I need a happy ending!
March 16, 2010 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend some uplifting, inspiring, happy, fun movies/documentaries that will restore one's faith in humanity. The tone of Pixar's UP is perfect, though it need not be animated.
posted by desjardins to Media & Arts (85 answers total) 93 users marked this as a favorite
My Neighbor Totoro. It's impossible to watch that movie and be sad. (See also: Ponyo, Whisper of the Heart, Kiki's Delivery Service, etc)
posted by specialagentwebb at 7:10 AM on March 16, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:11 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

I came here to recommend Totoro too. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, also by Miyazaki, is a bummer for most of the movie, but the end is pretty fabulous - especially if you need a good cry.

Also obligatory: March of the Penguins.

This is a little goofy, but my go-to movie when I'm feeling down is Clueless. Admittedly, it's probably only great because I grew up with it.
posted by giraffe at 7:14 AM on March 16, 2010

posted by wabbittwax at 7:14 AM on March 16, 2010

This probably sounds like it's coming out of left field, but if you can deal with frat-boy humor, Role Models ends up being surprisingly adorable/happy/schmoopy at the end.
posted by specialagentwebb at 7:15 AM on March 16, 2010

I came in to recommend Ponyo, so consider the Miyazaki recommendations nthed.
posted by immlass at 7:16 AM on March 16, 2010

Harold and Maude
posted by Sublimity at 7:18 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by nitsuj at 7:18 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Bubble Boy is my go-to movie of this type.
posted by nowoutside at 7:18 AM on March 16, 2010

Documentary: The Cruise
posted by jayder at 7:20 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Breaking Away is a perennial favorite. I also really like The Office (US version) for feelings like this.
posted by The Michael The at 7:20 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Bicentennial Man: Robin Williams is a robot that becomes self-aware and battles prejudice and law to be declared a human being. Light near-future aesthetic. Makes me cry every time. It's an ugly cry, but it is really rooted in the feeling of "oh my god, we will finally get these things right and people will have their dignity restored."
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:31 AM on March 16, 2010

Documentaries are usually all learny, but if you want one that's cute, fun, funny, sweet, happy, and heartwarming, try The Natural History of the Chicken. Here's a preview. I don't know how much of it is on YouTube but it appears to be a good bit. Just delightful.
posted by Askr at 7:35 AM on March 16, 2010

I came to recommend the Cruise as well. Absolutely fantastic.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:38 AM on March 16, 2010

Small Change.
posted by The Mouthchew at 7:38 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

The big guns: It may be impossible to watch The Princess Bride and remain in a bad mood.
Repeat as needed.
posted by 8dot3 at 7:40 AM on March 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

Almost Famous fills my heart with warmth every single time I watch it.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:41 AM on March 16, 2010

What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

Seconding The Princess Bride.
posted by procrastination at 7:41 AM on March 16, 2010

Pageant is an awesome one, I tell you what. It's a documentary about a national drag queen competition. I was in a rotten mood when I turned on the TV, and when it was done I was just so happy to be in a world where people can be appreciated for such a wide, unique array of talents. The parts where the kid and mom and straight male friend and younger brother of the contestants support them are just so wonderful to see.
posted by Madamina at 7:43 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's kind of nerve-wracking but Spellbound is a doc that did it for me.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:45 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

perfect childhood in film. I love these

(see them in this order)

La gloire de mon père

Le château de ma mère
posted by alchemist at 7:48 AM on March 16, 2010

Little Miss Sunshine
posted by General Tonic at 7:49 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

The Fisher King.
posted by apis mellifera at 7:49 AM on March 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

Standing in the Shadows of Motown. It's a documentary about The Funk Brothers, the Detroit session band which provided the music for the vast majority of Motown hits in the 1late 1950s and 1960s.

It's set up with interviews from surviving musicians interspersed with songs from a reunion concert with contemporary singer-songwriters (and Bootsy Collins) providing vocals. Ridiculously fun.
posted by valkyryn at 7:50 AM on March 16, 2010

I almost suggested Pageant also, and then I thought, "No greekphilosophy, drag queens are just what restores *your* faith in humanity." But since I have independent verification that the documentary IS - in fact - great, I will go ahead and second it with emphasis! I saw it at the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival before they changed the name from that unweildy monster to the much neater and more inclusive QFest. It was the highlight of my summer a couple years ago, and I command to your attention "Porkchop's" rendition of "And I'm Telling You (I'm Not Going)" during which you must simply let yourself go and enjoy one of the most hilarious, over the top drag performances ever captured on film. If you aren't at least giggling madly during it, then something is wrong with the universe and I am going to have to go back to fearing for humanity.
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:54 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Amelie always does it for me.
posted by booth at 7:54 AM on March 16, 2010 [5 favorites]

You're going to think I'm crazy, but if you watch this you will find that it fits your needs perfectly: ANVIL: The Story of Anvil. Here's the New Yorker review.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:00 AM on March 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

What's Up, Doc?
posted by chazlarson at 8:02 AM on March 16, 2010

The Princess Bride.

