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15 Best Feel Good Movies of All Time
The “feel good” movie genre is somewhat of an ultra-meta concept. The only criterion of a feel good flick being, of course, that it… makes you feel good. Heady stuff, I know.
But hey, don’t stress over the semantics too much or you’ll end up missing the point.
Regardless of how subjective the genre is, some movies have been time-tested to almost guarantee a steady flow of dopamine to your system. Think: Friends in cars, low-stakes antics, and, of course, the hard-earned happy ending. These are the best feel good movies of all time.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
A Down Syndrome teenager escapes a nursing home in pursuit of a career as a professional wrestler. That synopsis alone makes this Shia LeBeouf-led film sound out of this world, but the Odyssey-like journey is handily one of the most endearing films to come out in the last few years.
Love and Basketball
Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are lifelong friends who become more than that through their love of basketball. As Gina Prince-Blythewood’s debut movie proclaims: “All is fair in love and basketball.” In this moving romance that still feels modern 20 years later, we see the passion on and off the court of two young lovers.
The Way, Way Back
Sometimes, all you need is a nice, unassuming coming of age film. When Duncan is saddled with heading to his mom’s new boyfriend’s beach house for the summer, he quickly discovers that this new “family” isn’t much of a family at all. Just a few miles down the road, he finds a whole new crew at the waterpark that takes him on as an employee.
Is there anything more inspiring than a training montage? Ryan Coogler’s reboot of the Rocky franchise is the boxing movie for a new generation. Michael B Jordan stars as Adonis Johnson, the son of Apollo Creed who fights his way into the highest ranks of the boxing stratosphere. The thrill of a KO will bring pure joy, and the only bad vibes here is that you’ll really feel like you need to go to the gym after watching.
Good Will Hunting
Matt Damon stars as Will Hunting, a custodian at MIT who is a brilliant mathematician. When Professor Gerald Lambeau, played by Robin Williams, discovers his talents, Hunting quickly realizes that Lambeau might have been the missing piece in his equation for a better life.
Something’s Gotta Give
Jack Nicholson stars as a 60-something bachelor who finds himself falling for his 20-something girlfriend’s mother, played by Diane Keaton. For once, the bachelor might be finally dating within his own age rage… but she might be too wise for his old tricks.
When Harry Met Sally
A classic Nora Ephron screenplay, When Harry Met Sally presents to us the age-old question: Can men and women be friends without falling in love? Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal star as two acquaintances who decide to do their own myth-busting on the matter.
As far as animated movies go, every single Pixar film could go on this list. But the catch with Pixar is that for all the good vibes, there is always at least one moment that will reduce you to a slobbering mess of tears. Yes, Coco is filled with visceral heartfelt tear-inducing emotion, but it’s also a bold, beautiful, and enriching story of a boy, music, and family.
Little Miss Sunshine
A dysfunctional family, composed of the likes of Greg Kinner, Toni Colette, Steve Carrell, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, and Abigail Breslin, squeeze into a VW van and make their way to California for their daughter’s beauty pageant.
The Princess Bride
In this Rob Reiner-directed adventure, a young farmhand goes on a quest to rescue his true love and damsel in distress, Princess Buttercup, from the clutches of an evil prince.
Tom Hanks stars as a developmentally disabled man by the name of Forrest (Forrest) Gump who retells his thrilling life story to unexpecting listeners at a bus stop. Whether it’s your first watch or your hundredth, this classic is sure to warm your heart before you can say, “I love you, Jenny.”
Pursuit of Happyness
Based on the life of businessman and motivational speaker Chris Gardner, the Pursuit of Happyness tells the story of Gardner’s journey to survival and success while battling homelessness as a single father. Though heart-wrenching at times, Will Smith’s authentic performance as Gardner alongside his son, Jaden, is a beautiful portrait of what it really means to be on the pursuit of happiness.
Nothing says “feel good” like getting to play lookout for George Clooney and his star-stacked motley crew of con artists in this witty reimagining of the classic heist movie.
Juzo Itami’s Tampopo is a heart-warming comedy about one restaurant owner’s quest to make the perfect ramen after two truckers offer to help her while making a pit-stop at her shop.
School of Rock
Jack Black stars as a down-and-out musician with dreams of being a rockstar. However, when his band kicks him out, he opts for the next best thing: posing as a substitute teacher and recruiting his students into a Battle of the Bands.
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