Whether you’re stuck sitting inside a home office all day or dealing with bumper-to-bumper traffic on a commute to work, everyone could use a feel good movie right about now. From fairytales to grounded family dramas, anything can be a feel good movie as long as it makes the audience smile and feel some kind of joy as the credits start rolling.
Everything from animated adventures to touching documentaries appears on this list, but it’s up to you to decide which movie you want to watch first when you need a good pick me up. Whenever you’re feeling down, check out one of these fantastic 30 Feel-Good Movies on Netflix!
Peter Pan, the boy who never ages, finally grows up in Hook. Peter (Robin Williams), now a workaholic who ends up being too busy for his own kids most of the time, is thrust back into Neverland when the dastardly Captain Hook kidnaps his kids. An overwhelmingly silly and heartwarming flick, Hook reminds its viewers to never stray too far from the innocent joy of childhood. With an amazing ensemble- Dustin Hoffman hams it up as Captain Hook- and a touching story, Hook is a must-watch for anyone who needs a dose of wonder.
Before Bong Joon-ho swept the Oscars for his capitalist-skewering Parasite, he released Okja, a fairy tale-esque story that also slams the modern capitalist consumer culture. A Netflix original, the story follows Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), a young woman who has an intense bond with a genetically modified super-pig called Okja. When Okja is recalled by the multinational corporation that first created it, Mija is thrust into a world-wide journey to reunite with her friend that sees her teaming up with an animal rights organization. Full of satire, Okja is incredibly charming and will make you smile long after you finish it.
In 2009, writer-director duo Chris Lord and Phil Miller burst onto the scene with the release of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Loosely adapted from a children’s book with the same name, the film sees scientist Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) create a device that turns water into food. Unfortunately, Lockwood quickly loses control as tumultuous food weather (think spaghetti and meatball tornadoes) poses a huge risk to the city of Swallow Falls and its inhabitants. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an entertaining film full of puns and heart that also has a poignant message for its viewers: don’t mess with the climate!
Growing up in a small-ish city and arguing with your parents can be tough. Still, Christine, a.k.a. Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan), isn’t willing to let her current situation define her existence or what is possible in the future. A comedic coming-of-age story that sees Lady Bird try to discover what she wants from life; this Greta Gerwig helmed movie perfectly balances its charming and heartbreaking moments. Like any family drama (or real family squabble), there are moments that lower the characters and make them question their world views. However, Lady Bird still excels at making its audience feel good and empowered in their own decisions as things progress.
When old friends Steve Martin and Martin Short are together, it’s impossible for viewers not to smile. These two titans of comedy join each other on-stage for a comedy-palooza filled with personal stories, banjo music, and contagiously big smiles. The only comedy special on the list, An Evening You Will Forget, feels like you’re spending some time with old friends who are razor-focused on making you laugh and feel good.
Director Martin Scorsese is best known for gritty gangster films, but his adaptation of Hugo proves the maestro can excel in any genre. Set in 1931 Paris, Hugo follows a young boy named Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who goes to great lengths to unlock a mysterious automated toy after his father passes away. A story about the power of family and friendship, Hugo is a lovely journey about both self-discovery and understanding/empathizing with those around you.
A Netflix documentary produced by the Obamas’ new production company, Crimp Camp: A Disability Revolution, is a story about the power of grassroots activism during the disability rights movement. The film opens on Camp Jened, an alternative summer camp that was designed to uplift and care for teenagers who felt ostracized from daily life due to their disabilities. Focusing on the journey of certain individuals who attended the camp, Crimp Camp tracks how they outgrew the ostracization society placed on them and became key activists in the fight for new legislation. A touching and motivating film, Crimp Camp reminds us that everyone is worthy of respect and that anyone is capable of creating real change in the world.
Whether he’s creating films about Norse gods or reformed Hitler youth, writer-director Taika Waititi has an incredible knack for bringing delightful stories to the big screen. Hunt for the Wilderpeople, adapted from a book called Wild Pork and Watercress, sees an unlikely duo—a 13-year-old named Ricky (Julian Dennison) and a grizzled, older man named Hec (Sam Neill)—bond and hide out in the middle of the New Zealand wilderness while Ricky is being searched for by child services. A film chopped full of laughs and misunderstandings, Hunt for the Wilder People will leave you feeling happy to be alive and extra appreciative of the people who bring love into your life.
