It’s that always dreaded time of year: November. Dreary weather, dark evenings, pouring rain.
The rain’s pouring down in Galway and across the country with more regularity each day and temperatures are crawling ever downwards. It’s high-time we filled the evenings with some tried and tested feel-good favourites.
School of Rock (2003)
There’s a certain charm to films based around the relationship between a teacher and their students and few are as uplifting as School of Rock. Jack Black is at his very best (admittedly not the hardest task) as a down-on-his-luck rocker who poses as his substitute teacher (not a temp!) roommate to score a job at a private school.
Dewey Finn (Black) brings a class of reluctant youths on a rock ‘n’ roll journey to Battle of the Bands that features stellar supporting performances from Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman and the film’s writer Mike White. Non-stop fun with an excellent soundtrack and the novelty of a pre-Nickelodeon Miranda Cosgrove.
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Emma Thompson stars opposite Tom Hanks’ Walt Disney as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers. The film follows the writer through negotiations around the film rights for her book with the media tycoon.
Rife with the warmth and sentimentality typical of a Disney produced biopic, Saving Mr. Banks balances itself out with themes of loss, healing and Travers’ deep personal attachment to her work.
Hanks puts forward what is surely the defining portrayal of Walt Disney on the big screen to date, but Thompson’s central role does not take a backseat in the slightest. She is fiercely authoritative, her command of the role the cornerstone of an overall excellent movie.
The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
This indie flick follows Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a 22-year-old with Down’s Syndrome who leaves his care home behind to pursue a dream job in professional wrestling. Social worker Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) tries to bring Zak home while fisherman Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) helps him on his journey to a wrestling school.
It’s original, refreshing and utterly wholesome. The Peanut Butter Falcon represents a huge step forward for Hollywood and even sparked a real-life friendship between Gottsagen and LaBeouf which saw them present an Academy Award together. A progressive story that has as much feel-good factor off screen as on it.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
The appeal of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is rather self-indulgent. We all pulled a sickie at one point or another but not like this. Staying in bed and playing your Nintendo is a far-cry from stealing a Ferrari and taking a tour of Chicago with your best mate and your girlfriend. Maybe I just wasted my days of mitching while the rest of you were driving sports cars and getting the shift…
Nobody made teenage films quite like John Hughes and this is arguably the late director’s finest work. The fourth-wall breaking, the oh-so-satisfying battle between rebel and authority figure and all the youthful exuberance of a Hughes ‘80s classic. Not only a fun-filled movie, but a must-watch classic, period.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
For my money, the ultimate feel-good film. Robin Williams is at his Oscar winning best as Dr Sean Maguire, leading Will Hunting (Matt Damon) through the emotional struggles of youth. The title character navigates romance, friendship and the counselling he receives from Maguire while coming to terms with his wasted intellect.
On the surface, Good Will Hunting is a film about a young genius who works as an MIT janitor. The real gem is Will’s efforts to balance the conflicting relationships in his life. As likely to make you smile as it is to make you cry, it’s really a cardinal sin if you haven’t seen this one already.