March 3rd is I Want You to Be Happy Day. To celebrate the day (which should really be everyday, don’t you think?), we’d like to share a gift in the form of what makes us happiest. What follows is a list of our favorite happy films and we hope that sometime soon you take our suggestion and share our happiness. Because we really do want you to be happy. That’s why we do this.
David Shreve – Be Kind, Rewind
It’s more than Jack Black’s only perfectly measured dose of manic energy, Mos Def’s undeniable likability, or even Danny Glover’s turn as a rambling and jovial old fart. It’s even more than the nostalgic Sweded films or the movie’s purely sentimental love of movies. There’s just some rare undercurrent of kindness that flows through all of Be Kind, Rewind; some playful, pure energy rare in modern comedies, that doesn’t allow there to be a victim of any the movie’s rapid fire gags and jokes. At the artistic center of Be Kind, Rewind beats a child’s heart that gives life to a movie that has no need for malice, snark, or sarcasm, only joy.
Beth Reynolds – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Fewer things in life make book nerds happier than seeing the pages they adore be successfully and satisfyingly brought to the silver screen. I grew up with Harry Potter (seriously, we share a birthday), and the realm of magic is difficult to surpass in terms of spectacle when done right. By the time Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in theaters, J. K. Rowling had already written four books, so readers felt like they really knew these characters and felt the presence of their magical universe, so to see ‘the boy who lived’ in the flesh and watch a game of Quidditch is a gleeful treat whether it’s the first time or the 100th. I mean, who doesn’t think it would be rad if the people in pictures really did move around? And don’t even pretend you wouldn’t love to play a game of wizard’s chess.
Sean W. Fallon – Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
My original choice for this was something else, but this morning when I sat down to write this paragraph it struck me that Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 version of Much Ado About Nothing is probably the movie that most puts a smile on my face after it’s finished. The final one take scene of the characters reveling in love and happiness is infectious, and Shakespeare’s tale of love, trickery, betrayal, forgiveness, comedy, and romance is my favourite of his plays. There is darkness in here too with Keanu Reeves’ scenery chewing villainy, but in true Shakespeare fashion everything works itself out in the end. The lovers are reunited, the quarrelers have become lovers, and everyone decides that its time for a dance and a sing because love has conquered all. Lovely stuff.
Sara (A Redhead at the Movies) Grasberg – Pitch Perfect
Movies in general make me happy, so I wanted to pick a film that is both joyful (in tone) and which fills me with a very particular kind of joy. Pitch Perfect is not the kind of movie I’d typically gravitate toward, and yet I found myself watching it for the first time on a plane ride, struggling to not sing and dance along in my seat. First of all, the mashups and musical numbers are “A ca awesome,” and they’ve made me just as giddy in subsequent viewings. The cast is talented, hilarious and actually endearing, and I found myself rooting for the Barden Bellas with a giddy intensity. This movie is, pure and simple, fun; driven by increasingly creative and catchy musical performances, not to mention humor and heart, I’d be surprised if this movie didn’t put a smile on your face, or get stuck in your head, like a guilty-pleasure pop song.
Anton Reyes – The World’s End
“We are here to get annihilated.” I feel nothing but pure joy as I watch Simon Pegg and company fend off against an alien invasion whilst on a pub crawl, getting drunker and drunker. Brilliantly crafted by Edgar Wright, this film is full of emotion, silliness, and energetic scenes that’ll keep you ecstatic for days.
Diego Crespo – Jurassic Park
Few directors are able to express the wonders of “Movie Magic” like Steven Spielberg. Even in his lesser movies, his expression of the medium comforts the audience with a warm blanket of cinematic expression. Over twenty years and John Williams score mixed with the sheer awe of dinosaurs walking the earth is iconic film imagery, but still bears the same weight it once did before. For all the failures John Hammond’s infamous Park underwent, Jurassic Park is a constant reminder of why I love movies.
Sean K. Cureton – Extract
Mike Judge’s Extract is another look into the mundane absurdities of living a nine-to-five existence from the creator of the seminal workplace comedy Office Space. More importantly, Extract is a more than worthy successor, its own meditations on the Sisyphean exertions of working a blue collar, factory line job imbued with Judge’s characteristically humanitarian touch. While the personal happiness of Extract‘s individual characters is seemingly in perpetual sacrifice to a state of professional productivity and a daily quota, the film’s acknowledgement of their personal troubles and tribulations lend them a relatable familiarity, Jason Bateman the everyman that we can all confide in, identitify with, and share in the consolations of a nice cold one at the end of the day, making Extract a studio comedy that will be sure to alleviate your working day blues, leaving you with the relief of the film’s afforded happiness.
Katherine B. Shelor – Little Miss Sunshine
It may be a quirky indie film, but I ask you to look past that. There’s a real, warm fuzzy payoff for watching, as well as some laugh out loud moments (the broken VW horn remains the only movie gag to date that has had me laughing uncontrollably), and gut-wrenching moments. Each character is flawed, each character’s reality falls short of their dreams, but there’s real human love bringing them all together in the form of Olive, an adorkable little girl who just wants to be in a pageant.
Whit Denton – The Big Lebowski
Absurd, surreal, hilarious, and distinct, The Big Lebowski is a masterpiece that I’ve seem probably more than any film. The opening shot of the movie is a tumbleweed floating down the dust streets of Los Angeles. The tumbleweed represents The Dude. A man who goes through life by simply wafting by. He is the man for his time and place, inhabiting the rich and absurd world of the film with a sort of pseudo-philosophical wonder. The laid back hilarity of Jeff Bridges’ character is one of the many reasons I love the film so much. All of the characters of The Big Lebowski are like strange old friends to me. I’ve revisited the film so many times that I know each and every one of them and seeing them again is a wondrous experience in itself.
Travis Losh – Team America: World Police
Matt Stone and Trey Parker refuse to take it easy on anyone (even themselves). With Team America, they light-heartedly (kinda) poke fun at our flagrant American culture by being as outrageous as they possibly can, and it’s nothing short of hilarious. Crossing the line is their forte and they work bathroom jokes like no one else can, which culminates in a disturbingly hilarious sex scene. If you’re a fan of culturally self-deprecating humor and can handle a jab at the expense at American patriotism, this is the movie for you, because freedom costs a buck-o-five.
Josh Rosenfield – House
I’ve spoken at length about my love for this 1977 Japanese horror film before, both on this website and to everyone I know in real life who hasn’t seen it. It’s the kind of movie that I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying. You could laugh at its campy production and increasingly absurd visual gags, or you could marvel at its crazed approach to classic cinematic techniques, or you could do both. You can take House however you want, because it is nothing if not generous. If you get to the scene with the dancing skeleton and you haven’t cracked a smile, then there’s no help for you.
Want to make some happy? Put your favorite happy films in the comments and maybe someone (maybe one of us) will take your suggestion and find happiness!