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Movies - A Feel-Good Escape

Those of you who have followed our

messages know how much of a movie buff I am. In fact, while at Ball State University, I was studying for a Motion Picture Minor, during my other studies, just because of my love of film. I really love well made movies and great stories, even when some of them are not so well made. In fact, an entertaining, fun, silly, or suspenseful movie, can truly be a feel-good escape, even when it isn’t necessarily the best made film.

Certainly, Hollywood has had years of practice making films. This repetitive practice just proves that they have gotten really good at making good films…and equally good at making bad films. Thank goodness, in recent years, they have gotten a bit more intelligent in their film making and have included many great established actors and actresses as well as flooded us with a great array of young and upcoming performers.

One of the things that I feel has really saved Hollywood, or at least given it a newly infused life at the box office is the emergence of Christian films. As much as Hollywood wants to shy away from religion and Christianity in general, what Hollywood cannot ignore is making a buck, as we all know that the almighty dollar rules this industry to the umpteenth power. Arguably the first rekindled Christian film to show promise was the 2001 surprise hit Left Behind. Soon after this film, Hollywood really stood up and took notice in 2004 with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Even though there were certainly previous blockbuster movies like the Ten Commandments, Spartacus, The Robe, and The Greatest Story Ever told, a renewed focus on Christian films was emerging. I personally loved The Apostle in 1997, but Hollywood wasn’t ready to embrace Christian films and this well-hidden successful movie nearly cost Robert Duval, one of the greatest actors of all time, his career.

Hollywood had grossly commercialized these earlier blockbuster films and tried very hard to do the same with “The Passion.” But Gibson held his ground, for the most part, and tried to make as true and realistic a movie as possible. Unfortunately, the Jewish leaders of that day, leaders who had monopolized Hollywood for most of its history, insisted that Gibson revise his film because it shed to harsh or negative a light on the Jewish leaders of Jesus’s day. Unfortunately, Gibson gave in and the final version was edited to remove the accurate depiction of how far astray the Jewish leaders had gone at the time of Jesus.

But this message is supposed to be about feel-good movies, and as awful and accurate as “the Passion” portrays the final days of Jesus, we need to be reminded that what Jesus did was the ultimate feel-good scenario as he went through all that pain and torture for all of us, to save us from our sins. We can have eternal life thanks to this gigantic act of kindness and grace from God and His Son Jesus…so yes this is as feel good as it gets.

“The Passion” gave Hollywood a green light to delve into other Christian based films. Even though there are very few in Hollywood that truly sought out to make these films, a slew of great feel-good films began to evolve. God’s Not Dead, Fireproof, Risen, Overcomer, Breakthrough, I still Believe, Same Kind of Different as Me, Paul Apostle of Christ, and I Can Only Imagine, just to name a few. There are a lot of great Christian films but quite honestly it is my view that you cannot miss with any of the films I just mentioned – they are all great and quite entertaining and diverse in their story lines.

As for other feel-good films, I can’t help but point out that any good film, not recognized by the Academy Awards, is probably a good bet for true entertainment value. (I mentioned in my April 21st post that the Academy quite often gets it wrong when they chose the “best” films) For example, some of the funniest and most entertaining movies are the silly/stupid slapstick style comedies. The Airplane movies and Mel Brooks films like Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, come to mind. While the Police Academy movies lend their own brand of feel-good silly/stupid comedies. But you will never see these movies touted as award winning films.

So here are my top feel-good movies. For comedies, because we all like a good laugh, I list my top ten, in no particular order. I love: Father of the Bride (Steve Martin version), Young Frankenstein, Arsenic and Old Lace, What it Was was Baseball, Operation Petticoat, Mr. Blanding’s Builds His Dream House, Harvey, A League of Their Own, Night Shift, and His Girl Friday. I admit there is a Cary Grant theme amongst these selections (4 of these 10 movies) but let’s face it, his accent, his comedic delivery, and for the women his looks, made him a great movie star.

As far as adventures, the most popular genre, I have also selected my top ten, again in no particular order. These great films include: E.T., Back to the Future, Red, The Wizard of Oz, My Favorite Year, Forest Gump, Now You See Me, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Casablanca. No real themes here just really great adventure films sure to entertain you and make you happy.

I only list the top five musicals because, by their nature, these are Broadway productions that rarely make it to film, but these five are my favorite feel-good musicals. I love: Holiday Inn, Yankee Doodle Dandy, There's No Business Like Show Business, Singin in the Rain, and The Sound of Music. If there is a theme here it is probably song and dance men. Holiday Inn features the greatest of all time; Fred Astaire and Singin in the Rain features the second best of all time; Gene Kelly. Yankee Doodle Dandy features star Jimmy Cagney, and while Cagney was known as a tough guy, in his films, many don’t know that he was a great song and dance man – just watch this movie (Yankee Doodle Dandy) and you will see how good he really was. FYI – this is one movie the Academy got right as Cagney earned a Best Actor Oscar for this performance.

Finally, I list my top five dramas. Only five because most dramas, by their nature, are not feel-good. But I think you will agree these films should be on the list. I really like: Field of Dreams, Catch me if You Can, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Kingsmen, and To Catch a Thief. No real theme to these films either but I can guarantee to you that these films are worthy of your viewing.

All-in-all, like many of you, I love good films to escape for 2-3 hours into an adventure when my past few weeks have been a bit dull. I like to escape into a comedy when I need to laugh and smile. I choose a musical because I love music and great performances, and I escape into a drama when I want to be tested or intrigued. Films can bring you every emotion, simply for the price of a ticket…and perhaps a drink and some popcorn. 😊 Movies can help you escape, venture off to foreign lands, become one of the characters in the film, cry when a scene or event touches your heart, and laugh hysterically when the world has little to laugh about, outside the theater.

Want to escape – go watch a feel-good movie. It’s easy to find nearly any film on television today between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other services and On Demand selections. But better yet, go to the theater to see a film. Many of the movie houses are opening back up and there’s nothing like the bring screen, the super sound system, and being surrounded in darkness, to help us escape into the pseudo reality of the next 2-3 hours. Films can provide incredible comfort, healing, and perspective … things we could all use in today’s crazy mixed up world.

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