For the thousands of federal workers deemed “nonessential” who are now furloughed because of the government shutdown, now is the ideal opportunity to catch up on movies. Herewith, some shutdown viewing suggestions tailored to those most likely to be affected:
1. Kung Fu Panda (2008) — With the National Zoo closed and no Panda-Cam to monitor the new panda cub, zoo staffers and fans may have to settle for this animated hit about a bumbling panda named Po.
2. The Simpsons Movie (2007) — It’s expected that the Environmental Protection Agency would be crippled in a shutdown. Idled stewards of the environment might enjoy the feature film debut of TV’s most enduring clan, in which Homer accidentally pollutes Springfield’s water supply, giving EPA regulators the opportunity to isolate the entire town in a giant dome.
3. The Right Stuff (1983) — Failure to reach agreement on a funding bill would by some estimates put almost all of NASA’s 18,000 employees out of work. Sidelined federal aerospace workers can relive their glory years with this epic adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s best-selling history of the U.S. space program. It’s just a movie — but so what? Under the Obama administration the U.S. space program is mostly history anyway.
4. Armageddon (1998) — Alternatively, NASA’s non-essentials can take vicarious pleasure in this Michael Bay blockbuster about a crew of NASA recruits who save the planet from annihilation by a Texas-sized asteroid headed our way. Sure, it’s only a fantasy. But like we said, the U.S. space program today is mostly history anyway — and the rest is fantasy.
5. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) — The IRS says it would suspend all audits in a government shutdown, making life easier for Tim Robbin’s character, a onetime banker who as an inmate is compelled to cook the warden’s books in this classic prison drama.
6. National Treasure (2004) — A shutdown will close the National Archives, home of the Declaration of Independence. With the original document inaccessible, would-be viewers of Mr. Jefferson’s ringing patriotic manifesto can turn instead to this Nicolas Cage caper flick, in which an invisible treasure map on the back of the Declaration serves as MacGuffin. Warning: Some scenes, including the theft of the Declaration from its institutional home, may be too intense for furloughed archivists.
7. Night at the Museum (2006) — Most federal museum workers will be sent home. These empty museums are bad news if you’re employed in one. Somewhat better news if you’re on display in one, as we learned from this comedy adventure hit starring Ben Stiller as a night security guard at the Museum of Natural History.
8. Outbreak (1995) — If you credit some of the more alarmist predictions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be severely limited in investigating disease outbreaks in a government shutdown. Heaven forbid an outbreak of Ebola-like virus dramatized in this Dustin Hoffman-Rene Russo movie.
9. North by Northwest (1959) — Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near Lincoln’s Nose on Mount Rushmore with the Park Service folks twiddling their thumbs at home in a shutdown.
10. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) — Members of the House and Senate and most of their legislative staff would remain on the job during a shutdown. This Frank Capra classic about an idealistic, accidental senator taking on entrenched corruption in the U.S. Congress may leave you wondering whether that’s a good thing.