Sixteen Candles.

Dead Poets Society

Hairspray (the original John Waters-directed one.)
posted by dnash at 8:06 AM on March 16, 2010

The Wedding Singer. Bread and Tulips. Muriel's Wedding. The six-hour BBC Pride & Prejudice.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:12 AM on March 16, 2010

Half Nelson (although not everyone might agree)
Sunshine Cleaning
posted by puritycontrol at 8:12 AM on March 16, 2010

You may want to look at the films honored by Heartland Truly Moving Pictures, an organization whose purpose is "to recognize and honor filmmakers whose work explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for positive values of life. Heartland values include hope, integrity, tolerance, beauty, reconciliation, courage, humility, faith and fidelity."

They run the Heartland Film Festival every October in Indianapolis, and also recognize theatrical releases throughout the year with their "Truly Moving Picture" Award. See both sets here. (Use the "Filter list by" drop-down to switch between the "Truly Moving Picture" award winners and the festival films, etc.)

I don't have time at the moment to pick out an extensive list (maybe later), but one of the first movies that jumps to my mind is Secondhand Lions.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:19 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Short Circuit

*batteries not included
WARNING: features the most adorable alien robots imaginable.
posted by Alison at 8:25 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

We just did this a few months ago (except the animation stipulation was reversed, not that anyone pays attention to those stipulations in these threads).
posted by bricoleur at 8:25 AM on March 16, 2010

posted by Go Banana at 8:27 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Big Fish is a delight.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:32 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Court Jester is stupid fun, it always makes me laugh.

The Black Stallion
, beautifully shot movie with a death at the beginning but life affirmation throughout

Helvetica, but maybe I'm just weird

Singin' in the Rain, dude!

The Iron Giant

millionthing Miyazaki.. Kiki's delivery service!!
posted by Erasmouse at 8:33 AM on March 16, 2010

On the robot note, Wall-E and The Iron Giant, although they both also contain monumental human stupidity.
posted by mkb at 8:35 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's an older one, but very sweet and funny: Waking Ned Devine
posted by davey_darling at 8:37 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Man on Wire is exactly what you're looking for. It's a documentary that chronicles Phillipe Petit's high-wire walk between two towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. It's absolutely marvelous.
posted by General Malaise at 8:40 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:42 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

To Be and To Have.
posted by arianell at 8:42 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by patheral at 8:44 AM on March 16, 2010

I love documentaries. My list of Feel-Good Documentaries:

Buena Vista Social Club

The Last Waltz

It Might Get Loud

When We Were Kings

Mad Hot Ballroom

Man On Wire


And my absolute, #1, go-to documentary for when I am feeling blue:

Say Amen, Somebody
posted by magstheaxe at 8:51 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Kinky Boots is about a shoe company in the UK that is about to go under, and the owner decides to change their product line to fashionable shoes/boots for drag queens. *highly recommended*

Everything Is Illuminated, about a young Jew with a strange habit of collecting personal belongings from his family, travels to the Ukraine to track down the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis (it's actually pretty funny).

Nthing Amelie, The Iron Giant, Stranger Than Fiction
posted by lizbunny at 8:59 AM on March 16, 2010

Oh, and I can't praise this animated movie enough:

Sita Sings the Blues (SLYT, watch it legally for free!) (Roger Ebert's review)(official web site)
posted by magstheaxe at 8:59 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Herb and Dorothy, about an NYC couple of very modest means, who have emmased one of the most important collections of contemporary (particularly minimalist) art in the world.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:05 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Born into Brothels
Lilo and Stitch is a wonderful movie.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:05 AM on March 16, 2010

Billy Elliot
posted by lizbunny at 9:08 AM on March 16, 2010

I think that the upcoming movie/documentary Babies will fit the bill though I've only seen the trailer. Comes out on Mother's Day.

Description: A visually stunning and joyful new film that simultaneously chronicles the lives of four of the world’s newest human inhabitants - in Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco, and Tokyo, respectively -- from first breath to first steps, on a journey at once universal and amazingly original.
posted by cecic at 9:18 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is a great thread. To the Pride and Prejudice mentioned above (this one? I agree!) I will add the Emma Thompson / Ang Lee version of Sense and Sensibility. Wonderfully cathartic.
posted by Songdog at 10:12 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Defending Your Life
Groundhog Day
Away We Go (Disclaimer: this is a seriously flawed movie, but it fits all your criteria.)

