It is nearly Friday (FIST PUMP!), and I am, as usual, thinking about what movies I will watch this weekend. I used to watch several a week, but no longer have that luxury as there is no video store within miles of me and I have thus far refused to subscribe to LoveFilm, the UK’s overpriced answer to America’s Netflix. I think I’ll finally give in when the boy arrives and can share the monthy subscription fee, but for now, I tend to rely on my ever-growing film library.
Renting movies here is expensive. So expensive, in fact, that it’s arguably the same price to just buy movies I like at the Computer Exchange or Tesco as it is to rent (new releases aside). A big reason I’ve held out against LoveFilm is that I relish browsing. I find the most interesting indie flicks, foreign films, and documentaries that way. I carry a handful of selections around the store before agonizing over my final decision. I pick up movies I’ve never heard of and evaluate the cover art and the reviews. I like that it’s tactile and there are always surprises. This is my major objection to online shopping in general – so sterile, and so limited by your existing knowledge. I far prefer to wander around a video store for 90 minutes, or spend a happy half-day at the bookstore.
But that is not the only topic of this post. Oh, no, you see, the primary topic is actually Movies That Are Guaranteed to Cheer You Up, aka Pick-Me-Up Movies. What I did is make what I like to call a “pun,” tying in two different ideas with a little “wordplay” – movies that uplift you, and my own side-rant about liking to physically pick up movies. God, I swear my writing gets better with every post. So, onwards!
Here are the rules. It has to be a movie you’ve watched over and over, a film you genuinely go to when you’re feeling down or depressed. You probably own it, and it is like Botox for your psyche. It gives you a bounce in your step and makes you think that maybe the world is an okay place after all. Be selective – I really like both Overboard and Spellbound, for example, and have seen both multiple times, but after a stressful work week or a nasty breakup, there are really only a handful of guaranteed soul-pleasers in my personal collection. In no particular order:
1) Girls Just Want to Have Fun. A timeless classic that cemented a lifelong love for Sarah Jessica Parker in my girlhood. Also features the super hot Lee Montgomery, who should have been a way bigger star. As a great bonus, Lynne Stone was an idol to Catholic schoolgirls like myself, who wanted nothing more than a velcro-reversible kilt and a grasshopper beret.
2) Enchanted. If there is one princess movie on my list, this is it. Animated fairy-tale princess is dropped into the middle of Manhattan and finds love with a single-dad lawyer. No one does wide-eyed naif like Amy Adams and however skeptical I initially was, it charms the pants off me. It also makes me want to construct a ball gown out of curtains and wear it around in public, while leading working people into synchronized dance.
3) Zoolander. The smartest dumb movie ever. Every time I watch it, I don’t want it to be over, so I watch all of the commentary, outtakes, and advertisements just to get some more. Also features excellent celebrity cameos, including Your Friend Billy Zane (who you should listen to). Seriously, I watched this on mushrooms one time in college and my mind was blown. There are so many layers.
4) Strictly Ballroom. Australian accents. Baz Luhrmann aesthetic. Drama, hysterics, all the sequins on God’s good Earth, a mousy lead who just wants to dance!, and the most exhilarating old man paso doble in the history of humanity. When I was a kid, I would beg my parents to go out to dinner without me so I could watch it. Then, I would move the furniture away from the middle of the living room and spend half the movie leaping around in joy. The effect has not diminished with time.
5) Bring It On. The most appealing Kirsten Dunst has ever been outside of Drop Dead Gorgeous (another huge fave that belongs on my choice black comedies list rather than this one). Have I seen this move 30 times? Yes. Can I recite every line? Yes. Do I? Much to the annoyance of my viewing companions, yes. Have I told someone that they were a cheer-tator and a pain in my ass? Yes. And Jesse Bradford needs to be my high school boyfriend forever.
6) Wet Hot American Summer. You don’t have to be a film nerd to love this movie; it helps, but is in no way required. If you were a fan of The State, then there is no reasonable excuse ever that this is not one of your most cherished films. The first time I saw it, I laughed and laughed and laughed. Then I called a friend and watched it twice more. If you ever went to summer camp, have a fondness for David Hyde Pierce, Janeane Garofolo, Paul Rudd, Christopher Meloni, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, or Bradley Cooper, then you need to see this movie. Repeatedly.
7) A Bug’s Life. My favorite Pixar movie, hands-down. I can never get over how incredibly funny and clever this film is. The music is wonderful, the visuals are still awesome ten years on, and the characters are hilarious and lovingly crafted. Disney wishes it was this good.
8) Mamma Mia. Finally, the controversial choice. I’ve only seen this once, so it doesn’t really qualify for my list as of yet, but I feel that it may rise in the ranks on future viewings. This is a movie that should not exist; it is the height of ridiculousness. After I first saw it, I described it as an injection of sunshine directly into my cerebral cortex. This movie is so flamboyantly awesome/terrible, that it’s actually jarring. Basically, I think I love it, but only time will tell. Mamma Mia has been the best-selling movie in UK history, and it’s easy to understand why. Released in the cold grayness of last winter, it is so relentlessly cheerful that the public was helplessly in its thrall, skyrocketing vacation bookings to Greece. I think Mamma Mia came into existence because we needed it. It’s just possible that I need it.
Composing this highly sophisticated list has made me realize that my own selection is heavy on dancing, music, and camp (literal and figurative). It’s an honest list, and the films therein are chockful of highly quotable lines, as well as dance-offs, walk-offs, and cheer-offs. Most of all, these movies make me laugh and I think they’re all smart in varying degrees. Even thinking about them has made me feel lighter! Always looking to increase my arsenal, I put it to you: What are your best pick-me-up movies?