We all need an escape or distraction now and then, especially one that leaves us feeling good. If you can't take a vacation, then watch a feel-good movie! Here are some of my favorites from the past few years that you can find at your neighborhood video store, Netflix, or other online movie service. Feel free to share some of your own by leaving a comment!
WRECK-IT RALPH (2012 PG) An obsolete video game bad-guy wants to be a hero, and does the unheard-of by entering other games to, ultimately, save the arcade. This Walt Disney animated movie is such a delight to watch, and it is one that the whole family will enjoy. I especially loved the character of Vanellope, the glitchy, gutsy little girl that befriends Ralph. Vanellope's personality is EXACTLY the mirror of a little kitty named Bug, who has cerebral palsy and was rescued by my friend. When you watch the film, you'll understand what I'm talking about. Adorable and full of surprises, no matter how many challenges she faces.
WHIP IT (2009 PG13) Truly loved this film! It was the perfect vehicle to display Ellen Page's gutsy talent. Kudos to Drew Barrymore for her sensitive yet bold direction. This is a different kind of coming of age film - a young woman passionately embraces the aggressive physical sport of roller derby while tip-toeing through her mother's plan for a future of beauty pageants. The acting, script, direction...everything in this movie was well done, and highly entertaining.
VALENTINE'S DAY (2010 PG13) I guess I'm a romantic at heart. I really enjoyed this movie. A great all-star ensemble cast and a number of parallel stories come together in unpredictable ways making a nice afternoon or evening of viewing, with or without someone to snuggle with. My favorite bits are Anne Hathaway's phone conversations (hysterical), Topher Grace's surprisingly buff body, Shirley MacLaine just because she's Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo for the same reason, and the look in Eric Dane's eyes when his love comes to call. I also enjoyed the caring that Ashton Kutcher showed for his best bud, Jennifer Garner. It doesn't have to be Valentine's Day to enjoy some vicarious heart-throbbing lovin'. I would watch this again. In fact, I've already watched it three times!
LEAP YEAR (2010 PG) Amy Adams can do no wrong. Once again, she's given us a delightful, entertaining love story that leaves you smiling. I'm just wondering how she managed to negotiate the Irish countryside in those high heels!! This film is full of physical comedy as well as subtle nuances. Something for everyone, and clean enough for the family to watch.
IT'S COMPLICATED (2009 R) LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT!!! Finally, a rom-com with maturity that speaks to the issues of divorce after a lengthy marriage and grown kids. It IS complicated...for all involved! The script is tremendously funny and sensitive. Meryl Streep is wonderful as the divorcee caught up in a whirlwind of confusion when her ex seduces her. Alec Baldwin is great as the ex, married to a trophy wife with a five year old brat, who falls goofily in love again with his first wife, turning his world upside down. Steve Martin plays his most subdued role ever as the somewhat vulnerable and fragile architect who also becomes an object of Meryl's affection. And the cast playing the grown children of Streep and Baldwin were so true-to-form when the crazy affair of their parents comes out in the open. I laughed out loud, cringed, smiled smugly, even felt a little teary during this wonderfully entertaining rollercoaster-of-a-film. Highly recommended to those of us over 40...but even my male 18 year old next door neighbor loved it...so that says something for its merit!
THE BLIND SIDE (2009 PG13) The Blind Side is the most inspiring, heartwarming film I've seen in ages. This true story exemplifies how generosity of heart can make a huge difference in someone else's life, as well as your own. It also makes it clear that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Big Mike Oher is an oversized marshmallow, a product of the projects who escapes a dark future with the help of a headstrong but big-hearted woman and her family. Big Mike, who has been shown to have high protective instincts, goes on to become a star football player, guarding the team as he would his family. Sandra Bullock finally found a film worthy of her talent. She deserved the awards. Quinton Aaron was wonderful as Big Mike....keep your eye on this young actor! He's going places! Thank you to the filmmakers for making a film that rises far above the typical trash heap of Hollywood narcissistic self-indulgence!
THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE (2009 PG13) I've always been intrigued with films that mess with the concepts of time and mortality, such as "Meet Joe Black", "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", and "Slaughterhouse Five", just to name a few. This film tops the list. It's a beautiful romance with a twist, and the story is unforgettable. The Time Traveler's Wife is about how one soul is meant to be with a certain other soul, throughout time. Henry time travels due to a genetic anomaly that he can't control. Throughout his life, and throughout Clare's, their lives entangle and their love endures. The storyline is very clever and there are so many lovely twists throughout that you'll be entranced from the start to finish. I haven't read the book yet, but the film made me want to. I loved everything about this story, the acting, the settings...everything, and would watch this again and again. Well, wait a minute - there was one thing I did not like, and that was the band playing during the wedding dance. I'd rather eat glass than to hear them again. But even that did not mar the movie enough to make me give it any less than 5 stars!
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006 R) Abigail Breslin is a delight to watch in this road-trip comedy as a wanna-be contender in a children's beauty pagaent. If you think your family is crazy, wait til you meet this one! There is nothing about this movie that I didn't like....the cast, the script, the direction, the scenes....all fantastic. Really enjoyable flick, full of smiles!
500 DAYS OF SUMMER (2009 PG13) Such a lovely little film. If you have ever gone, or are now going, through that dreadful period after a break-up when you just can't figure out what went wrong, you'll really appreciate this story. The characters are charming, the music really adds to the emotions of the scenes, and even though this is about love gone wrong...you can't help but feel uplifted at the end. I enjoyed it.
SHINE (1996 PG13) David Helfgott was a child prodigy whose father's cruelty and ambition drove David to a breakdown. Still performing today, Helfgott is a gifted and broken man with a delightful, child-like spirit. I had the pleasure of meeting the real David Helfgott and listening to his music at a starlit outdoor concert in Australia a few years ago. I had already seen the film twice by then, and after meeting Helfgott, I have got to give a heck of a lot of credit to Geoffrey Rush for his portrayal of the pianist. He was not an easy personality to recreate - his mind is all over the place and then latches on to a segment of thought like a pitbull, all expressed in his rapid-fire conversation with you. He was a genuinely friendly and delightful man, if you take the time to listen carefully to what he says, a brilliant pianist, and as quirky as quirky can be. Geoffrey Rush couldn't have done a better job in his performance - he was phenomenal in his portrayal. And what a heart-wrenching yet inspiring story! Though the story is tragic at the onset, you can't help but love Helfgott's spirit, and the film leaves you feeling truly delighted!
MARILYN HOTCHKISS BALLROOM DANCING AND CHARM SCHOOL (2005 PG13) This film was a real surprise...a true dark horse. It is sweet and sentimental, and though the characters are all carrying around tragic baggage, the Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School provides a venue of transformation. This film is listed as a comedy, and it has many comedic moments, yet the emotionality of the film runs much deeper than most comedies. You'll see a few surprises in the cast of characters, too, including Robert Carlyle who is now famous for his portrayal of Rumpelstiltskin in the tv hit, Once Upon a Time!
CB, your website creator and blogger, is a certified Holistic Health Educator and writer.