Skip to main content

50 Greatest Mid-Life Crisis Movies

Manhattan (1979)

The Mid-Life Crisis: Television writer Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) is 42 years old and has already been divorced twice.

Which is probably why, in the flush of failure, he takes another (misguided) chance on love with somebody over half his age. What could possibly go wrong?

Reasons To Be Cheerful: Davis has an uncanny way of putting his feelings into brilliant, imminently quotable sound bites.

Perfect for when our own midlife crisis rolls around.

Sideways (2004)

The Mid-Life Crisis: Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) just wants to be a writer, but he’s had to settle for teaching English in San Diego.

Making matters worse, he’s just agreed to go on a road trip with buddy Jack Cole (Thomas Haden Church), through Santa Ynez Valley wine country – and all Jack cares about is getting his end away.

Reasons To Be Cheerful: There’s a lot of wine involved and wine is nice (in moderation). Just don't mention Merlot...

Save The Tiger (1973)

The Mid-Life Crisis: Harry Stoner (Jack Lemmon) rolls around drunk as he vaguely attempts to figure out how to save his company from going bust.

Cynical, broken, raging against the world, he’s a tragic figure who doesn’t seem to belong anywhere anymore. Total downer.

Reasons To Be Cheerful: He may be miserable, but at least Harry can be witty.

“How old are you?” he asks Myra (Laurie Heineman) at one point. “Twenty,” she responds. “Nobody’s 20,” spits Harry.

Bad Lieutenant (1992)

The Mid-Life Crisis: The Lieutenant (Harvey Keitel) seems to have it all.

A great job. Two loving sons... He’s also got a major coke problem and growing apathy toward the crime that’s being committed in The Bronx.

And that’s just the beginning.

Reasons To Be Cheerful: Um, the Mets win the pennant?

The Shining (1980)

The Mid-Life Crisis: When Jack (Jack Nicholson) takes a job as caretaker for the Overlook Hotel, which he’ll run through the winter months, he has no idea it’ll be the death of him.

Isolated with his wife and kid, his past soon catches up with him and Jack quietly goes insane.

Reasons To Be Cheerful: At least Jack finishes his novel.

Sure, it’s gobbledegook, but we’re not going to be the ones to tell him that.

Falling Down (1993)

The Mid-Life Crisis: William Foster (Michael Douglas) is a jobless former defence engineer who recently got divorced.

In order words, he’s just about the last person who should be wielding a firearm – which he does at he attempts to make it across LA in time for his daughter’s birthday party.

Despite the restraining order.

Reasons To Be Cheerful:
It’s one of Michael Douglas’ finest on-screen performances.

American Beauty (1999)

The Mid-Life Crisis: “Look at me, jerking off in the shower... This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here.”

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) hates his job. Meanwhile, his daughter hates him and his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) is more interested in her career.

Then Lester meets his daughter’s friend Angela (Mena Suvari)…

Reasons To Be Cheerful: You’re having lovely, beautifully-shot dreams about Mena Suvari bathing in red rose petals.

So it’s not all bad, eh?

Network (1976)

The Mid-Life Crisis: Declining ratings send TV anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) into a tailspin, leading to a very public meltdown live on air – which turns him into a national darling.

And because controversy is great for ratings in the world of TV, Beale’s kept on the air to repeat his meltdown over and over and over. Publicly, he becomes a cult figure. Privately, he’s a mess.

Reasons To Be Cheerful:
“I’m as mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Beale’s rants, despite being borne out of deep-seated revulsion, are hella inspiring.

8 (1963)

The Mid-Life Crisis: They say that even the greatest artists find themselves as creatively blocked as a backed up toilet.

Which is definitely the case for filmmaker Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni), who’s lost interest in his sci-fi movie – and his marriage.

Reasons To Be Cheerful: In the hands of director Federico Fellini, this is one gorgeous-looking crisis.

Lost In Translation (2003)

The Mid-Life Crisis: Actor Bob (Bill Murray) is in Japan shooting a commercial for an alcoholic beverage.

Which is all sort of a really big metaphor about alienation and feeling completely out of sync with everything around you.

Reasons To Be Cheerful: Scarlett Johansson fancies you!