HEY WEEKENDER | No 1. 5 Feel-Good Movies
Life is hard. The news cycle is even harder. It’s time for some light relief this weekend.
So, without further ado: pop some popcorn, slip into something more comfortable – Moon + Mellow pyjamas, obvs – and settle down with five feel-good films.
Muriel’s Wedding, 1994
Depending on your vintage, Toni Colette is either best known from Little Miss Sunshine (2006) or About a Boy (2002).
Go further back in time, however, and her breakthrough role was as a hapless ABBA fan and compulsive liar in the belly-laugh-out-loud Aussie comedy Muriel’s Wedding. Colette’s insecure Muriel finds her mojo after bumping into an old school friend – a vivacious Rachel Griffiths – while on a secret holiday. Both bond over the Swedish pop quartet. Hilarity ensues.
But as with all lightness, there is darkness too: Muriel’s crippling insecurity, her mother’s depression and her father’s arseholery will tug at the heart strings. But it’ll also make your heart burst with happiness, for its ultimate celebration of female friendship.
Have you ever been sad or furious while watching this 1980s body-swap classic? Exactly.
There’s no way to keep a stern face during Penny Marshall’s charming urban fairytale about Josh, a teenage boy, who wakes up the next morning in an adult body, after making a wish (to “be big”) on an old fortune telling machine.
Tom Hanks is pitch-perfect as the ‘adult’ Josh, who climbs the ranks at a Manhattan-based toy company, thanks to his adolescent whimsy and knack for knowing what products kids want. Throw in superb acting, a chaste, tender love story that’s never icky, and you’ve a movie-night-in made in throwback heaven.
Deadly Cuts, 2021
We bet you never saw a more potty-mouthed Irish film released last year – or any year – than Rachel Carey’s madcap yarn about North Dublin hairdressers taking on local gangsters.
Angeline Ball plays plucky salon owner Michelle whose business is being thwarted by local toe-rags and an unctuous councillor. In a bid to drag themselves out of a funk, her motley crew of staff convince her the salon should enter a snooty national hairdressing competition. But not without a few self-defence fatalities along the way…
It’s absolutely ridiculous – and surprisingly violent at times – but will have even the most committed curmudgeon cackling at Carey’s ribald dialogue.
Much Ado About Nothing, 1993
Shakespeare for a lightweight night in, really?
YES. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson – the Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively of their day, sort of – are incandescent as sparring exes Benedick and Beatrice as they bicker across sun-kissed Tuscany.
Shakespeare’s quarrelling pair literally set the template for rom-coms everywhere, ie When Harry Met Sally, Pride and Prejudice, Star Wars, their unabashed vitriol hiding what we can all see but they cannot (yet): true love forever.
Throw in an all-star cast that includes Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Michael Keaton, Kate Beckinsale and Robert Sean Leonard and there might be tears… but of joy – and, yes, possibly surprise that a night in with the bard could be so lightly entertaining.
The Sound of Music, 1965
The film musical that reminds you of your nan, The Sound of Music is like a fine wine.
As a child, it was all about the Von Trapp children larking about in repurposed curtains – the sing-alongs to ‘My Favourite Things’, ‘Do-Re-Me, ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ and ‘So Long, Farewell’. Later, our young teenage hearts yearned along to ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’; then in our twenties or thirties ‘Something Good’ was suddenly less a ballad for boring grown-ups and more a palpably touching love song. But, ‘Edelweiss’…
Okay, so The Sound of Music has Nazis, which are not very feel-good. But there’s nothing more life-affirming than seeing the Von Trapps crest the Austrian Alps in the closing credits, taking our soaring spirits with them.