Last week, I was reminded of a feel-good movie from my youth that I’d nearly forgotten. Taking its cue from the Beatlemania of the 1960s, “That Thing You Do” tells the story of a small-town band that hits the big time with the help of their manager, Mr. White (Tom Hanks). Not only did I love (again) the good, clean fun this movie delivers, I’ve also been playing the soundtrack on repeat for the past week.
With summer on the way, there’s no better time to check out a few movies that remind us they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.
1. The Sandlot (1993)
Baseball, summer and friendship — the combination of these themes makes this coming-of-age story pure magic. This movie tells the story of a young group of baseball players during the summer of 1962. From fireworks to riding bikes to campouts with friends, “The Sandlot” takes us back to the thrill of being a kid during summertime.
2. The Parent Trap (1961 or 1998)
Whether you favor the traditional version starring Hayley Mills or the 1998 remake, this sweet story of mistaken identities, sisterhood and a fractured family reunited is a crowd-pleaser. I like both versions, but really love Hayley Mills singing “Let’s Get Together” in the original film.
3. Cool Runnings (1993)
Loosely based on the true story of the Jamaica national bobsleigh team’s debut in competition during the 1988 Winter Olympics, this movie reminds us that everyone loves an underdog. It’s a funny, heartwarming story about friendship and overcoming the odds. John Candy plays a disgraced former champion who coaches and unites an unlikely team of misfits.
4. What About Bob? (1991)
A family favorite from my childhood, this classic comedy starring Bill Murray is as quotable as it is funny. When mental patient Bob Wiley follows his therapist Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) to his lakeside New Hampshire home, chaos and hilarity ensue. Bob endears himself to Dr. Marvin’s family, even as the increasingly agitated doctor plots to get rid of him.
5. Galaxy Quest (1999)
Led by a young Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman, this all-star cast portrays has-been stars of a 1970s sci-fi show. Believing the cast’s heroic on-screen feats are historical documents, a band of aliens beams them aboard their spacecraft to request their help in defeating their galactic enemies. With spoofs on popular sci-fi franchises, this movie delivers non-stop laughs along with truly great acting.
6. Blast from the Past (1999)
Perfect to watch during quarantine, this charming romantic comedy tells the story of a naïve young man named Adam (Brendan Fraser) who has been hidden in a bomb shelter since 1962. When he meets Eve (Alicia Silverstone), a modern, worldly woman living in L.A., he falls in love and shows her that sometimes being old-fashioned isn’t so bad. Christopher Walken turns in an entertaining performance as Adam’s conspiracy-theorist father.
7. Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
The resurgence of Muppet movies during the 90s was a highlight of my youth. Campy and quotable, the series (which also includes “Muppets From Space” and “The Muppet Christmas Carol”) was perfect for watching with friends. Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson novel and narrated by Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat, “Muppet Treasure Island” follows the adventures of Kermit the Frog and his friends as they search for treasure and war against ruthless pirates.
8. Hook (1991)
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts and Robin Williams, “Hook” is a whimsical, modern retelling of the J.M. Barrie classic children’s story. When Captain James Hook (Hoffman) kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan (Williams), now a workaholic lawyer, must return to Neverland and defeat his old foe. The imaginative storytelling reminds us of the feelings of being a kid and the importance of keeping our childlike wonder.
9. Return to Me (2000)
If you have never seen this sweet and wholesome romantic comedy, go watch it now! When Grace, a young woman who waits tables at her family’s Irish-Italian restaurant, starts dating Bob, a widowed architect, it seems like a match made in heaven. That’s until she discovers a shocking secret that may end their budding romance. There is simply too much to love about this heartwarming film.
10. The Rocketeer (1991)
Set during the Age of Aviation, “The Rocketeer” is a high-adventure superhero story straight from the pages of a comic book. When stunt pilot Cliff Secord stumbles upon a top-secret rocket-powered jet pack, he employs the help of his mechanic and mentor, Peevy, to save his girl and stop the Nazis as The Rocketeer. Set in Hollywood in the late 1930s, this film delivers action, romance and good guys versus bad guys — what could be better?
As I put together this list of feel-good films, I was surprised that they all came from the same decade (with the exception of the original Parent Trap movie). Perhaps there was a levity to the 90s that has been replaced by the grittier films of today. Or maybe I’m simply fond of that decade of films because of the good memories I made. Either way, now seems like a great time to watch breezy, good-natured films with heart. What feel-good movies would you add to the list?
Copyright 2020 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.