I’m a big movie buff. I love watching films that are fiendishly clever, character-driven – even just beautifully shot – and thinking about them critically. However, I’m also a firm believer that not all films have to be groundbreaking, win multiple awards and change your perception of life and humanity forever, to be good films. My long and ever-growing list of favourite films is a collection of think pieces and light-hearted romantic comedies alike.
Whenever I need a little pick me up, I want to watch something light and fluffy. Just for the escapism, to be suitably entertained and not think too much. The following is a list of films that are just that – a pleasurable viewing experience.
When the owner of an independent candy shop (Amy Poehler) and the underling of a Corporate Candy Company (Paul Rudd) meet, it’s hate at first sight. That is, until, they (predictably) fall in love.They Came Together sees Molly and Joel as they recount the story of how they met to their friends (Ellie Kemper and Bill Hader), often repeating, “it’s just like a romantic comedy!” It is a well-observed parody of itself, from their meet-cute, their quirky ensemble of friends, family and exes, over-played rom-com tropes, and the most important character of all, New York City! While this film is a clever critique of your archetypal romantic comedy, it’s also genuinely funny, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Starring Rachel McAddams and Harrison Ford, Morning Glory is about Becky (McAddams), a dedicated producer of a failing morning show trying to keep it afloat, while trying to deal with the show’s cranky and demanding anchor, played by Ford. This film has all the components of your typical romantic comedy, but doesn’t solely focus on the romantic aspect of the plot. The central focus of the film is Becky’s journey and her working relationship with the antagonist anchor. I introduced this film to my boyfriend after showing him They Came Together, and he loved seeing the clichés that it touched upon – ie. the quirky, clumsy girl with a big dream, kissing in the apartment knocking everything over, etc. Whil Morning Glory does include a lot of those clichés, the central focus isn’t actually Becky’s romantic interest Adam (Patrick Wilson), but more the roller coaster friendship between her and Harrison Ford’s character.
Prime has been one of my top favourite films for ten years. Starring Uma Therman, Bryan Greenberg and the legendary Meryl Streep, Prime sees Rafi Gardet (Therman), a 37-year-old divorcee, as she starts dating artist Dave (Greenberg) who, at the ripe young age of 23, is fourteen years her junior. Unbeknownst to Rafi, Dave is also the son of her therapist, played by Streep. Again, sounds very sitcom/rom-comy, but it does it all in a very subtle way. It’s a very cool movie, from the soundtrack and the stylistic cinematography. I like how Rafi isn’t painted out to be some sort of cougar, or Dave as a wide-eyed frat boy. It’s a realistic portrayal of two people at different stages of adulthood, trying to make a relationship work with all the obstacles of family, religion and lifestyle. Plus, I think it’s a really great, underrated Meryl Streep movie.
Begin Again tells the story of Gretta (Keira Knightley), who follows Dave (Adam Levine), her songwriting partner/boyfriend to New York when his songs get picked up for the soundtrack for a big blockbuster movie. However, Gretta is suddenly left high and dry when Dave gives in to the temptations that come with his newfound fame. This is when she meets Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a newly divorced and recently fired record executive who discovers Gretta performing in a club. A bond forms between the pair as they work together on her first album, right in the heart of New York (which feeds into aforementioned rom-com cliché, lots of gratuitous shots of NYC). This film is very charming and heart-warming, following closely in the musical footsteps of director John Carney’s previous film Once. It’s uplifting, with easy listening and easy watching, and musical cameos throughout.
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) realises that his life is about to take an interesting turn when his father (Bill Nighy) tells him that all the men in his family can travel back and forth through the timeline of their own lives. Another one co-starring Rachel McAddams, About Time‘s tagline should be “always the time-traveller’s wife, never the time-traveller” (although that’s a bit of a mouthful). Despite that, it’s a nice little film with all the components of a Richard Curtis film; quintessentially British, minus Hugh Grant. You have to be careful though, because if you read too much into it, you’ll spot a lot of problems (one, for example, how Tim essentially time-travel-stalks his romantic interest, Mary). However, if you take it for what it is, it is a cute movie that makes you feel all nice and fuzzy.
What are some of your favourite light-hearted films?