Top 10 Movies to Make You Feel Happy
Sometimes when you’re feeling down, there’s no better cure than a favorite, classic, make-you-smile movie.
My taste in movies has changed over the years. As a teen, I grew up on movies like Jaws, Poseidon Adventure, and Alien and couldn’t get enough of those adrenaline pumping thrillers – that are actually tame by today’s standards.
Although I still enjoy an adventurous sci-fi movie, I shy away from all those violent movies that mimic today’s harsh realities. Give me an old-fashioned, nostalgic, feel-good movie or a comedy that makes me laugh out loud instead.
In an earlier blog, I listed my favorite 15 songs that make me feel happy along with the benefits of music if you want to check it out. Today, I’ll share my list of top 10 movies that never fail to chase the blues away and lighten the day:
1. Captain Ron
Maybe it’s because my husband and I love to sail, but this movie never fails to crack us up. The funny Martin Short plays the main character who inherits a sailboat formerly owned by Clark Gable. The family can make money on the boat if they sail it from a Caribbean island and deliver the relic in good condition to a yacht broker in Miami. His wife is against the idea until their 16-year-old airhead daughter announces her engagement. So off they go with crazy, one-eyed Captain Ron, played by Kurt Russell, guiding their trip. Of course, hilarity and family bonding ensues.
2. The Shawshank Redemption
Based on a Stephen King novella, this movie features the wonderfully talented Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The touching and inspiring tale is based on an innocent man, Andy, sentenced for life for the murder of his wife and her lover. Although he is introduced to the harsh realities of prison early on, Andy never gives up. He is able to bring dignity and self-worth to some of the other inmates and manages to find small moments of serenity and gratitude even in dire circumstances. Most inspiring of all, this resilient man never, never gives up hope.
3. The Blind Side
Who doesn’t love this heartwarming true story of a young homeless football player who is able to miraculously turn his life around with the help of Leigh Anne Tuohy. Brilliantly played by Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, Leigh Anne finds Big Mike wandering aimlessly without a coat on a cold night and becomes his strongest supporter. The film shows what is possible when you open up your heart to generously help someone in need and what can be accomplished when someone wholeheartedly believes in you.
In ode to my grandchildren, I’m including an animated film that is funny and wonderfully heart touching. This cartoon features a grumpy old widower who rediscovers his joy in life with the help of an earnest kid that won’t give up on him and a lovable talking dog. This beautifully written story proves that you’re never too old to take a risk and it’s never too late to have an exciting adventure. In fact, a kid’s movie is the perfect way to get in touch with your inner child and forget life’s troubles. Some of my other favorites include Despicable Me, Toy Story, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Shrek, and Mary Poppins.
A beautiful, snobby, and cruel heiress named Joanna (Goldie Hawn), screws over a widowed carpenter with four kids named Dean (Kurt Russell). When Joanna falls overboard and suffers from amnesia, her husband takes advantage of the situation to rid himself of his demanding wife while Dean plots revenge and claims her as his wife. Watching the spoiled Joanna deal with four rowdy boys living in a shack convinced by Dean that previously she was a fat slut who ”jumped his bones” the first night they met in the parking lot of a Seven-Eleven tickles my funny bone every time. “I don’t belong here, I feel it, don’t you think I feel it?” she asks at one point. “I can’t do any of these vile things and I wouldn’t WANT to. Oh, my life is like death. My children are the spawn of hell, and you’re the devil.” Of course, it all has a happy ending. Fun stuff.
6. The Sound of Music
Now it’s time to share my all-time favorite movie as a child. I must have driven my Mom crazy singing Edelweiss and My Favorite Things from this enchanting classic. Julie Andrews was my idol. The romance between the stern Captain and the free-spirited Maria, their daring escape from the Nazis, along with all those adorable children mesmerized me. To this day, whenever I see this playing on TV, I can’t resist watching.
