Friday, August 22, 2008

10 best feel-good movies of all time (according to Jason in Hollywood anyway)...

You know there are those films you can watch over and over and never tire of, the ones that can always bring a smile to your face or a tear to your eye (you know the ones), well here's my top pick of the ten best feel-good movies of all time (so far), according to Jason in Hollywood (I tried to make it the five best, but couldn't bring myself to leave out the rest).

The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert movie poster
What's not to love about a road-trip movie with three drag queens driving a bus called 'Priscilla' across Australia, full to the brim with sequins, feather boas and a young, buff Guy Pearce (Memento)?

Hugo Weaving (The Matrix Trilogy as Agent Smith), Terence Stamp (Superman II as General Zod) and Guy Pearce are all equally convincing as Sydney drag queens Mitzi, Bernadette and Felicia in this quintessentially Australian movie.

There's also amazing costume designs and a great soundtrack featuring drag favourites from ABBA, Gloria Gaynor, Peaches & Herb, CeCe Peniston and more.
The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert movie poster
You'll meet fantastic characters, learn some fun new things to do with ping-pong balls and just fall in love with the outrageousness of it all.

It's such a funny, uplifting and touching film that you can't help coming it back to it time and time again.

Favourite line:
Bernadette (Terence Stamp):
"It's funny, we all sit around mindlessly slagging off that vile stink-hole of a city, but in some strange way it takes care of us. I don't know if that ugly wall of suburbia has been put there to stop them getting in or us getting out.
Come on, don't let it drag you down, let it toughen you up. I can only fight because I've learned to. Being a man one day and a woman the next is not an easy thing to do."

Muriel's Wedding movie poster
The movie that launched the careers of Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense) and Rachel Griffiths (Six feet Under, Brothers & Sisters) is a fab 'ugly duckling wins the day' movie.

Aimless, ABBA and wedding obsessed Muriel dreams of getting married one day but the prospect looks unlikely, so after a series of unfortunate events, she steals some money, leaves her frumpy life in small Australian town of Porpoise Spit and moves to Sydney.

Changing her name to Mariel, she enjoys life with her newfound friend Rhonda (Griffiths) and even gets her own fairy-tale wedding. Unfortunately life catches up with her and she's forced to take a good look at herself and make some difficult decisions for her future.

Muriel is such a sweet character you can't help but root for her and the genuine friendship she shares with Rhonda is the heart of the film.

Favourite scene:
When Muriel comes back for Rhonda and they wave and shout good-bye to Porpoise Spit in the taxi at the end of the movie.

Dirty Dancing movie poster
Who doesn't want to be able to dance like they do in Dirty Dancing? This is such a sweet love story and who can forget - that nose, that lake, that lift!

It's the perfect film to enjoy on a rainy afternoon, just lying on the sofa with a box of guilt-free chocolates and maybe a sneaky glass of wine too. Isn't it just a grown up version of Grease, with raunchier dancing, a bit more sex and a darker Danny Zuko-esque bad boy in 'Johnny Castle' (Patrick Swayze)?
Dirty Dancing movie poster with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey
For me it's one of those films where you wish you were actually one of the characters experiencing the story. I'd be 'Baby' of course, in the early 1960's sneaking off to learn how to dance with the enigmatic wild guy in his black vest. At the end he'd come back for me and I'd suddenly find the courage to do the 'big lift' from the dance sequence and we'd all dance in formation down the aisle of chairs, then get everyone up to dance with us (just like those kids from Fame! did all the time).

Unfortunately they had to go and make Dirty Dancing 2, never a good move!

Favourite lines:
Baby (Jennifer Grey):
"I carried a watermelon".
Johnny (Patrick Swayze):
"Nobody puts Baby in a corner".

Boys on the Side movie poster
I remember renting this film years ago and loving it as I sobbed through the end of movie.

It's another road-trip movie where Whoopi Goldberg (Sister Act) shares a car journey with Mary-Louise Parker (The West Wing) and are joined by the free spirited Drew Barrymore (The Wedding Singer). The movie is a tale of unlikely friendships and how people can make their own kinds of family.

The film has a really sad ending, so expect loads of tears, but also makes you feel happy about life and everything you have too.

Favourite scene:
When Whoopi's character (who's in love with the dying Mary-Louise Parker's character) sings Roy Orbison's 'You Got It' and the camera pans around the room passing the dying Parker in her wheelchair, then over her friends and family, then fades to black and the camera moves around the room again without the people and comes to rest on an empty wheelchair. It's the saddest, emotionally charged scene ever and gets me every time.

Elf movie posterFrom a really sad, sweet movie to possibly the happiest movie ever! Or at least the happiest elf ever.

I'm not a big fan of full-on comedy movies, so I wasn't expecting much from this movie, but a best friend and a tub of ice cream in Brighton changed all that after we'd seen and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's now one of my favourite Christmas movies and must-see to get me in the mood for the festive season each year.
Will Ferrell as Elf movie poster
Will Ferrell (Semi-Pro) is simply magical as Buddy, the adopted human 'elf' who leaves his home in the North Pole with Santa's elves to find his real dad (James Caan) in the Big Apple.

It should be too saccharine sweet to work, but there's something about Will Ferrell's 'Buddy' that make you smile (he's like a human puppy) and through a series of misadventures in the real world he brings the spirit of Christmas to New York and changes his dad's cynical outlook on life. And they all live happily ever after!
Elf snowglobe movie poster
Favourite scene:
Love interest, Zooey Deschanel (The Happening), starts singing a Christmas carol and the rest of the jaded New Yorkers join in and all the positive Christmas spirit powers Santa's sled and he's able to take off into the winters night.

