March giveth and it taketh away, depending on which coast you call home. Here in California, it's sunny, yes — but we're also suffering a drought. Meanwhile, portions of the East Coast are anything but precipitation-deprived as they suffer under several inches of snow.
But whether you're stuck at home unable to get to work or school, or watching your lawn slowly turn brown as you conserve water, it's a good time to enjoy a movie. Get a taste of what isn't happening outside your window with these films about droughts or blizzards:
The Gold Rush: Charlie Chaplin makes his way to the Klondike to find gold in this comedy classic, only to find himself stuck in a flimsy shack that gets buffeted about by the winter winds. Eventually, he's forced to make a gourmet meal out of his snow boots — while fellow prospector Mack Swain starts thinking of Charlie as a potential entree.
The Rainmaker: The parched earth of the Midwest metaphorically stands in for spinster Katharine Hepburn's repressed love life, particularly when Burt Lancaster breezes into town with the promise of giving new life to both with his amorous and meteorological prowess. Makes a perfect double feature with The Long, Hot Summer, another sexy, sweaty '50s movie of the "stranger comes to town" genre.
Misery: A snowstorm traps novelist James Caan in a cabin with his "number one fan" Kathy Bates, who's all too happy to help him mend from a car accident — until she decides to torture him into rewriting his latest book especially for her. Between the frightful weather outside and the horrible treatment and bondage he suffers, Caan can't get away from this unhinged admirer. Some people just shouldn't be roommates.
Jean de Florette: In this grandly epic tragedy, a long, hot summer and the water-stealing machinations of his duplicitous neighbors (Yves Montand and Daniel Auteuil) make life difficult for newbie gentleman farmer Gerard Depardieu. If you're snowbound and you've got the time, go ahead and make this a double feature with its powerful follow-up, Manon of the Spring, in which farmer's daughter Emmanuelle Beart gets her revenge.
Snow Day: From the makers of the cult TV show The Adventures of Pete & Pete comes this celebration of one of the great joys of childhood — the chance to miss school for a day of sledding. This one's got it all: dueling weathermen, tween love triangles and a mean snowplow driver (Chris Elliott) who's bound and determined to clear the streets and reopen the schools. (Boo!)
Rango: If you thought the water-hoarders in Chinatown were ruthless, wait until you meet the Gila monster who's keeping a whole town thirsty — until a domesticated chameleon (with the voice of Johnny Depp) sweeps in to save the day. Probably the most entertaining collaboration between Depp and Gore Verbinski (who directed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies), this is a dusty Western parody best enjoyed with a very large beverage handy.
Die Hard 2: Terrorists, snowstorms and Christmas Eve: It's your basic Airport Nightmare Trifecta as John McClane (Bruce Willis) must battle drug lords, holiday crowds and wintry conditions to save several planeloads of innocent passengers — including his wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and obnoxious newsman Richard Thornburg (William Atherton) — from crashing into the Dulles International runways.
Leap of Faith: A small town in Kansas hopes for rain, but instead it gets something else entirely: Jonas Nightengale (Steve Martin), a flashy huckster who rakes it in with his traveling revivals. No one is more flummoxed than Jonas when miracles really start happening. This cult comedy was recently turned into a short-lived Broadway musical.
Eight Below: Loosely based on a true story, this adventure stars the late Paul Walker as a guide who returns to Antarctica to mount an expedition to rescue the sled dogs who saved his life during a brutal snowstorm. Parental warning: In this movie, some dogs go to heaven.
The Shining: If you think you've got it bad after spending a few housebound days with your kids singing "Let It Go" over and over again, you'll feel better knowing that you haven't gone as far around the bend as Jack Nicholson's cabin-feverish hotel-sitter, driven slowly mad by the resort's ghosts and by his own inner demons. Now go have some more cocoa.