These Parkinson’s Disease Movies Encourage, Inspire, and Entertain

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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Sherri Journeying Through

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.”

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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.



Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


John Stanley Miller (PwP since 2009) avatar

John Stanley Miller (PwP since 2009)

You didn't mention "A Late Quartet" (2012) -- the best movie I've seen in which PD is an important part of the plot (Roger Ebert gave it 3 1/2 stars out of 4). Christopher Walken is great. I highly recommend it, if you haven't seen it. If you are into classical chamber music and musicians, you should find it every more interesting.

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Thanks, John! i will definitely add it to the list as you are the second person to bring it to my attention. Thanks so much!

Dylpup avatar


Hi Sherri,
Here's another movie for your list: The Late Quartet.
"For 25 years, the Fugue, a string quartet, has wowed music-lovers with its skilled performances. However, as the musicians prepare to celebrate a milestone season together, cellist Peter (Christopher Walken) drops a bombshell on his comrades: he has Parkinson's disease and must soon retire. In the fallout from the shocking announcement, competing egos clash, long-simmering resentments bubble to the surface, and marital infidelity rears its ugly head."
If I recall correctly, PD character uses exercise as a treatment modality--important message. Plus reactions from all members of the quartet draws in everyone's problems--not just the person with PD.
Thanks for your posts--always insightful and interesting.

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Great! Thanks, Pat for the info. I hadn’t heard of that one and I’ll add it!

Barbara Kelly avatar

Barbara Kelly

Thank you so much Sherri for the list of movies you have given - my husband who has Parkinson's Disease is normally not much of a movie watcher but when I explain what they're about I'm sure I can interest him. I certainly want to watch them. Many thanks, Barbara

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Barbara- i do hope he likes them. Let me know!

Maria avatar


Thank you for what you do...there is a reason why people with Pd. Rave chocolates ..actually several on eof main ones is basic deficiency in dopamine and serotonin...if you like look at my blog also much of this information is in my Parkinsons diva ...a women’s guide to pd...hope it helps

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Thank you, Maria, for your additional thoughts/knowledge re: chocolate and PD. Good stuff!

Zeah avatar


Thank you Sherri! I love your blog. I have been visiting your blog since I found out my sister has PD. She always liked watching movies and so, I'll watch these movies with her on her birthday. I'll make sure to bring some chocolates as well.

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Zeah - I love your name! Thanks for the enouraging comment. I hope you enjoy!


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