Feel-Good Movies That’ll Definitely Make You Smile
When life hands you lemons, it’s often your remote or streaming service that’ll help you make lemonade. Hear us out: Pressing play on feel-good movies (and TV shows) like Legally Blonde, Girls Trip, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Mamma Mia! can lift your spirits—and perhaps make you more positive. Not only are these 31 favorites entertaining, but they’ll brighten not-so-sunny days the second the opening credits roll.
The Devil Wears Prada
In this forever delightful dramedy, Anne Hathaway plays an aspiring writer named Andy, who scores a dream job at a Vogue-esque fashion magazine. The only catch? Her diabolical boss Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) is an absolute nightmare.
In this charming comedy, Robin Williams plays a gay Miami drag club owner who, along with his life partner, pretends to be straight in order to appease his son’s conservative future in-laws.
Bring It On
In the first of the series of raunchy, cult-classic movies, Kirsten Dunst is Torrance, the captain of her high school’s esteemed cheerleading squad. But on their road to the championships, they learn that their routines are exact copies The Clovers’, their rival team, led by Gabrielle Union.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
This Netflix breakout hit is the perfect feel good teen romance to better your day. It follows Lara Jean, a girl whose secret love letters somehow get sent to her five crushes, upending her high school life. The best part? There’s a sequel in the works.
School of Rock
Funnyman Jack Black plays a wannabe rocker who’s been kicked out of his band. In need of work, he becomes a substitute music teacher at an elite private school. He teaches his students rock ‘n’ roll, eventually signing them up to compete in The Battle of the Bands.
This beloved film may be a Christmas movie, but it can be watched year-round. Its huge ensemble cast makes up makes up eight different couples whose love lives are all intertwined. It all culminates in a story that will always warm your heart—no matter how many times you watch it.
Yet another holiday film that can be watched 360 days a year, Will Ferrel is the precocious Buddy the Elf. Born a human, as an adult Buddy leaves the North Pole for New York City in an effort to reconnect with his birth father.
Though it tackles the heavy topic of racism and segregation in the 1960s South, The Help’s main characters (Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer) bring light and heart to the film. A young writer (played by Emma Stone) turns her Mississippi hometown upside down when she decides to interview the Black women who work for the community’s most prominent white families. The one lesson we’ll aways take away from this film? “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.”
The Parent Trap
A young Lindsay Lohan shines as twins that were raised without knowing of the other’s existence—until fate has them meet at summer camp. They soon hatch a plan, swapping places in order to reunite their divorced parents.
The Princess Bride
This beloved fantasy romance follows long-lost loves Westley and Buttercup, who in order to be reunited, must fight through the various obstacles they face in the kingdom of Florin.
The Princess Diaries
Anne Hathaway makes this list, again, with this Disney film that follows a teen named Mia. Her life is disrupted when it’s revealed that she’s the heir to the throne of Genovia, a small European principality. As a result, she must learn the ways of royalty, whether she wants to or not.
Whoopi Goldberg plays a lounge singer who’s forced into hiding after witnessing her mobster boyfriend commit murder. She’s hidden for protection at a convent, where she soon brings life to the church by taking the reigns of its sleepy choir.
Expect Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” to get stuck in your head after laughing as the late Robin Williams vacuums the floor as British nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire. In the 1993 comedy, Williams plays Daniel Hillard, the down-on-his-luck father who attempts to win back his wife and kids by working as their female housekeeper. Hillard’s interactions with the family are so adorable, you’ll forget about the fact that he’s lying to them.
13 Going on 30
In the uplifting 2004 flick, Jenna Rink’s (Jennifer Garner) birthday wish to become “thirty, flirty, and thriving” comes true. Though she has the body and career any 30-year-old would kill for, she’s still a child at heart. Watching her dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at a company party while also falling for her childhood BFF Matt Flamhaff (Mark Ruffalo) will certainly chase the blues away.
The Pursuit of Happyness
Virtually every scene in this 2006 biographical drama will make you shed happy tears. The film is based on the true story of a struggling salesman named Chris Gardner (Will Smith) who is desperate to find his purpose and make a necessary career change. Oh, and if you’re wondering why Chris’s bond with his son, Christopher Jr., is so strong, it’s because the tot is portrayed by none other than Smith’s own son, Jaden Smith.
Leave it to the bubbly Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) to get you out of a funk. The 2001 rom-com may teach audiences how to “bend and snap” and how to move on from a relationship, but the most important thing we could all take away from the film is to not judge a book by its scented pink cover.
