movies where everyone behaves themselves?
August 13, 2013 7:44 AM   Subscribe

After a couple summer blockbusters left a bad taste in my mouth, the new(-ish) Much Ado About Nothing was refreshing. What are your favorite movies where no one is killed, threatened, beat up, kidnapped or stolen from?
posted by morganw to Media & Arts (56 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
 
Frances Ha was adorable, smart, and uplifting.
posted by jrichards at 7:46 AM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


On preview, I was going to recommend Frances Ha, too! So I'll recommend a different charming but (very) mannered movie with Greta Gerwig - Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress.
posted by eschatfische at 7:48 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love The Hudsucker Proxy. It's offbeat and cute and...zany? There's some mild fighting and one death, but there's no gore or violence.
posted by phunniemee at 7:50 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Straight Story
The Station Agent
Lost In Translation

(basically, I love films where nothing much, at least by popular cinematic standards, happens)
posted by pipeski at 7:51 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another Earth is another one I like, although there is death at the start of the film.
posted by pipeski at 7:54 AM on August 13, 2013


12 Angry Men, the only killing is before the trial.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:56 AM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Frances Ha was adorable, smart, and uplifting.
And it was Baumbach movie? Unthinkable!

The original version of Much Ado About Nothing is pretty good. And while purists might scorn it, I really liked the 2002 version of The Importance of Being Earnest.

And The Hudsucker Proxy! Beaten to endorsing it by mere seconds.

The Taste Of Tea doesn't quite meet your standards because there's an odd side plot with some Yakuza, but it generally feels like an excellent slice-of-life picture depicting a Japanese family in the countryside. Which is a perfect lead-in to endorsing both My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service

Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story also works pretty well, though it's really just the story of a jerk deciding to not be a jerk. Oh! And I have very fond memories of Waking Ned Divine though I haven't seen it in ages & there's a weird little bit at the ending that left me feeling rather uncomfortable. But overall delightful.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:00 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Another recent one - The Stories We Tell.
posted by barnone at 8:01 AM on August 13, 2013


I can't believe it hasn't come up yet, but I also recommend Before Sunrise (and then the follow-ups, Before Sunset and Before Midnight).

I love Hudsucker, but I don't think the opening scene of Hudsucker is what morganw is looking for.
posted by eschatfische at 8:01 AM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Full Monty. Some mild bawdiness; a perfect movie.
posted by oneironaut at 8:07 AM on August 13, 2013


Just about any musical out there would fit the bill, so:

Singin' In The Rain
Brigadoon
The Music Man
Oklahoma! (ok, one death towards the end)
On The Town
State Fair
South Pacific
West Side Story (a little darker, totally worth it)

Here's a non-musical wildcard that stands up very, very well: The Caine Mutiny
posted by jquinby at 8:09 AM on August 13, 2013


Zhang Yang's Shower is a sweet, mostly unsentimental paean to working hard, caring about your craft, and taking care of family and neighbors.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:10 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


West Side Story (a little darker, totally worth it)

People are killed, threatened and beaten up in West Side Story.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:17 AM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also: The Dish, an Australian movie about faking some broadcasts during the moon landing. (Not to be confused with faking the moon landing. This is a gentle film that involves sheep walking on a satellite dish, not movie studios and fake moon rocks.)

Good Bye Lenin! is a pretty solid movie about a young man's dealing with East Germany's shift from Communism to Democracy by way of farce.

There is some hostage-taking (and quite a few pre-deceased bodies) in Arsenic & Old Lace, but you can't take it seriously. If that sounds like too much, I'd say you should return to the Cary Grant mine for Bringing Up Baby. Similarly, I haven't seen The Philadelphia Story, but my understanding is that it is of a similarly excellent quality.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:26 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Breaking Away
Chariots of Fire
posted by scody at 8:27 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Moonstruck
Singin in the Rain
When Harry met Sally
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2013


23skidoo: "West Side Story (a little darker, totally worth it)

People are killed, threatened and beaten up in West Side Story.
"

True, but it's 1960s-era violence. I almost left it off the list. It is darker that the others for sure.
posted by jquinby at 8:30 AM on August 13, 2013


I love Brigadoon, jquinby, but death plays into it.

My Dinner With André
What tнē #$*! D̄ө ωΣ (k)πow!?
The Greatest Story Ever Sold
Shall We Dance? (Japanese Version)
Soapdish
The Big Chill
posted by plinth at 8:35 AM on August 13, 2013


(Some of these have come up since I started writing the list, count them as seconding the above recommendations.)

Hey, this is about my favorite genre, the "nobody gets hurt" genre. Mild illegality or things that might bother you in parenthesis. These are in no particular order except Netflix's arbitrary ordering by rating. I can't absolutely promise no badness in these because it's been a while since I've seen them, but if I'm looking kindly on them, it's going to be about at the level of the threats in Much Ado, and things will mostly work out as they ought to.

