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November 9, 2012 1:38 PM   Subscribe

What novels or movies have a vivacious, charming person drop in and change everybody's perspective or shake the place up?
posted by Fairchild to Media & Arts (76 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
My Best Friend's Wedding, when Rupert Everett appears as Julia Roberts' boyfriend.
posted by apparently at 1:40 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mary Poppins.
Office Space, although the person who drops in is already there and gets "unlocked" by hypnosis.
School of Rock.
Ninja III: The Domination - a ninja spirit possesses a an '80s aerobic instructor and things get shaken up.
posted by ignignokt at 1:40 PM on November 9, 2012


Mary Poppins! which I'm sure you've already seen also but I was excited because I just saw it again and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious...
posted by The Prawn Reproach at 1:41 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Return of Martin Guerre.
posted by Melismata at 1:41 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Six Degrees of Separation
posted by Trivia Newton John at 1:42 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


beaten to the punch by ignignokt because I googled to check the spelling of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
posted by The Prawn Reproach at 1:42 PM on November 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Crome Yellow is a (short) book that has several of these characters hanging out together. It's fun.
posted by phunniemee at 1:42 PM on November 9, 2012


Cold Comfort Farm, which is terrific and everyone should read it.
posted by pie ninja at 1:42 PM on November 9, 2012 [16 favorites]


Cold Comfort Farm
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:43 PM on November 9, 2012


The Music Man.
posted by Melismata at 1:43 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Being There, sort of.
posted by mzurer at 1:45 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2.
posted by Michele in California at 1:45 PM on November 9, 2012


Sister Act, Dead Poets Society, Stand and Deliver.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 1:45 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Footloose?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:46 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


See also -- tvtropes -- Blithe Spirit.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:47 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Something Wild (wow, 80s film trailers were -- different)

Lilo and Stitch
posted by maudlin at 1:48 PM on November 9, 2012


The Sound of Music
posted by thack3r at 1:55 PM on November 9, 2012


Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell.

Bringing Up Baby is really the canonical example.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:56 PM on November 9, 2012


Pleasantville.
posted by anya32 at 1:57 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Cat in the Hat
posted by radiosilents at 1:58 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


My Man Godfrey
Educating Rita
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:59 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


About every episode of Doctor Who.
posted by kimota at 2:00 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you'll allow a TV example....I'd like to throw in...Doctor Who.

becauze fezzes are cool.

Also a bit of a different spin on it - the Joker in the Dark Knight.
posted by ACEness at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2012


More charmingly soulful and sympathetic than vivacious, but Dr Mumford

And more of a true crime story with fiction intercut with documentary interviews - Bernie the sweet mortician who moves in, sweeps all the bluehairs off their feet, takes over the town theater program, and becomes the most beloved citizen in town
posted by sestaaak at 2:07 PM on November 9, 2012


The Wizard of Oz
posted by fuse theorem at 2:08 PM on November 9, 2012


Check the film and novel lists at Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Loony Friends Improve Your Personality on TV Tropes, if not some other better-suited tropes.
posted by wintersweet at 2:12 PM on November 9, 2012


The Ice Man Cometh, sort of.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:14 PM on November 9, 2012


Anne of Green Gables.
posted by Melismata at 2:14 PM on November 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm in a thirties kind of mood today.

You Can't Take It With You.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:19 PM on November 9, 2012


M*A*S*H, the movie.
posted by misozaki at 2:19 PM on November 9, 2012


Hesher. Sort of... except the exact opposite, but also, exactly.
posted by wrok at 2:19 PM on November 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Back to the Future---Michael J Fox as MPDG.
posted by bonehead at 2:23 PM on November 9, 2012


Misalliance by George Bernard Shaw.

Fallen Angels by Noel Coward.

