The 25 Best Feel-Good Movies For Lazy Weekends

Are you genuinely still social-distancing?

Same Kind Of Different As Me movie poster with four of the cast.
Same Kind Of Different As Me Movie Poster

Or are you just socially anxious like me, and pretending you still have to?

If so, let me plan out next weekend for you because Angela at Heritage Films has asked me to give a shout-out for this wonderful, feel-good movie starring Renee Zellweger that they are premiering online between the 29th and 31st May. It’s called “Same Kind Of Different As Me,” and for each ticket sold (drum roll) a donation will be made to the Salvation Army and its Red Shield Appeal, who have been hit really hard this year.

Check out the movie trailer here:

A bit about the movie…

Ron Hall, played by Greg Kinnear in the movie, wrote the original story of “Same Kind Of Different As Me” – about a couple, whose lives change forever when they develop an unlikely friendship with Denver Moore, a homeless man – and sales from it have raised over $100,000 towards homelessness. As soon as Angela described it as “a true, inspirational story about a woman who transforms a city with kindness,” I knew it would be right up the street of a feel-good movie aficionado like me…especially now, during these dark, COVID times.

Who hasn’t loved Renee Zellweger since she dished up blue soup in Bridget Jones?

Evidently, Angela knew that flattery would get her everywhere (when she described me as a blogger with compassion in her pitch to me), but there are other (less shallow) reasons I want to endorse this movie premiere. Firstly, there are those massively important donations to The Salvation Army who “leave no-one in need” – and I know from personal experience how easy it is for any of us to suddenly find ourselves in a position of dependency on awesome charities such as these – and secondly, this is not just any old movie, it is a story with heart and soul, with an amazing cast, and I think most of us could do with a little of that right now.

Did You Know That Ugly-Crying Actually Enhances Your Mood?

This movie is guaranteed to release all those pent-up emotions of the last two months – which is a good thing because (interesting fact) a big, ugly cry actually ENHANCES your mood. And, frankly, it sounds like a) the perfect antidote to the Corona blues and b) the ultimate way to waste a lazy weekend afternoon for the professional couch potatoes among us.

But if those aren’t big enough incentives, remember that feel-good stories like these force us to think about how lucky we are – a really important reminder for those of us fortunate enough to come out of COVID-19 relatively unscathed.

Anything that gives us pause for thought and time to reflect on our priorities is a good thing, right?

AND FINALLY, THE BEST BIT. With your invitation to watch this movie, you are ALSO invited to the pre-movie program which includes interviews with the stars and the author, i.e. the perfect excuse to put on your glad rags for the first time (in what feels like a decade) and crack open a bottle of bubbly.

You can buy your movie pass HERE, and once you receive it you’ll get 48hrs to complete the movie and two weeks to start it.

And remember, the MAIN reason I’m giving you permission to take an afternoon off is because single and family movie passes make a direct donation to this year’s RED SHIELD APPEAL.

Cast of Four Weddings And A Funeral
Four Weddings And A funeral movie poster

And while I’m on the subject of THE BEST FEEL-GOOD MOVIES, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few of my own. I’m not an idiot, so I realise that anyone worth their salted popcorn (when it comes to tearjerkers) will have seen most of these already, but if you haven’t, hit up a box of Maltesers, get out the blankets and give them a shot.

Enjoy!

  1. The Green Mile – Starring Sandra Bullock, the queen of feel-good movies.

2. When Harry Met Sally – Who hasn’t been in the situation this couple finds themselves in “the morning after”? Harry’s expression says it all. It always reminds me of the look on the old man’s face the morning after we (drunkenly) decided to try for a baby.

3. Chocolat – Anything French is “HOT AF!” I would definitely turn for Juliette Binoche.

4. Love Actually – So yeah, in terms of political correctness, this movie hasn’t aged the best, but who can forget the magic of that wedding, THAT funeral, or the brutal bedroom scene caused by Snape’s infidelity.

5. Notting Hill – The fairytale. “I’m just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking him to love her.”

6. Steel Magnolias – The best story about friendship. Hankies a must.

7. Ten Things I Hate About You – Heath Ledger. *Sob*

8. Pride and Prejudice – Where Mr Darcy’s awkwardness is almost as sexy as a man carrying a baby.

9. Four Weddings And A Funeral – This movie always reminds me of the year of our wedding, minus the funeral. So many memories, so embarrassingly nineties.

10. My Big Fat Greek Wedding – John Corbett at his sexiest. We learnt what a bunt was and we’ll never say I.A.N the same way again.

