40 Best Feel-Good Movies for When You Need a Pick-Me-Up
Want to beat the blues? These happy movies are sure to give you all the feel-good endorphins you crave.
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Happy movies to boost your mood
Feeling a little down? While the secret how-to-be-happy formula varies from person to person, there are mood-boosting activities that can help. Practicing gratitude, setting boundaries or learning how to find purpose in your life are known to increase happiness. Small introductions of laughter and delight into your daily routine, like listening to happy songs, gratitude journaling or reading an inspirational book can also help. One of our personal favorite activities requires very little from you and leaves the pick-me-up to Hollywood: streaming happy movies. There’s just something about the big-screen’s best movies that has the power to transport you with endorphin-boosting laughs and good old-fashioned feel-good moments.
So whether you’re in the mood for romantic comedies, funny movies or just something to lighten the mood, we’ve rounded up 40 of the most joyful movies to stream right now and lift those spirits. We dare you not to smile!
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1. Working Girl
Best for: Finding career inspiration
Before quiet quitting and rage applying, there was simple workplace revenge. In the Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford workplace comedy Working Girl, Griffith plays Tess McGill, a secretary from Staten Island whose not-so-great female boss (Sigourney Weaver) steals her brilliant idea and passes it off as her own. To win big at work (and snag a handsome boyfriend), Tess will have to seize the opportunity to steal it back.
2. Pretty Woman
Best for: Fairy-tale endings
A rich man picking up a prostitute on Hollywood Boulevard might not seem like the plot of one of the best feel-good, happy movies of the ’90s, but this Garry Marshall classic starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts is just that. In Pretty Woman, Gere plays an uptight businessman who falls under the spell of the beautiful and smart escort Vivian Ward (Roberts) after inviting her to spend the week with him. Vivian teaches him about life, love, self-worth and defining his non-negotiables (a secret to happiness). Despite all odds, the two fall in love (and yep, live happily ever after).
3. La La Land
Best for: Those who love a good musical
This Oscar-winning romantic musical comedy starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone took its inspiration from old-school Hollywood films like Singin’ in the Rain. La La Land follows two young people chasing their Hollywood dreams (Stone’s character wants to be an actress, while Gosling’s hopes to be a respected jazz musician). They desperately work to keep a positive attitude, navigating the highs and lows of searching for stardom and balancing careers and relationships.
4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
Best for: Reminders that love conquers all
This laugh-out-loud rom-com was the ’90s movie that first put Hugh Grant on the map as Hollywood’s go-to charming leading man. In this fan-favorite feel-good movie, Grant stars as Charles, a hopeless bachelor who unwillingly breaks hearts, until he meets the beautiful Carrie (Andie McDowell) at a wedding—and she breaks his heart. We follow Charles and his best friends as they go through the rest of the summer wedding circuit in search of love. Four Weddings and a Funeral was a smashing box-office success that proved happy movies can rake in the money ($254 million in the ’90s, to be exact).
5. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Best for: Moms and tween or teen daughters who want to enjoy a film together
Based on the popular YA novel by Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a heartwarming romantic teen drama that follows high school student Lara Jean (Lana Condor), whose private letters to her crushes are mailed out, sweeping her into a surprising love triangle. One former crush, Peter (Noah Centineo), agrees to be in a fake relationship until the drama blows over—but it might just be turning into something real.
6. Bridget Jones’s Diary
Best for: Fun girls nights in—with wine!
Another fan-favorite book-to-movie adaptation, Bridget Jones’s Diary was based on the Helen Fielding comedic novel of the same name (which was heavily influenced by Pride and Prejudice). In one of the go-to early-2000 happy movies, hot mess Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) drinks too much, eats too much, smokes too much and swears too much—and she’s always falling for the wrong guy. She needs to make some changes to not only be happier at home but also to take control of her life. She begins to keep a diary and look for love. Filled with lighthearted fun, this classic British comedy (which also stars Hugh Grant—do we sense a theme?) is an ode to imperfection.
