I’ve got to snap out of it and get my groove back. There I was happily riding the horror Christmas train when suddenly, absolute derailment. What the hell is wrong with people? If horrendous tragedy wasn’t enough to sap my spirit, here comes everybody with their too late answers for everything. In my opinion, if your solution doesn’t put the value of human life above all else then it already blows. Whatever you do, don’t even try to place blame on movies and video games, they happen to be exactly what I’m going to use to springboard out of this funk. I want to thank INFAMOUS 2 for providing a place for me to hide ‘til the coast was clear and now I’m going to make a ten-ingredient movie cocktail to obliterate this malaise. I’m not saying these movies (not in any order) will work for you, but I know through experience that they work for me. If you have your own secret weapon stuper-smasher please share it in the comments section!
THE NEVER ENDING STORY (1984)
Let’s get the tough love out of the way . I know this movie has the saddest scene ever but I’m going to stick it up here anyway as a crystal clear mission statement. Don’t let the swamp of sadness get to you Artax! Also, if you can watch the scene below without crying, you are most likely a sociopath… so please get help.
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)
They may have complimentary singing voices but in the end murderous charlatan Harry Powell (ROBERT MITCHUM) is no match for unsung saint Rachel Cooper (LILLIAN GISH). “I’m a strong tree with branches for many birds. I’m good for somethin’ in this old world, and I know it too.”
SUPERMAN II (1980)
Ignore the cellophane “S” and let’s hear it for the citizens of Metropolis! After Zod and his cohorts have apparently killed Superman, bystanders are so outraged; they band together and selflessly throw their own safety to the wind. “They killed Superman!” one screams; “Let’s go get’em!” yells another. This always makes me happy. The fun’s not over yet, I could watch Lois clock Ursa (“You know something? You’re a real pain in the neck!”) all day.
A list is not a list without JOHN CARPENTER. If you want to convince me that an alien would be even remotely impressed with humanity, it’s a good idea to get an actor like JEFF BRIDGES to play said alien and KAREN ALLEN to represent humanity. “You’re at your very best when things are at their worst” Not always true but when it is…wow.
FLASH GORDON (1980)
The theme song alone is enough to make me euphoric but what I find most life affirming is when Dr. Zarkov explains how he avoided being brainwashed by thinking of the works of Einstein, Shakespeare and the Beatles. That must be one hell of a planet he comes from! As Flash would say, “Not too bad.”
You didn’t think I’d neglect to put a horror film up in here did you? CANDYMAN is stuffed with stinging bees and violence but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t got anything positive to relay. I love that our hero Helen sacrifices herself to save a baby and I love even more that she is recognized and mourned by the residents of Cabrini-Green for her deed. They don’t even know a fraction of what she’s been through but they know enough.
(Tie) HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010) /THE IRON GIANT (1999)
I can’t choose between these two and so I won’t.
(Tie) LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986)/GREASE 2 (1982)
I don’t always watch musicals but when I do they include songs about murder and dentistry (LITTLE SHOP) or sex education and bowling (GREASE 2).
Johnny Case (CARY GRANT) must choose between shallow dud Julia and her freethinking down to earth sister Linda who just happens to be KATHARINE HEPBURN. I won’t tell you how it ends but summersaults and the world’s greatest rumpus room are involved.
You’ve seen this right? You know how it ends. Once upon a time way back in 1988 I went to see SCROOGED in the theater and I’ll never forget it. After BILL MURRAY has his epiphany he breaks the 4th wall and invites the audience to sing along with the closing song “Put a Little Love In Your Heart.” I don’t know what was going on with the packed Center City Philadelphia audience I saw this with but they really got into it. At first it was embarrassing and then it became mandatory. You had to sing and clap along. When MURRAY told one side of the theater to sing they did and when he told the other (my side) we did too. It was amazing and I’m not exaggerating and if you think it sounds lame that means you weren’t there. Hey, isn’t that Harry Powell (ROBERT MITCHUM) singing along too? I forgot that he was in it. How perfect. Yes, the world really sucks sometimes but if you’re one of the many people not adding to the grief, you should make sure you enjoy yourself this season. You deserve it.
