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31 Feel-Good Movies to Watch Instead of 'Friends' on Repeat

PJs, a glass of wine, and these films.

feel good movies
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We've all been there: When faced with all the options on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime et al, the temptation to watch something you know you love (Friends on repeat, cough) is high. But there's so much out there that serves as eye and ear candy to boost your mood. We're talking about the feel-good movies that, when the world outside feels like it's on fire or crashing down (or both), make it all just melt away and life seem better and happier. These movies won't fix everything, but they will help you take your mind off of the bad, at least temporarily. And sometimes, TBH, that's enough. These picks will help you add to your collection of happy movies and maybe even give you a new favorite or two for your feel-good rotation.

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1 'When Harry Met Sally'

Okay, but have you watched it lately? Aside from the lack of cell phones and '80s fashion, much of the movie is still timeless. Nora Ephron was the best screenwriter of her time (and all time, TBH), and listening to Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal deliver the perfect line readings while their characters fall in love is like sipping a cup of warm tea. I could, and probably have, fallen asleep to this movie—it's poetry.

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2 'Waitress'

Keri Russell earned forgiveness for any issues you may have had with Felicity in this movie, about a small town waitress who is stuck in a terrible marriage who gets pregnant and begins an affair with her OBGYN. Over the course of her pregnancy, she learns a lot about life and herself and finds the strength to go for what she really wants. It will put your bad day in perspective while simultaneously inspiring you to take control of your life.

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3 '13 Going on 30'

It's Big with a woman. In this romcom classic, an '80s teen makes a wish to fast-forward to her 30s and wakes up 17 years older and looking like Jennifer Garner—but still with the mind of a 13-year-old. Mark Ruffalo shines as a kind of sullen, reluctant love interest.

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4 'Little Miss Sunshine'

The family at the heart of this indie dramedy has a lot going on—they're struggling with depression, drug abuse, body image, and that just cracks the surface. And, honestly, they're not awesome at dealing with those issues. But there's something about watching the purposeful not-perfectness of it all come together that just cheers your soul. And if nothing else in the movie does, young Abigail Breslin's dance number in the finale definitely will.

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5 'Akeelah and the Bee'

This is one of those movies that inspires you and makes your soul feel lighter all at once. The movie follows a young girl from South Los Angeles named Akeelah (Keke Palmer) as she studies for a spelling bee with her mentor (Laurence Fishburn) and it's sweet and wonderful and makes you feel things. It's just infinitely worth a watch, okay?

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6 'Father of the Bride'

The best wedding movie of all time? Maybe. A great movie to watch and feel happy butterflies inside whether you're in the wedding mindset or not? Definitely.

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7 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory'

This movie is a classic for a reason and if you haven't given it a true, start-to-finish rewatch since you were a kid, you're only hurting yourself. (Of course, you can and should feel free to skip forward through the depressingly mis-named "Cheer Up, Charlie," number, which almost ruins the movie and is just the worst.)

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8 'About Time'

This underrated romantic dramedy is about a man who learns that he's inherited his family's ability to travel back in time and uses his power to help him overcome his own anxiety and awkwardness that's messed up his potential meet-cutes with his future wife. It sounds a little cringe-y on the face of it, but the execution is actually, somehow, not.

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9 'Spy'

Melissa McCarthy has never been better than in this action comedy, in which she plays an incredible CIA agent who starts as an analyst and ends up out in the field avenging the death of her partner. She and Rose Byrne are laugh out loud funny in every scene and it's the kind of movie you'll watch again and again and then quote with your friends forever.

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10 'Clueless'

No need to fix perfection ("As if!" Sorry, had to). Itself a remake of Emma (see below), this is the role that made Alicia Silverstone a household name. Matching her with the ageless Paul Rudd with just a hint of his future sense of humor, this is the most perfect example of a "two people who hate and also love each other" plot, partly because it fits perfectly into the OTT '90s setting. Also, those styles are back—proving yet again that Cher, one of my fave characters ever, was totally ahead of her time.

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11 'Monsters, Inc.'

Pixar makes plenty of heavy movies that are way more adult than their bright animation would suggest, but Monsters, Inc. perfectly walks the line between "funny and smart enough for adults" and "not adult enough to ever risk bumming adults out."

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12 'Groundhog Day'

It might feel like you're living the worst day of your life and every day is the same, but this classic Bill Murray movie will remind you that A) that is not true and B) even if it were true, eventually, you can do some pretty amazing things living the same, seemingly-worst day of your life on repeat.

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13 'Clue'

Sometimes, you just need something a little campy and absurd to turn a bad day into an amazing one and this murder mystery, based on the classic board game, fits the bill, definitely.

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14 'Popstar'

Popstar is probably the best movie you ever made a conscious decision to avoid seeing in theaters. The advertising campaign was a mess, but the actual movie is sharp-witted satire about the music industry and influencer culture that is just *chef's kiss*.

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15 'The Emperor's New Groove'

The Emperor's New Groove is the Disney movie that doesn't quite feel like a Disney movie. The movie's infamously troubled production resulted in a wacky, irreverent buddy movie instead of the sweeping romantic epic the filmmakers had originally envisioned, but the end result is also amazing, under-rated, and great for a quick pick-me-up if you're feeling down.

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16 'Bringing Up Baby'

A screwball comedy involving a search for a missing dinosaur bone and a pet leopard? Brought to the screen by legends Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn? Yes. Please.