Seconding Spellbound (the 2002 documentary).
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:16 AM on March 16, 2010

nthing amelie and princess bride
i also go to the 2005 pride and prejudice, chungking express, and castaway on the moon
posted by raw sugar at 10:28 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I go for The Straight Story and The Station Agent.
posted by monkeystronghold at 10:47 AM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Inspiring True Life Stories aren't my bag but I'm glad Mrs. Beese forced me to watch Temple Grandin. Fascinating story, nicely acted, and the protagonist really is a hero.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:48 AM on March 16, 2010

The Gods must be Crazy, parts one through a squillion.
posted by msali at 10:55 AM on March 16, 2010

Any movie that's a retelling of classic literature -- Clueless (as mentioned above), 10 Things I Hate About You, O Brother Where Art Thou, Bridget Jones, Ever After. I like the cyclical nature of storytelling, and it's a good reminder that some things hold true for humans for hundreds if not thousands of years.
posted by lhall at 11:11 AM on March 16, 2010

Seconding Kinky Boots.

Also, In America is delightful--sweet and sad at turns and a little melodramatic with a happy ending.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:34 AM on March 16, 2010

Big Fish and Princess Bride for sure. The Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility. Strictly Ballroom. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
posted by rodgerd at 11:38 AM on March 16, 2010

n'thing Amelie

It's a Wonderful Life

A lot of uplifting movies that restore your faith in humanity are about the tough lessons learned along the way, like Life is Beautiful and Shawshank Redemption. It's the triumph over adversity that makes the film uplifting.
posted by cranberryskies at 12:10 PM on March 16, 2010

You might find some gems in this thread, as well.
posted by moira at 12:23 PM on March 16, 2010

Cinema Paradiso
posted by littleredwagon at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Big Lebowski always cheers me up, even though Donnie dies. Strikes and gutters, lotta ups, lotta downs, lotta what-have-yous.

Everything is Illuminated (featuring a dog named Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr.)
Life is Beautiful
The Shawshank Redemption
Wall-E (and pretty much all of their shorts)
The Triplets of Belleville! (a mostly silent movie, but there's a lot of heart) Love that movie!
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 12:53 PM on March 16, 2010

Also: Once.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 12:54 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lars and the Real Girl
posted by marsha56 at 12:56 PM on March 16, 2010

Japan: A Story of Love and Hate

I was going to do a 'previously' but I can't find it anywhere on MetaFilter.

It's here somewhere, isn't it?
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 1:11 PM on March 16, 2010

Pure feel-good: nth-ing Princess Bride.

Life-affirming, although a bit poignant at times: After Life (Wandafuru Raifu).
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 1:14 PM on March 16, 2010

Whip It.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:39 PM on March 16, 2010

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:55 PM on March 16, 2010

The German gem, Out of Rosenheim (aka Bahgdad Cafe), with Jack Palance and others

Robert Redford's and John Nicol's Milagro Beanfield War, where even the "bad guys" are likeable.

More mainstream: Legally Blonde and The Fifth Element.
posted by rw at 2:09 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I doubt many would agree, but Sideways always does it for me. The whole no matter how screwed up your life is you can start over 'now'.
posted by justgary at 3:20 PM on March 16, 2010

If you've already seen and enjoyed Amelie, I'd like to recommend A Very Long Engagement by the same director. I liked it so much better than Amelie (which I also enjoyed).

The Straight Story went a long way towards restoring my faith in humanity -- not a funny film, but there's a good deal of "kindness of strangers" about it.

For a documentary, I have a squishy feeling inside for Genghis Blues. I would recommend ALL Buster Keaton films, or at least all of his silent pictures before MGM got ahold of him. Start with The General.
posted by stennieville at 3:58 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

2nding The Milagro Beanfield War --that lifts me out of a depression every time.

Also, My Life as a Dog
Monsoon Wedding
Bride and Prejudice

The last 1 is a fusion of Bollywood and Hollywood--lots of color, singing and dancing--just very beautiful--you can't help but watch B&P with a big grin on your face.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 4:34 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I second Billy Elliot, Lilo and Stitch, Sideways, and Eat Drink Man Woman. Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet is great too.
posted by halonine at 7:47 PM on March 16, 2010

Ever After
O Brother, Where Art Thou
Bend It Like Beckham
posted by rodgerd at 2:09 AM on March 17, 2010

Love, Actually
posted by holdenjordahl at 7:52 AM on March 17, 2010

Oh, seconding Tampopo and also finally remembered the first one I thought of yesterday and then got distracted and forgot - another that has some pretty tough stuff but I found genuinely uplifting - Shine.
posted by nanojath at 9:25 AM on March 17, 2010

The ending of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times is all one needs. And it works as a stand-alone short.
posted by marco_nj at 3:46 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

its a bit old but Kavik is a childhood favourite which made me both cry and happy at the end
posted by marienbad at 11:39 AM on March 19, 2010

The Dish is one of the best Australian movies and is warm and happy.
posted by Lesium at 11:38 PM on March 19, 2010

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