Occasionally, a little rain must fall into everyone’s lives (metaphorically, I mean. Living in Oregon means seeing quite a bit of rain falling into everyone’s lives). We here at Checking In HQ have come up with a list of rainy day defenses in the form of movies we come back to again and again, as comfortable as a pair of well-worn shoes.
Based on her novel, Fannie Flagg’s sweet ensemble piece Fried Green Tomatoes mixes comedy and drama in this tale of twin friendships (one in the Depression, one in the ’80s). This Alabama-set Southern confection is dripping with juicy dialogue from a great cast, with Kathy Bates and Mary Stuart Masterson as particular standouts. See Steel Magnolias for another great ensemble-heavy comedy/drama.
Romantic comedies are always better with a leopard. This truism is borne out in Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby, which combines an adorable leopard with an adorable Cary Grant and an equally adorable Katharine Hepburn to create an adorability singularity that never fails to cheer. Also see The Awful Truth and His Girl Friday for more screwball Grant-nanigans!
Sometimes you need a Julia Roberts love story doubleheader to perk up your day. Richard Gere is her Henry Higginsesque love interest in Pretty Woman while Hugh Grant charmingly mumbles his way into Roberts’ heart in Richard Curtis’ Notting Hill, a snappy British film that pairs two of the biggest stars of the 90s in love conquers all territory. If you’re not done, try My Best Friend’s Wedding and Four Weddings and a Funeral for more coincidentally-titled comedies from Roberts and Grant.
The Iron Giant is the animated tale of the friendship between a boy and the eponymous robot who plummets into his life. An animated film that never panders to its audience, Iron Giant’s delicate mix of drama, action, humor and quiet character moments play against a backdrop of Cold War paranoia. Director Brad Bird would follow this critical and cult success with Pixar’s The Incredibles, which exhibits more of the same kind of accomplished genre blending.
Why stop at just one Richard Curtis film when you can have two? Set during the holidays in London, Love, Actually deftly juggles at least ten separate but interconnected love stories with an insanely talented cast. Laura Linney (awesome as always), Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister and Bill Nighy in the role he was born to play are just a few of the delights in this romantic comedy.
Thora Birch plays a young woman named Enid who drifts through life in Ghost World, the heartbreaking adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ celebrated graphic novel. Scarlett Johansson costars as her best friend Rebecca, whose life is diverging from Enid’s in ways neither can understand nor predict. Directed by Terry Zwigoff of Crumb and Bad Santa fame.