Safe movies for the very anxious
July 28, 2022 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I’m looking for movies where there is no shootout, nobody dies, and there is no infidelity and preferably minimal dating/romance and no one is suicidal.

I have zero tolerance for just about anything upsetting on screen, and thus watch very few movies. What can I watch?

I’ve just watched the 2020+ Oceans 11 set and they were great. Kept my attention and no one got blown up. I watch old episodes of Colombo, bracing myself for the one murder in the beginning but when they surprise me with a second, I get upset.

I can’t just keep watching The Breakfast Club and The Fantastic Mr Fox. (I am generally not into cartoons and find live action Wes Anderson off-putting). I’m not into Jane Austen. I used to love Love Actually but can’t anymore with the cheating.

I liked Pitch Perfect and Spotlight (I guess that one was more about the investigation that the suffering?).

I am susceptible to panic attacks when I see realistic depictions of other people’s emotional distress. I will always be haunted by my reaction to Punch Drunk Love, for example.

I loved Ted Lasso (not a movie, I know) but was uncomfortable with the divorce-y bits in season one. I can deal with that level as long as the rest is wonderful. I’m really more interested in movies than in committing to seasons of TV.

What’s left?
posted by OrangeVelour to Media & Arts (84 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
The two Peter Rabbit movies (James Cordon) might fit your bill. I loved them both.
posted by jtexman1 at 6:31 AM on July 28, 2022

Since you mention Columbo, consider the current series All Creatures Great and Small, from BBC, streaming on PBS. There is just a touch of pretty chaste romance, not much and very sweet, no violence, and most of the animals pull through their various maladies. There is also a 1978 movie of the same title. Also other Brit shows like Doc Martin. In general I think you'll find more TV series than adult movies that fit your needs.
posted by beagle at 6:33 AM on July 28, 2022 [12 favorites]

Does it have to be a *good* movie? Because I've been thinking a lot about the 90s rollerblading movie "Airborne" a lot recently, and it fits your criteria. No real violence, no death, no SI, minimal romance (there's a romantic plotline, but it's small and not particularly integral to the rest of the plot), and no infidelity. It's fun and cheesy. I like it.

"Field of Dreams" has none of that stuff. There is one scene with a pretend gun, but it's obviously not real and it's called out onscreen as fake. And Kevin Costner's character is married, but I wouldn't say there's really much romance in the movie.

"Hoosiers" has very minimal romance.

It's really starting to look like sports movies might be the way to go.

"Rain Man", maybe? I don't think it really fits the vibe you're going for, but I can't really rule it out based on your criteria. The same goes for "The Social Network" - I'm pretty sure you don't want to watch that, but it kind of fits.

"That Thing You Do" is probably the best suggestion I can come up with.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:37 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'm having trouble thinking of suggestions, but I wonder if the web site will help you.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:38 AM on July 28, 2022 [11 favorites]

I like The Martian for this kind of mood. Plucky botanist Matt Damon gets left behind on a mission to Mars, everyone back on Earth works together using SCIENCE to save him, there's a fun '70s soundtrack to keep things clipping along. It's a lot like Oceans Eleven because it's all about competence in action by lots of different characters, there's a lot of charm and humor to it, and it's got a great aesthetic.

No one dies. The plucky botanist has a few setbacks but it's all in the service of narrative arc and letting the audience get to see more problem solving and competence in action. You never for a second believe he won't make it, so the whole thing feels reassuring despite the thrills, in the same way you might enjoy really good amusement park ride on a fixed track.
posted by mochapickle at 6:38 AM on July 28, 2022 [13 favorites]

Studio Ghibli movies? Try Ponyo.
posted by FifteenShocks at 6:51 AM on July 28, 2022 [7 favorites]

I've heard very good things about The Straight Story. Don't let the fact that it was directed by David Lynch faze you - it's so gentle it actually got a G rating.

