken hostage by criminals. Try a game night.

“Troll 2” (1990)
A young boy is horrified to discover the town where his family is staying is part of some weird farmer-exchange vacation program, run by a tribe of goblins who turn humans into plants and eat them.

Pros: It's nice getting to spend more time with the ghost of your dead grandfather.
Cons: Getting turned into a plant and eaten by goblins is a messy drag.
Worth It?: No. Hospitality has its limits.

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” (2019)
Looking for an escape after battling an intergalactic, genocidal warlord, Peter Parker heads off on a summer class trip to Europe, but encounters a new threat that puts his classmates — and possibly the entire world — in danger.

Pros: Seeing the European sights and spending time with Jake Gyllenhaal.
Cons: City-wide destruction and possible (offscreen) mass casualties.
Worth It?: No. Sure, the world is saved. But for how long? And who’s going to pay for all that property damage?

“The Descent” (2005)
One year after suffering a tragic accident, a group of female friends reunite for a caving expedition, but their adventure becomes a nightmare when a collapse traps them underground and they find themselves hunted by bloodthirsty creatures.

Pros: Quality time with the girls.
Cons: Caves are terrifying even when they’re not infested with monsters.
Worth It?: No. If your friend group hasn’t dealt with all the emotional baggage between them, it will come out in spectacularly unhealthy ways.

“Hostel” (2005)
Three backpackers head to a Slovakian city after being promised the time of their lives, but things take a turn when they encounter a mysterious organization that lets people pay money to torture and kill kidnapped tourists.

Pros: Sex, drugs, and alcohol; the party never has to stop when you’re away from home.
Cons: Did you miss the part about all the torture and murder?
Worth It?: No. The “Ugly American” is a stereotype for a reason. Don’t be those guys.

Adam Lubitow is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this story can be directed to

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