Feel Good Movies… From ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ to ‘School of Rock’

‘Viva’ is released in Irish cinemas this week. Shortlisted for an Oscar earlier this year – but sadly robbed of a nomination – the film follows Jesús (Héctor Medina), who works as a hair stylist for elderly women of Havana, Cuba by day, and styles the wigs of drag queens by night. When the chance comes for him to audition for the club, Jesús takes on the persona of Viva and takes to the stage. When his father, who Jesús has never met, turns up out of the blue, Jesus finds his life changing in ways he could not expect.

‘Viva’, written by Mark O’Halloran and directed by Paddy Breathnach, is a joyful film, full of strength, heart and lots of songs, and with this in mind, Movies.ie has taken a look back over some other fantastically feel good movies…

Michel Gondry’s wonderful ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ is all about Joel Barrish (Jim Carrey) deciding he wants to have the painful memories of his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) deleted from his mind, then regretting the decision as all the good times the couple had together play in his memories once more.
It would be easy to think that ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ is a depressing film about erasing memories, but bear with us here; there is a vein if magic and happiness running through the film, as Joel and Clementine may forget one another, but even as the last memories slip away Clementine lingers in Joel’s mind, and he finds himself compelled to go to Montauk, where he meets his ex-girlfriend all over again. Love cannot be erased, what a beautiful message.

Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is determined to have a day off school, no matter what his principal, sister or parents think of his plan. Ferris grabs his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and they head into Chicago, where they have the time of their lives evading their school principal, running through art galleries, dancing on a float in the Von Steuben Day parade, and generally running amok.
It is hard not to get caught up in the infectious, joyful energy of ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’. Not only is the film a celebration of the city of Chicago, but it is also a love letter to those endless days of young adulthood, when anything is possible if you just try. As Ferris himself says; “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”

Donna (Jenny Slate) works in a book store by day, and as a stand up comic by night. When her boyfriend breaks up with her for sharing too many personal details in her act, Donna has a one night stand with Max (Jake Lacy), a sweet and gentle guy, who Donna would never normally go for. Donna falls pregnant from their brief tryst, and has to finally face the ideas of adulthood, womanhood and friendship head on.
Yes, ‘Obvious Child’ is a film that is, at it’s heart, a film about a young woman having an abortion, but it is the freedom that Donna has to make her own decisions, then crawl back into her Mom’s bed when she feels sad, that makes the film work. This is not an examination of a woman beating herself up over her decisions, it is one of a woman whose choices are assured and, even though she feels she has to make a tough decision on her own, finds that people are a lot more reassuring and kind than she thought.

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a day-dreamer; he often floats away on flights of fancy about his crush Cheryl (Kristen Wiig). When a negative belonging to photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) goes missing, Mitty finds himself on an adventure that takes him across the world, and out of his dreams.
Although ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ is inspired by James Thurber’s book of the same name, it could not be more different than the story of a man suffering from what seems to be PTSD. This film, directed by and starring Ben Stiller, is the story of a man who finally gets out of his comfort zone and has the adventure of a lifetime. Stiller’s film is full of adventure and a sense of wonder, and Walter Mitty’s gradual desire to do more and more out of character things is truly uplifting.

Having been kicked out of his band, Dewey Finn (Jack Black) is broke, so he decides to impersonate his teacher friend Ned Schneebly (Mike White) and take on his role as a temp. What Dewey doesn’t expect is that the class of kids he finds himself saddled with will inspire him to form a band, and head straight for Battle of the Bands.
‘School of Rock’ is arguably one of Jack Black’s finest moments; scripted by Mike White and directed by Richard Linklater, the film makes Finn’s attempt to make a gang of kids into a real life band a true delight. Watching the kids learn to express themselves – and rock out – is truly uplifting, and even though the Battle of the Bands may not go the band’s way, the joy in the film is totally infectious.

Honourable mentions to: ’10 Things I Hate About You’, ‘Away We Go’ and ‘Empire Records’.

Do you have a favourite feel good film? Let us know in the comments below.

Words: Brogen Hayes

‘Viva’ is released in Irish cinemas on August 19th 2016. Watch the trailer below…