The decisive right of passage for any adult male is the inevitable construction of the “man-cave.” Though its name suggests prehistoric connotations of Neanderthal-like quality wherein a man might exhibit all of his stereotypical gruffness, the truth of the matter is that a man-cave is a place in the home devoid of any and all purpose other than comfort. It is not for cooking, not for showing, not for entertaining, not even necessarily just for a man. The man-cave, conceptually, should be nothing more than an immersion of interests without the pressure of “fitting in” with the rest of the home’s décor.
I have recently begun the formidable undertaking of transforming my basement into a lair worthy of The People’s Critic’s name. Obviously, its design is based on gloriously accentuating a single focal point that is as large a projected movie image as possible. Comfy seats, a big screen, carpet, popcorn machine, mini-bar – everything was in place for the laziest and most epic screening room I could imagine (and afford). Once that task was accomplished, however, a funny thing happened. The lonely treadmill that was the previous, albeit ignored, focal point in the basement suddenly yearned for a new purpose and I guiltily sitting on my comfy leather couch watching The Dark Knight Rises for the fifth time climbed aboard with a zeal for exercise previously unknown to me. My heart pumped as Batman and Bane battled it out; my adrenaline kicked in to high gear as Bruce Wayne fought to escape The Pit…and then there’s Catwoman! The next thing I knew, exercise and movies were deeply intertwined; free-weights, a jump rope, and a rowing machine suddenly joined the once lonely treadmill as the man-cave evolved into a theatrical gym with no membership costs.
In the past seven months, I’ve worked out to 34 complete movies. While many are action/adventure films, others are dramas, comedies, westerns, and sci-fi/fantasies. I don’t say all of this to be pretentious or to brag. Rather, I want to establish some element of credibility before providing a list of the top 10 movies to work out to, since I am not a person who is known for or claims to know much about exercising.
A note before I begin. All of the films on my list I had seen prior to watching them while exercising. Unless it stars Jason Statham (which several of them do), I find the experience is much richer if you’re familiar with the film ahead of time.
10. The Transporter, The Transporter 2, and The Transporter 3 – 3 movies? I know, I’m cheating right out of the gate, but they do star Jason Statham. Still, these movies are made for this kind of list and while not necessarily “good,” (especially in the acting category – That’s right Transporter 3, I’m talking to you) they are the perfect series to show your treadmill who’s boss.
9. Cloud Atlas – What? That’s right, this nearly three hour Wachowski sibling brain scramble of a film is one of two films on this list that if seen REQUIRE at least a second viewing, so why not set the treadmill to “Walk in the Park” and hit those free weights every time Tom Hanks shows up as another character.
8. The Departed – One of the best films you can watch anywhere, but it’s the great use of music that earns it a place on this list.
7. Rambo First Blood: Part II – I resisted the urge to cheat again and include First Blood, but really this is the Rambo movie to see, but avoid Rambo 3 in all circumstances.
6. Death Race – Jason Statham returns to the list in a remake of the 1975 camp classic, Death Race 2000. This one is worse than the original and yet much better for the purposes of this list! Lots of heavy metal, explosions, cars racing, and Ian McShane from Deadwood.
5. The Dark Knight Rises – This is the one that started it all for me. So you want to be Batman? This movie is the Rocky III of the Dark Knight series. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, just know Batman ain’t in fighting shape; he’s a little worse for ware, which of course leads to several training montages that allow YOU to train with Batman himself!
4. The Wolf of Wall Street – This is probably where I lose my woman audience. Like The Departed, Scorsese fills this movie with great music choices, which I think is key to a good work out movie. It’s also a party on film and a bit of a man’s movie, but with a 3 hour running time, it’s not easy to find time to watch it.
3. Mulholland Drive – When I listed Cloud Atlas, I mentioned there are two films on this list that REQUIRE at least a second viewing; this is the second one. Certainly one of David Lynch’s finest achievements, this bizarre Hollywood mystery offers so much to interpret, it is easy to get caught up in it and lose all track of time. Beware, Lynch originally planned Mulholland Drive to be a television show, but when that deal fell through, he rewrote it as a film. He used some footage already shot, thus he has specifications for aspect ratio and volume. If you can’t meet the volume requirements, the movie might be too quiet to watch while using any noisy equipment.
2. No Country for Old Men – Certainly one of the finest films ever made. This dark, intense allegory for violence is beautifully filmed by the Coen Brothers and presents a film virtually devoid of score and music yet absolutely hypnotizing.
1. Minority Report – Throw Minority Report on the screen and as the intensity builds, so will your muscle. This one was made in 2002, 5 years B.iP (Before iPhone), but watch how realistically Spielberg imagined some of the futuristic advances.
So there it is, a fun list to help make exercise less of a chore and more of an event. I included the full list of all 34 movies I’ve watched so far in the order that I watched them below. PLEASE consider adding to this list here or on my Facebook page!
The People’s Critic’s Full List of Workout Movies
- The Dark Knight Rises
- Boogie Nights
- The Departed
- Children of Men
- Royal Tenenbaums
- Death race
- The Transporter
- The Transporter 2
- The Transporter 3
- The Bourne identity
- Rambo: First Blood
- Rambo: First Blood Part II
- Sin City
- The Bank Job
- The Matrix
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
- The Avengers
- Zack and Miri Make a Porno
- This is the End
- Mulholland Drive
- Cloud Atlas
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- What’s up Tigerlily
- Midnight Cowboy
- The Man Who Wasn’t There
- No Country for Old Men
- Minority Report
- Dance with the Devil
- King of New York