My list of 15 feel-good, happy movies to watch during quarantine

Movies to watch in quarantine visual - Sam Ford
Sam Ford/THE REVIEW
Copy Desk Chief Victoria Calvin reveals her favorite feel-good movies for these trying times.

BY
Copy Desk Chief

Talk of boredom and the effects of quarantine on mental health are filling up Twitter feeds these days, but I’m here to tell you there’s plenty of material online to keep yourself occupied and your spirits up during these uncertain times. The following is a list, in chronological order, of my personal favorite movies to watch when feeling down or just any time I need a boost, something we could all use right now.

1. “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946, starring Jimmy Stewart)
My review: The creme de la creme of happy films. In John Mulaney’s words, “Great movie, Frank Capra, 1946,” and he’s right. While an emotional rollercoaster at first, as protagonist George Bailey (Stewart) sees his life fall apart, he gets to witness firsthand what the world would be like without him. In the end, Bailey rightly concludes, “No man is a failure who has friends,” reminding all viewers to keep things in perspective and appreciate those around them.

Where to stream: Amazon
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

2. “Singin’ In the Rain” (1952, starring Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly)
My review: You think you know what this movie is about, you know the main theme song, maybe you remember “Good Mornin’” from that Tropicana commercial, you know Reynolds and Kelly, but I promise you have no idea what the plot of this movie is. Set in 1920s Hollywood, it tracks the rise of Reynolds’s character from obscure passerby to Hollywood starlet while also documenting the oft overlooked monumental shift in Tinseltown from silent films to “talkies.” There are real life struggles and down moments, but like “Some Like It Hot” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” those moments never last for long. Guaranteed to leave you humming the same song for at least five days.

Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

3. “Some Like It Hot” (1959, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon)
My review: If you’re a comedy fan or a film buff in general, you’ve already seen this way too many times, but you can always go for one more. The film is set in 1929 Chicago where Curtis and Lemmon, employed as jazz musicians in a speakeasy, come face-to-face with organized crime and must flee to sunny Florida — as women — where they encounter Sugar played by Monroe. The neverending hijinks will have you on the edge of your seat all the way to the iconic final line.
Where to stream: Amazon
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

4. “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” (1966, starring Elvis Presley)
My review: A lesser-known Elvis film but a classic all the same. Elvis plays an airline pilot, flirty and mischievous as only he can be, who returns home to Hawaii, promising to be a changed and matured man. The plot is as good as the songs with bops like “Datin’,” “A Dog’s Life” and “Scratch My Back.” Be warned ladies, you’re liable to spend the following three hours on Etsy and Pinterest looking at vintage beach fashion.

Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube and Google Play

5. “Barefoot in the Park” (1967, starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford)
My review: At No. 96 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Passions list, “Barefoot in the Park” follows a newlywed couple (Fonda, Redford) in 1960s New York City as they navigate crazy neighbors, cooky parents, tiny apartments, backwards radiators, broken windows and much more. A reliably classic, funny film with a cute moral of the story and a catchy main theme song, doesn’t get better than that.

Where to stream: Amazon
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

6. “The Graduate” (1967, starring Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross)
My review: The mother of all simmering emotional films, this will stay with you in the weirdest of ways. I saw it for the first time years ago; I still have no idea how to feel about it. Yet, inexplicably, I find myself wanting to watch it again and again. Maybe it’s the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack or that damned final scene or just Dustin Hoffman. Either way, this story about love and loss and growth and confusion and spontaneity leaves you feeling … something. It lives up to the hype of being one of the greatest films of all time as it so beautifully and accurately depicts stepping over the threshold from childish fantasies to adult reality.

Where to stream: Amazon
Where to rent: YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

7. “Dirty Dancing” (1987, starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze)
My review: Whether you love dancing movies or if you’re a hopeless romantic or maybe you just want an excuse to stare at Patrick Swayze for an hour and 40 minutes, this is the one for you. Come along for one of the greatest bildungsroman-esque films of all time as Baby (nee Frances) Houseman finds love and grows up during a summer in the Catskills while exploring family dynamics, learning the cost of telling the truth and the shock of sonder — all set to one of the most iconic soundtracks of all time.

Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

8. “Good Will Hunting” (1997, starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgård)
My review: A great film, if not mostly for Damon’s NSA monologue. The movie includes an all-star cast and claimed two Oscars. It tells the story of Will Hunting (Damon), a troubled teen from South Boston, who works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Due to his photographic memory, he’s taken under the wing of a math professor (Skarsgård) at the school. Hunting struggles with his past and what lies ahead for a boy genius. Don’t watch it with anyone too seriously invested, because everyone will need to (and should) pause the movie every five seconds to look up the obscure reference one of the characters just made. I must recommend pirating this film, however, as it was co-produced by Harvey Weinstein and we don’t support rapists in this house. This film is available on 123Movies, and rest assured this is a safe, reliable site. If pirating still isn’t your thing, it’s also available on Hulu.