Waking Ned Devine (some government fraud for the greater good. Also, a natural death is involved.)
The Full Monty (very minor dissembling for a good cause)
Stardust
Shall We Dance? (the Japanese version, some subtly gross treatment of women at the beginning)
The Birdcage (either French or English)
Shower
Amelie
Awakenings
Raising Victor Vargas
The Taste of Tea
Bagdad Cafe (starts VERY slow.)
Pride and Prejudice
Triplets of Belleville
Chocolat (contains abusive relationship in process of resolving itself)
Other Shakespearean comedies: Much Ado (Branagh version), various versions of Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest
Rain Man (involves cardcounting)
Juno
Best In Show

Ones that have some overwhelmingly melancholy notes, but which are still full of people doing their best and being legal about it:
Whale Rider
Billy Elliot (contains scabbing)
Not One Less (which is heartbreaking but which techincally involves no act more immoral than not allowing a child into a TV station)
Departures (It's about a funeral home, so full of death)

Do they have to be fiction? If documentaries are okay, Mad Hot Ballroom, The Hobart Shakespearians, Spellbound, Babies, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Gleaners and I (depending on your definition of "steal").
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't believe it hasn't come up yet, but I also recommend Before Sunrise (and then the follow-ups, Before Sunset and Before Midnight).

Seconding this recommendation. If you like them, you should also try Certified Copy.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:00 AM on August 13, 2013


It's not exactly a movie where everyone behaves, and there is natural death involved, but Little Miss Sunshine doesn't have any mayhem, murder, or violence, other than a couple of family arguments.

I'll second the recommendation for The Philadelphia Story and add another for the musical version, High Society.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:09 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Roman Holiday.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:14 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day has some people being mean and cheatery in it, but is fun and light, mostly because even though it was made recently, it comes from a book released in 1938 (and the original film treatment is, IIRC, from the same era).
posted by immlass at 9:24 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also: The Dish, an Australian movie about faking some broadcasts during the moon landing. (Not to be confused with faking the moon landing. This is a gentle film that involves sheep walking on a satellite dish, not movie studios and fake moon rocks.)

And, from the creative team behind The Dish, check out The Castle...It's one of my favorite movies, very feel-good. It's a comedy about the father of a quirky Melbourne family standing up to the Australian government when they want to use eminent domain to relocate the family's home to make room for an airport expansion. It's a great balance of dryly hilarious and affectionate.

(Beware that there is a scene in which a good guy threatens a bad guy with a gun, but it might help that the gun-toting character is then immediately berated by another good guy for even having the gun. And there are a few more f-bombs than Shakespeare would tend to be comfortable using.)
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:26 AM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Manny and Lo (though, technically, someone is kidnapped).
posted by googly at 9:36 AM on August 13, 2013


True Stories
Harvey
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:36 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Radio Days and Alice. Seconding Moonstruck and Soapdish.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 9:44 AM on August 13, 2013


The Truman Show is, IIRC, free of death and violence (depending, I suppose on whether you think the whole premise is a kidnapping or not).

Nobody's Fool is an underappreciated story about a man in a small town atoning for his life. There is one natural death, and at one point a policeman (a young Phillip Seymour Hoffman!) fires his pistol in the air, although the scene is not tense or threatening.

Come to think of it, many of the movies on this list (found on the Nobody's Fool imdb page) would meet your criteria.
posted by gauche at 9:45 AM on August 13, 2013


The Apartment

It's the perfect palate cleanser in that everything works out pretty much how it should. Well, now that I say it, there's a swinging punch from a well-meaning tertiary character, but it's not at all tense or threatening.

Also, I love watching White Christmas in August.
posted by mochapickle at 9:52 AM on August 13, 2013


Experienced Preferred But Not Essential: A shy university-bound girl gets a summer job at a large hotel in Wales.

Lars and the Real Girl.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:08 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Happy Go Lucky
Old Joy
posted by Mender at 10:44 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once comes to my mind because I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, waiting for some tragic plot twist to happen.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:57 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I recommend Castaway on the Moon. It's not the downer that the IMDB makes it sound like.
posted by ceiba at 11:00 AM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Topsy-Turvy is fantastic.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:04 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems to me there's a lot of stuff to choose from.

Most if not all romantic comedies would seem to fit your needs ('Four weddings and a funeral' would be right up your alley). A lot of costume drama would also work ('The remains of the day' is the first that comes to mind.) Also: 'My neighbour Totoro' and most if not all other stuff by Miyazaki; 'Monsters Inc .' and most if not all stuff by Pixar (you might want to avoid 'The Incredibles', though it's probably light-hearted and cartoonish enough to be OK).
posted by rjs at 11:07 AM on August 13, 2013


Castaway on the Moon! Seconding. That was simply wonderful, and it takes its time.

Enchanted. And if you want to stick with Shakespeare, do the Kenneth Branagh version of Much Ado (I am still obsessed with Emma Thompson running through a vineyard in a white dress), or the 1999 version of A Midsummer Night's Dream (which is admittedly a bit uneven but still fun). I'd say An Education, but there's some stealing. It's not terribly personal, but it's there.