It's based on the true story of an old WWII vet who's heard that his estranged brother in another state has had a stroke; he decides to go try to see his brother and make amends. But the farmer doesn't have a drivers' license or a car. So he drives his John Deere lawnmower all the way from Iowa to Wisconsin, towing a small trailer and doing 5 mph the whole way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:55 AM on July 28, 2022 [16 favorites]

Babette's Feast.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 6:55 AM on July 28, 2022 [8 favorites]

The Whit Stillman movie Metropolitan might work. There's some college age romantic tribulations but as I recall the emotionally charged stuff is mostly off screen.

Some borderline recommendations:

There was a whole genre of '80s British comedies about towns in Thatcherite Britain coming together in hard times--the Full Monty and Brassed Off come to mind. I don't know if that would be OK? The background stress is people being short on jobs, but the plot usually centers on "Will they pull off the show?"

One death movies:

The Sting
There's one death at the beginning. After that it's a con movie, with some apparent bad stuff but mostly manipulated to pull off the job.

State and Main is about a Hollywood film crew in a small town.
posted by mark k at 6:56 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

You want the Paddington movies.
posted by kingdead at 6:57 AM on July 28, 2022 [23 favorites]

Mochapickle's suggestion of The Martian seems perfect. It's a feel good movie with almost zero romance and no person-on-person violence. The protagonist gets injured by a natural event in the first five minutes.

Kid's movies with adult appeal like Paddington might be a good category to search in? (On edit: jinx)
posted by justkevin at 6:59 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Everyone throws a show/event/competition in order to save the camp/theatre/club/orphanage is a fairly common trope and those movies rarely have the kind of angst you want to avoid, though some of them do have some romance elements. TVTropes calls this Hey, Let's Put on a Show, and that page has a bunch of options for you to consider.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:00 AM on July 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

Came to suggest Field of Dreams.
Six Degrees of Separation might do the trick although
there is an injury that is later discovered to be staged.

Waking Life is a weird and surreal joint, and although
there's some conversation about how the protagonist(?) might already be dead,
I find it soothing when I'm in the right mood.

Also, not a movie, but there is a show on British television called Would I Lie to You which is two teams of competing comedians / entertainers telling tall tales to one another and trying to determine which stories are true. I find it to be fantastic escape media, and youtube has both clips and full episodes. There is some light teasing among the regulars but that is about as emotional as it gets.
posted by gauche at 7:08 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

There are a lot of feel good movies out there that fit your stated criteria, I think. You might not like all of them of course, but there's a lot to choose from. Some ideas:

Seconding The Martian.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind -- poor boy in Malawi who likes science invents a windmill that helps his community to save them from drought. There is food insecurity and a dog dies, but overall it's very heartwarming.

Booksmart -- coming-of-age buddy comedy about two high school girls who have excelled at school and want to have one night of rebellion/partying. There's some high-school level interest in kissing/sex, but not dating/romance per se.

Christopher Guest mockumentaries, like Best in Show or A Mighty Wind. Weird quirky characters all coming together for a particular type of thing, like dog shows or folk music. Some people find them uncomfortable because the characters are strange and funny, and not everyone likes that, but otherwise they should fit your criteria.

Feel-good documentaries like Crip Camp or Twenty Feet From Stardom or Spellbound.

The Parent Trap does have a divorced couple that the kids are trying to get back together (and the dad is now dating someone else), but no infidelity or other distressing content.

The School of Rock -- a guy fakes being a substitute teacher for extra cash and starts a rock band with the kids, first to live out his own dreams and then because the kids are great.

Older (pre-1960s) comedies -- They sometimes have a romantic thread, but often isn't the main draw of the film. I like screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby and The More The Merrier, both romantic comedies but really less about the romance than the comedy.
posted by alligatorpear at 7:13 AM on July 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

Bull Durham.
posted by Peach at 7:16 AM on July 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

There is some romance but Amelie is a fun and satisfying movie.
posted by rodneyaug at 7:18 AM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

A couple of my favorite gentle, feel good movies are Safety Not Guaranteed and Our Idiot Brother. These also have some romance but it is not overbearing.
posted by maddieD at 7:22 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Babette’s feast is great but there is a sea turtle death. Not sure if that would be too much for you-it did alarm me at the time.
posted by genmonster at 7:29 AM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

Word Play.
posted by Melismata at 7:42 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Some more ideas: Hidden Figures and The African Doctor (in French with subtitles).

