Still MORE funny, charming, intelligent movies?
May 6, 2015 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend well-written, funny, charming, gentle movies.

As a follow-up to my previous questions about charming TV shows and movies and smart Britcoms, I'm looking for still more intelligent and funny movies to watch - emphasis on just movies this time (not TV).

Here's what I'm looking for:
  • charming and gentle - avoiding excessive snark or cringy humor, as well as gory murder mysteries
  • really high quality - great writing, great acting, great directing
  • all countries welcome - US, UK, Canada, Australia; foreign language stuff is okay too
  • doesn't HAVE to be funny but definitely prefer at least some comedy in my dramedy
  • strong preference for stuff that's available in the US on DVD, although if you know of something amazing that's not available, I'd still love to hear about it for my "maybe someday" list

Things recommended in the previous thread I have now seen (and liked!):

Baghdad Cafe
Being There
Big Night
It Happened One Night
Lars and the Real Girl
Love Actually
Love in a Cold Climate
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Midnight in Paris
Mighty Aphrodite
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
Notting Hill
Shall We Dance
Sweet Land
Win Win

(And I'm still working my way through dpcoffin's fantastic suggestions.)

Other good examples - things I've seen and liked that exemplify what I'm looking for:
  • lots of Studio Ghibli, including Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and especially My Neighbor Totoro
  • lots of Pixar, including The Incredibles, Up, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc
  • Coraline and Paranormal

84 Charing Cross Road
The Artist
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Despicable Me
Galaxy Quest
In a World
Kitchen Stories
Lilo and Stitch
Monsieur Hulot's Holiday
Robot and Frank
Schultze Gets the Blues
The Triplets of Belleville

So - what have I missed? What else is out there?

Thank you so much!
posted by kristi to Media & Arts (87 answers total) 136 users marked this as a favorite
The Station Agent
posted by Crane Shot at 8:24 AM on May 6, 2015 [10 favorites]

Dean Spanley, although there is some sorrow, it's lovely and quite funny in bits.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:25 AM on May 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Her
Anything by Wes Anderson
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (Bollywood)
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:25 AM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: I'm not sure if Easy A would be a little too far off the side of gentle for you, but I love that movie. Emma Stone's character is smart and capable and her family is loving and supportive, and those things are central to what is a very funny movie.

I'd also recommend Little Miss Sunshine for being funny and charming even though suicide, death, and drug use are all plot points.

I don't see Wreck It Ralph in your Pixar list (well, because it isn't Pixar), but it's probably my favorite Disney movie.
posted by phunniemee at 8:27 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

My favorite film in the whole, wide, world; Auntie Mame!

Seriously, anytime I am flipping, and it's on, I just stop and watch the whole thing! I must have watched it over a hundred times!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 8:31 AM on May 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

You might like the work of Eric Rohmer
posted by Ideal Impulse at 8:31 AM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: Came here to say The Station Agent.

This is a serious love-or-hate picture (I've never once spoken to someone in between), but: Napoleon Dynamite. Totally fits the bill as you laid it out: it's a fairy tale where even the bullies are sweet in their own way.

Also, Ed Wood. There's some sadness and a death, but it's about as charming as it gets (in general, it's about the power of friendship).

If you don't mind a documentary: I Am Santa Claus. I'm a confirmed cynic and even I found it charming.
posted by holborne at 8:34 AM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Big Hero 6 was actually AMAZING. Amazing, amazing, amazing!
I haven't laughed (or cried) so much during a movie for a long time....
posted by JenThePro at 8:34 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Moonrise Kingdom and We Are the Best! are both incredibly charming movies.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:37 AM on May 6, 2015

About Time! Oh my gosh, yeah. It involves the same guy who did Love Actually and it's incredibly sweet and funny.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:38 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Noises Off
A Perfect Husband
Chef (the movie, not the TV show)
The Decoy Bride (this movie is a bit slight, but also avoids a lot of typical romcom pitfalls - and it gets a bonus if you are a David Tennant fan)
The Secret of Kells, maybe?
Bride and Prejudice
posted by wintersweet at 8:42 AM on May 6, 2015

Truly, Madly, Deeply (oops, I recommended this last time, never mind, but I hope you've seen it)
posted by mefireader at 8:44 AM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Dean Spanley. It's about one of the ten great dogs of Britain iirc.
Mr. Bean's Holiday, which is not even half as cringey as most Mr. Bean stuff. Gentle and funny, physical humour. (It's not altogether unlike M Hulot's Holiday)
Venus, really nice, tender film with Peter O'Toole as an old reprobate.
Mid-August Lunch, Italian film, family centred, with old people.
The Hairdresser's Husband. In French, a sweet film with a rather bitter edge though.
posted by glasseyes at 8:44 AM on May 6, 2015

Le Chef. Totally Le Chef.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:46 AM on May 6, 2015

The American President
The Hundred Foot Journey
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:46 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have a look at the old screwball comedies and the films that grew out of that genre like the Thin Man series.
posted by gauche at 8:47 AM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Impromptu is very enjoyable and amusing.
posted by mdrew at 8:48 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Noises Off- Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, it's a total delight.
posted by charmedimsure at 8:49 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Big Fish
posted by telegraph at 8:50 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by BibiRose at 8:50 AM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: Apparently I have a soft spot for small-town quirkiness (these are mostly heavy on the "gentle" and "quality" bit of your request, less laugh-a-minute):

Kinky Boots
Waking Ned Devine
The Full Monty
Little Voice

If you don't mind documentaries, there is a whole world of gentle little docs about very specific things. I'll start that off with Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and will add more if they work for you.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:51 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hmmm...I wonder if you'd like The Science of Sleep and/or Mood Indigo by Michel Gondry? I find these both to be incredibly charming, quirky and fun with all the fun dreamlike-effects.

Seconding The Thin Man!
posted by Shadow Boxer at 8:52 AM on May 6, 2015

Seconding Big Fish - though I was shocked to read that Spalding Gray watched it shortly before he finally committed suicide. I saw it at a very critical turning point in my life, and it turned me the opposite direction (up).
Speaking of "Up" - I remember that as pretty upbeat. My own best rec = "After Life." Also, "Local Hero."
posted by mmiddle at 8:53 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cold Comfort Farm.
posted by maggiepolitt at 8:57 AM on May 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

Miss Firecracker
The Accidental Tourist
posted by xingcat at 9:00 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Steel Magnolias. It's streaming on Netflix!

It gets a rep as a tearjerker but it's really funny and as long as you're prepared for the sad bits they're not really so bad. It's not exactly Dancer in the Dark or whatever.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:04 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Obvious Child? There is cringe, but it's all very good-natured.
posted by mskyle at 9:11 AM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: Yellow Submarine
Breakfast with Curtis
Show Me Love
posted by bricoleur at 9:11 AM on May 6, 2015

Coming to America. Somewhat dumb ending, but very well written.
posted by Melismata at 9:12 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

"Out Of Sight". An Elmore Leonard crime film that is actually a gentle, warm comedy of manners.
posted by Chitownfats at 9:19 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Twice Upon a Time , one ôf those weird little gems that almost no one has seen, looks like it is being released later this spring, yay!
Have you seen The Gods Must be Crazy ?
posted by BoscosMom at 9:23 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Pre-history of Future Folk is charming and hilarious. Might be a little too indie to be on DVD, but it's on Netflix. Minor aliens-threaten-the-world storyline, but mostly musical romantic comedy.

(make sure you go pee before the dance scene, because if you haven't, you will.)
posted by scruss at 9:28 AM on May 6, 2015

My Favorite Year
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:30 AM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Enough Said is Nicole Holofcener film that is quite funny and bittersweet. I just watched it second time and I hardly ever do that.
posted by pantarei70 at 9:30 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nanny McPhee (a personal favorite I've watched hundreds of times - the original one with Emma Thompson is the best, the second one is just okay)
My Fair Lady (Audrey Hepburn classic)
Kinky Boots
Gosford Park (I'm a British TV and movie fan, and the mainstream series Downton Abbey absolutely pales in comparison to this movie which formed the basis of the series - same creator)
Pixar: Ratatouille, Wall-E
The Croods
Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightley)
Whatever Works (I see two Woody Allen movies on your list, you should check out more of his comedies)
One Fine Day (Michelle Pfeiffer is uncharacteristically warm in this one, but then again, who wouldn't be when you're acting opposite a funny, charming, irrepressible George Clooney?)
Sleepless in Seattle/ You've Got Mail (Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, the charming-est, funniest on-screen chemistry EVER!)
Big (speaking of Tom Hanks)
The Wedding Planner (I'm not a fan of Jennifer Lopez in general but this is a cute, funny role opposite a cheeky Matthew McConaughey)
Two Weeks Notice
Educating Rita
Something's Gotta Give
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Colin Firth movies tend to lend themselves to 'funny, charming' qualifiers: Calendar Girls, The King's Speech, The Importance of Being Earnest, My Life So Far
posted by Everydayville at 9:37 AM on May 6, 2015

Two of my favorite films of all time:

The Barbarian Invasions This is also a very sad film, but it is incredibly real and life affirming and filled with love and funny moments and good humor and real true friendship.

Wings of Desire This film, more than any other, makes me appreciate the value of flawed humanity.
posted by janey47 at 9:59 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Whit Stillman makes this kind of movie.
Last Days of Disco
Damsels in Distress

Also, Hal Hartley's early movies (and his later movies are still great but are less gentle, somehow). Maybe a bit more stylized than you might be looking for, but I find them extremely funny and charming and just delightful.
The Unbeliveable Truth
Simple Men - this is one of my all-time favorite movies. Personal top ten.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:13 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Pretty much everything by Working Dog Productions. Start with The Castle. If you can track down the entire first season of Utopia, do that too.
posted by flabdablet at 10:33 AM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: Gregory's Girl and Local Hero are two of my favorites. Also, Vodka Lemon and a Swedish movie about a census agent who goes door to door to count in a remote village and develops a relationship with a crochety old man who is having none of it.

I totally have to find the name of that movie and watch it again.
posted by singmespanishtechno at 10:34 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Way Way Back
posted by HillbillyInBC at 10:38 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

My Man Godfrey.
posted by Cocodrillo at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you seen The Thick Of It or In The Loop? Political satire that goes straight for the jugular, no holds barred. Great, great comedy. But when Working Dog takes on much the same material in much the same mockumentary style, you end gasping for breath not from being punched in the stomach and kneed in the nuts, but from being gently but relentlessly tickled until you can't stand it any more.
posted by flabdablet at 10:43 AM on May 6, 2015

Seconding Local Hero.
Pieces of April.
posted by rekrap at 10:45 AM on May 6, 2015

Came back to offer Let it Ride.
posted by rekrap at 10:51 AM on May 6, 2015

Dave, about a small temp agency owner/part-time Presidential impersonator who's asked to fill in for the real president he resembles. Stars Kevin Kline and Sigorney Weaver, directed by Ivan Reitman.
posted by easily confused at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Nthing Kinky Boots. Fantastic movie.
posted by vignettist at 10:57 AM on May 6, 2015

A Room with a View?
posted by BoscosMom at 11:00 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

 a Swedish movie about a census agent who goes door to door to count in a remote village and develops a relationship with a crochety old man who is having none of it.
Kitchen Stories? I'd certainly recommend that one.
posted by scruss at 11:03 AM on May 6, 2015

The Commitments - about a band who attempt to bring soul music to 80s/early 90s Dublin.
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 11:09 AM on May 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Australian films "The Dish" and "The Castle" You can rent both on Amazon.
posted by wwax at 11:34 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Strictly Ballroom, an early Baz Luhrman film. And another vote for Local Hero.

If you liked Kitchen Stories, definitely O'Horten. Also, The Man Without A Past.
posted by O9scar at 11:39 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

You wouldn't ordinarily think of David Lynch films within these parameters, but I'm surprised no one has recommended The Straight Story.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:18 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Illusionist, it's by the makers of Triplets of Belleville.
posted by ananci at 12:24 PM on May 6, 2015

The Commitments has the added bonus of featuring Glen Hansard, from Once.
posted by punchtothehead at 12:25 PM on May 6, 2015

Mystic Pizza
posted by Blitz at 12:41 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by brujita at 12:47 PM on May 6, 2015

The Lunchbox (Dabba)--about the pen pal relationship that evolves when a homemade lunch is delivered to the wrong person in Mumbai.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

My Brilliant Career
posted by BoscosMom at 1:01 PM on May 6, 2015

Kings of Summer
Begin Again (Written and directed by John Carney, who did Once)
posted by lakemarie at 1:12 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tea with Mussolini and the film of A Question of Attribution. The History Boys and maybe also The Lady in the Van when it's released this autumn.
posted by paduasoy at 1:33 PM on May 6, 2015

Last year's sleeper Pride was quite enjoyable.
posted by kat518 at 1:35 PM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: Also The Darling Buds of May and the films of Mary Wesley's novels (The Camomile Lawn, Harnessing Peacocks and The Vacillations of Poppy Carew). Not sure how available these are, I'm afraid, but if nothing else there may be clips online which will give you a sense of whether you should put them on your "some day" list.
posted by paduasoy at 1:39 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook. The movie Parenthood with Steve Martin is one of my favorites. And the movie State and Main isn't especially sweet but it has a great cast and script.
posted by kat518 at 1:39 PM on May 6, 2015

Anne of Green Gables (RIP Jonathon Crombie).
Children of Heaven is also a very sweet Iranian film about a little boy who loses his kid sister's shoes and has to find a way to replace them.
posted by dean_deen at 1:41 PM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: All-time Favorite Gentle Movies
(Seconding) Cold Comfort Farm
Fly Away Home

Worth Checking Out
Return to Me (Bonnie Hunt wrote and directed. Sappy and very imperfect but warm-hearted.)
Peggy Sue Got Married
God Help The Girl (twee warning: Belle & Sebastian)
Chungking Express (Some violence, but the style and charm more than compensate, imo. Subtitles.)
posted by hiker U. at 1:47 PM on May 6, 2015

Charlie's Aunt, starring Jack Benny.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (loved this movie!)
Also wanted to mention The Thin Man series.
posted by I_love_the_rain at 2:08 PM on May 6, 2015

Bill Cunningham New York is a documentary from 2010 about a man who's done nothing but live his dream for the majority of his life, and been successful. Watching it made me blissfully happy.
posted by Rinku at 2:23 PM on May 6, 2015

I thought The Brothers Bloom was charming.
Ridley Scott said Matchstick Men was his attempt at something like a Billy Wilder comedy. More specifically, he said that everything that passes for comedy these days was either violent or disgusting, and he wanted to do something that wasn't that.

Seems I only watch charming, upbeat comedies when they're about con artists.

So, on that note, let me also recommend, in case you haven't seen it,

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:35 PM on May 6, 2015

Try Death at a Funeral - the British version!
posted by jrobin276 at 2:40 PM on May 6, 2015

Soapdish - a little silly, but charming and very funny.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:03 PM on May 6, 2015

That Thing You Do!

Seconding Strictly Ballroom!
posted by killy willy at 3:10 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Second Hand Lions for sure
posted by like_neon at 3:16 PM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: Happy Accidents

Next Stop Wonderland

The Visitor

My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle

seconding The Way Way Back - one of my favorite movies in the last few years
posted by jilloftrades at 4:04 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

In your eyes - written by Joss Whedon, though not very whedonesque. V sweet though.

