A smile on the dial: films

Want a film to put a spring in your step? Here are our nominations for films of good cheer. Send us yours.
Michael Cook | Feb 14 2013 | comment  

I have to confess that my speciality is gloomy movies, but I’ve consulted some of our correspondents and here are my nominations for cheerful films. “Cheerfulness” is an elusive term. What we mean is not just comedy, although most of them are, but films which brings joy into your life. The Buena Vista Social Club, for instance, is a documentary, but I can’t watch it without feeling the exhilation of just being alive. Nominations welcome! We plan to follow this up with a list of great gloomy films (to put a bit of balance in your life) and list of great cheerful and gloomy books. Stay tuned. 

* * * * *

Babe (1995)
Babe is a piglet who thinks he is a sheepdog. The talking animals are wonderful and the final scene in which Babe wins the sheepdog contest will bring tears to your eyes.


Waking Ned Devine (1998)
In a remote Irish village, Old Ned wins the lottery of a lifetime and drops dead. His neighbours think that Ned would have wanted them to share in his wealth and set out to deceive the inspector.


The Castle (1997)
This is an all-time favourite in Australia, but it did well overseas as well. An honest tow-truck drives finds that the local airport is going to resume his house to extend the runway. Finally, justice triumphs. Hilarious and heart-warming.


The Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
German director Wim Wenders made this splendid documentary about forgotten big band musicians in Havana. The music is wonderful and the vitality of the people is unforgettable.


The Blues Brothers (1980)
Sometimes profane, but always musical, this cult film was an unlikely hit. Its car chases, zany characters and foot-tapping music all come together by some magic. Jake and Elwood get the band back together so that they can find money to pay a bill overdue property tax at the orphanage they grew up in.


Strictly Ballroom
Here’s another Australian comedy -- this time a satiric look at the world of competitive ballroom dancing. Scott discovers his true self in the pasadoble, when his partner introduces him to her Spanish gypsy father -- a poor migrant in Australia, but a genius on the dance floor.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
This is the classic high school comedy about a wise guy, his girlfriend, his nerdie pal, and their plans to take a day off in Chicago. Why does the Windy City produce so many cult films?


The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
This gentle comedy from South Africa was a big international hit. A Coke bottle falls from the sky among bushmen in the Kalahari Desert. Xi is deputed to take the unwanted gift to the end of the earth.


The Incredibles (2004)
A family of superheroes is trying to live a quiet and anonymous suburban life, But their peaceful family life is just too good to last. They are summoned to save the world from the technology-savvy villain Syndrome


The Court Jester (1955)
Danny Kaye stars in this hilarious and evergreen favourite about Knights of Olde in Days of Yore, swordfights, fair maidens, claimants to the throne and every other cliche about mediaeval life. It has the famous tongue-twisting exhange: "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!".


The Sound of Music (1965)
How could we pass up this musical classic from Rogers and Hammerstein? It ruined Julie Andrews -- forever after she was doomed to be Maria. However corney the story, the music is full of joy. It won five Oscars and is said to be the highest-grossing film of all time. 

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. 

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