7. The Family Man
Critics called this movie predictable, but I loved the message. The film reminded me of Parenthood which also helps us appreciate the importance of family. Nicolas Cage plays a materialistic, self-involved investment broker who wakes up to find himself in an alternative reality married to his college sweetheart along with a couple of kids. At first he is horrified that his sports car has been exchanged for a mini-van. Then the whole family thing begins to grow on him. This movie asks the question – are you living a life consistent with your values?
8. Blazing Saddles
Mel Brook’s silly spoof of Westerns about a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) and his sidekick (Gene Wilder) coming to an all-white town is a classic comedy from the 70s. Add several eccentric characters including Madeline Kahn mimicking Marlene Deitrich, a bigoted preacher, a lecherous governor played by Brooks himself, and an Indian chief who speaks Yiddish to the mix. Yes, this movies is in bad taste, vulgar, crude, and absolutely scandalous with its racial humor, but it’s also funny! If you want to watch another hilarious slapstick spoof that changed movies forever, try Airplane!
9. You’ve Got Mail
If you’re in the mood for a romantic feel-good comedy, you can’t go wrong with this update of The Shop Around the Corner (1940). This film has a couple of my favorite actors in their heyday – Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan – and is directed by the talented Nora Ephron. Maybe it’s because I love bookstores or maybe it’s the innocent romance, but I find this movie delightful. By the way, I’m also a sucker for Sleepless in Seattle.
10. Arsenic and Old Lace
My Mom introduced me to old 1940s movies as a kid and this one is hysterical. Okay, the premise doesn’t sound funny since it’s about two old aunts who have a nasty little habit of killing single old men. But with Raymond Massy playing the escaped murderer and his cousin who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and best of all, Cary Grant trying to clean up the sordid affair as he learns his family is insane on his wedding day – and you have some funny stuff. Another movie that never fails to make me laugh is Auntie Mame (1958). Love it!
So there you go. I’ve shared some of my favorites, but I’d love to hear what movies make you instantly feel better. What movies did I forget to include in my list? Please share your choices in the comments below!
I love Up (great opening montage) and Arsenic and Old Lace. ‘Love, Actually’ is a Xmas-time fav….Also ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ is very cathartic to me. Thanks for sharing.
Those are some of my favorites too. Thanks for sharing!
Love this article and posted a link to it on my website so my readers will be able to benefit also. Thanks.
Thanks Patty! Much appreciated.
Hmmm, seems like we have a Kurt Russell fan (he’s in two of your top ten). Go you for mentioning “Arsenic and Old Lace”! Such a great one.
I’m gonna add “Some Like It Hot”, and anything anything anything with Colm Meaney (start with “The Commitments” if you don’t know his work — brilliant!).
Even though I grew up “in love” with Robert Redford and Paul Newman – Kurt Russell is pretty cute too! I have not seen The Commitments, so this one will go on my list of movies to watch. Thanks for sharing!
The hills are alive with the sound of music! My all time favorite! Perfect for families too! Just love how Julie Andrews was able to light up the lives of so many.
You’ve listed some of my favorites, and the rest are now in my to-watch list. I don’t watch anything rated R and I love a feel-good movie, especially when it releases a good cry. Thank you for this wonderful list!
I love anything Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan did. Some seemed the same but always fun. And some of the early Woody Allen – Diane Keaton movies like Annie Hall.
Oh yes, the Sound of Music is one that I have loved since I was a kid. I even took off backpacking in Europe on my own when I was 18 and, among other things, went on a Sound of Music bus tour in Salzburg!
One of my favourites that’s not on your list perhaps shows a different side of me: Little Miss Sunshine. A comedy-drama (somewhat on the dark side) about a dysfunctional family, this movie is not for everyone, but it makes me laugh and cry every time.
Fun post Julie, made me smile 🙂
Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and favorite movies. Marla, I watched Little Miss Sunshine (edited version on TV) and can see why it’s one of your favorites. Although the family is endearingly dysfunctional there is a deep, uniting love underneath all the crazy.