Everyone has some method of dealing with a really bad day. Some people drive around with music blasting and others go for a long run. But if your chosen pick-me-up method is watching a few happy movies, then you know it can be hard to pick the film that fits your mood.
If work has worn you down this week and you can’t decide, or your usual collection of the best feel-good movies is getting stale, don’t worry! Here’s a list of good movies to watch if you need to brighten your day.
Good Movies for a Bad Day
1. For a Lot of Laughs – The First Wives Club
Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, and Bette Midler round out the cast in this 1996 movie about three friends who are just about fed up with the way their lives have gone so far. It’s a great girl power flick, and it’s not afraid to make fun of itself.
Actors also wander in and out of scenes that’ll make you sit up and go, “Hey, I know that guy!” Sarah Jessica Parker plays the spoiled girlfriend who broke up Bette Midler’s marriage. Bronson Pinchot is the world’s worst interior designer. Maggie Smith (yep, Professor McGonagall) rules the Upper East Side social scene with a well-manicured iron fist.
Also, Jennifer Lawrence quoted this movie when she won a Golden Globe. “What does it say? ‘I beat Meryl!'”
2. For a Song and Dance – Summer Stock
It’s a lesser known movie from Hollywood’s golden age of musicals, but Summer Stock is worth a watch. A Broadway show invades the star’s family farm because the barn is just the perfect rehearsal space. Mayhem ensues, and the film ends in a classic montage musical revue.
Gene Kelly choreographed a handful of numbers in this film, in which he also stars alongside Judy Garland. You might also recognize Garland’s performance in one scene– “Get Happy” has inspired a lot of performers over the years.
3. For Some 90s Nostalgia – Practical Magic
A viewing suggestion: light some lavender-scented candles and make margaritas before you watch this enchanting film. Two sisters (Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock) bring trouble back to their hometown after the younger sister runs away from a bad relationship.
The Owens girls are here to teach you some important lessons. Family is often your first line of defense and your best support. Sometimes, you need midnight margaritas. Don’t let your exes drag you down.
(Check out the book too– the author published a prequel to the original novel in 2017.)
4. For Some Southern Charm – The Help
Another one of those feel-good movies based on a book, The Help is the story of a plucky reporter determined to write about something besides housekeeping advice and Junior League meetings. That something turns out to be the lives of the women who live in and apart from the high society of her hometown– the women who work as domestic servants.
Skeeter (Emma Stone) is loud and opinionated and doesn’t care much about settling down or learning to play bridge. That, and her determination to write about matters not discussed at the dinner table, doesn’t make her the most popular woman in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. But she doesn’t mind all that much.
Jackson and Greenwood, Mississippi served as filming locations for the movie, so it’s infused with a kind of truth in fiction. If you want the full The Help experience, try the recipe for Minny’s famous chocolate pie.
5. For a Heart-Warming Romance – Austenland
What if the situation calls for a movie that’ll make you melt a little, but you just finished the BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries last weekend? Maybe you need a modern-day Austen heroine.
Keri Russell plays Jane Hayes, a perpetually single thirtysomething whose dream man is Mr. Darcy. Which, fair. Who wouldn’t fall for the socially awkward but very attractive British man with 10,000 pounds a year?
Luckily, she finds the answer to all of her problems at Austenland, which is basically a Jane Austen LARPing experience. Austenland also features J.J. Feild’s Mr. Nobley — also a socially awkward but attractive British man.
An honorable mention goes to Jane Seymour here for her ability to keep a straight face while Keri Russell gamely performs a Regency-era rendition of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” Watch through the credits for a full version of the song featuring the entire cast, in costume.
6. For Your Inner Child – The Road to El Dorado
Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh voice con men who stumble upon a mythic city of gold in this animated film. As two people who like money and are morally flexible about the methods by which they obtain it, they hatch a scheme to pose as gods among the people of El Dorado and escape with as much gold as possible.
That plan doesn’t work out too well for them.
The Road to El Dorado was originally imagined to be a Bob Hope and Bing Crosby-style buddy comedy. That inspiration shows in the snappy dialogue and tongue-in-cheek humor of the movie.
7. For a Happy Cry – Hook
Laughter may be the best medicine, but sometimes the cure for a bad day is good old-fashioned catharsis. Robin Williams delivers on all of the above.
Hook is the story of a Peter Pan who grew up and forgot all about Neverland. Mischief and tomfoolery gone with his memories, he has to learn how to be a child all over again when Captain Hook kidnaps his children. Hook wants a final confrontation with his greatest enemy; Peter wants his kids home safe.
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll probably watch three more Robin Williams movies because he really was the best at what he did.
Roll the Credits
Once you’ve watched a couple good movies and shaken off the blues, you’ll be ready for whatever the day has to throw at you. Be sure to check back for more tips on how to forget your troubles and brighten your days.