You might be able to do Philomena, which is like Spotlight in that the underlying material is distressing (forced adoption), but it's about the investigation/search afterwards. There are some bits that are sad/distressing for characters, including learning about other characters who died (but they don't die in the narrative time of the movie).
posted by alligatorpear at 7:46 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

I haven't seen it myself, but I think The Queen of Katwe might fit your bill.
posted by praemunire at 7:48 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

There's a film of Three Men in a Boat! And it's got Michael Palin, Tim Curry and Stephen Moore in it!

I have no idea how you would get hold of it, but I'm confident it would fit your criteria.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:50 AM on July 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

Kind of an odd suggestion but I think you might like the first movie in Abbas Kiarostami's Koker trilogy, Where is the Friend's House?. It's about a schoolboy in an Iranian village who needs to return a notebook to his classmate in a different village, but the underlying theme is the complex ethical life of children and the incomprehension of adults who think children exist only to be disciplined.
posted by derrinyet at 7:51 AM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

The music film Once…and I'd probably have enjoyed it more if I wasn't on the edge of my seat the whole time, waiting for things to turn bad.
posted by brachiopod at 7:53 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

The Whit Stillman movie Metropolitan might work

“Metropolitan” does have a mention of an offscreen suicide.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:01 AM on July 28, 2022

Given your constraints I’m surprised Ted Lasso worked for you - I feel like it hits a pretty upsetting beat toward the end of the first season including one of the things you specifically don’t want. Some possibilities include Last Black Man in San Francisco, Leave No Trace, and CODA. I think these don’t hit your concerns.
posted by jeoc at 8:05 AM on July 28, 2022

Maybe Christopher Guest mockumentaries? This is Spinaltap, Best in Show, etc. The stakes are low and the movies are mostly just odd characters being weird.
Galaxy Quest would also probably be good - I think parodies in general will have lower stakes and fewer surprises than their source material.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2022 [8 favorites]

Teen dance movies? There is usually a bit of romance but it's often not the central thing. Save the Last Dance, Step Up and its sequels, Stomp the Yard, Take the Lead? Maybe expand to cheerleading and include Bring it On?
posted by aka burlap at 8:11 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Oh! I thought of some more. The very funny 90s comedy Noises Off. Maybe Clueless and Legally Blonde?
posted by aka burlap at 8:14 AM on July 28, 2022 [7 favorites]

I love Galaxy Quest, but there are shoot-outs and on-screen deaths.
posted by alligatorpear at 8:14 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

How do you feel about musicals? The older ones tend to emphasize the singing and dancing, and I think the plots would fall within your constraints, with the conflict generally being pretty low stakes. I'd start with Singin' in the Rain and maybe Top Hat. Also, there was a series of musicals in the 40s with all-Black casts, and those are pretty awesome. Stormy Weather is a good one.
posted by FencingGal at 8:19 AM on July 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

If you like science fiction, Star Trek the Motion Picture (the first one) and Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home both meet your criteria. (2 and 3 are way scarier.) Bonus points for mid-80s cultural nostalgia and loads of quotable lines in Star Trek IV.
posted by heatherlogan at 8:21 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Seconding parodies and old musicals.

Some old comedies you've probably seen:

Spaceballs - a (classic) parody mostly of Star Wars. There's a bit of shooting/violence but it's always in service of a punchline and very cartoony. The one slightly distressing bit might be the throwaway Alien parody scene where (spoiling in case this helps) a creature bursts out of a random guy's stomach at a bar, puts on a jaunty top hat, and starts singing "Hello My Baby"

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - might help to know in advance that nothing bad happens to anyone and it has a happy-making ending
posted by trig at 8:27 AM on July 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

Oh, the mention of Bring It On reminded me of Drumline. Romance subplot only.
posted by praemunire at 8:37 AM on July 28, 2022

The Impostors with Stanley Tucci is a completely ridiculous movie.
posted by Frowner at 8:38 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed the series "Julia" (HBO Max). It's about Julia Child and it left me with that "Ted Lasso afterglow"!
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Despite asking for minimal romance, I wonder if you might like Clueless. It hits a lot of your beats and the romance is very non-fraught.
posted by artisthatithaca at 8:47 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Feel-good documentaries like Crip Camp or Twenty Feet From Stardom or Spellbound.

