10 Feel-Good Movies All About Kindness
As the waning days of winter have us staring longingly out our windows, many of us are clinging to thoughts of warmer weather adventures with our friends.But there is hope nudging at the frost, a few green shoots that suggest we’ll be with our pals again soon. In the interim, while we hunker down just a little bit longer, it’s good to know that there are some fun-loving films we can watch to pass the time, and if we can remind ourselves of how much fun it is to escape on an adventure with a group of buddies, that’s just a bonus. Here is a list of movies from the past five decades that offer messages of friendship and kindness to get us started, as we prepare to embrace the promise of spring once again. Enjoy our list of 10 feel-good movies all about kindness.
1. The Goonies (1985)
When the expansion of a posh country club threatens to foreclose their homes, a group of friends that call themselves The Goonies set off on a wild adventure to save the town.While hatching a plan, the kids stumble upon an ancient map and head off in search of One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship and the promise of treasure. Rivalries, petty jealousies and hurt feelings threaten to tear the group apart, but their determination to reach the buried riches and restore hope has them reconnecting again and again, each time finding new layers of love and compassion for each other along the way. A young Josh Brolin, Martha Plimpton, and Jonathan Ke Quan are among the stars in this classic friendship flick.
2. Mystic Pizza (1988)
In the small but mighty town of Mystic, Connecticut, sisters Daisy and Kat (Julia Roberts and Annabeth Gish) and their best friend Jojo (Lili Taylor) grapple with love, loss, and raging hormones while working at the local pizza parlour.Popular, attractive Daisy dates a rich guy whose family is racist, studious Kat loses her academic focus and dabbles with an older, married man, and Jojo doesn’t take her loving, devoted on-again-off-again fiancé seriously. While they make hasty decisions and struggle with the fallout, the young women continue to turn to each other, as well as to the kindness of their boss, Leona, who comforts and guides them with a firm but knowing hand. Learning, loving, and forgiving are the themes in this feel-good 80s gem.
3. Sister Act (1992)
When Nevada lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) witnesses her gangster boyfriend, Vince LaRocca (Harvey Keitel), kill one of his “colleagues,” she is placed in witness protection at Saint Katherine’s Convent, posing as a nun in a lower-income community in San Francisco.While she initially resists the rules and regulations of the convent and clashes with the Reverend Mother (Maggie Smith), Deloris soon discovers she may have a role in tuning the more-than-a-little-rusty nun’s choir. Although her infusion of gospel, rock and roll, and r ‘n’ b ruffles several holy feathers, the community begin to flock to the downtrodden church, and Deloris becomes close with her fellow nuns. As she dodges the ever predatory LaRocca in a series of unholy adventures, it’s the loyalty and love of her Sisters that keeps Deloris going, and even Reverend Mother comes to see Deloris as an indispensable friend of the fold.
4. The Joy Luck Club (1993)
Also set in San Francisco, and based on the novel by Amy Tan, this film tells of a different but equally powerful sisterhood.From their home in China to their experience of immigration to America, Lindo Jong (Tsai Chin), Ying-Ying St. Clair (France Nuyen), An-Mei Hsu (Lisa Lu), and Suyuan Woo (Kieu Chinh), have formed The Joy Luck Club. Over endless games of mahjong, women share their life stories, which they soon impart to their daughters as they are born and grow in America. Complex relationships between mothers, daughters, and friends are explored, as the characters face anxiety, depression, failures, as well as triumphs. Ultimately this is an important story of immigration and female endurance, but the strength of these women arises from their willingness to evolve and forge ahead with the power of their friendships.
5. Waiting to Exhale (1995)
When their men treat them with total disregard, Savannah (Whitney Houston), Bernadine (Angela Bassett), Robin (Lela Rochon), and Gloria (Loretta Devine) rely on each other to pull themselves through.But this is far from a sappy “girlie” flick, and the friendships in this film are given real grit by the honest performances of four fine actresses. Each of these women help each other to find the good in themselves, and to find trust where they previously felt they had none. And let’s not forget the explosive joy of Angela Bassett’s iconic scene, in which she sets her no-good cheating husband’s car on fire.
6. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)
If you need to re-invent the Post-it for your friend, you do it.That’s just one of the messages in this whacky but endearing tale about two best friends, Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow), who bravely face their mortal high school bullies at a ten-year reunion. When they clash over what lies to tell in order to make themselves appear more successful at the reunion (enter “I invented Post-its”), Romy and Michele go their separate ways and must tackle the A-Group of nasty girls from their past independently. As they find their way back to each other, their ability to forgive and offer kindness to each other also extends to former enemies, and that’s the glue that really makes this Post-it stick to your heart.
7. Bend it Like Beckham (2002)
The cultural ineptness of their surroundings will not deter this duo from supporting each other to their goals.Eighteen-year-olds Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra and Juliette “Jules” Paxton are from different backgrounds but want the same thing – to defy the male bias against them and succeed in the soccer (UK football) world. While Jess juggles the expectations on her as the daughter of British Indian Sikhs living in Hounslow, London, Jules is put upon by the racist ignorant remarks of her white, English family. As they come together to play on their local football team, Jess and Jules find invaluable love and durability in the spirit of their friendship, even when they head-the-ball over falling in love with the same bloke.
8. Barbershop (2002)
The customers at this barbershop are more like family, so when owner Calvin (Ice Cube) regrettably sells the shop to sleazy loan shark Lester (Keith David), the entire community takes it upon themselves to help him buy it back.Of course, it’s never as simple as “please may I have my shop back”, and a number of hellish obstacles stand in Calvin and company’s way. Funny and often alarming, the journey Calvin takes is somehow comforting because of the community spirit that keeps him going. This is a story about friendship, trust, and being kind to your neighbour.
9. Hidden Figures (2016)
These three women are each other’s lifeline during total inequality in work and in love. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) are mathematicians who calculated flight trajectories for numerous NASA missions during the Space Race, and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) is their engineering colleague.As they fight for basic human rights in their workplace, they work through the effects the tireless, ruthless antagonisms of their white infrastructure has on their home lives. Throughout the grief and strife, Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary love and nurture each other, in the kind of friendships that are not simply written in the stars, but that are bound by deep respect and commitment to both justice and tenderness.
10. Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar (2021)
When two 40-something Nebraskan women decide to take a trip to Florida, the last thing they expect is to have their lives thrown apart.
The comedy is found in the fact that Barb and Star (Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, respectively, who also wrote the screenplay) are less horrified by the fact that they end up in the middle of a surreal crime heist than they are by the fact that said villainous plot infringes on their friendship. More at home at their job at the local furniture store, or at “Talking Club” (a not so friendly group of other midwestern women, led by the passive aggressive comedy genius of Vanessa Bayer), Barb and Star come loose at the seams as they delve further into the pastel wonderland of Vista Del Mar. When Barb becomes enticed by the resorts zany activities, and Star falls for not-so-villainous crime lacky Edgar (Jamie Dornan), they start to lose each other. But their affection for each other can never be extinguished, and the ways in which Barb and Star band together to find their “shimmer” are fearlessly kind, hilariously compassionate, and so worth the unforgettable trip.
Natalya Anderson is a writer, award-winning poet and former ballet dancer from Toronto.