A few weeks ago, I came across an Everyday Health article about Parkinson’s disease (PD) movies. Not just any Parkinson’s movies, but the best Parkinson’s movies. Using the label “best” is pretty risky when assessing movies, as everyone’s tastes are so different.
The article lists the following as the best PD movies:
- “Love & Other Drugs” is based on the book “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman,” by Jamie Reidy. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Jamie, a drug salesman who meets a woman with early-onset Parkinson’s disease named Maggie (Anne Hathaway). In short, it is a movie about one woman’s journey with PD and how her life and those around her are affected by it.
- “Capturing Grace” is a documentary about Dance for PD, a Brooklyn-based organization that provides dance classes for people with Parkinson’s. The Everyday Health article’s author, Reilly Bradford, called this film “uplifting and inspirational.”
- “Awakenings” is a 1990 film based on a book memoir of the same title by Oliver Sacks. It is the story of Malcolm Sayer, who discovered the initial benefits of a drug called L-Dopa in treating catatonic patients from an encephalitis lethargica epidemic. The movie is not necessarily about PD, but it is captivating nonetheless.
- “Ride with Larry” chronicles the journey of Larry Smith, who has battled Parkinson’s disease for a good amount of his adult life. He continually seeks what may work for him in combatting the symptoms of his disease. This film follows a 300-mile bike ride he did to inspire others in a similar situation. The story is about people trying to live their best with Parkinson’s disease.
- The “Back to the Future” trilogy is a series of movies that have absolutely nothing to do with Parkinson’s disease (as the author of the Everyday Health article acknowledges), but Michael J. Fox is in them, and “he has since become one of the best-known individuals alive with Parkinson’s disease.”
I haven’t seen all the movies above, so who am I to say if they are the best or not? I will say that in addition to “Saving Milly,” they are the ones that consistently appear when searching for movies on PD. I would add the following movies to the list. Although they are not necessarily about Parkinson’s, they do offer inspiration to those struggling with PD or other illnesses and who are coming to terms with the end of life.
- “The Doctor” is based on the book, “A Taste of My Own Medicine,” by Edward Rosenbaum. The film stars William Hurt as a successful surgeon who undergoes a radical transformation in his views about life, illness, and human relationships after he becomes sick. The doctor’s bedside manner sees a 180-degree change. This is one of the best movies I have ever seen.
- “Saving Milly” is based on a nonfiction book by journalist Mort Kondracke about his life’s journey with his wife, Milly, a passionate activist diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
- “Elizabethtown” takes place during an outrageous memorial for a Southern family man. In that time, unexpected romance blooms between a young woman and man, among the craziness one might call grieving the loss of a loved one. The movie stars Susan Sarandon, Orlando Bloom, and Kirsten Dunst. I think this movie is among the better movies of all time.
- In “The Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, and Sean Hayes, two unlikely friends get together in an unconventional way and decide to draw up a plan to work on their bucket lists. It is too funny not to watch. Viewers will be cheered up and inspired.
And lastly, a new film is in the works. (It is finished but not out yet.) “Kinetics” was written by Sue Wylie, an actress and writer who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease several years ago. “Kinetics” was first written as a play based on Wylie’s own story with PD, so she understands what life with PD is really like.
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