Oh! It's a shorter documentary - only an hour - but He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin'. The dancer and choreographer Jacques D'Amboise ran a program in NYC public schools for a while, bringing dance programs to the various schools; the best kids in each school program also got invited to join a sort of "all-star" ensemble that did its own specially-created dance bit at the big year-end recital. The documentary focuses mainly on kids in that ensemble and the creation of their original number - including a surprise guest appearance by a handful of NYPD cops who get a dance of their own, and a very young Kevin Kline narrating the dance bit.

The whole thing is here on the Internet Archive.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - might help to know in advance that nothing bad happens to anyone and it has a happy-making ending

Oh, yes, seconding! It's perfect for this!
posted by mochapickle at 9:04 AM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

Money Ball!

Also all of Joan Hickson in Miss Marple is SO GOOD and you can also find all the old Poirots.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:08 AM on July 28, 2022

How about The Gods Must Be Crazy, or Song of the Sea?
posted by Acari at 9:19 AM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

If reality shows are ok, try The Repair Shop! Streaming in the US on Discovery Plus. Nice people who are really good their jobs fixing things for other nice people.
posted by amarynth at 9:21 AM on July 28, 2022 [6 favorites]

Not a movie, but Disney Tween shows are right up your alley. KC Undercover, Sam & Cat, Victorious, The Secrets of Sulphur Springs, etc are adult-enough to watch but not violent, not sexy and no bodycount.

KC Undercover has fights and shootouts with blowdryer laser guns, but the fights are mostly flipping, and people get knocked out with no blood, and the guns just stun.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:25 AM on July 28, 2022

Maybe the Paddington bear movies. I think there is one death in one episode of Paddingtons Uncle in the backstory section of the first one. But it's quickly done and more part of his backstory than a main plot point. The second one should be fine from memory. The character is basically the kindest most polite person/bear from deepest darkest Peru and about his journey to London and his kindness and love changing the people around him. With the odd comic book level bad guy.

They are lovely sweet movies.
posted by wwax at 9:28 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

but Disney Tween shows are right up your alley. KC Undercover, Sam & Cat, Victorious

They also feature big-name stars like Arinana Grande (Victorious, Cat in Sam & Cat) and Zendaya (KC Undercover).

The Lego Movies are also pretty awesome, but that may break your 'cartoon' rule.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:45 AM on July 28, 2022

How old a movie are you looking for? Babe is a treat.

Clueless was a modernized (90's) retelling of Jane Austen's Emma and is a lot of fun. There's some romance but it's at the high school level.

Julie and Julia
posted by Mchelly at 9:46 AM on July 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

I don't have any suggestions but I'd like to validate your experience with Punch Drunk Love. I can watch a lot of disturbing stuff, but whew. I don't think I'll ever need to revisit that movie.
posted by pullayup at 10:18 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Desk Set-Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movie. There is a romantic aspect, but it's chaste and not overbearing, in my opinion. Certainly no violence.

Matilda-There are moments of mild tension, but it's a kid's story, so I think it would be tolerable. Maybe you wouldn't like that Matilda has such rotten adults in her life.

Whip It- involves women shoving each other at roller derby and there is a scene with blood in it, but not overly violent in my opinion. The conflict/romance/tension all serves the coming of age story, and it all works out for everyone.

Princess Diaries-minimal/high school romance, but it's not the main plot

Since you mentioned Columbo, what about Matlock? I think there is usually just one murder per episode, and you don't see it (e.g., you might see a gun raised and then it cuts to slumped body).

Other TV: The Good Place, or Antiques Roadshow

You said you don't usually like cartoons, but just in case: the first Minion movie was cute, and so was Incredibles. They both have sequels that I can't speak to because I didn't see them, but I've rewatched both of the first installments--they're silly and sweet and funny even for an adult audience. I don't know if cartoon violence is an issue (cartoon super heroes battling bad guys, nothing graphic).

