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The movies people always go to when they're feeling down

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·7-min read
'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', '10 Things I Hate About You;, 'My Neighbour Totoro' and 'The Princess Bride'. (Credit: LMPC/Getty/Buena Vista/Ghibli/Fox)
'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', '10 Things I Hate About You;, 'My Neighbour Totoro' and 'The Princess Bride'. (Credit: LMPC/Getty/Buena Vista/Ghibli/Fox)

It has been a rough week. The constant hum of chaos from across the Atlantic has been accompanied by a fresh lockdown on our own shores, leaving things feeling pretty bleak and stressful just about everywhere. In these times, we often reach for movies. They have the power to lift our moods, make us feel emotions other than terrified befuddlement and transform the world into something different.

Read more: Best films of 2020 so far

It’s no surprise then, given everything that has happened over the last few days, that Reddit users have been talking about the movies and TV shows they gravitate towards when they’re feeling down.

Here were the top, movie-themed answers that got Reddit users feeling better.

The Emperor's New Groove

'The Emperor's New Groove'. (Credit: Disney)
'The Emperor's New Groove'. (Credit: Disney)

The top answer on this thread, upvoted by more than 16,000 users, was the mostly forgotten 2000 Disney animation The Emperor’s New Groove. Initially conceived as a musical, the film later became a more straightforward slapstick comedy, leaving it as something of a mismatch in the wake of the ultra-successful musicals of the Disney Renaissance.

The tale of a vain Incan emperor transformed into a llama struggled at the box office, but grew in popularity on DVD and has become something of a cult classic online in the two decades since its release.

Lord of the Rings (Extended Editions)

'Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'. (Credit: New Line Cinema)
'Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'. (Credit: New Line Cinema)

For those who are really in the mood to hole up until all of this blows over, then more than 11 combined hours of delving into Middle Earth will certainly fit the bill. For at least one Reddit user, the Lord of the Rings extended editions are the go-to choice when they are “in a real bad headspace and need joy”.

Read more: Orlando Bloom can’t wait for Lord of the Rings TV show

Peter Jackson’s epic interpretation of JRR Tolkien’s novels certainly provides a banquet of escapism and a way to spend plenty of time away from the horrors of the real world. It’s probably best to leave the Hobbit movies though. Joy is in short supply there.

The Road to El Dorado

'The Road to El Dorado'. (Credit: DreamWorks)
'The Road to El Dorado'. (Credit: DreamWorks)

Released in the same year as The Emperor’s New Groove, this is another animated movie that under-performed at the time, but has gone on to earn itself a formidable representation as an under-appreciated gem. It’s now very much an internet darling. Featuring music by Elton John and Tim Rice, it tells of two con artists who discover the map to the mythical land of El Dorado.

The Reddit user who suggested the film noted that “all the quips bring me so much joy” and it’s tough to disagree. This is certainly a joyful comedic ride.

My Neighbour Totoro

'My Neighbour Totoro'. (Credit: Ghibli)
'My Neighbour Totoro'. (Credit: Ghibli)

Studio Ghibli films often fit the bill for movies to lift the mood, though perhaps Grave of the Fireflies is the obvious exception to that rule. One Reddit user replying to this thread noted that “anything Ghibli” was their go-to response to a low mood, but they particularly singled out the 1988 movie My Neighbour Totoro as the perfect choice.

Read more: 10 best Studio Ghibli movies

Ghibli has just the right register of warm storytelling to distract from the carnage and mayhem of the world outside and, when there are characters adorable as Totoro on screen, suddenly elections and pandemics just melt away.

The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride. (Credit: 20th Century Studios)
The Princess Bride. (Credit: 20th Century Studios)

When it comes to the most delightfully quotable movies ever made, they don’t come much better than The Princess Bride. As part of director Rob Reiner’s golden run in the 1980s, it’s a fairytale with a self-referential twist and a series of terrific performances. In the words of the Reddit user who chose it, it “makes me laugh and generally feel good”.

There are few movies from the 1980s as beloved as The Princess Bride, to the point that recent rumours of a remake very quickly sent the internet into a tailspin of rage. Either way, we’ll still have the original — and it’s perfection.

10 Things I Hate About You

Heath Ledger, David Krumholtz, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in '10 Things I Hate About You', 1999. (Photo by Buena Vista/Getty Images)
Heath Ledger, David Krumholtz, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in '10 Things I Hate About You', 1999. (Photo by Buena Vista/Getty Images)

Arguably the best romcom of the 1990s, 10 Things I Hate About You is a source of nostalgic joy for a whole generation of film fans, as well as a chance to see the late Heath Ledger at his best, portraying the charming but dangerous Patrick Verona. It’s no surprise that it was chosen by a user in this thread.

Read more: Joseph Gordon-Levitt admits 10 Things embarrassment

Like so many romcoms of the period, 10 Things I Hate About You provided the jumping-off point for a number of great acting careers, including those of Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Julia Stiles. More than 20 years later, it’s still a terrific comedy.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'. (Credit: Sony)
'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'. (Credit: Sony)

The most recently released movie to receive major praise in the thread, Into the Spider-Verse is quite simply an absolute dream for those who have affection for the world of comic books. With its beautiful animation and onslaught of characters and cameos, it’s a delightfully hyperactive journey through the illustrious history of Spider-Man on both page and screen.

Read more: Sony vetoed live-action Spider-Verse cameos

It’s easy to see why so many comic book fans have already made Into the Spider-Verse a movie they return to over and over. For those who love superheroes, it’s about as brilliant a piece of escapism as it’s possible to imagine.

My Cousin Vinny

'My Cousin Vinny'. (Credit: 20th Century Studios)
'My Cousin Vinny'. (Credit: 20th Century Studios)

The courtroom comedy My Cousin Vinny features a great Joe Pesci performance and won an Oscar for Marisa Tomei. Beyond that, it’s a very fun movie that received praise for its genuinely fairly rigorous portrayal of the way American courts actually work. It was one of the most popular choices of escapist films in this thread, earning more than 4,000 upvotes.

My Cousin Vinny’s reputation has held up over the years since its release, with a sequel planned around a decade ago and a series of novels based on the characters, by Lawrence Kelter, is still ongoing.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', lobbycard from 1975. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)
'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', lobbycard from 1975. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)

Given the presence of The Princess Bride on this list, it’s clear that we prize quotable films when we want to take our minds off the real world. Movies don’t get much more quotable than the relentlessly goofy 1975 comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It features the beloved stars of the Monty Python troupe taking an enjoyable, episodic crack at Arthurian legend with their trademark combination of wit, slapstick and surrealism.

As the Reddit user who suggested the movie put it: “The humour is so stupid it gets me every time. How could that not cheer you up?”

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

'Pride and Prejudice'. (Credit: United International Pictures)
'Pride and Prejudice'. (Credit: United International Pictures)

Period dramas are often a great source of escapist comfort for people, which perhaps explains the monstrous success of Downton Abbey on the big and small screens. The 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, proves to be just that for one Reddit user, who said the film is “so soft and so romantic”.

Read more: Austen expert says Knightley was not suitable casting

Directed by Joe Wright, who would go on to work with Knightley several more times, the film earned critical and commercial success. It also secured a handful of Oscar nominations. Fifteen years later, it’s still helping people escape into a world of romance.

Watch: Feel-good movies you can stream