Monday, April 15, 2013

My Top 6 Happiest Movies of All Time

Sometimes I find a movie that just makes me transcendentally happy. No matter what I'm dealing with or what I'm going through, it makes me smile and brings relief from whatever crap is actually going on in my life. Everybody has their own list of the movies that make them happiest. Here is mine, in the order they appear on my Flickchart. (I scrolled through my top 50, figuring anything after that would probably be a step below all these favorites.)

Love Actually

I completely and (mostly) unashamedly love this movie. Everything about it makes me smile, from the ridiculous-but-heartwarming plotline where Colin Firth learns Portuguese for the girl he loves, to the ridiculous-but-heartwarming scene where the little boy who plays Ferb runs through the airport to tell the American girl he loves her... It's just all wonderful and incredible and makes me smile and feel both mushily romantic AND Christmasy. This is easily my favorite feel-good movie ever. Now, I admit, you have to be pretty open to cheesy rom com cliches to get into this... but once you do, it's well worth it.

Singin' in the Rain

I just rewatched this the other day and was struck again by how pervasive the sense of glee is. Every single song and dance number is done with such a deliberate sense of "I'm throwing all my cares away to sing because it FEELS GOOD, guys," that you can't help but be sucked into it. I've written many times about the genius of the "Moses" dance number, which has zero point in the movie, plotwise, but it is the absolute epitome of that goofy sense of play that runs throughout the entire movie. I can't watch any of the musical numbers in this without smiling.


I promise not all the ones on my list are going to be musicals, but one of the most effective ways of making me happy is to give me a big song and dance number. Hairspray's all about kids who just love to dance and love being themselves, and the music is infectiously cheerful and energetic. Most of the time I literally cannot keep still during that last number - I have to be tapping my feet or swaying a little bit. They were right - you can't stop the beat.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

The freedom in this movie is incredibly joyous. Pure escapism at its best - there's no way Ferris should be able to get away with any of this, but he does, purely by virtue of being himself and being awesome. And yet along the way it manages to make an interesting point or two about having to actually face reality, since every day can't actually be a party. It's one of those movies that just makes me smile whenever I see it.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

I think the best part of this movie for me is that there are clearly no actual bad guys and no actual consequences. Not even when a bunch of historical figures get loose and go crazy inside a mall is there a sense that something could actually go wrong. Now, usually, when the stakes aren't high enough or believable enough, it weakens a movie, but I think it's the strength of this one. It's ridiculous, it's hilarious, and Bill and Ted themselves are so happy-go-lucky about the whole thing that all you can do is enjoy the journey.

The Court Jester

There's a heavy dose of nostalgia mixed in with my love for this one. I grew up on this movie, and it is, to date, my favorite of all the Danny Kaye movies I've seen. It's got a fast-paced, complicated plot, with hilarious twists and turns, but Kaye's lead character is so likable and easy to root for that you can't help smiling at all the bizarre situations he finds himself in. It mixes adventure and comedy beautifully. And, really, how can you not enjoy a movie that includes a character desperately trying to remember the phrase, "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true"?

(Honorable mentions: Moulin Rouge!, The Truman Show, and Midnight in Paris. All had some incredibly happy moments, but as a whole those movie are a bit more touch-and-go. Not in terms of quality, just in terms of happiness.)

All right, everybody. How about you? What are your favorite feel-good movies?


  1. The Dish - I have no idea exactly what it is about it that is so perfect but it is just such a gentle and warm and lovely movie, and combined with the setting which obviously appeals to me (NASA, man on the moon, space race, astronomy, rocketry) it is my perfect movie for when things suck. I used to watch it so often that, when I had a migraine and needed some sort of company to help me sleep, I would put it on and I knew exactly what was happening while I lay with my back to it and my eyes shut :-)

    1. I have never seen this one... I'll have to look it up sometime. Sometimes you find those movies that are just perfect for *you* and you can't quite explain why. Those can be the best ones :-)

  2. Answering instinctively without giving it too much thought (as I believe an exercise like this should be handled), I'm going to come out with the unlikely choice of The Guru. *Not*, mind you, The Love Guru, that dreadful Mike Myers vehicle. This is the one about a young man from India who comes to New York wanting to be a star, and becomes a celebrity guru through chance circumstances that involve the porn industry. If you haven't seen it and if you have a little bit of an affection for Bollywood, there's a lot of joy to be had here. Jimi Mistry stars alongside Marisa Tomei and Heather Graham.

    1. I'm not sure I've ever even heard of that. It sounds fun though. I'm definitely going to have to hunt around for it.