Feeling a little blue? In need of a laugh? Roxanne Sancto helps us all make lemonade by exploring why sometimes, only a feel-good movie will do.
We all have those days – nothing goes right, everything seems somehow “blah” and all we want to do at the end of the day is melt into a puddle of pity. Getting ourselves out of this defeated state of mind isn’t always easy but, if there’s one remedy for a serious bout of weltschmerz, it’s that wonderful genre of films we like to call feel-good movies. What constitutes a feel-good movie might differ from person to person, but the result of this type of viewing experience is always the same: we come out of it feeling hopeful, refreshed and heart-warmed.
There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding as to what makes a feel-good movie, with many still stuck on the idea that it must be of a romantic, teary nature when, the simple truth is: it’s whatever you want it to be. Many of us, for example, turn to our favourite childhood movies whenever we’re feeling down in the dumps, attempting to rekindle with our past, carefree selves – a dip into the honeypot of nostalgia, if you will. Old Disney classics such as The Lion King (1994) or Stephen Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), though dramatic in their own rights, take us back to an era seemingly void of the crappy days we regularly experience as adults and, ultimately, that’s exactly what we hope to escape in moments like this – adulthood.
What constitutes a feel-good movie might differ from person to person, but the result of this type of viewing experience is always the same: we come out of it feeling hopeful, refreshed and heart-warmed.
Even those who do like a dose of romance in this remedial genre aren’t always looking for happy endings or rose-tinted story arcs. One of Netflix’s most recent rom-coms, Someone Great (2019), isn’t actually all that romantic – if you’re in it for the girl-meets-boy focus, at least. If you’re in it for a bad-ass, independent if slightly broken protagonist and that empowering sense of female friendship she feels from her BFFs, Someone Great is one of the best feel-good movies to have sprung up on our Netflix playlist in the last year. Leaving us with an important and somewhat feminist message, this film is exactly what doctors would prescribe the heartbroken, the uninspired and the insecure if movies were, indeed, recognized as medicine more potent than anything that comes in a little red pill or an amber bottle.
While Someone Great is geared towards a female audience, there are plenty of films that celebrate male friendship and all that comes with it, all of which could easily make it onto your list of chosen feel-good movies. Tag (2018), featuring Ed Helms (our beloved Andy Bernard from The Office, US), is perhaps one of the most endearing takes on male friendship and how it shifts, changes but remains solid over time. Following a group of thirty-something year old friends who have been playing the same game of tag since they were nine-years old, this movie depicts how changing lifestyles and schedules can make it increasingly difficult to nurture old friendships and how, with a little creativity and a childish spirit, it can still be done. It is impossible to come out of this movie feeling anything other than in awe of these men, their relentless determination and love for one another.
Themes such as friendship, family, culture and holidays – including road trips, bank holiday festivities and the like – all make for excellent feel-good movie fodder because they serve to emphasize messages of unity, unconditional love and self-discovery, respectively. And what are these feelings if not downright good and positive? And, yet, even the cult movie genre finds its way onto our personal feel-good movie playlists – those that feature outcast protagonists and characters on the fringes of society and everything that typically features in a Christmas movie: i.e. happy families, conservative attitudes and narrow-mindedness. That’s exactly what makes Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Frank N. Furter all the more loveable and relatable to us.
As you can see, there is no proven formula to the feel-good movie – if Die Hard constitutes a Christmas film to some then, surely, Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands is considered a feel-good-film by others. What’s important is, how you feel when the credits start rolling and you are left to return to, what was initially, a challenging day. Is your heart full of love, your mind bubbling with new ideas and your soul full of hope? Then yes, whichever movie inspired these emotions in you is most definitely a feel-good movie.