The Foreigner
by Larry Shue.
posted by mykescipark at 2:37 PM on November 9, 2012


Ferris Bueller?
posted by JennyJupiter at 2:38 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hagbard Celine in the Illuminatus! trilogy.
posted by Boxenmacher at 2:39 PM on November 9, 2012


Boudu Saved From Drowning and its horrible remake, Down and Out In Beverly Hills.
posted by DMelanogaster at 2:40 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Glengarry Glenross
posted by carsonb at 2:40 PM on November 9, 2012


Cluny Brown. Totally classic film about a girl with a thing for plumbing. There is also a delightful novel.

The Nanny McPhee films, or the Nurse Matilda books on which they are based. Much like Mary Poppins. Nanny is not actually vivacious, but she does charm.
posted by ubiquity at 2:41 PM on November 9, 2012


Oh, and Ball of Fire, with Barbara Stanwyck as the vivacious charmer.
posted by ubiquity at 2:44 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Once Around with Holly Hunter and Richard Dreyfuss?
posted by marimeko at 2:47 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ensemble c'est tout. Movie and novel.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 2:55 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Iceman Cometh, sort of

The Iceman Cometh is a loose parody of Jerome K. Jerome's short story, "The Passing of the 'Third Floor Back'", in which a stranger moves into a dingy boardinghouse and inspires its inhabitants to act like their best selves.

Plot twist: he might be an angel. It's on Gutenberg. Context that might be helpful: the lisping dude named Isidore is pretending not to be Jewish (lisping was seen as a marker of being Jewish in 19th century England because it was assumed English Jews' first language was Ladino); everything else is probably pretty straightforward.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:56 PM on November 9, 2012


Speaking of "'Third Floor Back'", Miracle on 34th Street is in the same vein, and let's not forget the execrable "Touched By an Angel".

While on the topic of bad TV shows, "The Nanny". And so-so TV shows, "Mork and Mindy". And "I Dream of Jeannie", for that matter.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:02 PM on November 9, 2012


An interesting example of people resisting that is Interiors, which I was reminded of by the line from "The Nanny" theme, "She's the lady in red when everybody else is wearing tan".

Some other movies: Don Juan DeMarco, Chocolat, and Babette's Feast.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:07 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Damn Yankees. The "vivacious, charming" person is the Devil, played by Ray Walston.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:09 PM on November 9, 2012


Brimstone & Treacle
posted by cali59 at 3:09 PM on November 9, 2012


Pudd'nhead Wilson?
posted by themadjuggler at 3:10 PM on November 9, 2012


This is a classic trope of old Hollywood movies.

The Katharine Hepburn / Cary Grant films Holiday and Bringing Up Baby

Breakfast at Tiffany's

How to Steal a Million

Top Hat

See also: Pretty much every screwball comedy, ever.
posted by so much modern time at 3:11 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kind of opposite, but Auntie Mame. Anne of Green Gables. Punky Brewster (if you're doing TV)
posted by smirkette at 3:13 PM on November 9, 2012


Also The Philadelphia Story, for that matter. Hepburn and Grant were perfect in those roles.

I really like the Tracy and Hepburn takes on it, too. Pat and Mike is famous, but Without Love is an underappreciated (including by Tracy and Hepburn) gem. Also has great supporting performances by Lucille Ball and Keenan Wynn.

And, oh, shit, how could I not have mentioned Ball of Fire and The Lady Eve? Barbara Stanwyck was so great in those.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:16 PM on November 9, 2012


Weird Science?
posted by curious nu at 3:21 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some of Elinor Lipman's books feature this sort of character--an outgoing, outspoken person who drops into the life of the quiet, reserved main character(s) and shakes everything up. The dropper-inner isn't always super sympathetic but is generally well-meaning and good-hearted if also oblivious and maybe kind of self-centred. Lipman's books are light and humorous, but also very well-written and reminiscent of a modern Jane Austen comedy of manners.

Then She Found Me--April is a quiet schoolteacher with two recently-deceased parents and an unreliable, crappy boyfriend. She is unexpectedly reunited with her birth mother, Bernice, a gregarious talk show host who takes an immediate and nosy interest in April's love life. There is an OK movie adaptation, too, with Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, and Colin Firth but even so, my first recommendation is for the novel (despite the presence of the excellent Mr. Firth).

