Occupational/physical/speech therapists don’t really get time in the limelight very often. Very seldom is occupational therapy even shown in film. But, between you and I, I get super excited when I see some OT, PT, or SLP action on screen. The following are some movies that feature the therapy profession.
Directors: Henry Alex Rubin & Dana Adam Shapiro
Starring: Joe Soares, Keith Cavill, Mark Zupan
This is the wildly popular documentary that follows paralegics who play full-contact wheelchair rugby. This is a great film to physical therapists to watch so that they can sympathize with the genuine feelings felt by these young people. Highly recommended as a movie filled with hope, triumph, struggle, and camaraderie.
Just Wright (2010)
Direcor: Sanaa Hamri
Starring: Queen Latifa & Common
In this romantic comedy, Queen Latifah plated a physical therapist named Leslie Wright who gets the job of her dreams working with a famous basketball star named Scott Mcknight (played by Common.) In the film, after working with the celeb, Leslie starts to fall for him. Unfortunately, his attention gets turned to her gorgeous friend instead.
My Left Foot (1989)
Director: Jim Sheridan
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, & Alison Whelan
Based on the true story of Irish painter and author, Christy Brown. This drama follows the struggles Brown faced because of his cerebral palsy and only having control on one part of his body.
Office Space (1999)
Starring: Ron Livingston & Jennifer Aniston
Office Space, the hilarious movie from the mind that also created Beavis and Butthead, actually featured some occupational therapy. Livingston’s character, who works for a boring software company for a mean boss, gets hypnotized by his occupational therapist. But, when the OT dies halfway through the hypnotherapy session—he becomes a whole different person. He changes the way he behaves at work, what he cares about in life, and even his girlfriend.
Director: Alan Parker
Starring: Matthew Modine, Nicholas Cage, and John Harkins
After two high school pals return from serving in Vietnam; one has major physical injuries while the other is suffering from post-traumatic stress induced schizophrenia and is a mute The character suffering from mental issues, Birdy (played by Matthew Modine) is placed in a military psych hospital where no treatment, even occupational therapy treatments, can help.
Director: Max Mayer
Starring: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, and Amy Irving
In this film, a young guy with Asperger’s Syndrome sparks a friendship with his stunning upstairs neighbor. As an occupational therapist, this movie is really beneficial in helping understand the issues and treatment associations with high-functioning disorders.
Regarding Henry (1991)
Director: Mike Nichols
Starring: Harrison Ford & Annette Bening
A ruthless layer named Henry Turner, played by Ford, has his life forever changed after he gets shot in the head during a robbery. Although, his character survives–he requires occupational therapy provided by his wife and daughter. In the process, he becomes a nicer and more caring version of himself.
Director: Robert Rossen
Starring: Jean Seberg, Warren Beatty, Peter Fonda, and Gene Hackman
In this older film, a man named Vincent gets a job working as an occupational therapist in an insane asylum for the wealthy where he falls in love with one of the patients. Needless to say, things don’t end well for them in this flick.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Director: George Cukor
Starring: Audrey Hepburn & Rex Harrison
Believe it or not, this iconic Hepburn flick features use of speech-language pathology. In the beginning of the film, Audrey Hepburn’s character was a Cockney flower girl. Part of her transformation into elegant lady came thanks to accent modification.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
Director: Julian Schnabel
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner
Very similarly to “My Left Foot”, the main character is also based off a real person who could not control most of their body. The true story shows the struggle of a former Elle editor who loses all control over his body after a stroke–except his left eye.