One thing you might try is a film ratings website like Kids In Mind. It's built for pre-screening films for kids based on violence, sex, and profanity. I have a tough time with violence, so it's helped me anticipate what I might see or else help me decide to avoid it altogether.
posted by mochapickle at 11:25 AM on August 13, 2013


Happy Go Lucky's trailer makes the movie seem much more pleasant than it is. I don't think it fits your criteria at all.

There is a scene in Once where someone is stolen from, though it's pretty non-threatening. Otherwise the movie fits perfectly.

I don't think Babe has any of the problems you mentioned. Many documentaries might meet your criteria. Man on Wire qualifies, though one of the protagonists is threatened at one point, but in sort of a fun way.
posted by cnc at 11:42 AM on August 13, 2013


Many documentaries might meet your criteria.

Indeed: Searching for Sugar Man. Spellbound. Wordplay. Murderball, despite the name. The Up series. Maybe not Capturing The Friedmans.

In scripted dramas: almost anything directed by Wes Anderson, Whit Stillman or Hal Hartley -- there is scamming and puffery and deceit, but little or no violence. If you speak French or have no objection to subtitles, Denys Arcand is great: The Decline of the American Empire, The Barbarian Invasions, and Jesus of Montreal, for a start (although that last does have about five seconds of mild violence).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:19 PM on August 13, 2013


For me, Babe: Pig in the City was a dark, twisted, evil thing. My friend and I walked out in the middle.
posted by ceiba at 12:34 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Band's Visit
American Splendor
A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman, and other Christopher Guest stuff
True Stories
Quiet City
posted by oulipian at 12:52 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me, Babe: Pig in the City was a dark, twisted, evil thing. My friend and I walked out in the middle.

The two Babe movies are very different beasts. The first is innocent, the second is a bit twisted.

In scripted dramas: almost anything directed by Wes Anderson, Whit Stillman or Hal Hartley

While I think that Anderson is sort of uplifting, all of his pictures feature a fair chunk of grimness. The thieves in Bottle Rocket aren't really innocents, Royal Tannenbaums includes a suicide attempt, Life Aquatic has shootings, a hostage situation, and off-camera killings, and in Moonrise Kingdom a dog dies & you get a somewhat uncomfortable picture of little kids having sex. I like all of those movies, but they've got a darkness about them.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:53 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fandango does have some misbehavior, but it's more the high-spirited-hijinks kind - it's an underappreciated (in my opinion) film about the last weekend adventure 5 college roommates have before graduating the university of Texas in 1971, before all going their separate ways. It features Kevin Costner before he got all over-serious (he plays the daring ringleader and ladies' man in the group) and Judd Nelson plays a goody-two-shoes nebbishy guy.

The worst thing anyone does is get into a fireworks fight in a graveyard, steal someone's fries at a Sonic, and discuss draft-dodging (which may not even be that bad).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:58 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and they litter once and con a whole town into helping plan a wedding. But it's actually awesome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:00 PM on August 13, 2013


If you enjoyed The Station Agent then watch The Visitor, from the same writer/director, Thomas McCarthy. It's not immaculately heart-warming throughout but it's a very human and sensitive movie with a lot of excellent drumming in it.
posted by Hogshead at 1:24 PM on August 13, 2013


Does "blackmailed" count? If not, then I highly recommend The Zero Effect.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 2:00 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I forgot -- someone is killed in a flashback (no gore, but still) in The Zero Effect. Never mind.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 2:06 PM on August 13, 2013


Local Hero. There is a bit of over-the-top threatening language, but it's not actually a threat and played for laughs (hard to explain further without getting into spoilers).
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:07 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


And now that I'm back on a computer and can get a link posted:

Fandango! and its fan site.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:21 PM on August 13, 2013


Sorry no link, on my phone -- but Cold Comfort Farm is a lot of fun.
posted by trillian at 3:23 PM on August 13, 2013


Moonrise Kingdom
Spirited Away
Ponyo
posted by Sebmojo at 4:47 PM on August 13, 2013


Annie Hall! Although there are a couple scenes with drug use.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:35 PM on August 13, 2013


defending your life. Gentle, heartwarming.
posted by windykites at 7:49 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Strictly Ballroom - the best Baz Luhrman movie if you ask me.
posted by O9scar at 9:35 PM on August 13, 2013


I haven't seen them in years, but I have fond memories of The Big Kahuna and Secrets and Lies and Desk Set and Norman McLaren's Synchromy and Oskar Fischinger's Composition in Blue.
posted by brainwane at 10:48 PM on August 14, 2013


Just watched The Castle thanks to this AskMe, and it's just great. Also, in almost the exact same vein as my earlier endorsement of The Importance of Being Earnest, I'll also vouch for An Ideal Husband, which features Rupert Everett playing an almost identical role.

And if Jane Austen is just as acceptable as Oscar Wilde, then you should definitely be sure to remember Emma and Clueless
posted by Going To Maine at 5:51 PM on August 27, 2013


Oh this one, Mary and Max. ****Spoiler****** has a natural death at the end, but it is pure delight. Truly, you wont be sorry you watched this gem of a film!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:46 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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