My Latest Grievance--Frederica is a disgruntled teenager whose parents are professors at a middling college. When a vivacious, dramatic woman named Laura Lee French drops in on her family and becomes the dorm mother on campus, Frederica discovers that Laura Lee has a secret connection to her family.

And Cathleen Schine's The Love Letter features not a person, but an anonymous letter that pops up suddenly and circulates around a small New England seaside town, leading everyone who reads it to think that the letter is meant for them. Hijinks ensue, of course. There was a movie adaptation, but again...I'd recommend the novel.

As for films: Amelie.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:26 PM on November 9, 2012


Cold Comfort Farm, both a book and a movie.

I think Delicatessen would also fit your criteria.
posted by Muttoneer at 3:31 PM on November 9, 2012


Can I be the final person to say Cold Comfort Farm which is in my bed with me right now and I just discovered it and it's awesome so I really feel this question was written expressly for me to answer even though others got here first?
posted by bquarters at 3:37 PM on November 9, 2012


Does The Nanny count?
posted by Verdandi at 3:54 PM on November 9, 2012


The Man Who Came to Dinner. My terrier is named after him.
posted by The Bellman at 3:55 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are also a couple movies of The Passing of the 'Third Floor Back', under that title and at least one other which I now forget.

The Bishop's Wife is another movie about angels changing people's lives; I think that was remade under another title fairly recently with Will Smith? Am I hallucinating that entirely?
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:21 PM on November 9, 2012


Fellini's La Dolce Vita.
posted by perhapses at 4:33 PM on November 9, 2012


Down and Out in Beverly Hills
posted by overeducated_alligator at 4:38 PM on November 9, 2012


Drop Dead Fred.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 4:39 PM on November 9, 2012


(Sidhedevil, nope, not hallucinating - but it was The Preacher's Wife and starred Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.)
posted by likeso at 5:25 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rory O'Shea Was Here
posted by Soliloquy at 5:41 PM on November 9, 2012


The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
posted by the noob at 6:41 PM on November 9, 2012


What's Up, Doc?

Probably every Manic Pixie Dream Girl movie ever, really.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:46 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pulp Fiction
posted by griphus at 7:57 PM on November 9, 2012


Annie
posted by SisterHavana at 7:57 PM on November 9, 2012


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?
posted by Kyrieleis at 8:04 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love in a Cold Climate! It meets your criteria perfectly - charming and vivacious character, drops into the story halfway through, changes everything. Also it's brilliantly funny, in much the same vein as Cold Comfort Farm.
posted by reshet at 8:55 PM on November 9, 2012


Fight Club.
posted by palbo at 10:19 PM on November 9, 2012


Pollyanna
posted by fiercekitten at 10:27 PM on November 9, 2012


The book, not the movie.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:28 PM on November 9, 2012


Chocolat.
posted by beccaj at 10:41 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks all for all of the great answers. I have read/seen several mentioned. There are a lot I haven't seen or read. I have seen Bernie, Then She Found Me, Amelie and some more mentioned here. I haven't read Love in a Cold Climate or Cold Comfort Farm. Rory O'Shea Was Here is on Netflix streaming. As is Bernie (highly recommend). I can't believe I haven't watched Delicatessen yet. I will. Thanks again for all of the suggestions. Appreciate it very much.
posted by Fairchild at 6:36 AM on November 10, 2012


The title of your question suggests that these are recommendations for a child ... but in case I'm wrong about that, I'll suggest "Louie" from MTV's The State.
posted by jbickers at 6:53 AM on November 10, 2012


About Adam
posted by ODiV at 12:34 PM on November 10, 2012


To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar is my personal quintessential example of this trope. It's three vivacious, charming people, though, if that matters.
posted by capricorn at 4:30 PM on November 10, 2012


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