Are you looking for something to lift your spirits or want to feel warm and fuzzy during these crazy, crazy times? The you should give one of these underrated films a watch. They’re all great movies through and through, and leave me with a smile on my face – or tears of joy – every time I revisit them.
The first of two bear-themed entries on this list, Brigsby Bear is a movie that says something I wholeheartedly believe and preach whenever I can; that it’s okay to be different, and embrace what makes you special. Kyle Mooney’s protagonist James had his world turned upside down, and needed to put the past behind him in a way that seemed unconventional to those around him, but in the end, James’ family and friends are able to not only understand how they can help the struggling, aspiring filmmaker, but also learn something about themselves in the process. Brigsby Bear was my feel-good movie of 2017, and a true hidden gem in my book.
You can read my full review of Brigsby Bear here.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Peanut Butter Falcon follows Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with down syndrome who escapes from his care facility to follow his dream of training under his hero, a professional wrestler, to become one himself. Shortly upon embarking on his journey, Zak runs into a fisherman in a really rough place in his life, Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who decides to help Zak. Zak’s caretaker Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) catches up to them, and what follows is one of the most wholesome and spirit-lifting experiences I’ve seen in cinema. The trio of actors are all brilliant, and ensure you really feel each heartfelt moment, be it a rousing, cheer-inducing accomplishment for the group or just one of them making quiet realization about themselves or one another.
The Bill & Ted Trilogy
This comedic trilogy involves time travel, visiting the afterlife, good vibes, and the franchise’s leading duo (Alex Winters and Keanu Reeves) are as endearing as they are dumb. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments that showcase their idiocy and immaturity, but there are also more than a few that demonstrate the tidbits of wisdom that have served them – and the future – well. To me, the iconic line first said in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “Be excellent to each other. And party on dudes.” is one of the memorable in all of cinema because it perfectly summarizes the message that each of the films conveys; that good intentions and a friendly demeanor can affect so much around you, and make the world a better place.
You can read my full review of the final movie, Bill and Ted Face The Music here.
The magic of the Hundred Acre Wood crew that’s seen in Christopher Robin might never be topped. Ewan McGregor’s performance as an older, lost version of the title character, who reconnects with Pooh, his friends, and rediscovers the smaller joys – and what’s really important – in life, is one of the actor’s best. Jim Cummings is equally great as the iconic, honey-loving bear, Tigger, and Brad Garret was the perfect choice to portray Eeyore. The visual effects used to bring the living toys to life are incredible too, and the story is one that I imagine will resonate with the vast majority of adults who watched or read Winnie the Pooh during their childhood.
You can read my full review of Christopher Robin here.
The Edge of Seventeen
Coming of age and feel-good stories often go hand in hand, and as far as both of them go, this is one of the most underappreciated. Hailee Steinfeld is stellar (obviously) in the lead role as Nadine, a teenager who struggles with the fact her best and only friend has begun dating her brother, and the siblings were already less than fond of each other. The supporting cast – which includes Kyra Sedgwick and Woody Harrelson as Nadine’s mother and teacher respectively – all have moments to shine, and most are integral to Nadine’s growth and journey of self-discovery. It may have a couple of moments which are heavier than almost anything seen in the other entries on this list, but The Edge of Seventeen is a undoubtedly a comical and uplifting feature overall.
This adoptive family story is so sweet that it might just leave you with a toothache. Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne are both experienced in comedic and dramatic roles, so they shine as the new parents and play off of each other well. The child actors are really enjoyable too, even if the younger two siblings can come off as one dimensional, and Isabela Merced is the movie’s standout as the eldest of the children. Few films in the past few years have balanced comedy with genuine emotion as well as Instant Family, and while I could predict how the vast majority of the story would play out, it still worked more than well enough to keep me entertained and invested all the way through.
And those are my favorite, lesser known feel good films. Did I miss your favorite, or do you have another overlooked heartwarming flick? Let me know in the comments below, and it just might end up here next time I update it. You can also follow me on Twitter, Letterboxd, or bookmark my author page to see what I write about next. Until next time, remember: the best seats are in The Middle of The Row!