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5-movies-about-vacations-gone-wrongHad a bad trip? Cheer up with these five movies about vacation disasters!

Vacations can be stressful. Deciding where to go, what to pack, how to get there and who to take is a lot of work, and that's all before you even leave home. With so much to plan for, no wonder some vacations go wrong, leaving you wishing that you'd saved the money and just stayed home.

When you're feeling bruised by a bad vacation trip, soothe your soul with these movies about vacations gone wrong that make a great argument for staycations.

If you've ever been on a vacation gone wrong, you know how frustrating it can be when a well-planned pleasure trip turns into a disaster. Besides the waste of time and money invested, the disappointment that things didn't work out can make a bad vacation last even longer in your memory than a great trip.

These five movies about vacations gone wrong make a good case for staying at home, with vacation disasters that vary from the comedic to the terrifying. Watch them when you need to cheer up after a bad vacation, or just to feel better about not going anywhere this season.

1. Swimming Pool

Mysterious, sensual and gorgeously shot, this British-French thriller from 2003 offers an intriguing escape from whatever's going on in your everyday life. Sarah Morton, a British mystery author of a certain age (played by hot-at-any-age Charlotte Rampling), borrows her publisher's vacation home in the South of France to work on her new novel. No sooner has she settled in than the publisher's wild-thing daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) arrives, taking over the pool by day and keeping her housemate up all night with the noises of her one-night stands. Sarah is at first annoyed by Julie, but gradually becomes fascinated with the younger woman's liberated lifestyle. The two begin to spend time together and fall into a flirtatious competition over a local homme, who they bring back to the house. But when their tryst a trois turns tragic, Sarah finds herself involved in a real-life murder mystery. The dynamics at play between the two leads here are electric, veering from sexual admiration to mother-daughter tension and back again. This is a cosmopolitan film - with dialogue in both English and subtitled French - that plays a stylish game of cat and mouse that will keep you guessing until the end.

2. National Lampoon's Vacation

No list of movies about vacations gone wrong would be complete without National Lampoon's Vacation, the classic 1983 road-trip comedy that has spawned three sequels (so far) and makes a great case for family stay-cations. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), a Chicago man determined to spend more time with his family, loads his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and children (Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall) into the car for a cross-country drive toward Walley World theme park in California. Their trip is anything but smooth, as the family is beset by a series of on-the-road mishaps, including a breakdown in the desert, the demise of the family dog, and a horrible stop-over with Ellen's cousin's family in Kansas. Meanwhile, Clark is periodically distracted by a gorgeous blond (80s supermodel Christie Brinkley) in a hot red convertible, a fantasy figure who is apparently attracted to crazed family men. The movie features a number of appearances by a talented comedians (including John Candy and Jane Krakowski), but it rightly belongs to Chase, whose F-bomb-laced melt-down when the family finally arrives at the theme park is both hilarious and familiar territory to any parent who's ever killed themselves to make their kids happy. In this movie, the universe is not cooperating.

3. Open Water

Just when you thought it was safe to join a group scuba diving expedition while on vacation to improve your bond with your sweetie, think again. This movie is a chilling tale based on a true story. Open Water tells the terrifying, worst-vacation-ever story of a hard-working, young American couple, Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan), who go on a scuba-diving vacation to reconnect with each other. But when they're accidentally left behind, after the dive boat crew does an inaccurate head count, Daniel and Susan find themselves stranded in the open ocean with empty oxygen tanks. Soon, a rocky relationship seems like paradise, compared to the couple's new set of problems, which include hunger, exhaustion and a shiver of sharks (yep, that's the term) who clearly regard Dan and Suze as their next tasty snack. Most of this riveting movie involves the couple treading water and talking, as they battle to stay afloat and alive, and their conversation - which strays from reassuring each other they'll be found, to recriminations over whose fault it was they got separated - seems scarily realistic. (Think of the last time you got lost on a road-trip with your sweetie, and then add sharks, and you'll get the picture). Will the diving crew realize their mistake? Will they send a search party in time to save Dan and Susan from a sharky fate? You'll have to watch to find out.

4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Imagine going on vacation to get over being spectacularly dumped, only to wind up at the same resort as your ex and their new hotter-than-you lover. That's what happens to Peter (Jason Segal), a musician whose TV-star girlfriend dumps him after cheating on him with a sex-god rock star, in this 2008 comedy about a vacation gone wrong, written by Segal and co-produced by Judd Apatow. Desperate to salvage his manhood and get over his heartbreak, Peter heads to a Hawaiian resort - only to encounter Sarah Marshall (Bell) and Aldous Snow (Brand, in a hilarious turn as the hedonistic rock star), who are staying - and having loud vacation sex in the room right next to Peter's. In a pathetic attempt at making Sarah jealous, Peter starts spending time with Rachel (Mila Kunis), the resort's pretty concierge. Meanwhile, there's trouble in Aldous and Sarah's vacation paradise, as power issues arise over their shifting levels of fame. This vacation comedy includes many funny scenes, including Peter getting dumped while he's in the nude, an almost graphic song performance by Aldous, and a let's-pretend-we're-all-adults dinner with the two couples at which everyone behaves badly. Johah Hill also shines in a funny-awkward role, playing a waiter obsessed with Brand's rock star (presaging his similar turn opposite brand in 2010's "Get Him to the Greek").

5. What About Bob?

Bill Murray is practically a national comic treasure - he's been reliably funny in smartly-written comedies for decades now. In this sharp movie comedy from 1991, Murray plays Bob, a phobia-ridden New Yorker who is completely dependent on his psychiatrist. Worn out by Bob's multiple neuroses, Bob's shrink foists him off onto a colleague, the arrogant Doctor Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), who's just written a best-selling book about treating phobic mental patients. Bob becomes instantly attached to his new doctor and his theories, and when Leo leaves town on a month-long family vacation to New Hampshire, Bob follows. Bob's delight at getting his doctor all to himself soon becomes Leo's worst nightmare, as Bob relentlessly pursues the doctor to discuss his (seemingly endless) problems, making it impossible for Leo to enjoy his vacation. Bob also devotes himself to charming Leo's family, who are soon taking his side against the exasperated doc. Dreyfuss is hilarious as the tightly-wound doctor driven to distraction by Murray's campaign of harassment. But it's Murray's trademark hangdog charm and non-stop, absurdist chatter that provide the movie with its heart and its funny bone.

For more Movie Therapy, check out the rest of my blog.

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