Movies can also make me really tense & anxious. Sometimes I just read spoilers before I watch a movie to see if I will be able to stand it and to prepare myself to get through the tense moments. I think there are also parent guides to movies that describe the content/reason for the rating. I don't know a particular link, but I assume those would be mostly spoiler free but might help you gauge whether you're up for a particular movie.
posted by kochenta at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I know it's not a movie, but since you mentioned TV shows, I really have to say that Corner Gas would be perfect for you.
posted by sardonyx at 10:41 AM on July 28, 2022

All the Muppet movies. I know they're nominally for kids, but really they're for everyone.
posted by penguin pie at 11:09 AM on July 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

This isn't a direct answer to your question as most of the movies I can think to suggest would be animated ones, as I'm generally a fan of animation (and hate that it's been relegated to "kids/family stuff", but that's another discussion altogether).

Not sure if you're already aware of the resource or not, but this is the sort of thing that the Does the Dog Die website is good for as far as looking up triggering aspects of a movie. It includes several different categories, not just pet death.

In general, I've been growing more okay with spoilery plot synopses. I've generally not felt my enjoyment of a film has been impacted all that much by knowing how it goes in advance; even plot twists can still be surprising in execution even if you're anticipating them.
posted by Aleyn at 11:13 AM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

alligatorpear: Some more ideas: Hidden Figures

Seconded, and ditto for The Martian.

In the vein of The Martian: Apollo 13? There are a few tense moments and people understandably getting emotional about the situation, but we all know what's going to happen and how it will end.

The Imitation Game might disqualify because of Alan Turing's suicide in 1954, but it's only mentioned right at the end of the movie in on-screen text over a bonfire that the main characters throw their notes into after VE day And there is some pretend romance between Turing and Clarke, which of course stems from having to keep his homosexuality hidden. Otherwise, it's about the competences of the protagonists.

One you may first want to read some reviews of: Medicine Man: grumpy Sean Connery has to cooperate with obstinate Lorraine Bracco in the Amazon jungle, but at the end their antagonism has mellowed out a good deal.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:27 AM on July 28, 2022

The Repair Shop is the platonic ideal answer for this question. Frankly the sub-genre of British reality shows showing off regular people's innate skills is also really good (see: The Great British Bake Off).

I'd think the romance in The Good Place might be too much ... it isn't foregrounded but it is a beautiful and thus intense at times portrayal of love. Plus the subject matter is about the after life and initially was too much for mrs. mmascolino for example.

For a documentary, how about The King of is about a bunch of adults trying to get the best score in the ancient arcade version of Donkey Kong.
posted by mmascolino at 12:14 PM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Crossing Delancey - a lovely romcom that I never tire of watching.

FWIW, Babette's Feast (recommended above) distressed me immensely when various animals are killed to be ingredients for said feast.
posted by essexjan at 12:21 PM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

'80s British comedies about towns in Thatcherite Britain coming together in hard times

The films you cite may have been set in the 80s, but largely made in the 90s and early 2000s and have a far more aw-shucks vibe than any similar films dating from the actual Thatcher/Major era (such as early Mike Leigh or Stephen Frears). Don't assume for example that Life is Sweet is very sweet or My Beautiful Laundrette about really nice laundromats.
posted by Ardnamurchan at 12:29 PM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Okay, I've pulled up the playlist from my blog and I'm going through it now and I've found you a few things.

* Two early French films may appeal. They're both by the same director and I was charmed by both; they're quirky little things, sort-of kind-of musicals as well. One is A Nous, La Liberte; it's about a couple of guys in prison who hatch a prison break plan - one gets caught as they're escaping, and the other goes on to start a factory where the first guy eventually gets a job when he gets paroled. The two friends reunite and the guy who escaped realizes he was a lot happier when he was a layabout, in a way. I think in my blog I said it was kind of like if Disney did a remake of Shawshank Redemption. The other, Le Million, is a comedy about a "starving artist" type who wins the lottery - but the ticket is in his jacket, which his girlfriend spontaneously loaned to a pickpocket who was trying to escape from police. (It's a long story.) So the artist, the girlfriend, the artists's roommate, and a handful of others go on a mad hunt for the jacket. It's kooky as heck.

