If you’re like me, you’re sitting at your computer reading the news. News that is scary, news that signifies change, and news that makes you feel a bit uneasy in regards to COVID-19. That leads to worry and fear, which leads to panic. Panicking about this situation is the last thing people need to be doing. Movies can be a real help during times like this.
At the end of the day with a lot of our entertainment being halted for the foreseeable future, we’re left with movies in our homes. So instead of renting Contagion or Outbreak, here are some movies that’ll let you put down your phone, and just be happy for awhile.
As for the criteria for this list, I’m including movies that I re-watch when I’m feeling down, upset, or just in general need a pick-me-up. These aren’t the ten best movies of all-time or the most happy films. It’s my personal list. If you haven’t seen any of these, or haven’t watched them in awhile, they’re sure to raise your spirits.
10. Death Wish 3
If Charles Bronson was here today, I’d feel a lot safer. He just gives off that warm feeling that everything is going to be okay. The Death Wish series encapsulates that feeling. While Paul Kersey might be subject to the most horrible things imaginable in the first two films, the third entry in the franchise ratchets up Bronson’s ass-kicking factor. The one liners are more plentiful. Bronson gets a bigger gun, as seen above. Any time this movie plays on TV, the sales of that gun, the Wildey .475 Magnum, skyrocket. He says in the film that it could shoot an elephant, and he shows just what it does to street punks in this film.
What Death Wish 3 Does Well
It’s by no means a perfect film though. It’s definitely dated with it’s content. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a fun hour and forty-five minutes to keep your mind off the rest of the world though. The first half of the movie builds and builds to a crescendo of the third act that rivals almost any action movie of the era. You see small bits and pieces of Bronson kicking ass. He cleverly tricks the street gang by baiting them with a camera. He shows his elderly neighbors how to keep the bad guys out of their apartment in a hilarious scene involving teeth.
Martin Balsam and Ed Lauter lead the rest of the cast that includes a small appearance by Alex Winter. Awesome character actor Gavan O’Herlihy plays the main baddie, Fraker. Like I was saying before, the dramatic quality of tone set in Death Wish is blasted away in this one. The last act feels like a level in a video game. Realism is suspended for this last scene and it completes in a batshit crazy face-off with Fraker and Paul Kersey. The movie is worth the price of admission alone for the last third of it.
9. The Monster Squad
If you thought one of Shane Black’s best screenplays was Lethal Weapon, then you haven’t seen The Monster Squad. Taking the core Universal Monsters and putting them in a setting very similar to The Goonies was a stroke of genius. It wouldn’t be a list of mine without including some sort of horror movie. Now this isn’t your “normal” horror movie though. It tells a story about how every century, the forces of good and evil become balanced. An amulet that contains nothing but concentrated good is normally indestructible, but for this one day, it isn’t. A group of pre-teen kids find Van Helsing’s diary that contains all the information about this.
Dracula returns and brings his friends, the Wolfman, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Creature From the Black Lagoon. It tells an uplifting and hilarious story that combines the wonder and amazement of seeing these characters for the first time. Watching it, you feel like you’re stepping back into those golden years before adulthood. Everything is new and awesome, including the monsters. If you’ve got kids, it’s not scary enough to give them nightmares, but just the right amount for them to be invested. It’s sure to be a frightful night if you put this one on, but it’s hopeful as hell and packed with charm.
8. The Blues Brothers
Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues. The Blues Brothers! Not only is it one of the most classic Saturday Night Live sketches, but it’s a fantastic movie from 1980. Even if you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve seen people dressed up as the Blues Brothers on Halloween. The car crashes in this movie were and still are legendary. Starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Candy, Carrie Fisher, and many more. It’s one of the most fun and happy films that I’ve ever seen. It’ll raise your spirits more than a roaring fire in the fireplace.
Joliet Jake and Elwood need to get money to save their childhood orphanage. What is one of the shining examples of a “road movie”, turns into a musical, an action car chase, a concert film, all culminating in a chase that will take your breath away. The Blues Brothers has it all. It’s safe for all ages and you’ll be singing “Somebody to Love” for days after. Just don’t go and see the sequel, Blues Brothers 2000, you’ll be disappointed.
7. The Disaster Artist
A movie about the making of the worst movie ever. The Room is Tommy Wiseau’s unquestioned masterpiece. The Disaster Artist is James Franco’s masterpiece. The cast is vast and talented, including: Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Paul Scheer, Ari Graynor, Alison Brie, Zac Efron, and many more. It’s a true ensemble film where you’ll be recognizing normally big name actors in small bit parts. The film works because it captures the same love and dream of every filmmaker out there. Tommy Wiseau had a dream to make a movie, his own movie, and The Disaster Artist tells that perfectly.
It’s one of my favorite movies and one that can take you back to a time where you were a bigger dreamer about everything. People lose that touch with their innermost dreams at a certain point. Like Ed Wood before it, it’s a story of an unquestioned dreamer. Who cares that they made one of the worst movies of all-time. The Room is a success around the world and people love watching it. If you have time, The Disaster Artist should be seen in the same way.
Do I really need to say anything about this one? Sure, it doesn’t have the happiest of endings, but the ride to get there is wonderful. A classic in every sense of the word. It’s a movie that you put on and people miraculously find their way to watch it. Everyone in your house eventually finds their way to the living room to catch this one. It’s Martin Scorsese’s masterwork, and that’s saying something because the man made Raging Bull. Goodfellas isn’t just a movie, it’s a religious experience.
So when you sit down after reading news piece after news piece, just pop this one on and let it melt for a couple hours. Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liota form the greatest threesome of actors in a film I can imagine. Just watch it.
5. Hot Tub Time Machine
My favorite comedy of all-time. Hot Tub Time Machine. I’ve watched this movie over 200 times. I can almost quote it word for word. It’s one that is the ultimate in comfort movies for me. It’s a story that’s simple and yet complex and strange all at the same time. It’ll make you laugh until you cry, which is something we all need right now. It’s a film that looks on the surface to be just another vulgar comedy and dicks and titties, but it has more heart than it gives off. Rob Corddry deserves more recognition for his role in this film.
It’s one of the best comedic performances in any film. He absolutely steals every scene he’s involved in. The rest of the cast including: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Chevy Chase, Craig Robinson, a pre-Marvel Sebastian Stan, Lyndsy Fonseca, Lizzy Caplan, and an amazing cameo by Crispin Glover all add to the overall greatness of this comedy. The sequel made nearly five years later, wouldn’t recapture the glory of this first movie, but it’s worth a watch as well.
4. Beverly Hills Cop
If you want a reason to see why Beverly Hills Cop is a movie to cure any of the blues/fright over COVID-19/coronavirus, just listen to this song from the soundtrack.
I couldn’t write a more cheery and pitch-perfect song for Beverly Hills Cop. The movie oozes charm. Eddie Murphy shows off at the peak of his powers. Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher, Ronny Cox (beginning his IMDB peak here), Steven Berkoff, and Jonathan Banks lead the rest of the almost perfect cast. A particular highlight is Bronson Pinchot as the scene-stealing Serge.
The idea of a comedy action movie was relatively new at the time. Beverly Hills Cop blends the two seamlessly all the while transporting you back to 1985. It’s endlessly rewatchable and deserves a spot on this list to bring your spirits back up.
3. Take Me Home Tonight
Probably one of the bigger surprises on this list, Take Me Home Tonight, is almost assuredly to stick out among the rest of the films. Put on the shelf for almost two years, Take Me Home Tonight was DOA when it hit theaters in 2011. The film was marketed poorly and didn’t gain a following until it was released on home video. It contains a great cast including: Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler (all pictured above), Chris Pratt, Michael Biehn, Teresa Palmer, Demetri Martin, Michael Ian Black, Bob Odenkirk, and more. It was marketed like a traditional party movie, but it’s much more than that.
The film tells the story of struggle after high school and college. Take Me Home Tonight is a film for everyone. It has moments of absolute hilarity like when Barry (played by Dan Fogler) does cocaine for the first time. It also contains very poignant moments that would be lost in other similar style comedies. It’s a modern movie set in the 80’s but it captures the essence of that era down to the video store that Topher Grace’s character Matt works in. It’s the story of trying so hard to get that one girl from high school that you make up an elaborate lie about working at Goldman Sachs, and steal a car to look more well off than you are. If that’s something that interests you, give Take Me Home Tonight a shot to cure some of the blues going around. You won’t regret it.
2. Back To The Future
Here’s the last “no-brainer” on the list. If you haven’t seen Back To The Future, don’t like Back To The Future, or are indifferent to Back To The Future, what’s wrong with you? If you were asking me what the list of perfect, untouchable, “if you even think about remaking this, you go to the guillotine” movies, it’s 1. Wizard of Oz, and 2. Back To The Future. Don’t touch it. I don’t care if there’s some super cool deep-fake of Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland as Doc and Marty, go watch Rick and Morty if you want a new take on this classic. From the acting to the directing to the script, this movie is perfect. It’s untouchable.
Seriously, if you can find something wrong with this film, leave a comment below. I’ll wait.
I don’t need to say much about this one, but it’s perfectly able to transport you back to TWO times that had better days than the one we’re in right now. Just don’t go driving at 88 MPH to recreate the scenes in the movie.
1. Road House
Chances are you’ve heard of Roadhouse at this point. It’s a cult phenomenon. I consider it to be Patrick Swayze’s best role. The beauty of the film is that among all the decadence, excess, and overblown attitude of the late 80’s is a classic western story updated for a “modern” era. Dalton, the best “cooler” in the bar/club business comes to a new town that’s filled with stooges and terrorized by a rich businessman that does whatever he wants. Sounds like a western right? Add Sam Elliot as the mentor of that badass “cooler”, Terry Funk as muscle for the bad guy, and a perfect cast including: Kevin Tighe, Keith David, Kelly Lynch, Ben Gazzara, and a rocking soundtrack by the Jeff Healey band.
Patrick Swayze was an amazing, magical actor that breathed life into whatever role he was taking on. Road House is the ultimate in comfort and fun. The film isn’t a masterclass in tension or subtlety, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s available on Amazon Prime Video, so you have no excuse not to fire this one up and enjoy it for it’s campy, awesome goodness.
Hopefully these ten movies let you brighten your day just a bit. It’s an eclectic bunch, but these are the ones that let me forget about the day and just enjoy a good movie. What are some of your favorites for days like that? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook. Make sure to follow That Hashtag Show for more on developing stories or articles just like this one. Stay safe out there, don’t panic, and as Dalton says in Road House:
“Just be nice”
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