7. Legally Blonde
Best for: A reminder that anyone can do hard things
Legally Blonde is like a big heaping bowl of mac and cheese: always comforting and easy to dig into. The story follows rich sorority girl Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), who decides to apply to Harvard Law School to chase the boy she loves. Not only does she get into the selective, competitive school, she also proves she’s every bit as smart as the rest of the student body, even if she looks like a Barbie doll. This classic chick flick always delivers the endorphins (and as Elle says in this memorable movie quote, “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands”).
8. Always Be My Maybe
Best for: A story of childhood sweethearts
This rom-com written by comedians Ali Wong and Randall Park (the two are also the stars) is not only a perfect example of a classic love story (will they or won’t they get together?), but it’s also incredibly funny. Always Be My Maybe sees the two childhood best friends rekindle a relationship in their San Francisco hometown. But if things are to work out, Sasha (Wong) will need to focus on her relationships rather than just her work, and Marcus (Park) will need to grow up.
Best for: Laugh-out-loud moments
Thanks to Melissa McCarthy and her hilarious costar, Call the Midwife actress Miranda Hart, this spy caper promises laugh-a-minute jokes. In Spy, McCarthy plays a desk-bound CIA agent whose sole mission is to provide technical support for her partner, field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law)—whom she’s also madly in love with. When a mission goes awry, she’ll go undercover and into the field to infiltrate a national arms dealer and save the day.
10. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Best for: A night in with your best friends
Bridesmaids writers and actors Kristen Wiig (Star) and Annie Mumolo (Barb) penned the best-friend comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, about two middle-aged pals who do everything together, including going on vacation. What they don’t realize is that the evil Sharon (also played by Wiig), a former Vista Del Mar resident, is planning to exact revenge on her hometown by killing everyone in it. They’ll manage to save the day—and Star might also find love with the super passionate Edgar (Jamie Dornan).
11. Paddington 2
Best for: Family movie night
For once, Hugh Grant plays the bad guy in this very charming and very funny comedy about Paddington Bear, the gentle soul who brings joy to his adopted family. Things go awry when Paddington, who is hoping to buy an antique book for his aunt’s birthday, instead gets accused of stealing and ends up in jail. Even the thugs in prison can’t help but fall for Paddington’s charms as they learn the importance of community. His new pals help him make a prison break, and viewers of Paddington 2 get one of the most pleasing, happy movies, no matter their age.
12. Girls Trip
Best for: When you want to laugh so hard you cry
In the female buddy comedy Girls Trip, there are plenty of sexual innuendos, but there’s also plenty of heart, life lessons and moments so outrageous, you’ll cry laughing. The film stars four former college best friends (Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah) who reunite on a trip to New Orleans to support their famous pal, who has a speaking engagement at the annual Essence Festival. The women catch up, laugh, drink Hurricanes, accidentally trip on absinthe, fight and fall in (and out of) love in the span of a few very, very funny days. Want to continue the friendship theme? Pick up one of our favorite books about friendship.
13. Singin’ in the Rain
Best for: A splash of dreamy technicolor and dance numbers to jazz up your day
From the bright and brilliant splashing-in-yellow-rain-coats opener to the romantic, uplifting ending, this classic movie delivers the joy—just try not to smile while charming Debbie Reynolds croons “Good Morning” while tap dancing with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. Singin’ in the Rain‘s title song, along with “Make ’em Laugh,” will have you hopping off the couch and singing along.
14. About Time
Best for: Anyone questioning their choices in life
If you could time travel to any moment in the past, where would you go? In About Time, that power is used to orchestrate happiness between a man (Domhnall Gleeson) and the woman he loves (Rachel McAdams). This rom-com has the perfect dose of sentimental sweetness and celebrates the simple beauty of everyday life.
15. The Pursuit of Happyness
Best for: When you need a little inspiration
Will Smith stars with his real-life son, Jaden Smith, in one of the best drama movies of the past 20 years. The Pursuit of Happyness earned Smith an Oscar nomination and is based on the true story of the indomitable spirit of a single dad who loses his job and struggles to get back on his feet. You can’t help but feel inspired by his drive and determination, even after roadblocks and strife. This is a man who won’t give up on success in a film filled with heartwarming moments that’ll give you hope.
Best for: Bachelorette bashes or solo nights
Packed with hilarious quotes, Bridesmaids sees Kristen Wiig steal the show as the maid of honor to her bestie, played by Maya Rudolph. She finds herself competing over the wedding duties with a perfectionist rival (Rose Byrne) and learning hard (but hilarious) lessons from Melissa McCarthy, who plays the groom’s zany sister. Get ready for dress-fitting mayhem and hilarious chaos. This one will have you cracking up as it moves toward the wedding extravaganza finale.
17. Love, Simon
Best for: Reassurance that the kids are all right
This sweet coming-of-age story (adapted from the bestselling LGBTQ novel) is a modern take on pen-pal plots, like You’ve Got Mail. In Love, Simon, two gay teenagers fall for each other through anonymous emails, but they can’t reveal their identities to each other—or the world around them. Suspense runs underneath this truly uplifting romance (with a big reveal ending that will make you cheer).
18. Sense and Sensibility
Best for: Fans of period drama, witty banter and a stellar British cast
Fans of Jane Austen, romantic intrigue and the sweeping English countryside will swoon over this splendid adaptation of the classic novel. In the 1995 take on Sense and Sensibility, Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson (who won an Oscar for writing the screenplay) play the Dashwood sisters, who fall in love with unavailable men before finally sashaying to happy endings. Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant also star in this dreamy film that may have you ugly-crying tears of joy by the triumphant ending.
19. Mamma Mia!
Best for: ABBA fans
Get ready for casually ecstatic choreography and sing-alongs in your own living room. The foot-tapping hits of ABBA bring to life Mamma Mia!, the story about a bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried) and her mom (Meryl Streep), whose former lovers are secretly invited to the wedding weekend by the spirited bride, who hopes to find out which is her father. You can’t help but smile when the dashing Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård make their appearance on the stunning romantic-getaway-approved Greek islands. Make it a double feature with the sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
20. Toy Story
Best for: Disney fans
Head back to the beginning in this lovable saga between Woody and Buzz Lightyear, Andy’s sentient, adorable toys, who take off for adventure in one of the most popular and most-quoted Disney movies ever. Who would have thought that computer-generated imagery could be this heartwarming and so complete in capturing the human spirit? Make it a family film festival and watch the whole Toy Story series again—all four acclaimed films will keep you entertained to infinity and beyond.
21. Dirty Dancing
Best for: Happy trips down memory lane
You loved it back in the 1980s, and Dirty Dancing is still a classic that hits you right in the feels. Patrick Swayze (Johnny) and Jennifer Grey (Baby) have perfect chemistry as they sashay to pop hits and oldies in this happy movie about love affairs and shenanigans set at a summer resort in the 1960s. It doesn’t get much more uplifting (and iconic) than watching Baby lifted into Johnny’s arms while “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life” (part of one of the best movie soundtracks) plays in the background.
22. Field of Dreams
Best for: A little supernatural magic
Need a little nostalgia in your life? Dive into Field of Dreams, the film with one of the most inspirational quotes in cinema: “If you build it, they will come.” Kevin Costner plays a farmer who hears a voice that advises him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield. It’s exactly the kind of scrappy plan that shouldn’t work, but when he does, there’s a magical, moving twist that will tug on the heartstrings of even the most cynical.
23. Coming to America
Best for: Laughing out loud at Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy plays an African prince who travels to Manhattan to search for a proper princess to make his wife, while Arsenio Hall plays his hilarious sidekick, in Coming to America. It’s one of those happy movies you can’t quite pull away from, no matter how many times you’ve seen the silly, ever-funny riff on a royal fish out of water.
24. Crazy Rich Asians
Best for: Fantasizing about wealth (and love)
If you’re in the mood for luxurious weddings dripping in flowers, glitz and gorgeous gowns, then indulge in the hit comedy Crazy Rich Asians. Imagine finding out your boyfriend is actually incredibly wealthy, and oh yeah, his family definitely thinks you’re a gold digger—that’s what happens to the charming Rachel (Constance Wu) when her beau (Henry Golding) invites her home to meet the fam. This funny romance and down-to-earth fairy tale is the perfect comfort food, taking you to all the ritzy locales in Singapore.
25. The Birdcage
Best for: Multi-generational movie nights
Robin Williams and Gene Hackman give stellar comedic performances in The Birdcage, as the dads of two engaged college kids at one of the most hilarious dinner parties in cinema. Williams stars as a gay nightclub owner, while Hackman plays a conservative senator caught up in a scandal. Things get extra funny as they each try to hide the truth from the other. Nathan Lane and Dianne Wiest play their better halves in this watchable, feel-good, ahead-of-its-time movie about inclusivity and acceptance.
26. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Best for: Kids of all ages
One of the happy movies beloved by people of all ages, Fantastic Mr. Fox was adapted from Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel of the same name and follows a family of foxes that aim to outwit human farmers. This quirky, delightful film features wondrous animation created with elaborate stop-motion figures and intricate set-pieces, while the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Jason Schwartzman capture the humanity of the animals.
Best for: One of the greatest moments in sports history
It’s 1980, and a sharp increase in hostility between the Soviet Union and the West has tensions high, even at the 1980 Olympic games. Miracle is the story of the hot-headed, undisciplined athletes who made up the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, the player-turned-coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) who hand-picked them and their unbelievable victory against the heavily favored Soviets that united a nation.
Best for: Kids and adults who dream big
In Up, a retired balloon salesman named Carl and an 8-year-old overachieving wilderness explorer take to the skies to explore a lost world. The unlikely duo (along with a talking dog named Dug and a flightless bird named Kevin) learn that some of the most important adventures of your life are the ones you never expected. It’s one of the best cartoon movies for family night.
29. The Sound of Music
Best for: Singing along, since you probably know every word
From the opening crescendos when the hills come alive to the final escape over the Alps, The Sound of Music lifts your spirits every time you see it. One of the first blockbusters, the film won five Oscars, including Best Picture, on its way to becoming one of the best movie musicals of all time and inspiring audiences to see it again and again. Julie Andrews shines as the nun-turned-nanny, Maria. Her charisma glows as she naturally gets you singing “Do-Re-Mi” and looking toward the bright side—with a drop of golden sun.
30. We Bought a Zoo
Best for: Pet lovers
If you love your furry friends and have dreams of running a zoo next to your own house, then We Bought a Zoo is the feel-good movie for you! Matt Damon plays a single dad who buys a zoo in need of major TLC in hopes that it will help his kids heal from a devastating loss. Scarlett Johansson is on board as a zookeeper who brings joy to the whole gang in this tearjerker movie that’ll make your heart swell with joy.
Best for: Those looking for comfort after loss
If you’re craving the touch of some clay on that iconic pottery wheel, then settle back into this classic love story. Ghost made the 1960s Righteous Brothers hit “Unchained Melody” soar back to the spotlight when the film was released in 1990. Now, it’s a song forever associated with one of the sexiest movie scenes of all time. Demi Moore plays a grieving artist whose dead fiancé (Patrick Swayze) won’t move on until he’s sure she’s safe. He roams the earth as a spirit and enlists the help of a psychic played by Whoopi Goldberg—she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the memorably comedic role.
32. Pride and Prejudice
Best for: Jane Austen fans and strong-willed women
Looking for some literary escapism to the splendid world of Jane Austen? Considered one of the most romantic novels of all time, Pride and Prejudice has seen many adaptations throughout the entertainment world. Even if you’re devoted to Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy (in the 1995 miniseries), you’ll still find yourself adoring Matthew Macfadyen as the dashing, aloof gentleman who falls for the strong-willed heroine in spite of his own better judgment in this 2005 film version. Keira Knightley plays the outspoken Elizabeth Bennet, whose pride first compels her to give the arrogant Darcy the brush off, but softens for a second-chance sunrise declaration.