* To Be Or Not To Be was a 1942 comedy about a group of Polish actors who outsmart Nazis with a zany scheme where they pretend to be the members of the Gestapo office the newest Nazi commandant is meant to report to. It was remade by Mel Brooks in the 1980s and you can TOTALLY see why.

* The African Queen. Katherine Hepburn is a missionary in East Africa in 1914, and Humphrey Bogart is the rough-around-the-edges Canadian steamship operator who keeps her church supplied. When the Germans sieze control of the territory upon the outbreak of World War I, Bogart shows up to escort her to safety - but she convinces him to instead journey upriver and try to sabotage the main German ship. And on the way they both go from snarking at each other to falling in love. Think, like, Romancing The Stone but in 1914, and with Katherine Hepburn. It's the only time Bogart and Hepburn worked together, which is a damn shame.

* Mr. Hulot's Holiday is a nearly wordless film about a French guy who takes a vacation at a seaside resort. It's all quirky situational comedy, both dealing with stuff Mr. Hulot does and with stuff other guests do. Rowan Atkinson based a good deal of his Mr. Bean character on Mr. Hulot, if that gives you an idea what this is like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:38 PM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

My Neighbor Totoro - literally created as a double feature to watch after the very traumatizing and important Grave of the Fireflies. I own several Totoro plushies to help provide me a sense of safety. Literally nothing bad happens and there are no villains, just a very safe world to be in. Roger Ebert wrote a profoundly lovely review of it that really understood the movie and appreciated its peacefulness, if you want a sense of what it is. Kiki's Delivery Service is my other go to, although it's a little more intense emotionally.
posted by yueliang at 12:39 PM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Father of the Bride, Moonrise Kingdom, Clueless...maybe Pleasantville?
posted by virve at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I can’t think of a movie more anxiety producing than The Martian! I am surprised to see people recommending it, and strongly do not recommend it to someone prone to panic attacks. The entire movie is a ramp up in tension about whether he will survive.
posted by Bottlecap at 12:46 PM on July 28, 2022 [9 favorites]

With respect to TV, I find that these days watching TV shows *is* a commitment. But if you go back a little, to when TV shows were more episodic and had fewer season long arcs, when for the most part, people solved a mystery of the week or learned an important life lesson and then moved on, TV was a lot easier to watch without commitment.

If you liked the competence porn and camaraderie of Ocean's 11, you might like Leverage, for example. Or go back even further to very light touch mystery-of-the-week shows like Murder, She Wrote or Hart to Hart. People do die in these shows, obviously, but off-camera.

Sit-coms of an earlier era, too -- Golden Girls, Cheers, etc. There's just so much less heaviness in 80s TV than in current TV. And a lot of those are available on streaming.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:56 PM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Seconding EmpressCallipygos' recommendation of To Be or Not to Be. ("You see a beard and you don't pull it?!"). And Mr Hulot's Holiday. There is a wordless restaurant dining scene where Mr Hulot is reaching for some food (a bun?) which is hilarious.

I'm going to add in Duck Soup by the Marx Brothers, more madcap zaniness.
posted by storybored at 1:50 PM on July 28, 2022

Oh, musicals tend to be gentle and soothing. I'd recommend Singing In the Rain for example.
posted by storybored at 1:52 PM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Mystery Men
Maybe Where'd You Go, Bernadette, though I much preferred the book
Time Bandits
The Big Night
posted by theora55 at 1:53 PM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Paterson is nice and low-key. There's a married couple but no discord (quite the opposite)
posted by storybored at 2:02 PM on July 28, 2022

@the Paddington suggestions above, I think the second one (with Nicole Kidman?) has a bit of stressy gunplay-on-a-roof at one point….I remember my youngest basically walking away from the movie at some point but I couldn’t tell you right now what exactly was going on.

Also proceed with caution on the Studio Ghibli stuff; some (Kiki’s Delivery Service, Totoro) are very gentle in the main, but Grave of the Fireflies, Mononoke, and maybe even Howl’s Moving Castle might not clear your bar.

I haven’t seen this whole thread, but is Hugo on the list? I don’t remember a lot of action of any description; it felt a love letter to movies rather than a movie.

