March is getting depressing. In New England, we just had a foot or more of snow dropped on us. Here are some movies to lift your spirits on a cold winter’s day. Popcorn optional.
- Hoosiers (1986) – A former varsity basketball coach who made a tragic mistake years ago, comes to a small Indiana town in the early 1950s seeking redemption. Like the best of “sports movies,” it’s not just about competition on the court but guts, fortitude and friendship. This is my favorite sports movie.
- Doc Hollywood (1991) – A doctor fresh out of a residency in the emergency room of a DC hospital takes a wrong turn, while driving across the country to become a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, that lands him in a town in the rural South. Since the late Sixties, Hollywood has portrayed small towns (especially in the Bible Belt) as bastions of bigotry, dementia and violence. Grady, South Carolina is full of contented, folk-wise, and amusingly eccentric characters. There’s no racial conflict or crime problem. Small-town life is depicted as idyllic – perhaps a tad unrealistic — but sill a refreshing change from “Macon County Line.”
- Groundhog Day (1993) – A self-obsessed, narcissistic weatherman is forced to relive the same day (Groundhog’s Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania) over and over until he gets it right and shifts the center of his existence from self to others.
- Bullets Over Broadway (1994) – What’s more important, morality or art? A struggling playwright with mediocre talent is forced to cast a mobster’s dumb girlfriend to get the financing to produce his play on Broadway. With the moll comes her bodyguard, a thug who has a natural talent for writing. The latter saves the play but at what price? Here is a Woody Allen movie without Woody Allen that’s hilarious.
- Blast from the Past (1999) – Family goes into a fallout shelter in 1963, believing that a nuclear war has started, where their son is born and raised. The son emerges 35 years later to confront the Los Angles of the ‘90s with the 1950s’ values of his parents – kindness, respect and etiquette. (“Manners are a way of showing other people we care about them.”) Fifties values triumph in this witty, perceptive comedy.
- The Family Man (2000) – A rich, powerful titan of Wall Street overseeing a multi-billion dollar merger, who lives a carefree bachelor existence, is given a “glimpse” of another life he might have had if he’d done one thing differently in his past. He goes to sleep in his penthouse apartment on Christmas Eve and wakes up the next day in a middle-class house in New Jersey, with two children, married to his college sweetheart and selling tires (retail!) for his father-in-law. Slowly, he comes to realize that family is what he really wanted all along.
- Friendly Persuasion (1956) – The lives of a Quaker family in southern Indiana told with humor and sympathy against the backdrop of the Civil War. It focuses on the challenges of everyday life, love between a husband and wife, youthful romance (tenderly depicted), friendship and the quest for the perfect trotter.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.