Wadjda - about an Iranian girl who wants a bicycle. Sad, but sweet.
posted by kjs4 at 4:59 PM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: I'm surprised no one has mentioned The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


Bottle Rocket
posted by triggerfinger at 5:52 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

+1 Local Hero -- one of my all-time favorites.

Ground Hog Day, and Harold and Maude are streaming on Netflix, if by some chance you haven't seen them.

You might like some of Louis Malle's films; his movies are always well-written, with great acting. Try Murmur of the Heart, or Atlantic City (don't be put off by the blurb on that page; while there's a little bit of violence in it, it's handled in a very restrained, non-gory manner).
posted by Bron at 6:14 PM on May 6, 2015


some of the recs in this thread are neither charming, funny nor gentle. This one is all of them.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:08 PM on May 6, 2015

Desperately Seeking Susan. Love it.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:10 PM on May 6, 2015

I to this day still love LA Story.
posted by Toddles at 8:21 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you like Miyazaki, try Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:13 PM on May 6, 2015

Best answer: Great question! Here are three options from different parts of the cinema world. I love all of these movies.

Bringing up Baby is a screwball comedy with Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, a thieving dog, and a leopard.

Happy-Go-Lucky is a British slice of life with a main character who is optimistic, but not naive. As a timesaving measure, you will know if you will love the movie after the opening scene. There is some nudity, and some rough language.

Tampopo is a Japanese "ramen western". A truck driver helps a ramen shop make the greatest bowl of ramen ever known. The movie takes many side paths, with vignettes about food, people, and love. There is some nudity. There is also some blood/gore, but it is not meant to be horrifying/grim.
posted by George Malloy at 7:34 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Almost forgot: Waking Ned Devine --- a gentle little UK comedy about how a small town grouch wins the lottery, but the shock kills him; the other villagers try to fake him still being alive so they can all split the winnings.
posted by easily confused at 7:37 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

La Grande Seduction (English title: Seducing Dr. Lewis)--the French language one from 2003; I can't vouch for the English language remake because I haven't seen it.

Pirate Radio (aka The Boat That Rocked)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:43 PM on May 7, 2015

Response by poster: This is PHENOMENAL. Thank you ALL so much!

I really truly wanted to mark everything as best answer, but that would have been ridiculous, so instead I marked everyone who recommended at least three things. But really, these are all fantastic.

In appreciation for all these amazing suggestions, I will try to put together a quick spreadsheet and link it from my profile, so other folks can easily benefit from all these great ideas. I'll update this post when I've done that.

Thank you, all, for all these wonderful suggestions. This is just fantastic.
posted by kristi at 10:43 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The World's Fastest Indian with Anthony Hopkins, based on a true story out of NZ
Red Dog, a gorgeous Australian film
The Little Death, another Australian film, little heard of and HIGHLY underrated. One of the most touching vignette's I've seen on film happens right near the end
Still on Australian films - Kenny, Muriel's Wedding (the film that launched Toni Collette)
Dan In Real Life with Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet
Yes Man, another Jim Carrey film that is Walter Mitty-esque
French Kiss - Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline
Catch Me If You Can - Leo DiCaprio, also based on a true story

+1's to Chef and The Castle and Strictly Ballroom

And if you like foreign films like Amelie, pretty much any of Daniel Auteuil's French comedies fit the bill. Also Jean Reno in Tais-toi! and Les Visiteurs is both delicious and hilarious. The Lunchbox, an Indian film that came out last year is also beautiful, touching and uplifting.
posted by Zaire at 5:35 AM on May 9, 2015

Best answer: Here are some exceptionally sweet, funny films that I've seen at film festivals over the past few years and that I don't see mentioned here:

Liberal Arts
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Curse of the Gothic Symphony (delightful Australian documentary about a group of musicians attempting to perform the biggest and most complex symphony ever written)
Village at the End of the World
Natural Selection
The One I Love
Obvious Child
Hand In Hand (whimsical French romantic comedy that I fell in love with).
posted by RubyScarlet at 5:06 AM on May 10, 2015

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