11. Forrest Gump – An epic journey of kindness.

12. The Shawshank Redemption – The best bromance.

14. The Holiday – Cutest cottage, kid, and dad.

13. Bridget Jones Diary – The most accurate depiction of those angst-ridden years of our late-twenties and early-thirties. The best song to sing with a hairbrush.

15. Grease – The first movie I saw at the cinema with friends.

16. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – The subtle introduction of Leonardo to the world.

17. Silver Linings Playbook – The most romantic take on love with mental illness.

18. Dead Poets Society – Robin Williams “Oh captain, my captain…’

19. Bend It Like Beckham – An inspirational tale for young girls everywhere.

20. My Left Foot – The courage and determination of Christy Brown.

21. The Full Monty – Finally, some titillation for the ladies.

22. Bridesmaids – Too many hysterical moments in this movie to mention, but…every bride’s worst nightmare has to be a bad case of diarrhoea in your wedding dress.

23. The Untouchables – A mesmerising story of friendship and hope.

24. The Body Guard/Field Of Dreams/Dances With Wolves – Something for everyone. Who knew that Kevin Costner was such a feel-good film maker?

25. Benny And Joon – A beautiful film about love and “difference”.

Any movies I need to add to my list?

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Maudie, Self-Care and The Simplicity of Love

One pearl of wisdom you finally discover in middle age is the answer to that all-consuming question of “what the fuck is it all about?”.  And that it is “love”, of course.

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And trust me, you couldn’t find a better demonstration of that than the movie I saw yesterday when Louisa-No-Mates dragged herself along to the movies by herself for some TLS, or tender, loving self-care.

 

The rediscovery of simple things you enjoyed doing in the past is a little tip I picked up in the most recent self-help book I have read on self-love, and as it had been a while since I was brave enough to admit publicly that I have no friends, left the house or got dressed, I decided a trip to the movies would be a good starting point.

 

I rarely to the movies these days, probably due to my warped penchant for sad movies -something that is not shared by anyone else in the family… or anyone really. NC, the logician of the family, can’t bear to watch any movie that attempts to locate her heart strings, doesn’t have dragons, robots or star troopers, while Kurt and the old man – stereotypes for emotionally under-developed males – barely stray from violence or superhero nonsense.

 

Conversely, I like to give my mind and heart a full workout during a movie, and I am drawn to those thought-provoking little gems that usually have fuck-all budget. I like to see characters bare their souls and evolve in stories of personal triumph over tragedy. 

 

Maudie, the movie I saw yesterday, is based on the true story of Canadian artist, Maude Lewis, and her husband Everett. It is set in Nova Scotia, on the edge of a small town that has the appeal and climate extremes of all seven kingdoms of the Game of Thrones combined, and is the story of Maude, a woman physically disabled by arthritis and rejected by her family, who is left no other choice than to work as a housemaid for Everett, who is, in the words of Bridget Jones’ mother, ‘a very cruel man.’

 

In truth, the meat of this story is not the amazing tale of  Maude’s rise to fame to become a successful folk painter, but rather the simple and unlikely romance that develops between her and Everett, a man also starved of love as a child, and the way in which she successfully unlocks his unyielding heart.

 

‘The world didn’t give this woman much, but then, not much was required to make her happy.’ (Bob Mondello)

 

For while her painting fulfills her need for creative expression, Maude’s main goal in life is to be loved and to achieve happiness. Her poor start has made her more determined to find someone to love her, and although Everett is hardly Romeo material, (nor very much of a talker), when he demonstrates his developing love for her through small acts of kindness – albeit without grace – these are enough to give Maude the hope she needs to stay with him. 

 

‘I have been loved,’ Maude tells him when the light globe of Everett’s emotional intelligence finally switches on and he comprehends what she truly means to him.

 

‘It’s a story of pain and difficulty and cold, and also of happiness.’ (Glenn Kenny)

 

It is a story about the fabric of life and love.

 

 

Midlife Mayhem – The Sexiness Of ‘Salmon Fishing’

In conjunction with my recent  post about following your dreams, I stumbled upon this quasi-perfect little gem of a Brit flick the other day, and so decided to brazenly write a film review about it.

I am completely aware of my  zero credibility as a film critic but allow me to indulge myself and promote a movie that managed, not only to make me belly laugh, but also to touch my heart, (apparently it was there all along, and Search and Rescue managed to locate it behind dense, protective force fields of cholesterol build-up). Read on for my ‘midlife’ interpretation of ‘Salmon Fishing In the Yemen’.