School of Rock 100%. That Thing You Do has a romance plot without a storybook ending for at least one character.
posted by adekllny at 2:34 PM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you're into older (black and white) movies, but I've often found them a comforting refuge from stress. Maybe the Ady Hardy movies with Mickey Rooney, or most of the Marx Brothers' oeuvre. Although Duck Soup does have some gunfire that might be too much, romance and violence is generally of the cartoon variety.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:29 PM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

A Hard Day's Night.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:23 PM on July 28, 2022

I love the movie Roman Holiday. There's a bit of "how will this be resolved?" tension, but nothing scary. I guess it's a romance, but not in the way you're probably thinking.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:45 PM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

I liked Moonrise Kingdom, but there's an infidelity subplot, and a dog gets shot with an arrow and dies (I'm not sure if you were including animals in "no one dies" but I'm including that just to be safe).

Similarly, I love Mystery Men, but at least two people die onscreen, one of which is played for black comedy.
posted by creepygirl at 12:29 AM on July 29, 2022

I think Tous Les Soleils would fit. Romance is not central, there is no violence, it's mostly about how the main character (who is flawed but very likeable) finds peace with his daughter, his brother and his life. We see lots of depictions of genuine affection and good times. Plus, France!
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:17 AM on July 29, 2022

EmpressCallipygos: * Mr. Hulot's Holiday is a nearly wordless film about a French guy

Also, basically all Tati's movies, with Jour de Fete and Mon Oncle as the other two that I'd recommend (the others are a bit ho-hum, IMO).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. A bit of budding romance between Walter and a female colleague, but for the largest part it's Walter trying to find and meet an elusive photographer, who could be in Greenland? Iceland? Nepal?
posted by Stoneshop at 1:38 AM on July 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

What do you want from a movie? Kedi is a documentary about street cats in Istanbul, which is very cute although light on plot (I had it on in the background when I saw it). Also a animal documentary (but with more structure, and a tiny bit of romance at the end), The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

In terms of TV, How To with John Wilson is excellent. There are some stressful moments sometimes, but overall I find it extremely comforting.
posted by wesleyac at 1:56 AM on July 29, 2022

(How To with John Wilson is also quite short — 12 episodes total across two seasons, ~25mins each)
posted by wesleyac at 2:07 AM on July 29, 2022

Any of the adaptations of Jane Austen's novels. In a sense, they are all about love and marriage, but there isn't much in the way of billing and cooing.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:04 AM on July 29, 2022

Nth-ing the following: School Of Rock, Legally Blonde, Star Trek IV if sci-fi is ok (only shootout is between space ships and is over soon, some single-karate-chop violence, low-key funny), The Gods Must Be Crazy, The King of Kong, Contact, Hidden Figures.

Recommending, but you should check reviews or DoesTheDogDie first:
- The Martian
- Arrival. Less pew-pew sci-fi and more linguistics, I don't remember anything distressing but check first
- Crip Camp. Mostly meets your requirements, but there is one short yet potentially distressing section about Willowbrook and institutions like it
- Amelie. It's romantic and has a love interest, but it's not about romance, if you know what I mean? Very soothing and sweet.
- Fighting With My Family. The "action" scenes are of WWF style wrestling, people shout at each other sometimes over a disagreement but sometimes in fun.
- Kenny. So many poop jokes, with an otherwise relaxing, barely-there plot. Would be in my next group but I can't quite remember all the details so I'm playing it safe.
- Runaway Jury, or any similar courtroom dramas
- Catch Me If You Can

My enthusiastic suggestions:
- Stick It - teen girl gymnasts find solidarity even though they're competitive. Some gym-related injuries which are treated as minor obstacles to the plot. A solid rainy-day comfort movie.
- The Dish - a country town in Australia has a part to play in the first Moon landing. Gentle, sweet and very funny.
- Chef - a stressed chef gets out of the competitive fine dining space and bonds with his son by running a food truck instead. No romance (just a sympathetic ex-wife), great soundtrack and lots of great food montages.
- The King's Speech- a little too pro-monarchy for me, but interesting story and great performances.
posted by harriet vane at 5:53 AM on July 29, 2022

Bill Forsyth's films "Local Hero" and "Gregory's Girl" - both have some romance in them - but nothing I think will worry you if you can have enjoyed The Breakfast Club or Ted Lasso.

