A few weekends ago, I was vacationing with my son Nick, daughter-in-law Carolyn, the grandkids, Lucas aged 13 and Georgia aged 9, and their adorable rescue dog Simon, in Santa Barbara. I thoroughly relished my time being with my sweet family but, it had been a particularly tough day for me emotionally. Peter and I adored Santa Barbara, which we considered paradise. The entire family took a walk on the beach and my son and I got very teary thinking about how Peter would have loved the day. Beach walking with a dog in Santa Barbara was always our go-to source of mindfulness. The breeze, the sun, the gulls, visiting with other pooches, the occasional dolphin in the distance, all gave us a sense of peace. Walking on the beach without Peter beside me brought back memories I was not ready to unearth.
That evening, the kids and I were looking for the perfect movie to watch. We powered through the list of Netflix and Amazon movies, looking for ones that were approved by Common Sense Media, a watchdog site that rates appropriate movies for kids. We searched through genres and focused on comedy. Lucas wanted a Marx Brothers movie while Georgia requested Beethoven or Clueless for the umpteenth time. Suddenly we came upon The Princess Bride and we all fist-bumped yes!
It has been almost 30 years since William Goldman and Rob Reiner's cult classic, The Princess Bride, was released. Peter and I loved every frame of this romantic, witty, fairytale that appeals to everyone from age 5 to 90. I actually don't trust anyone who doesn't "get" The Princess Bride. Those who understand the movie know that it is about sharing an outlook that doesn't tolerate bull#&*t or un-imaginativeness. People who "get" the movie understand the importance of fantasy, laced with irony, sarcasm, and wit. I have been known to test people on their familiarity with this timeless masterpiece. I may casually say: "as you wish", waiting for a smile. I often abruptly utter: "inconceivable" with a lisp, hoping someone will respond with "never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line."
As I cuddled up with both kids under blankets watching the ROUS (rodents of unusual size), the characters scaling the "cliffs of insanity," or knowing that "she gets kidnapped, he gets killed, but it all ends up okay," was somehow wonderfully comforting. Maybe it was the hugs, or the laughter, or the magical wit on the screen, but even though I achingly missed Peter, I found comfort in the restorative powers of The Princess Bride.
If The Princess Bride could give me comfort, I thought why not explore other movies to match my moods. I trolled the internet and found a website titled A Good Movie To Watch which explores movies based on your feelings: The comedies on that site didn't quite do it for me so I went to the AFI's 100 Years of Laugh and struck gold. Comedy lifts my mood and allows me to laugh, which is palliative on so many levels.
Let's face it Young Frankenstein could cheer anyone up with lines like: "What knockers!" "Oh, thank you, doctor." Or, "Hallo. Would you like to have a roll in the hay?" The Inlaws was a particular favorite of ours with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk yelling "Serpintine, Shel! SERPINTINE!" I also get great laughs from Airplane, A Fish Called Wanda, Arsenic and Old Lace, Auntie Mame, The Jerk, City Slickers, The Freshman, and especially the first half of Private Benjamin. As a matter of fact, most any of Nancy Meyers movies, with the beautiful kitchens and interiors, are instant mood enhancers. Father of the Bride, The Parent Trap, Holiday, and Something's Gotta Give all give me two hours of smiling -- which in my present state is a great thing!
Then there are the movies that allow for a good cathartic cry. It can be a slippery slope to pick a movie that allows for a solid and cleansing cry without shredding your soul. Field of Dreams requires a full box of tissues. Dead Poet's Society is a feel-good movie that allows for a good blubber-fest. "Up" is sweetly sad, but you feel better after bawling your eyes out. I am not ready for Beaches, Terms of Endearment, or Steel Magnolias, which involve sickness and are gratuitously heart wrenching.
For the time being, when I want to be cheered up, I think I will stick with any of Melissa McCarthy's movies because I love broad physical comedy, The Philadelphia Story, Annie Hall, Some Like it Hot, Enchanted April, Pretty Woman, The Producers or actually any Mel Brooks movie, Bringing Up Baby, It Happened One Night, Moonstruck, Big, Manhattan, Where's Poppa, Arthur, Notting Hill, A Shot in the Dark, Broadcast News, Beverly Hills Cop, Victor Victoria, Bull Durham, and Day at the Races, or Night at the Opera. "I'll take 3 hard boiled eggs!"