33. Love Jones
Best for: Anyone going through relationship complications
Love Jones is one of those happy movies perfect for hopeless romantics who get seduced by poetry readings and jazz clubs. Take a trip to the late 1990s and watch Larenz Tate and Nia Long woo each other as hipsters who fall in love but can’t quite get the timing right. With both love poems and romantic declarations in the rain, this is a movie that makes you believe in love.
34. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Best for: Hollywood allure and surprising feminism
Get swept away by Hollywood razzle-dazzle in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the classic musical that proves why Marilyn Monroe is still such an icon. Here she stars with Jane Russell, and the two play a pair of showgirls who cherish their friendship, resist male objectification and happen to find themselves on a transatlantic cruise with an all-male Olympic team. Monroe’s a superb singer and equally talented comedic actress in this sweet story filled with lavish, glitzy numbers like “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love.”
35. Draft Day
Best for: Sports fans who are rooting for a win
The perfect film for sports fans who also have a hankering for a rom-com, Draft Day is a charming and suspenseful take on office romance set in the world of football. You get all the stressful bargaining of NFL managers on draft day alongside the tense negotiations that happen when you find out your girlfriend is expecting both a baby and a proposal. Kevin Costner plays a team exec trying to get the best players in down-to-the-second deals. Jennifer Garner stars as the team’s money manager who seems ready to walk if he doesn’t put a ring on it.
Best for: Fans of Wes Anderson’s quirky aesthetics
Rushmore is an eccentric coming-of-age movie that sparkles with charm in its story about an intense high schooler, Max (Jason Schwartzman), who overdoes extracurricular activities and ignores academics. Highlights include Max’s school plays, staged with teens and tweens, in productions of the movie Serpico, as well as an elaborate war drama set in Vietnam. A local businessman (Bill Murray) gets caught up in Max’s schemes, and they both fall for the same teacher in this film that’s both heartwarming and adorable.
37. The Holiday
Best for: Anyone considering a life change
Dreaming of a romance-filled winter season? When two woman from across the pond (Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet) meet online, they decide to do a home exchange for Christmas. Diaz’s character Amanda flies to rural England to stay in Iris’s quaint country cottage, while Winslet’s character Iris takes over Amanda’s modern mansion in Los Angeles. A fan-favorite romantic Christmas movie, The Holiday shows that happiness can be found where you least expect it—in this case, in each other’s lives.
38. 13 Going on 30
Rated: PG 13
Best for: Second chances at life and love
A young teenager (Christa B. Allen) is sick of being a kid and wishes to be a grown-up on her 13th birthday. She wakes up to find that she’s 30 years old (played by Jennifer Garner), and has to navigate life and her career as an overnight adult—even though she still has the innocence of a kid. 13 Going on 30 is sort of like a female Big, but in this film, Garner’s character Jenna has the chance to make her life right—and the opportunity to make her old best friend (Mark Ruffalo) her future husband.
39. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Best for: Fans of classic children’s movies
Based on the classic feel-good book by Roald Dahl, the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, with its orange-faced Oompa Loompas and catchy songs, has remained a classic. The tale follows several children who win golden tickets for a chance to tour Willy Wonka’s factory, which no one has seen before. The troupe includes the snooty Veruca Salt, the greedy Augustus Gloop, the obnoxious Mike TeaVee, the stubborn Violet Beauregarde and the dirt-poor Charlie Bucket. The contest turns out to be a search for the perfect child for Wonka to leave his factory to, and as you can imagine, it doesn’t go to the greedy ones.
40. When Harry Met Sally…
Best for: Classic rom-com fans
There’s hardly a more classic Nora Ephron rom-com than her first big hit, When Harry Met Sally…, which follows two college graduates as they drive from Chicago to New York together and subsequently run into each other throughout the next decade. Uptight Sally (Meg Ryan) is the polar opposite of aloof Harry (Billy Crystal), but over time, they become friends—and eventually, best friends. Things get complicated when feelings emerge, and the two opposites will attract. It’s truly one of the best happy movies to watch, especially as the weather begins to crisp and the leaves start to fall.
Additional reporting by Molly Pennington, PhD.