You need a vacation, but thanks to the coronavirus, that’s not going to happen for a while. So instead of looking at the same walls over and over again, you could use a few movies that’ll help you get out of the house — that is, without actually getting out of the house.
I’ve collected eight vicarious vacation movies on Netflix with particularly transportive scenery. A few of the films feature characters actually going on vacation, while others simply take place in beautiful spaces. All of them have characters getting out and about into the world as you wish you could.
The movies on this list vary a bit in quality since I decided to focus on gorgeous settings above all else, but I did refrain from including any truly terrible movies.
For example, Netflix offers the infamously bad “The Tourist” (starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie). Even though that movie is called “The Tourist,” I think the sadness you’ll feel from the quality of that movie will weigh down any benefit from taking in the global locales.
Read on for the list of vicarious vacation films, and if you want to stay informed of everything joining Netflix every week, subscribe to the Streamline newsletter.
“Murder Mystery” (Netflix, 2019)
Premise: In this comedic, aptly named murder mystery, a New York couple joins a yacht party in Italy while celebrating their 15th anniversary. When murders occur on the boat, the couple must figure out who the killer is or take the blame themselves.
Vicarious vacation: Adam Sandler famously makes movies in beautiful locales so he can combine his work with a trip. The plot in “Murder Mystery” may be hokey, but the scenery is impressive.
Setting: A yacht in waters around Italy
Notable cast: Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler
Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes
“Wine Country” (Netflix, 2019)
Premise: In this comedy directed by Amy Poehler, longtime friends spend a weekend in Napa Valley together to celebrate one of their 50th birthdays. During the trip, each woman reveals something she’s struggling with in her life outside of the group friendship. The wine and intimacy provide a salve.
Vicarious vacation: A vacation with a large group of people coming together from across the country to drink alcohol (which, yes, lowers the immune system) is just not possible right now. Watch “Wine Country” to experience a trip you won’t get to take for quite some time.
Setting: Napa Valley, California
Notable cast: Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph
Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes
“The Laundromat” (Netflix, 2019)
Premise: In this biographical comedy directed by Steven Soderbergh, a woman tries to uncover the truth behind a mysterious insurance company. The movie loosely tells the story of the Panama Papers scandal.
Vicarious vacation: This movie essentially starts with a vacation gone awry. Although “The Laundromat” features a dark cautionary tale related to travel, it also showcases many scenic locales. Perhaps it’s for the best, since it likely won’t inspire you to travel yourself but will still provide plenty of palm trees and seas for you to enjoy on the screen.
Setting: Global locations including Panama City, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Chongqing, China
Notable cast: Antonio Banderas, Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep and Jeffrey Wright
Runtime: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Premise: In this comedy directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, King Arthur recruits several knights to join him at Camelot. Instead, they take a directive from God to find the Holy Grail.
Vicarious vacation: A typical American vacation involves traveling to Europe to explore the rolling, grassy hills and stone castles of the United Kingdom. Overseas travel won’t be happening anytime soon, so watch these questing comedic heroes traverse the green landscapes instead.
Setting: Britain in 932 A.D.
Notable cast: The sketch group Monty Python, including John Cleese and Terry Gilliam
Runtime: 1 hour, 31 minutes
“Love Wedding Repeat” (Netflix, 2020)
Premise: In this romantic comedy, variations of the same wedding day lead two people either together or apart, depending on changes in seating arrangements. The variations show that small “butterfly effects” can have an impact on whether love works out or doesn’t.
Vicarious vacation: As you won’t be traveling to any destination weddings this spring, you can visit many weddings (or at least versions of the same wedding) with this movie. The bright Italian wedding locale of blooming plants gives the feeling of leaving winter behind that we might’ve missed otherwise.
Setting: Frascati, Italy
Notable cast: Sam Claflin, Joel Fry, Olivia Munn and Eleanor Tomlinson
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes
“Okja” (Netflix, 2017)
Premise: In this adventure-centric satire directed by Bong Joon Ho, a girl raises a genetically modified “super pig.” When the company that created the pig wants it back for the meat, the girl goes on a global trip to try and save her pet.
Vicarious vacation: The beginning takes place in a lush, mountainous forest. These scenes could be particularly enjoyable for those itching to go on a hike.
Setting: South Korea and New York City
Notable cast: Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Byun Hee Bong, Ahn Seo Hyun, Tilda Swinton and Steven Yeun
Runtime: 2 hours
Premise: In this documentary, Willem Dafoe narrates a succession of shots featuring impressive mountains. The narration focuses on how people have interacted with mountains throughout history.
Vicarious vacation: This is one of those IMAX-type documentaries that feature one stunning nature shot after another. You might not be the kind of person who would climb a mountain even in non-coronavirus times, but the wondrous shots of nature should still serve as an escape.
Setting: Mountains across the globe
Notable cast: Willem Dafoe as the narrator
Runtime: 1 hour, 14 minutes
“FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” (Netflix, 2019)
Premise: In this documentary, fraudster Billy McFarland sells expensive tickets to a now-infamous festival. The film focuses on the stranded travelers who were duped into attending this festival and the eventual fallout from the fiasco.
Vicarious vacation: Perhaps watching an extremely failed vacation for hundreds of people can serve as the opposite of FOMO. Even if you don’t get much joy from schadenfreude, this documentary has copious shots of the tropical Bahamas that will bring you to a better place than your couch.
Setting: The Bahamas
Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes