Part of what we all treasure about movies is that they can cheer us up. They entertain, they delight, make us laugh, make us wonder, they offer up things that astound us, they illustrate love and other magical feelings. In short, they show us a good time. Not all of them, of course, and we do appreciate films that require us to really think and maybe even those that make us terribly upset. But no movie fan can claim to not ever enjoy escapist fare. Especially when we've had a bad day, or especially when we've had a bad week, and we just want to unwind with a favorite title that can always be depended on to lift our spirits.
I don't know what it is about the last few days, but I've noticed a lot of people having rough times. Is it because taxes are due on Monday? Are we worried about North Korea? Is it angering us that they've made a fifth Scary Movie? Or is the universe simply aligned in such a way to cause many of us to have a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day (or days) recently?
Normally I'd pop in a comedy if I've been feeling blue or frustrated or stressed out. It's impossible for me to watch Harpo Marx without smiling, for example. Another favorite from my youth, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is pretty perfect for when you want to shed all your baggage for a couple hours. Though mostly reserved for Christmastime and even then embarrassingly so, Love Actually is the kind of cheesy junk that can reverse the frown on my face (my wife should find this surprising since I always say how much I dislike it -- and in fact I kinda do, but it still does what it does).
Coincidentally, though, this discussion topic was proposed to me the same week I became better acquainted with a handful of Les Blank films. Best known for documenting Werner Herzog in Burden of Dreams, Blank, who died on Sunday, also helmed two shorter works that I now consider to be among the most joyous movies ever made. They show us happy times and in turn make us happy too. They are 1971's Spend It All, a look at Lousiana cajun life and zydeco music (which Herzog has named one of his top 10 films of all time), and 1984's In Heaven There Is No Beer?, which captures a long, loopy Connecticut polka festival and all the smiling, dancing people in attendance.
From now on, those are my go-to movies for bad days, as they spotlight people without a care in the world and remind us that life is for living and enjoying and, less directly stated, not giving a damn what we're wearing out in public.
Which movie do you watch when you've had a bad day?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter: