Lockdown Viewing: 15 mood-boosting movies on Netflix right now

We are living through a very scary time, a time where even seemingly trivial things can dramatically transform your day. Even though there are some happy news stories out there, taking a moment to escape from the outside world has never seemed more important or desirable. Whatever your circumstances right now, home entertainment is a good way to bring a little light back into your day.

It therefore doesn’t help that some of the highest trending films on Netflix right now are Pandemic, Contagion and other doom-mongering films and shows. But you can ignore that trending section and enjoy an entire library of feel-good films to help you get through these difficult times and (mentally/emotionally) escape your house for a few hours! Outtake have carefully selected 15 of the funniest and most uplifting films in Netflix’s collection. Ordinary lists might go for 10, but… well, if you are hunkering down for some time, a longer list is definitely better.

Spy (2015)

The dream team of star Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig have produced some outstanding Hollywood comedies, but few of them have hit the mark quite like Spy. A balmy slapstick comedy that scoffs in the face of male-led spy thrillers, it is the rare kind of Hollywood comedy that still manages to catch you out every time and send you into fits of giggles. Feig’s direction and writing is playful to a fault, but McCarthy is firmly centre stage. Her brazen humour, and the way she transforms Susan from a timid desk worker to superspy extraordinaire, is everything that makes her such a brilliant screen presence. She is supported by a cast that plays everything they can for laughs, none more so than Jason Statham, who has inadvertently become one of the great comedy actors of our time.

The Climb (2017)

Love stories can’t reach greater heights than this one. To prove his love to a long-time crush, Senegalese-Frenchman Samy (Ahmed Sylla) decides to climb Mount Everest. He has no money and no climbing experience whatsoever, but he does have the whole of France cheering him on for every metre of the journey as his adventure hits national news. What follows is a funny, moving and rousing tale of pure determination. Sylla plays Samy with real charm, a man losing himself to the wonders of nature while never letting go of his goals. Defying personal and societal odds, The Climb is an engaging film all about overcoming insurmountable obstacles. If there was ever a time that we needed to feel like that was possible, it is definitely now.

Happy Gilmore (1996)

Seeing Adam Sandler give as mesmerising and powerful a performance as he did in Uncut Gems is a massive shock to the system. Films like Happy Gilmore are a reminder of how he earned his status as a household name. Now a cult classic, this film sees Happy (Sandler), something of a washout who put his ambitions of being a professional hockey player on hold to play golf, wanting to use the prize money from tournaments to save his grandmother’s home. There is an undercurrent of class consciousness and its relationship to sport that helps to keep the film relevant even now, but most importantly this is a goofy, ridiculous comedy that will certainly leave you laughing, even if out of frustration. Also worth a watch for Carl Weathers, who asides from Sandler provides the most memorable character of them all.

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Another Adam Sandler film, Sony’s Hotel Transylvania might not have the finesse of Pixar releases, but if you give yourself over to the colourful characters, it still make for an extremely fun caper. Dracula (Sandler) runs a hotel for monsters and wants nothing more than for his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) to stay there with him forever, where she is safe. However, this safety is threatened when a lovable and clumsy backpacker, Jonathan (Andy Samberg), discovers the resort and falls in love with her. Full of classic monster references and largely striking the balance between child-only and family-friendly humour, Genndy Tartakovsky takes a ridiculous concept and turns it into an easy-to-watch, throwaway wonder. Also, spare a thought for Steve Buscemi as a stressed-out werewolf. A lot of us will sympathise right now.

Blockers (2018)

Brilliantly upturning the ‘quest for boys to lose their virginity’ storyline, Blockers follows three girls on prom night who make a pact to all have sex for the first time by the end of the party (agreed through emoji code). Their pact is discovered by their parents (John Cena, Ike Barinholtz and Leslie Mann), who embark on a ridiculous quest to shield their daughters from losing their innocence. As well as being painfully funny, Blockers is a light-hearted but seriously-intended look at gendered double standards, the ‘virginity taboo’ and the parenting. The comedy is absolute gold, and features one of the most toe-curling sound effects you could ever find in a Hollywood film… beer being poured into Cena’s ass (and the look on his face is an utter picture).

Matilda (1996)

A new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic story may have been announced by Netflix, but the original is a delight in every way. Matilda (Mara Wilson, whose more recent credits include BoJack Horseman) has to put up with a family that doesn’t care about her, and a vicious Head Teacher at school by the name of Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris). She makes the best of things, and starts to discover that she may have magical powers that can help her receive the childhood she desires. Matilda is one of Dahl’s most imaginative creations, as simple as it is brilliant and Danny DeVito is, as ever, wonderfully memorable as the hateful Mr. Wormwood. If this one doesn’t leave you feeling better about the world, we’re sorry to say that nothing will.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

This is as classic as they come. The story of Dorothy (Judy Garland) being whisked away to the magical land of Oz has become one of the silver screen’s most iconic stories. At its core, this is a story of love and connection – to where you come from, to others and most importantly, to yourself. Dorothy, Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion all have to accept who they are before they can become who they want to be. There are few lessons more motivational than that. Besides this, the film proves a visual feast even today, but was at the time a revolutionary standard of colour and detail. Catchy musical numbers and unforgettable moments that have stood the test of time demonstrate that the best feel-good films are utterly timeless.

Missing Link (2019)

LAIKA Studio’s most recent entry is a swashbuckling adventure story that represents some of the boldest creative streaks ever committed to stop motion. Filled with humour, meaning, and a slate of colourful characters, this story of personal growth can only leave you full of joy. Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) travels in search of the elusive Sasquatch. He finds it, and the now-named Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis) needs Frost’s help to join his wintery cousins in the Himalayas. Missing Link successfully combines great slapstick comedy with weighty themes of the colonial imagination and legacy, while Stephen Fry and Zoe Saldana help to round off a perfect cast and bring this heart-warming story to life.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Even though we were blessed with Baby Driver in 2017, Scott Pilgrim may still represent Edgar Wright at his best. An explosion of geeky indulgence and trippy editing, Scott (Michael Cera) badly wants to win the heart of Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but to do so he must defeat all seven of her evil exes in increasingly bizarre and ridiculous scenarios. It starred a slate of now-renowned actors before they made it big, such as Chris Evans and Brie Larson, and Cera’s lead role will long be remembered as an example of perfect casting. Scott Pilgrim is so completely off the chain, and still unlike anything else that has come after it. The writing, aesthetic and tone helped to further establish Wright as an auteur of the pop culture age; it’s just a shame we never got to see his take on Ant-Man!

Long Shot (2019)

Lots of rom-coms go with the idea of making two badly mismatched people fall for each other, but rarely is it pulled off as well as in Long Shot. The political background to the affair might feel a little underdeveloped, but the leading pair of Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron is a winning combo. He’s a journalist, she’s about to run for the White House. Some ludicrous scenarios ensue that make for a breezily fun watch and can bring back memories of a time you had a crush on someone out of your league (it’s cool, we’ve all been there). Long Shot will leave you with a big grin on your face as you remember what falling stupidly in love feels like.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

A franchise reboot that actually worked, 2017’s Jumanji made light fun of video games and managed to feel like its own film without sacrificing any entertainment value. Add a Breakfast Club-inspired leading quartet, and you have an easy to watch blockbuster on your hands. Four mismatched high school kids are sucked into the Jumanji video game, being put in the bodies of Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart and Jack Black – all characters in the game. They somehow need to escape, and this mission is the fodder for an endless (though not tiring) slew of comedic violence and playful banter. Good enough to get a sequel, Jumanji relies heavily on its leading stars to pull together this uplifting adventure.

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

Netflix have recently acquired rights to show much of Studio Ghibli’s sensational back catalogue for the first time on UK streaming services, and My Neighbour Totoro is perhaps the most pleasing. A wonderful story of childhood innocence and nature, Totoro is Hayao Miyazaki reaching a sensational high point of his career. Two young sisters move to the country to be with their sick mother, and befriend a number of the magical spirits that live in the forest nearby. An utter joy in every sense, Totoro is a magical experience and a much needed reminder of what pure happiness on film can look like. If you are spending some of your newfound time digesting all the wonders that Studio Ghibli has to offer, Totoro is an impeccable start.

Step Brothers (2008)

This earlier entry from Adam McKay is one of those films that you hate to love. Intriguingly terrible, it has nonetheless stood the test of time, and the sheer stupidity of everything is the kind of light relief that will cure almost any ailment. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are two middle-aged bums still living with their parents who then have to move in together as step brothers. Childish and petty, they grind axes all day long until eventually they find some way to get along. Cringe-worthy and stupid, yet somehow entertaining, Step Brothers is a cult favourite that, if nothing else, will remind you what a good pairing Ferrell and Reilly are… even if it means licking dog crap off the floor to appease small children.

The Flintstones (1994)

Based on the classic animated series, The Flintstones is, well, largely awful. But then so is the modern world, and we still find joy in that! So too can you find joy from Brian Levant’s attempt at a good comedy, which actually boasts a pretty good cast (John Goodman, Rick Moranis and Rosie O’Donnell to name but a few). A film about how greed can come between family members far too easily, the Flintstones family look set for a cushy life when Fred secures a well-paid exec job. The juicy storyline includes betrayal, love and kidnapping – think Shakespeare with more yabba dabba doo. Watch it for a cheap laugh to escape from the stresses of today, or at the very least for a reminder of how far we’ve come.

Happy Feet (2006)

A family film about penguins may seem like a strange change of pace for George Miller, the same man who brought us the Mad Max films; but Miller is a maestro of post-apocalyptic futures, which Happy Feet features the threat of, if not necessarily the realisation. It is this avoidance of disaster, achieved through the putting aside of petty differences by both humans and penguins, that should give us hope. Heartwarming, slightly confusing and if nothing else adorable, it is a reminder of the good that collective action can achieve. As well as giving us hope for the situation we find ourselves in now, its almost universal appeal is the perfect form of escapism. Treasure the two hours of your life you will spend watching this or any film on this list. It is time you will not get back, and that is a wonderful thing.

James Hanton

James is a contributor to Outtake, Starburst Magazine and The Wee Review. He is also the former Editor-in-Chief of The Student, the oldest student newspaper in the UK. A recent graduate from the University of Edinburgh, James is looking for paid writing gigs so he doesn't fall into the endless abyss of graduate unemployment. He can be contacted at: jhantonwriter@gmail.com