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17 'Labyrinth'

David Bowie as the Goblin King. A young Jennifer Connelly as a teen who has to save her baby brother from said Goblin King and a wackadoo cast of characters otherwise almost entirely comprised of next-level Jim Henson muppet creations? It's an '80s fever dream that will transport you back to simpler, happier times, guaranteed.

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18 'Rat Race'

If you just need to turn your brain off for 90+ minutes of absurdity and slapstick comedy, Rat Race is the movie for you. The ensemble cast includes legends like John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. and it follows a group of strangers who are chosen at random to participate in a no-rules race to a $2 million prize. Hilarity ensues.

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19 'The Birdcage'

If you don't know this film (or only know vaguely of the musical), you're in for a treat. This farcical case of bait-and-switch is so silly and sweet, it's bound to lift your mood. When Robin Williams plays the straight man—pun intended—against Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman, you know the movie's bonkers in the best way. The portrayals were especially nuanced at the time for being forward-thinking and compassionate about gay relationships. And it's still funny, without being cruel.

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20 'Emma'

If you like Austen films like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, this throwback love story is your perfect match. Gwyneth Paltrow is sweetly mischievous, even if her English accent is a bit fuzzy. The film's packed with stars: among others, a young Toni Collette, the gorgeous Jeremy Northam, and Ewan McGregor in a spectacularly bad wig. Here's hoping the 2020 remake has an ounce of this adorability.

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21 'Good Will Hunting'

As a Bostonian, I can tell you that the film gets a lot right about the city and its inhabitants. As a movie fan, I've always known that Robin Williams is the beating heart of this movie—every time he's on screen, you breathe a sigh of relief. He's like the therapist for the viewers as well as Matt Damon's troubled genius Will. It's a little sadder now, knowing we lost Williams, but the film honors his memory in the best way.

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22 'The Big Lebowski'

TBH, this movie might have taken a few viewings before I really got it. At first it seems like the height of randomness. Nothing really happens to The Dude, aside from his car getting destroyed and his rug getting peed on ("It really tied the room together!"). But that's its brilliance. Jeff Bridges is totally unflappable, just abiding with the ridiculousness around him. Maybe have a glass of wine before you watch it for the first time and just go with it.

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23 'Amelie'

Granted, you have to really like quirkiness to be into this film. But! The film contains 80 gorgeous Parisian locales, and is a love letter to the city as much as its characters. Audrey Tautou keeps the story of the withdrawn but romantic Amelie from descending into parody, but she's still sweet as pie. As a nerdy, introverted kiddo, this movie really spoke to me, and it still does.

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24 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin'

A lot of Judd Apatow movies could go on this list, but The 40-Year-Old Virgin beats out some of his other films, for me, because it's sweet to its core. (Bridesmaids felt like a loooot of yelling and crying, for me.) Here, the men—including Paul Rudd, looking the same as he did in Clueless—have a goofy, ridiculous rapport. The secret genius of the movie is that NONE of them know how to date or talk to girls, but we love them anyways.

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25 'The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement'

Ok I know. No, really, I know. The first movie is so cute and lovely and beloved by so many. But the second one has a really young and darling Chris Pine, and an Anne Hathaway who's really grown into the role. Their romance is really cute...and then actually, kind of hot. Considering that we might get a third movie, this one would also be perfect prep for that glorious day in which we peek into the lives of the hopefully still married royal couple.

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26 '27 Dresses'

I know Katherine Heigl gets a bad rap, but there's also a reason she was so popular back in the day. This was at the height of her rom-com popularity, and it's the perfect vehicle for her. Anyone who's even been in ONE wedding can empathize with this poor woman who's had to plan 27 "special days" for her friends and acquaintances. Added bonus: A young James Marsden, looking cute and acting snarky, to ground the film from becoming too saccharine.

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27 'How to Train Your Dragon'

The second and third movies are okay, but the original one has something totally special. Not only do the misunderstood dragons basically act like oversized, fire-breathing cats, but the journey of love between Hiccup and his animal soul mate Toothless is as good as any BFF relationship on film. The film's really a lesson in not going with the crowd or accepting an often-repeated stereotype as true—which resonates every time I watch it.

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28 'Inside Out'

Obviously the major caveat of any Pixar movie is that it will make you cry, a lot. And this one, about the inner emotions inside a one vulnerable girl, is no exception. Bing Bong! (Watch the movie and you'll know what I'm talking about.) But something about Amy Poehler's voice is just so soothing to me, and the voice cast—Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, to name a few—is perfect for the characters. The film's core is about coming to grips with and facing your feelings, which should be a calming experience for just about everybody. It's therapy, in film form.

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29 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'

This is the perfect eye candy. It's a 1960s throwback with a modern twist—classic spy tale, with a knowing wink at the audience. The main leads are really, really, ridiculously good-looking (put Armie Hammer in everything!), and you don't have to worry than any of them are going to come to any real harm, despite the fact that they're battling literal Nazis. They totally got this, with a fabulous drink in hand and great shoes.

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30 'The Martian'

This one might be a bit intense if you're just looking to turn your brain totally off. But the story about the will of a human to survive in a planet that's actively trying to kill him is actually incredibly uplifting in the end (kind of spoiler alert). Add a hefty dose of Matt Damon charm and humor, and it's riveting—without being traumatizing, as you might think with a story like this.

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31 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'

Who knew that a remake that's geared for kids would be so good, and actually kind of tender? The best way I can describe this is it's like The Breakfast Club, inside an old video game, in the middle of the jungle, with a bunch of comedians. The Rock and Kevin Hart, in particular, constantly riff like BFFs and it's just a plain delight. There's a reason why this got a sequel, and it's because this movie formula is absolutely perfect.

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