This is really great! Thanks! And your Scrooged movie theater experience sounds amazing!
I’ll go with How to Train Your Dragon every time….
For whatever reason, HtTYD really resonated with me. I found the protagonist, Hiccup, to be surprisingly complex. He feels so much pressure to conform to warlike ways of his viking culture and almost has himself convinced that if he can prove himself by killing a dragon he’ll be happy. But when the most feared dragon of all is helpless before him, he sets aside all of his dreams of greatness and with no one around to judge him he acts instead with compassion and kindness. This is what elevates the story for me – Hiccup thinks in that by acting with mercy he has failed in his moment of greatness but instead his choice propels him on a journey from pariah to hero.
I never get tired of watching this film. The flight scenes are exhilarating. The score is perfect. What can I say – I was moved.
You get ALL my brownie points for giving Scrooged the love it deserves. Sadly, far too few people have seen this masterpiece. Not only is Bill Murray awesome in it, not only is it both heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time, it¨s also a picture perfect example of just exactly how timeless the core of the story behind A Christmas Carol is in this wonderful modern adaptation.
I am so watching this again tonight. I love Bill Murray, and this is one of my favorites starring him (Groundhog Day is pretty high on that list as well, along with Lost In Translation… and of course, Ghostbusters, but given the site we’re on, that one was almost too obvious!)
Thank you for this, Unk!
I watched the Artax clip and cried, so… whew!
Night of the Hunter & Candyman as uplifting Holiday-Time (and hard-time) movies is inspired and appreciated. I’ve always been blown away by how, after everything else, Night of the Hunter turns out to be a strong-lady-hero Christmas movie.
It would be hard for me to choose between How To Train Your Dragon & the Iron Giant, too. Mostly because the Iron Giant is so emotionally wrenching… and HTTYD is about a fun, cute, giant flying kitty! KITTY!!!!
Thanks again for the very needed uplift.
It really is a great memory. I wonder if it could happen today or would everybody be pulling out their cell phones as soon as they saw the credits?
That is spot on! Wish I had said that!
After my experience in the theater I was very surprised that SCROOGED was not a bigger hit. I still find it very moving and genuinely funny.
I had to notice also that SCROOGED not only has Mitchum from “Night of the Hunter” but it’s directed by Richard Donner who did much of Superman 2, stars Karen Allen from Starman and references Little shop which Murray was in too. It almost captures the whole list!
I thought of my beloved cat Figgy the who time I watched HTTYD! She was a crazy wild one when I found her and now we are best pals for life.
Chuckles72: Valid points all, but I admit I skew towards “Iron Giant,” myself.
I admit, I have the capacity to get low to the point where I can consider all manner of hatebreeder atrocity, so having a character tell another (and, by extension, the audience) that “You don’t have to be a gun” really resonates.
And… oh, man… the setup and delivery of that one word, you know the one, just makes me start meemering and welling up like a little girl clutching a damaged teddy bear. I wonder if an acceptable substitute VoightKampff test to check for humanity is to have Vin Diesel sneak up behind a person and whisper the word “Superman” to thAWWSHIT I’M CRYING AGAIN DON’T LOOK AT ME SHUT UP IT’S NOT FUNNY
I’m right there with you. I wouldn’t trust anybody who didn’t feel something watching Iron Giant or HTTYD. I’m thinking even Roy Batty would pass that test! Maybe we should have full reviews of both of those soon. If my heart can take it.
Thanks for bring bringing up that quote:
“Guns kill, and you don’t have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.”
If I had a kid I’d name him Hogarth.
Oh, man! Y’all are making me all weepy! I want a T-Shirt of the Iron Giant that says: “You Don’t Have To Be A Gun.” Super-important lesson… 🙁
I always find that in the depressing wake of events like Newtown, watching Boris Karloff bitch-slap the spree killer in Targets is a powerful personal remedy. The icon of horror humiliating the pathetic, uninteresting loser whose only recourse to notoriety is a gun.
