Feel Good Movies

In a previous post, I talked about the therapeutic effect of a good song. However, music isn't my only anti-depressant. As a cinephile, certain movies also have a positive mood altering impact.

Not all of them though. Fight Club might be one of my all-time favorite movies, but watching it will not make me happy at the end of a hard day. It takes a special element for films to elevate the human condition, to drag a mood out of a funk, to unburden a weary soul, to mend a broken heart.

Such movie magic that can only be found in particular films. Part whimsy, part absurdity, part nostalgia, always comical, and sometimes irreverent. These are the movies you could start watching at any point in the plot, you can watch over and over and never lose interest, you know the script by heart and could provide the character voices on your own if the movie was muted.

One night a few weeks ago, I needed this type of magic. After a stressful week at work, some discouraging news at home, a fight with insomnia, and attempting something brave without knowing whether or not it would be rewarding, I was feeling odd. My head was not in the right place. Worrying about junk that I shouldn't have been worrying about. Cycling through never-ending "what if" scenarios. Giving too much credit to critical voices. And feeling bummed for inexplicable reasons.

I opened Netflix and the banner at the top of their homepage featured another favorite movie of mine: Can't Hardly Wait. 'Yes,' I thought, 'this is exactly what the doctor prescribed.' I turned off all the lights, clicked play, made myself comfortable, and enjoyed the movie. Despite the dozens of times I have previously watched it, I still laughed. Alone in my apartment, I sang along with the soundtrack and quoted some of the best lines of dialog. 100 minutes later, I felt so much better. Any hint of sadness had evaporated.

There are a handful of movies that do that to me. Regardless my mood, no matter how angry or frustrated or glum my emotions, these movies always turn it around. These films have a way of making me happy.

With Christmas a week away, we could all use extra reason to be filled with joy and cheer. If you need it, I recommend watching a feel good movie. I plan on seeing a few this week. I do not know what is in your list, but here is what is on mine.

10: Can't Hardly Wait. The perfect blend of a plucky kid with an indomitable spirit pursuing the girl he's been pining after for years, the bromance between the geek and his bully, and the eccentric cast discovering who they really are. The scene that always gets me is when the dejected Preston is pulled out of the phone booth by a stripper in an angel costume. She had a horrible day but but she shares a poignant conversation about fate and celebrity crushes. This is the line that fixes my sadness every time.

9: Spaceballs. This is one of the last great parody movies. Clever writing. Brilliant cast. Fourth wall breakage. Puns galore from "we've been jammed" to "comb the desert." Every scene with John Candy shines; I cannot imagine how he managed to play a character named Barf with a straight face.

8: So I Married an Axe Murderer. Weird jazzy beat poetry. Mistaken identity. Conversations taken out of context. A Rod Stewart song performed on bagpipes. This was Mike Myers at his best as an unlikely lead in a romantic comedy. Then again, this movie was unconventional as far as romantic comedies are concerned.

7: Grumpy Old Men. Who knew watching a couple old dudes in a rivalry over the love of a woman could be so funny? Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are two of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen and seeing these two men spar through insults and pranks brings me immense joy. When Lemmon drops a dead fish into the back seat of Matthau's rig, it may be one of the cruelest practical jokes, but it always makes me laugh. However, the double entendre spoken by Grandpa Gustafson in the closing credits/outtakes remains my favorite part of the film. But those insults ...

6: Nothing to Lose. Side note, my gut hurts from laughing every time I see this movie, but I have reached the point where it is more fun to watch people watching this movie for the first time than actually watching the movie. Martin Lawrence plays the same type of character he always plays - a quick talking smart aleck with a chip on his shoulder. That persona plays well against the brokenhearted strait man in Tim Robbins. They fend off a pair of career criminals and commit one of Hollywood's most hilarious heist scenes. The mishap adventure starts Lawrence attempts to car-jack Robbins who disregards all sense of logic and fear.

... to be continued

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