Feel-Good Movies

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. Seen any good movies lately?

I don’t necessarily mean at a movie theater. The last time I went to a new-release film in person (and in a crowd) was back when Mamma Mia! (the first one) came out, and I only went to see that one because the old friend I wanted to reconnect with in the Nashville TN area, where I was attending a conference, had already bought a ticket for that particular showing and didn’t want to miss it. It turned out to be a great way to spend part of an evening. Since then, the film has become one of my go-to rewatches when I want to put myself in a happy frame of mind.

As you’ve probably deduced, I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of my own home, and almost every evening during the last couple of years, I’ve either streamed a movie or binge-watched a few episodes of a TV series on my iPad. I have a huge collection of DVDs (and a few old VHS tapes of material not available on DVD) and I rewatch quite a few of them, too. There are several I’ll even watch when they turn up on network TV, despite the umpty-zillion commercial interruptions. Any time I need to cheer myself up, I have a long list of films to choose from.

I’ve just added one more. Last week I streamed The Lost City, one of two movies I’ve had on my “buy” list ever since I first heard the plot lines. (The other is Jurassic World: Domination, which isn’t yet available.) This one is about a romance writer and her “real-life” adventure seeking treasure in a South American jungle. Based on that description, you might think, as some reviews have suggested, that it’s just an updated version of Romancing the Stone, but that’s not the case. For one thing, in my opinion, The Lost City isn’t a so much a romance as it is a screwball comedy. Romancing the Stone, another of my favorites, is a romance. It’s also, according to Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey (1995), a perfect example of “the hero’s journey.”

But I digress. And I’m about to digress again—I can’t help myself—to mention that one thing both movies do have in common is a strange idea of what the real romance publishing industry is like. Based on details in The Lost City, Loretta, Sandra Bullock’s character, is published by a small press in California. Most romance novels are published by large New York or Toronto houses. The writer would normally be badgered about her overdue manuscript by her agent, or possibly her editor (or the editor’s assistant), but not by her publisher, nor would the publisher be directly involved in promotion, let alone in tracking down her kidnapped writer when the police fail to act. Also, judging by details in the movie, our heroine doesn’t really write romance novels. She writes a romantic suspense/adventure series consisting of twenty books (yes, twenty!) featuring the same couple, Dr. Lovemore, an archaeologist, and her lover, Dash. Although Joan Wilder’s Angelina and Jessie apparently appeared in more than one Western historical romance in Romancing the Stone, “series” in the romance genre usually means several connected titles. A couple from one novel may appear in subsequent novels, but they are unlikely to be the hero and heroine of more than one book. These series are considered long-running if they reach seven entries.

The whole cover-model aspect of The Lost City is (I hope) played for laughs. No author I’ve ever heard of has chosen her own cover model unless she was self-publishing, and although there used to be cover model events at Romantic Times conventions, having Loretta’s cover model appear on  stage with her at a “Romance Faire” and completely take over the interview is definitely over the top. On the other hand, anyone who remembers a real-life cover model named Fabio, will find that scene hilarious.

Having said all that, you might conclude I didn’t like The Lost City. Reader, I loved it. It’s laugh-out-loud funny in multiple places, and the heroine, whose career as a writer is at a crisis point, has a great one-liner when she is faced with having to climb a cliff to escape from the villain. Contending that she doesn’t have the skill set to handle the challenge, she quips: “My skill is sitting and thinking and eating when I can’t think.” I can relate to that!

Not all the feel-good movies on my list have completely happy endings, and the titles change from time to time, but here, in no particular order, are some I’ve watched again in 2022, some more than once: First Wives Club; Sleepless in Seattle; Jurassic World; The Avengers; Independence Day; Grease; Fool’s Gold, Oceans 11; Oceans 8, Burlesque, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; The Avengers—Infinity War and Endgame (watched back to back, because Infinity War by itself is too depressing!); Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again (although the continuity errors between it and Mamma Mia! drive me crazy); Tremors; Serenity. There are also two I regularly watch at specific times of the year: Die Hard for Christmas and, as each year’s World Series approaches, especially if the Red Sox once again seem bent on seizing defeat from the jaws of victory, Fever Pitch.

What movies do you watch when you want to lift your spirits?

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published others, including several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her most recent publications are The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries (a collection of three short stories and a novella, written as Kaitlyn) and I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries (written as Kathy). She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen.


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9 Responses to Feel-Good Movies

  1. Jane Bettany says:

    One of my favourite ‘feel good’ films is Working Girl (starring Melanie Griffiths and Harrison Ford). However, I saw CODA at the cinema recently, and I think that is now my favourite feel-good movie. If you haven’t watched it already, I’d highly recommend it.


  2. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    I bought The Lost City too and watched it Friday night. Perfect escapist fun. I rarely buy/rewatch movies, but I have Soap Dish, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Blithe Spirit (the new one), Noises Off, Trading Places, and The Princess Bride in my Amazon video account when I want to relax.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      I watched the new Blithe Spirit recently too. Definitely a winner, although I like the original too.

  3. jselbo says:

    I actually went to the theater (and had it all to myself in Falmouth) to see Lost City. I am a Sandra Bullock fan when she does comedy and a fan of Channing Tatum when he does comedy (and dances). Definitely some good moments.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      I wonder if empty or nearly empty small theaters are a Maine thing. Years ago I remember my husband and I were almost the only people at a showing of Shakespeare in Love in Farmington. That was probably a good thing, since I laughed at quite a few “in” jokes most audiences wouldn’t think were all that hilarious. That I did my masters’ thesis on John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi was responsible for most of that–Webster’s character in the movie is shown as a bloodthirsty young boy who spends his time playing with mice and spying on Shakespeare and Viola. Yes, I do have a weird sence of humor..

  4. John Clark says:

    Beth and I just watched A Yak in a Classroom on Amazon Prime. Great movie about a Bhutanese man conflicted about completing his final year as a teacher to complete his national service requirement. He’s sent to the most remote school in the world.
    CODA is another terrific film I’d see more than once.

  5. Pingback: Feel-Good Movies | Maine Crime Writers – Maine Reportings

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