Where to stream: 123Movies, Hulu

9. “Erin Brockovich” (2000, starring Julia Roberts)
My review: Though one of the more serious films on the list, it’s a happy tearjerker, especially if you’re a sucker for anything “based on a true story.” This is the story of Erin Brockovich (Roberts), a single mom who gets a job at a law office, beginning a years-long journey on a case that turns a small California town on its head and propels Brockovich to international notoriety. It’s the perfect mix of a strong female lead, well-developed supporting characters and saying, “Screw you,” to exploitative capitalists.

Where to stream: Amazon
Where to rent: YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

10. “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” (2004, starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller)
My review: On the racier side, but “Dodgeball” occupies a weirdly nostalgic place in the memories of many young Millennials and older Gen Zers. With a crass humor somewhere in between “Talladega Nights” and “Fired Up,” “Dodgeball” tells the story of Vaughn, Stiller and their respective posses duking it out in an amateur dodgeball tournament. There’s a pirate, a senile old man throwing wrenches, a woman named Fran Stalinovskovichdaviddivichski, the mean girl from “A Cinderella Story,” Chuck Norris, David Hasselhoff, William Shatner and Lance Armstrong. The list of goofs and continuity errors is probably longer than the script itself, and somehow that makes it perfect.

Where to stream: Amazon
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

11. “Freedom Writers” (2007, starring Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Patrick Dempsey, Mario)
My review: You will cry. A lot. This movie will break the most emotionally stubborn of people. Set in 1994 Long Beach, “Freedom Writers” follows the real story of a white teacher, Erin Gruwell (Swank), in a predominantly black and Latinx school that’s marred by violence, gangs, drugs and underfunding. But through the film, each character learns to step back and hear the story of the person next to them, only to realize they’re not so different. The horrifying realities of murder and police brutality with teenagers caught in the crossfire are brought to the forefront with staggering bluntness. But the devastating lows only make the highs more gratifying. Note: It will spoil “The Diary of Anne Frank” for you.

Where to stream: Netflix and Amazon
Where to rent: YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

12. “Mamma Mia!” (2008, starring literally everyone)
My review: Unarguably the greatest musical of all time. As some random Tumblr user explains, “Cosette, Miranda Priestley, James Bond, Leonard’s mom, Dr. Erik Selvig, Howard Stark, Molly Weasley and Mr. Darcy sing Abba songs in Greece,” and that’s exactly what happens. You know the songs and your parents probably have them on vinyl, making it an ideal compromise that will entertain the whole family. Finished the movie and still want more? Check out the sequel, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (2018).

Where to stream: Amazon
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

13. “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011, starring Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan)
My review: While some might argue this spot should belong to “Thor: Ragnarok” or maybe “Deadpool,” my heart is with Captain America. With the cinematography, the character arcs, the costumes, the music and Chris Evans’s butt — there is no sadness here. It’s action-packed and thrilling while also romantic and heartwarming, and it’s sure to satisfy whoever you’re locked in your house with. If you enjoy it, we have good news! There’s about 50 more films just like it.

Where to stream: Amazon and Disney+
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

14. “The Art of Getting By” (2011, starring Emma Roberts and Freddie Highmore)
My review: A liminal space contained in a film, only to be watched as the sun rises after you’ve stayed up all night voluntarily. It’s another story about a teenage boy who hates the world and falls in love with a pretty girl, but she’s not like other girls because she inexplicably falls in love with said angsty boy by the end of the film … but by god is it cute. Go in having zero expectations, no pretentious movie critic attitude, just innocently enjoying a nice movie. For 84 minutes, you get to be a blissfully unaware teenager with hopes and dreams again. For others in this category, I recommend “LOL” (2012), “Endless Love” (2014) and “Beastly” (2011).

Where to stream: Amazon
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube and Google Play

15. “Django Unchained” (2012, starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio)
My review: You get to see Jamie Foxx as a freed slave literally hunt down and kill slave owners, it doesn’t get better than that. Uplifting in the darkest senses of the word, this one is extremely graphic, as any good Quentin Tarantino movie is, but absolutely worth it. Chock full of punchy one-liners and gratifying moments, this is the emotional equivalent of going to a kickboxing class because you had a bad day. You’ll end the movie satisfied and rightfully smug.

Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

Honorable mentions that my dad made me promise to include:

“Rudy” (1993)
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

“Independence Day” (1996)
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

“Space Jam” (1996)
Where to stream: Netflix
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

“Men in Black” (1997)
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

“Wild Wild West” (1999)
Where to stream: Netflix
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

“The Day After Tomorrow” (2004)
Where to stream: Amazon
Where to rent: YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

“Aladdin” (2019)
Where to stream: Disney+
Where to rent: Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes

Pretty much Tom Hanks’s entire filmography (all available to rent on Amazon)
“Turner and Hooch” (1989)
“A League of Their Own” (1992)
“Sleepless in Seattle” (1993)
“Forrest Gump” (1994)
“The Polar Express” (2004)
“The Da Vinci Code” (2006)/ “Angels and Demons” (2009)/ “Inferno” (2016)
“Sully” (2016)
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (2019)

Check back frequently for more coronavirus coverage from The Review at UDReview.com/Category/Coronavirus/

Share This

COMMENTS

Wordpress (0)
Disqus ( )