My dear friend Sara and I have developped quite the weekly routine of dinner and a movie on Tuesday nights. Generally we stick with hunks of the 80s and early 90s classics (read Ethan Hawke ca. 1992, Robert Downey Jr) to get our fill of melodrama and coke abuse once a week. Last Tuesday however was a refreshing departure thanks to an unexpected treat from Sara's Netflix list. We ended up watching a movie (I'll get to it in just a moment) that was one of those heartwarming, cheer for the underdog's success as they struggle through some kind of familial/medical/etc problem to end victoriously. Now, this is not by any means intended to mean chick flicks. This is not the love triumphs films catergory. This is the fist-pumping, go-get-em, you can do it film category. I was so excited about the movie that I decided to make a list of some of my favorites that fall into this category:
On a Clear Day can go at the top since that is the movie that spawned the list. This is about a 55 year-old man who is forced to retire ealry from his career in a ship buildng factory in England. Frank, our protagonist, in order to rebuild his shattered self-esteem and sense of purpose decides to swim the English Channel. Of course there are trials and tribulations to overcome, such as his non-existent relationship with his son over the *SPOILER* drowning of the son's twin at age 12, his growing separation from his wife, and personal demons. There is something about old men that you can't help but rally behind them. I can't help but think that it has something to do with associating them with your father and grandfathers and connecting the characters success to the film or something odd and Freudian along those lines. But, regardless of what the reason, the film is wonderful. Certainly a classic to be added to the category.
Anyone who doesn't love this movie, especially during Olympic years has no soul: Cool Runnings. If you can't get behind the Jamaican wonder team in the bobsled competition for the Winter Olympics with an overweight cheat for a coach than I don't know what to say. This was my favorite move growing up, and I still LOVE it. With lines like "I'm feeling very Olympic today," there's just not a whole lot you can't find endearing.
Shower is another great that my old roommate and I discovered last year on the Staff Favorites shelf at Vision Video (good job, guys!). This one has every essential element to make a great movie. Father and two sons: one son is retarded, the other a successful, married business man, the father runs a bath house to support himself and the son. Best of all, it is Chinese. Of course the successful son comes back to help take care of the father after he has a medical issue and cultivates a relationship with his father and brother. Of course, they keep the bath house going and the family ties strong.
Billy Elliot is one of those that everyone saw when it came out on account of its indie film star child of 2000 status, but that does not mean that further praise is undeserved. Young, lower class English boy who takes ballet lessons despite dsapproval from his peers and parents. Only the ballet teacher believes in him as he pays for dance lessons with the money his father gives him for boxng lessons. Trust me, even if you can't enjoy most of the movie, I will put money on the fact that you will hold your breath in anticipation at the end when he auditions for dance school. Oh yeah, it's one of those.
Water Boys. I don't know what it is with me and Asian films, but for some reason in the feel-good category I just can't get enough of them. Well, this one is a treat. Agroup of Japanese high school boys who are encouraged to form a synchronized swim team. Now, I must preface this by saying that if this were not a Japanese film, it would be a stupid American one. But, for some reason it is absolutely endearing and of course they overcome the mocking of their peers and get the girl(s).
An older, but great movie for the list: An Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. If you have never seen this, go to your video store today and rent it, immediately. First things first, Hugh Grant is in it, which for some reason to me makes it even better. Well, Hugh Grant plays a mountain surveyor who travels to a Welsh village (apparently I am obsessed with Asians and Brits today) because the town has a local mountain, the highest in the area, which is not listed on any official maps. Grant arrives and finds that in fact their mountain is actually a hill; this is not good news for the townspeople. But the community perserveres as they mobilize and gather earth from the land below to put on the top of the mountain so that it can gain the 20 feet (or something like that) it was short of the mountain.
Mystery, Alaska: Granted Russell Crowe is in this which makes it slightly harder for me to root for his under-dogged team, but if I manage so can you. Great movie that makes you get that cheesey grin when the team pulls through. Classic corporation vs. the local town, but this time its wth hockey. Not much more to say, other than it certainly fits the category.
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