What happens when a character drastically decides to change their life? Run down by the hustle and grind of everyday life, these bored protagonists felt the need for a shake-up.
Whether it's quitting their job, going on a road trip, or becoming a superhero, all of these films feature a mid-life crisis that goes disastrously wrong (or brilliantly right).
Here are some of the best movies about having a mid-life crisis that are must-watches, even if you aren't going through one yourself.
10. Office Space (1999)
The tedious office job never looked quite so dull as in Mike Judge's darkly comic Office Space. A satire of working life in the 90s, Office Space follows Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons, a software engineer who hates his soul-sucking job.
His micromanaging boss speaks in fluent catchphrases ("I'm gonna go ahead and need you to...") and his girlfriend wants him to try hypnotherapy. Unfortunately, his therapist dies mid-trance, leaving Peter to carry on living in a hypnotic state.
Refusing overtime to play video games, Peter swans through life with a newfound ease, later triggering a revenge plot against the management. Though Office Space was a box office flop, it went on to become a highly memeable cult classic.
9. The Incredibles (2004)
You might be surprised to see this Pixar family classic on this list, but hear us out: The Incredibles doesn't take place when Mr. and Mrs. Parr become superheroes—it's when they re-become superheroes.
The animation begins with some old video footage of Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl being interviewed in their prime days. Fast-forward 15 years and the public has turned on heroes, leaving Bob "Incredible" Parr stuck in a dead-end insurance job.
Have you seen a more monotonous, life-draining depiction of white-collar work than in The Incredibles? Brad Bird superbly encapsulates the insipidness of the corporate world, which spurs Mr. Incredible on to reclaim his former glory.
When a new villain arrives on scene, Bob whips out the old spandex and gets the whole family involved in his mid-life crisis heroics.
8. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Steve Carell gets a new life coach in Crazy, Stupid, Love, and that life coach is played fabulously by Ryan Gosling. And who wouldn't want a handsome and chiseled coach like Gosling?
Cal (played by Steve Carell) is crushed when he finds out his wife has been having an affair—but as an awkward middle-aged man, he struggles to pick up any new women himself.
Taking pity on him, Jacob (played by Ryan Gosling) decides to teach him the art of womanizing, turning Cal's life around with fitted clothes and effective chat-up lines. While Cal rediscovers his waning masculinity, Jacob takes a bullet to his ego when a girl he fancies rejects him.
In effect, Cal is getting over his mid-life crisis as Jacob approaches one of his own. Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a lighthearted comedy for when you fancy a good, easy laugh.
7. Falling Down (1993)
In Falling Down, William Foster doesn't have a mid-life crisis so much as a full on mid-life breakdown. Played by Michael Douglas, the former engineer is divorced, unemployed, and looking for trouble.
Trying to reach his daughter's birthday party in time, William is met with an array of tediously trivial obstacles that turn out to be the final straw that breaks his back.
When the banality of everyday problems trigger a crisis within William, he acts out violently by trashing stores with a baseball bat and firing a gun in a fast food restaurant. Michael Douglas is the perfect fit for this wound-up, hyperbolic everyman.
The bleak existential storyline is masked as a comedy, all while commenting on the emptiness of the American Dream. Joel Schumacher directs the film we all wish we could live, thrashing out our everyday woes without a second thought to the consequences.
6. Thelma & Louise (1991)
When someone says the words "mid-life crisis," we tend to think of middle-aged men with receding hairlines buying flashy new cars with money they don't have. But that isn't the only way to have a crisis.
Ridley Scott shows us how two average American women can break free and challenge the status quo at any minute. When Thelma (a meek housewife, played by Geena Davis) joins her bestie Louise (played by Susan Sarandon) on a spontaneous road trip, all hell breaks loose.
Tired of their suburban lives in Arkansas, Thelma and Louise take a vacation and end up robbing stores and committing murder.
A clear reference to the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo, Thelma & Louise is a feisty feminist take on the buddy-road-trip movie. It even won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, alongside five more nominations. You go girl(s)!
5. Birdman (2014)
In Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), dwindling star Riggan Thomson desperately clings to his iconic 90s role as the superhero Birdman.
Older, greyer, and no longer relevant, Riggan goes through that all-too-familiar celebrity crisis of fading from the public image. To fight against it, Riggan decides to write, direct, and star in a Broadway show that isn't exactly a success.
Starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone, Birdman won four Oscars, including Best Cinematography. Of course, we can't reference Birdman without mentioning the fact it was filmed all in one take—or at least manipulated to look like it was.
4. A Serious Man (2009)
The Coen brothers are known for their oddball style of filmmaking. The auteurs have made many zany cult movies, including the infamous Fargo and The Big Lebowski.
One lesser known (but still awesome) Coen brothers flick is A Serious Man starring Michael Stuhlbarg as Larry Gopnik, a Jewish physics professor who becomes disillusioned with his life. His wife is leaving him and Larry's tenure is, for some reason, being sabotaged.
As Larry's faith dwindles, he asks multiple rabbis for help but they are never available. A Serious Man touches on universal topics of atheism, discontentment, and philosophy. It sounds pretty heavy, but don't worry—the Coens were sure to stuff some laughs in.
3. Lost in Translation (2003)
An atypical love story imbued with the dreamy aesthetics of Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation is a striking piece of cinema.
Bill Murray plays a darkly funny middle-aged movie star who's shooting a commercial in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Scarlett Johansson is lounging about her hotel room while her husband is off on photoshoots.
The two restless, bored, and lonely travelers form an unlikely friendship that weaves through the bustling backdrop of an alien city.
Lost in Translation is one of those slow, melancholic movies that glides and lingers through its vague plotline—and it's exactly this vagueness that Coppola wants to tap into.
Like the two protagonists, we're somewhat dissociated with Lost in Translation's world, eloquently exploring feelings of dissatisfaction and loneliness that come with a mid-life (or mid-twenties) crisis.
2. American Beauty (1999)
After having an out-of-body-experience, magazine executive Lester Burnham (played by Kevin Spacey) becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's friend Angela (played by Mena Suvari).
Because of this, Lester's life inside the suburban American Dream is suddenly brought to a halt. Lester decides to ditch the materialism, quit his job, and start working out in the garage. Though happier than he's ever been, his neurotic wife and moody daughter aren't too pleased.
American Beauty uses the standard mid-life crisis setup to probe deep into themes of capitalism, identity, liberation, and sexuality. American Beauty began as a stage play, but found itself as a cynical script that would go on to win Oscars.
Sam Mendes won Best Director for his directorial debut, carefully balancing the film's dark themes with bouts of comedy.
1. Another Round (2020)
Another Round (or Druk, which is Danish for "binge drinking") somehow manages to be chaotic yet somber, funny yet poetic.
Mads Mikkelsen stars as a teacher who decides to drink alcohol every day as part of an experiment. At first, Martin blissfully sails through his new, tipsy life. But, of course, alcoholism looms on the horizon.
Don't get the wrong idea: Another Round isn't just about binge drinking. This Oscar-winning movie was highly praised for its "soul," derived from the director's own daughter Ida. After urging him to make the film, Ida sadly passed away during production; as a result, the script was reworked to be more uplifting and life-affirming.
Thomas Vinterberg directed this black-comedy just a year ago, and it's already getting an American remake. Which usually wouldn't be something we celebrate, but given that it'll be starring Leonardo DiCaprio, you can count us in!