The other night, I sat down in my living room with a couple roommates and popped in my scratched and well-loved DVD of “When Harry Met Sally.” Sometimes you just need a movie night. My roommates, who probably thought they were in for a quiet viewing of a cute rom-com, were soon (perhaps unpleasantly) surprised to find me saying all my favorite lines along with the actors, singing along with the soundtrack, laughing before the funny parts because I knew what was coming and spewing facts like I was part of the director’s commentary on the special features disc.
For me, as for many others, WHMS (as my friends and I affectionately call it) is a comfort movie. Before my freshman year of college, I received advice to find one or two movies that I could watch at any time of day and that would always make me happy. My collection of favorites at that time was already vast, so I went a little bit further. I have stacks of DVDs I can watch whenever I want that will make me smile and forget, even if for just an hour or two, the things that are stressing me out. My friends will tell you it’s difficult for me to get through a conversation without referencing a movie, even if nobody else understands or finds it nearly as amusing as I do.
Warning: all of these movies are clichéd and ridiculous, but I love them anyway. So here’s my “comfort movie” list:
1. When Harry Met Sally: Obviously. “Eeeeh, I’m sorry, I need a judge’s ruling on this. Days of the week underpants?” You guys, it’s just so funny and so perfect, I can’t even begin to explain its perfection. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve debated the “men and women can’t be friends” issue with my friends. (For the record, they can – you can’t actually live your life under a movie’s guidelines, as much as you might try.)
2. Juno: When Juno came out my junior year of high school, I saw it four times in theaters. I took both my parents to see it separately, and it was my dad who really appreciated the dry humor and wonderfully exaggerated characters. I actually asked my senior prom date to the dance by sitting in an old armchair in his front yard and chewing on an unlit pipe. Thank goodness he got the reference. If he hadn’t, I definitely would have been date-less for the dance (even though Juno MacGuff would tell you “dances are for nerds and squares”).
3. The Lion King: Sometimes, I regress about 18 years and watch this movie. The thing is, though, the themes of family loyalty, loss and pride are ageless. I still cry at Mufasa’s death, and I probably always will. Timon and Pumbaa are just as hilarious now as they were when I was four, proving yet again that Disney might actually be the expert in disguising adult humor in a way children also find amusing.
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The classic, the original and arguably the best film in the Harry Potter franchise will never replace the book in my heart, but it sits right there next to them. They have equal shelving in the library of my soul, if you will (even if you won’t, I’m proud of that metaphor). The magic of director Chris Columbus’ vision is perfection at any time of the year. ABC Family knows it, that’s why they play it about once a month. But think about it: It’s perfect for Halloween, Christmas and a random summer movie night.
5. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist: This came out around the same time as Juno, and in my teenage angst, I found nothing more comforting than the realization that other teenagers (even fictional ones) found life just as awkward and uncomfortable as I did. A quintessential teen flick, it inspired me to make many a mixed CD for myself, my friends and, obviously, a crush or two. Some people may be embarrassed to admit that, but I’m going to own it and proclaim that some of the best compilations I have ever created or received were during my high school years. This movie, adapted from a tiny, hilarious little book, validated my teenage experience. I watched this movie more than any other during my freshman year of college, and I probably wouldn’t have made it through without it.
These movies are more than just movies to me – they’re kind of like old friends that I can turn to when I need to boost my mood. They’re the best ways I’ve found to relax and unwind, and even thought they might make me cry sometimes, they will always make me smile.