Hey I did some holiday reviews that I noticed you tackled awhile ago. Check them out http://theateroguts.blogspot.com/
Outstanding article. I’m certainly glad someone other than a select few of my friends and I appreciate diverse classics like Grease 2, Flash Gordon and Scrooged!
They always put me in a good mood too. Thanks!
Great list! If Flash Gordon doesn’t turn your frown upside-down, then nothing will.
“Cinema Paradiso” is one of my favorite movies to watch when I just need to be inspired, followed very closely by “Breaking Away.”
However, at a time like this it is best to abandon all pretense and just go with anything Muppetty.
I lived in Bloomington for about ten years so Breaking Away is mandatory Hoosier Homesick viewing for me. Man, I miss B-ton…….
Great list, Unk. I watched Scrooged just the other night (one of many that must be watched this time of year) Bill Murray’s epiphany get’s me right in the emotions every time. I’ve always thought that scene from Superman II was hilarious and so far, you’re the only other person I’ve heard mention it, it usually just gets ignored and passed over. Really amazing.
All this needs is only the greatest black comedy holiday movie of all time, BAD SANTA!
Born and raised Hoosier here! Still Hoosiering to this day. Breaking Away is the reason I am a cyclist, albeit a fat one. I drew the line at faking the Italian accent.
Speaking of Bloomington, here’s a great horror indie made by Bloomington resident (and high school classmate o’ mine), Scott Schirmer:
When they keep blaming movies & games, it’s to take the heat of the gun-pedlars. Wake-up America!!!
Bad Santa takes away the holiday funkies every year.
I love LSOH! Sometimes I’ll randomly blurt out, “feed me Seymore! I’ll make it worth your while” and feel better immediately.
As for Candyman, it’s no secret I would like Tony Todd wrapped up and under my tree. ;-)>
My current feel-good movie is Inglourious Basterds. The real heros of this movie are two strong fearless females. And it has a happy ending!
I also appreciate gcg’s comment on Targets, right on.
Good call & excellent movie. I like the ay you think!
Good to know there’s someone out there watching those 3 besides me too! It sounds like you have very cool friends.
Yes! And Miss Piggy has no use for guns she has her karate chop!
Can you really go to that giant quarry?
Even watching that scene in to get the screen shot, I still got chills. And I love the weird over dubbing when the fast food lady comes out with the change and gets blown down the street. So awesome.
That movie is hilarious. I remember we could not keep it on the shelf at the video store I worked at! People kept stealing it!
I agree & how dare they blame movies and TV! I wish our politicians and church leaders would watch MORE movies- they might actually learn something about morality.
I hear you on both counts. When I first moved away from home I had maybe 6 VHS tapes to my name and LSOH was one of them. I had no cable and would watch those movies over and over again. Probably seen that one a trillion times and I just got it on blu-ray.
You’re going to kill me but I still have not seen Inglorious Bastards! I was all set to watch it on Netflix and then it disappeared. I keep seeing it second hand but neglect to pick it up! I think I just have an aversion to war movies even though I know I’ll like it when I finally see it. Especially now that I know who Michael Fassbender is!
Yeah, you can go there – it’s the old Sanders Quarry. It’s private and there are No Trespassing signs everywhere but people still go. I won’t say whether I’ve been there or not but it is pretty awesome (…..from what I hear).
Haha. That is so cool! That movie reminds me so much of my 70’s childhood watched it just about a year ago.
Great list, Unk!
The one movie that ALWAYS gets me out of a funk is Xanadu. It is the ultimate comfort movie for me. In fact, I need to watch it. The past week has brought back bad memories. It is sad to sit in front of my high school students and assure them that I would take a bullet (or bullets) to keep them safe.
Yeah, really good list. And what a great topic: Movies that lift you out of a funk – movies that really are like hanging out with old friends.
Have to say Drugstore Cowboy is probably at the top of my list – followed by Flash, Excalibur, and The Empire Strikes Back.
I may or may not lifted your movie theater experience for use in my short story “The 2nd Year of the 21st Century, According to Kaylinda Stone”, as well as the one about the Xanadu VHS. Credit goes to Unk Lancifer!