Some other French films you might like "Peppermint Soda", "The Triplets of Belleville", "The Spanish Apartment"
posted by rongorongo at 6:53 AM on July 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I would suggest Napolean Dynomite and Hot Rod for some good, clean fun.
posted by kiwi-epitome at 8:49 AM on July 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Surprised to get this far with no specific mention of Playtime . I find the B&W Tati movies a bit irritating sometimes but Playtime is a pure and stylish delight. The only stress would come from reading the story of making it…
posted by tardigrade at 2:20 PM on July 29, 2022

The World's Fastest Indian: the story of New Zealander Burt Munro, who spent years rebuilding a 1920 Indian motorcycle, which helped him set the land speed world record at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967. In real life Burt set a new record speed several times over a couple of years; those attempts have been collapsed into one in the movie.

As you can guess, Burt is extremely driven and rather eccentric which makes for some surprising and occasionally hilarious moments (neighbors take offense at his unkempt garden, so he sets fire to it). He has a good, female friend who shows concern for his health and wellbeing when he takes off for the US, but she's not a love interest. And the record-setting speed run is obviously tense but successful, even though he crashes after crossing the target line.
posted by Stoneshop at 2:55 PM on July 29, 2022

Waking Ned Divine - it’s central plot point is around someone who has happily died at a very old age and a village conspiring to make it seem as though he’s still alive. It has a very light and in the background romance subplot (that I didn’t even remember until looking up the movie synopsis!). I find it very sweet and gentle, as movies go. Everything works out and the moments of tension are ok to deal with.
posted by Bottlecap at 3:31 PM on July 29, 2022

A lot of these are making me want to claw my face off, because they're exactly what you requested not to have. Like. There are two major deaths in Arrival, and even though it is one of my favorite movies ever, I would not rec it if you could get upset by that. I adore Bull Durham, but there is a central storyline with a romantic plot/sexual relationship. Mystery Men, again, love it to pieces, there is both death and people being harmed in various ways. It's probably good you don't like Wes Anderson movies because he seems to love harming dogs. So my point is that this list might be a good place to start from, but seek spoilers--read the wikipedia page for the plot synopsis, does the dog die, or even user reviews on imdb, but if anything sounds good here (I'd highly recommend Local Hero, one of the best movies ever made IMO, and Gregory's Girl, Big Night, and Chef might also be good, School of Rock and the Trek movies are classics), vet it highly first because I think people often forget bad stuff when they are not upset by it themselves.

I'd personally throw in My Favorite Year (aging Errol Flynn type film star goes on '50s TV program to make money, shepherded around by adoring fan who is essentially young Mel Brooks, one minor fight scene but no real harm, played for laughs).
posted by kitten kaboodle at 5:20 PM on July 29, 2022 [7 favorites]

Pretty much all of the Muppet movies.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:50 AM on July 30, 2022

Big Night

Yeah, I think if anything this thread shows how individual and unpredictable our reactions can be: I liked Big Night but found it both stressful and sad. I mean, the entire plot is about whether someone can achieve a long shot with extremely high (to him) stakes, combined with themes of cultural alienation and loneliness among other things. Then again I also had a very different reaction to the Paddington movies than most people (don't remember the reasons why) so who knows.
posted by trig at 12:58 AM on July 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I found Arrival to be depressing, deeply unpleasant, and full of repulsive implications. With your stated desire to avoid emotional distress, stay far, far away from that one.

The Tati films are your safest bet here.

One of my personal favorite feel-good movies is Pride (2014), which is based on the true story of a group of gay and lesbian activists in London who helped the Welsh coal miners during their 1984 strike against Thatcher. It's a charming, quirky British film with Andrew Scott, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, and a bunch of other people you'll recognize. It is about gay people in the '80s so discrimination and HIV/AIDs do come up. But it is a very positive film about people overcoming differences to work together. Spotlight was a much harsher film to watch, for me.
posted by Mournful Bagel Song at 3:55 AM on July 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

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