Firstly, a brief synopsis……

Think ‘Four Weddings’, with an injection of intellectual sensibility, astute casting, hilarious British pomposity and an engaging, if slightly absurd plot (with the underlying message of ‘following your dreams’).

With a smorgasbord of tantalizing backdrops, from the lushness of the Scottish landscape and the manicured perfection of British suburbia, to the heady diversity of London (complete with grey skies), this movie managed to invoke in me, long-buried cravings for everything English.

(For the record, it obviously would have been a treason-worthy offence for me not to view this  film – what with Diamond Jubilee year and all that, but that is as far as my patriotic bias stretches in this review. It should however be noted that Vegemite has, once again, been usurped by Marmite in the ‘spread’ war in our house).

But it was the synergy of self-deprecating humour, sensitive character portrayal and a surfeit of gorgeous eye-candy that really sold this movie to me.

And talking of eye-candy, Ewan McGregor plays the main protagonist of the story, Dr Alfred Jones, a British fisheries expert, who is asked to research the possibility of introducing the sport of salmon fishing to the Yemen.

Bogged down by the tedious conventionality of his office job and a tired marriage, he is initially contemptuous of the project and tries everything in his power to avoid involvement. But the British government has other plans.

I should point out here that Ewan McGregor and I have had a few personal issues that needed ironing out, prior to me seeing this movie.

You see, having fallen deeply in lust with him, when he thrust his phallic light saber as Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, (dire futuristic subject matter aside), and then deeply in love with him in his ‘I’m just a normal guy’ guise on his bike for The Long Way Round, he disappeared from my ‘hot leading men’ radar for one very good reason – sorry Ewan, but singing in films????

Allow me to qualify why this is an issue……….

In my opinion, there are two raison-d’etres for going to the movies – 1) justification for the consumption of a whole box of Maltesers and 2) justification for gawping at gorgeous leading men. (I’m a mature woman and I can own up to the fact that the main prerequisite of my film choices is eye-candy; I can also admit that I am a sad old woman).

So in watching this film, I was, in fact, giving Ewan the chance to put right the wrong of ‘Moulin Rouge’, the chance to resurrect his leading man ‘sexiness’ status. And although the confines of this role certainly limits conventional sexiness, he works it.

However, whereas my passion for Ewan’s craft has peaked and troughed over time, I’ve never liked Emily Blunt since she slept with Michael Buble.

But in this movie, (and no matter how irritating I find her unthreatening girl-next-door allure on a personal level), she does manage to carry off the ‘thinking man’s’ female protagonist role, as Harriet, convincingly.

In her role as the Sheikh’s consultant, she plays the sensible foil to Ewan’s (hinted-at) Asperger’s awkwardness, working as intermediary between the two men. And she generously allows Ewan to wring out every last subtle comedic moment of his parody of the fishing nerd, and to demonstrate his growth into a thoughtful and emotional man.

But back to the eye-candy. This beautiful film actually provides more stunningly handsome men than the Hemsworth family and certainly more than your average middle-aged woman can handle. Not only does Ewan’s latent sexuality simmer throughout the film, but there is also the visual delight of Amr Waked who plays Sheikh Muhammed, the catalyst of the salmon-fishing project and the modern day equivalent of Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia. Not forgetting Tom Mison, who plays the heroic man-in-uniform role, stoically, in spite of being a little under-developed as a character (but did I mention he was wearing a uniform?)

Testosterone aside, it is Kristen Scott Thomas, as Patricia Maxwell the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, who steals the show for me. Her timing and execution is faultless and she does the affected-wannabe-aristocrat act so persuasively. Her comedic scenes in London are in sharp contrast to the serene, more serious tones of the developments in Scotland and the Yemen, where the underlying theme of following your dreams is fully played out.

The finale was a little ‘Americanized schmaltz’ for my liking, (in the real world, they would have all gone back to their boring day jobs), although my companion wept through the ‘will they/won’t they’ scene. But in spite of some poorly contrived situations – Yemeni assassins floating around the Highlands springs to mind –  the storyline was strong enough for me.

Mega-rich Sheikhs spending more money on luxury sports than it would cost to rebuild the Greek economy, is probably not the most appropriate storyline in the current climate, and this film has attracted mixed reviews, but the cinema is about displacing reality and in my humble opinion, the theme of taking a chance and ‘swimming against the current’ is a positive theme in a western world still drowning in recession.

Apparently there are about 606 calories in a box of Maltesers.

Salmon Jump courtesy of www.flickr.com (Steve Courson)

Follow Your Dreams courtesy of www.flickr.com (Hitesh Sheladiya)