This hilarious and badass film features an all-star ensemble cast comprised of Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey. You’ll be doubling over in laughter at a restaurant visit gone wrong, and the movie will also make you want to phone your best friend.
Tom Hanks stars as Forrest Gump in this 1994 classic, which also finds Robin Wright as Forrest’s childhood friend and crush, Jenny Curran. Though “run, Forrest, run” will always be synonymous with the film, we love it for the titular character’s positive mantra and catchphrase: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”
Sex and the City: The Movie
Four years after the hit HBO series Sex and the City ended in 2004, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) made their debut on the big screen in 2008. As Carrie grapples with a wedding day turned sour, the rest of the squad help her mend a broken heart—not to mention sort through her fabulous closet of designer dresses.
You’ll appreciate the supportive moments and jokes to be had among M’Lynn (Sally Field), Truvy (Dolly Parton), Annelle (Daryl Hannah), Ouiser (Shirley MaLaine), Clairee (Olympia Dukakis), and the lovable Shelly (Julia Roberts) if—and only if—you can get past that one tragic final scene. Adapted from Robert Harling’s 1987 stage play of the same name, the film will make you cry and want to schedule a boxing class to punch out your frustrations.
La La Land
A pianist (Ryan Gosling) and actress (Emma Stone) transport audiences back to the golden days of Hollywood, when musicals and the art of dance were used to encourage viewers to follow their dreams. The 2017 Oscar-winning film is a must-see for theater buffs and, well, anyone who loves bright colors, jazz, and romance.
The Flossy Posse reunites in this 2017 comedy. Ryan (Regina Hall), Sasha (Queen Latifah), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Dina (Tiffany Haddish) take a trip to the annual Essence Festival in New Orleans to relive their college days. But during their getaway, the four ladies find out there’s more to life and sisterhood than drunken nights, grapefruit sex, and dance parties.
Bill Murray delivers one of his best performances in this 1993 classic. He portrays Phil, a cynical weatherman who hates a certain aspect of his job: covering the annual Groundhog ceremony in Pennsylvania. Due to a time warp and weird supernatural forces that are never explained, he’s destined to live the same day over and over again. The only perk? He gets the chance to right his wrongs and fall deeper in love with Rita (Andie MacDowell).
As if…you could find a better film that combines high fashion, high school drama, and high society into one. Alicia Silverstone stars as Cher Horowitz in the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Emma. Cher is a dim-witted and stylish girl who uses her charm (and not necessarily her smarts) to get what she wants, including the popular guys and good grades. Cue this one up when you want to feel less guilty about shopping splurges or when you’re in need of entertainment that’s purposefully mindless.
Tom Hanks stars as the teenager Josh in this 1988 body-switch film. Similar to the premise of 13 Going on 30, Josh dreams of becoming, well, big. His wish gets granted and he wakes up one morning in the body of a grown man. In addition to the punch lines, it’s beloved for encouraging adults to view the world with the innocence and wonder of a child.
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are the ultimate power couple in this 1978 rock musical. The leather-clad Danny Zuko (Travolta) and good girl Sandy Olsson (Newton-John) have a summer fling, but when the fall semester kicks off, things take a dramatically different turn. As a result, the sparks and the dance numbers soon fly.
The only thing better than Meryl Streep singing and dancing on a beautiful Greek island is the fact that she does so to the addictive sounds of ABBA. Good luck trying not to sing along.
The Wizard of Oz
In this 1939 fantasy film, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, Dorothy is swept away to a magical land after a tornado hits her family’s farm in Kansas. This prompts her to set out on an adventure to the Emerald City to find her way back home. Along the way she receives snazzy ruby red slippers and makes a few special friends. Better yet, she also learns this valuable lesson: no matter how green (or in her case, yellow) the grass seems on the other side, there’s truly no place like home.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
You may have played hooky from school, but did you have as much fun as Matthew Broderick did when he skips class to take his BFF’s dad’s Ferrari on a joy ride? That’s a tough call.
Matilda’s (Mara Wilson) positive energy in this 1996 magical film is contagious. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood (Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman), are basically the worst and her school principal, Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris), is a tyrant. Somehow, Matilda maintains a sunny outlook—an attribute we can all learn from.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Cultures collide in this 2002 rom-com about a Greek woman named Toula (Nia Vardalos) who falls for a non-Greek man (John Corbett), despite her family’s apprehension. This knee-slapper weaves in the challenges of pleasing family with following your gut. It’s the way in which Toula builds up her confidence that’ll win you over.