Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
The Mid-Life Crisis: Daniel (Robin Williams) has just been kicked out of the house by his wife (Sally Field), who has been finding it hard enough bringing up three kids without adding in the reckless behaviour of her singularly childish husband.
Holed up in a downtown apartment and struggling to find an outlet for his creativity, Daniel hatches a plan to stay in his kids’ lives – by dressing up as their house keeper.
Reasons To Be Cheerful: Daniel’s plan is a stroke of genius and works for a while.
It also gives him an insight into his wife’s side of the argument, and makes him realise he probably has some growing up to do. Bless.
The Leopard (1963)
The Mid-Life Crisis: Fabrizio Corbero (Burt Lancaster) aka the Prince of Salina has a hard reality to face up to.
The aristocracy of yesteryear is slowly dying out to be replaced by a new order, as represented by class-hopping ex-hobo Don Calogero Sedara (Paolo Stoppa).
But is Corbero too proud to do anything about the changes that are ringing in?
Reasons To Be Cheerful: Fabrizio’s power is waning, but just look at the dresses!
Down And Out In Beverly Hills (1986)
The Mid-Life Crisis: Jerry Baskin (Nick Nolte) is the homeless ‘down and out’ of the title, a guy so desperate to end it all that he throws himself into a pool.
That pool just happens to be in the back yard of rich couple David (Richard Dreyfuss) and Barbara Whiteman (Meryl Streep).
Reasons To Be Cheerful: Jerry picked the right pool to attempt suicide in – the Whitemans help him turn his life around.
Dontcha just love rich people?
The Mid-Life Crisis: Tired of her loving but passion-free marriage, Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) embarks on an affair with the hunky Paul (Oliver Martinez).
Which, understandably, puts rather a large dent in her marriage.
Reasons To Be Cheerful: So Connie’s cheating.
At least she’s having a ball in the meantime.
The Border (1982)
The Mid-Life Crisis: Border patrol agent Smith (Jack Nicholson) not only has to contend with immigrants attempting to sneak into the US, he’s also got a wife (Valerie Perrine) who just loves to spend his money.
Can’t a guy catch a break?
Reasons To Be Cheerful: Smith’s in a bit of a two and eight, but at least he has a cool pair of shades to hide behind.
Season Of The Witch (1972)
The Mid-Life Crisis: Can housewives go through midlife crises? If Season Of The Witch is anything to go by, they probably get the worst ones.
That’s true of Joan Mitchell (Jan White), whose thankless existence as food-maker and house-keeper for hubbie Jack Mitchell (Bill Thunhurst) and daughter Nikki (Joedda McClain) prompts her to turn to witchcraft.
Reasons To Be Cheerful: It all goes very wrong for Joan, but at least she manages to cast a successful spell – one that makes stud muffin Gregg (Raymond Laine) fall for her.
The Squid And The Whale (2005)
The Mid-Life Crisis: When Bernard Berkman (Jeff Daniels) and Joan (Laura Linney) separate, it just makes matters worse for them and their kids.
Both revelling in their newfound freedom, they make some rather – uh – unconventional decisions.
Including Bernard’s decision to live with student Lili (Anna Paquin), and Joan’s to date her 12-year-old kid’s tennis coach.
Reasons To Be Cheerful: Let’s put it this way – at least nobody dies.
The Mid-Life Crisis: When their friend Stuart dies of a heart attack, the loss hits buddies Gus, Harry, and Archie hard, prompting a two-day mourning period in which they get drunk, sleep rough and play a lot of basketball.
Reasons To Be Cheerful: The FRIENDS theme tune had it right when it claimed “I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour”, which perfectly fits this trio’s approach to grief.
National Lampoons Vacation (1983)
The Mid-Life Crisis: Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) decides he really should spend more time with his wife (Beverly D’Angelo) and kids (Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron).
Which prompts a cross-country road trip that, naturally, involves the Griswolds getting into all sorts of scrapes.
Reasons To Be Cheerful: Clark may be in the midst of a mid-life crisis, but at least he gets just what he wanted – plenty of time to bond with his brood.
Shirley Valentine (1989)
The Mid-Life Crisis: Forty-two-years-old and sick of playing housewife for a family that doesn’t appreciate her, Shirley Valentine-Bradshaw (Pauline Collins) frequently takes to talking to walls in order to alleviate her loneliness.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘plastered’.
Reasons To Be Cheerful: It’s Shirley’s boredom that prompts her to accept a trip to Greece with her friend Jane (Alison Steadman), which turns her life around in all sorts of lovely ways.