The Muppet Christmas Carol movie poster
This is by far the best Muppet movie and another Christmas favourite.

Michael Caine (Get Carter) stars as a great Scrooge, followed on his journey of self discovery by comedic duo, Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat.

I think what makes this film so great is that the usual stars like Kermit and Miss Piggy are relegated to minor roles, which is great as I've never been that much of a fan of Miss Piggy (she's so annoying). Plus there's lots of cameos by favourites such as Beaker, Statler & Waldorf (the original old gits), Fozzie bear and Sam the Eagle.

It's a great re-telling of a classic tale and the use of new Muppets as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future is very clever. Unlike the other Muppet movies Treasure Island and Wizard of Oz, which were real disappointments, it's real gem to have in your movie collection.

Favourite line:
Rizzo the Rat:
"Light the lamp not the rat, LIGHT THE LAMP NOT THE RAT"

Tootsie movie poster
Before Mrs. Doubtfire, before Priscilla, before Too Wong Foo, Thanks for everything Julie Newmar, there was the original man dressing up as a woman movie - Tootsie.

Oscar-winner Dustin Hoofman (Rain Man) is fantastic as the out of work actor so desperate for work he pretends to be a woman to get a part in a TV Soap Opera. The scenes where his 'creation', Dorothy Michaels, ad libs when they are filming the soap scenes are hilarious.

It's a joy to see such a usually serious method actor do such a fun role and have a ball at the same time. Tootsie is refreshing in that it's not your traditional drag queen movie - there's no angst about sexuality, it's not hyper camp or a total bitch fest, it's just a well performed entertaining story which makes you laugh out loud.

Favourite line:
Dorothy Michaels (Dustin Hoofman):
"Do you know what. I think I'm going to give every nurse on this floor an electric cattle-prod and instruct them to just zap him in his bedoobies".

9 to 5 movie poster
I'm starting to sense a common theme here - three men dressed as ladies, three women on a road-trip and now three office workers take on their chauvinistic boss in the 1980's.

Jane Fonda (Barbarella), Dolly Parton (Steel Magnolias) and the highly underrated Lily Tomlin (The Incredible Shrinking Woman) are fantastic as Judy, Doralee and Violet, three very different women who form an unlikely alliance and friendship when they come together to take revenge on their sexist and egotistical boss. The comedy comes through a series of mishaps (including near death by rat poisoning) that escalate out of their control.

The great news is they've just made 9 to 5 into a stage musical and it's playing here in L.A. in September and October before going to Broadway - I'm booking my tickets now!

Favourite scene:
The pot induced fantasy segment with Violet (Tomlin) in a Snow White homage putting poison into her Boss' coffee with the aid of animated woodland creatures.

Grease movie poster
...is the word, don't you know. Grease is such a big part of my childhood as it was shown nearly every Bank Holiday without fail (along with the Sound of Music and a Bond movie) and it was my version of what High School Musical is for kids of today.

I loved the whole fabulous 50's America world of colourful diners, sassy Pink Ladies and cool T-Birds. This movie classic flawlessly blends together a fantastically memorable soundtrack with high energy dance sequences.

In today's overly moralistic, squeaky clean society you'd never get away with the 'Sandy' transformation into a skin-tight lycra clad minx, smoking a cigarette because it was the epitome of cool (but you can forgive it as it's appropriate for the 50's era that it was set in).
Grease movie poster
For the life of me I was always confused why they had High School teenagers played by thirty-something year old actors and wondered why none of the kids at my school resembled a Pink Lady or T-Bird (thinking maybe they fed children something different in the U.S.).

The whole High School dance, sleep-overs, cheerleaders, stock car racing and school fun fairs were also so alien to someone growing up in the UK that it was like being transported to a totally different, more vibrant, fun-filled world (that I'm sure never really existed anywhere).

Just for the record, I don't mind Grease 2 either (although Maxwell Caulfield may have a lot to do with that).

Favourite character:
It's a toss up between beauty school drop-out Frenchy (Didi Conn) or misunderstood bad girl Rizzo, but I think Frenchy wins it with her ditzy nature, squeaky voice and Easter egg pink hair.

Favorite line:
Rizzo (Stockard Channing):
"We're going to rule the school".

Love actually movie poster
By now you should know that I love sentimental romantic comedies and happy endings, so what better film to finish on than 'love actually'.

Crammed with various strands of relationships between friends and relatives, husbands and wives, fathers and sons, rock stars and their managers, Prime Ministers and their aides, it's another of my essential pre-Christmas viewing movies.
Love actually heart movie poster
With an all-star british cast, the film packs so much in, but you never feel that anyone's story is being under served.

The tears flow when Colin Firth asks his Portuguese cleaner to marry him in his very stilted attempt at her language, you cheer along when the boy races through Heathrow security to say goodbye to his childhood crush, you feel for Andrew Lincoln in his unrequited love for his best friend's new wife (Keira Knightley), you swoon over Rodrigo Santoro as Laura Linney's love interest 'Karl' and cry over her commitment to her mentally ill brother as she gives up a chance at her own happiness, you punch the air as Hugh Grant as British Prime Minister tells the arrogant and slimy U.S. President (Billy Bob Thornton) to pretty much P!$$ @?? and there's so much more.
Love actually movie poster
Favourite scene:
The heartbreak when Emma Thompson realises that her husband (Alan Rickman) is cheating on her when he gives her a Joni Mitchell CD instead of the necklace she'd found before in his Christmas shopping, with 'Both Sides Now' playing in the background.

And people wonder what I do with my time!

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed my brief round-up of the ten best feel-good movies of all time (according to me, that is). If you like the look of one of these movies and don't own a copy already, why not buy one today?

Come back soon, for more of my favourite movies...

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