Movies that will Make you Think and Feel Good

For this week, I have compiled a short list of thought provoking movies that will hopefully put a smile on your face while still subtly addressing the somewhat sensitive but oh so prevalent topics of depression and anxiety. 

1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off - We’d all like to think we’re Ferris. But in reality – in 2020 –

most of us are probably Cameron, waking up in a darkened room without a feeling

of purpose, afraid to put any miles on. We might not be Ferris, but we all need a Ferris in our lives. Someone who reminds us what life is. This eighties classic still tempts high schoolers with the ideal scenario of calling in sick. Obviously, touting false sickness is no joke in our time but the philosophy behind “if you don’t stop to look around every once in a while, you could miss it” is still timelessly valuable.

2. Sweet Charity - “And she lived hopefully ever after.” Wiser words to live by than the

usual fairytale outro come to pass in this musical gem about a dancer in New York named

Charity. Charity suffers from chronic heartbreak but the character’s strength lies in her

unyielding optimism and belief that everyone can be loved. Originally a Broadway

production, this story actually comes from the Italian film Nights of Cabiria in which the

main character was a sex worker. Here, the heroine is given a little more agency as the

American censors of the time made her more palatable, but the subtext of her exploitation by male gaze and touch is still very much present. It’s often the subject of the film’s song and dance, the most classic of which is probably “Big Spender” (a simultaneously moody and electric and even hauntingly choreographed number.) Played by veteran actress Shirley

MacLaine, however, her infectious smile dictates the terms of every scene. This woman was life itself and her heart being tested a final time by a group of flower children (it was 1969, after all) is one of the most rejuvenating and uplifting resolutions in the history of feel-good movies. It’s an oldie, a musical, and a bit long. So not for everyone. You will have to adjust expectations watching it, but in the process, you’ll learn that saying yes to love is a way to better love yourself.

3. Up - This animated comedy/adventure film is one that will make anybody giggle, guaranteed. The main character, Carl, experiences a devastating loss which changes his life as he morphs into the stereotypical grouchy old man we know all too well. His demeanor begins to change yet again after he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime, one he has always dreamed about. This movie shows that no matter what hardships you face in life, things can and will get better. Sometimes it just takes a change of scenery and some good company. 

4. What Dreams May Come - Some stories are subtle, but some stories aren’t afraid to go to heaven and hell to depict an issue; and this whole movie is about trying to rescue those in a pit of despair. This modern Divine Comedy features an underrated performance by Robin Williams as Chris Nielsen, a man who has died and gone to Heaven (literally). The art in this film depicts Heaven as a place made from positive memories and oil paint that Williams somehow glides through. This movie shows that life is still worth living, even through hard times.

5. The Breakfast Club - This is another oldie but a goodie, an eighties classic. Five students who couldn’t be any more different from each other, who don’t want anything to do with each other, all landing in the same situation: all day detention. On a Saturday, too. In the beginning, they all have certain assumptions about each other, judging them by their appearances and “labels”, such as jock, princess, and brains. Although it doesn’t stay this way for very long, as the more time they spend together, the more they start to talk, as humans tend to do and they each start to reveal to one another their own personal life struggles. At the end of the day, they walk out of detention with smiles on their faces and new relationships they didn’t expect to build. This is one movie that proves you truly can make enjoyment out of an unpleasant situation.