Christmas might have been a few months ago, but that doesn’t mean Netflix’s new original holiday film Jingle Jangle isn’t worth watching any time of year. Written and directed by David E. Talbert, Jingle Jangle was originally designated to be a stage production. Still, Talbert’s vision jumps off the screen thanks to an amazing ensemble and wonderful choreography from Ashley Wallen. Without spoiling too much, the film follows Journey (Madalen Mills) as she tries to help her grandfather Jeronicus Jangle (played by Forest Whitaker for most of the film) preserve his toy factory and protect his newest invention. A fantastical journey full of whimsy and wonder, Jingle Jangle is a new Christmas classic that will leave you wishing it was already December.
Few sports stories are as inspirational as Miracle, a 2004 movie about the U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team that competed in the 1980 games. Under the leadership of coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), a group of collegiate athletes came together and did the impossible—defeated the most dominant hockey team in the world: the Soviet Olympic team. A touching and thoroughly entertaining film all about pushing oneself to the limit and not letting other people’s opinions impact one’s abilities, Miracle will leave you feeling inspired and ready to take on the world.
Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t make comedy movies like The Naked Gun anymore. Starring Leslie Nielson as Detective Frank Drebin, The Naked Gun parodies police films with both massive gags and smaller jokes that may fly right over the audience’s head. In this film, the first of a trilogy, Frank is tasked with defending Queen Elizabeth II from a hypnosis-related assassination attempt. The film isn’t overwhelmingly emotional, but it’s hard to walk away from The Naked Gun feeling anything but overjoyed due to how silly it is.
Romantic comedies can be a bit of a mixed bag, but the Netflix original Always Be My Maybe is incredibly charming and silly in all the best ways. Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Randall Park) are old friends who grew distant from each other after one intimate night together as teenagers. Years later, the two bump into each other as Sasha returns to San Francisco to open a new restaurant, and the two become friends once again. Park and Wong, who both have writing and producing credits on the film, have fantastic chemistry together and do a wonderful job of grounding this touching story all about escaping your comfort zone and pursuing life (and love) to the fullest.
After directing massive blockbusters like Iron Man and Cowboys & Aliens, writer-director Jon Favreau was ready to ground his filmmaking in smaller, more intimate stories again. In 2014, Favreau released (and starred in) Chef, a story about a Los Angeles chef who loses his job after a public argument with a food critic and decides to operate his own food truck where he can let his own cooking style shine through. A story about defining your own path, Chef is the perfect film for anyone hungry to take control of their own life.
A group of old friends decides to embark on a weekend getaway in Napa Valley to celebrate Rebecca’s (Rachel Dratch) birthday. A Netflix original directed by Amy Poehler, who is also a member of the film’s ensemble, Wine Country is a funny, sweet film all about rekindling the important relationships in your life and learning to go with the flow. With lockdowns still ongoing, Wine Country is a sweet distraction that reminds viewers how important friendship is in all of our lives.
Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy are two of the most iconic characters of all time, and the 2011 film The Muppets, fortunately, put the two of them and all their puppet friends back in the spotlight where they deserve. Co-written by Jason Segel, whose love of puppet musicals is evident for anyone who has seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the film sees The Muppets reunite in order to save the Muppet Theater from an evil businessman. Stacked with a great ensemble and some of the best working puppeteers, The Muppets is the joyous, goof-filled movie everyone needs about now. As a bonus, if anyone is a fan of Flight of the Conchords, series co-creator James Bobin directs the film, while Bret McKenzie served as the music supervisor and even wrote four of the original songs in the movie.
Will Ferrell movies are normally full of over-the-top humor, but Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction is markedly different. When Harold Crick (Ferrell) suddenly hears a narrator guiding him through his life like a character in a novel, he starts to panic. Things only worsen for Harold when he discovers that the narrator is apparently aware of how Harold will die and guide him right to his end. A story that deals with heavy themes like fate and the inevitability of death, Stranger Than Fiction is an incredibly powerful story that reminds us all to take charge of our own lives and not allow other individuals or institutions to dictate how we should perceive our own existence.
If overwhelming amounts of butter and baked goods make you happy, then Julie & Julia will leave you feeling full and delighted. Based on the real-life exploits of food blogger Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, the film follows Powell as she endeavors to cook every recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year as a distraction from her own angst living in post-9/11 New York City. At the same time, the film is interwoven with flashbacks that showcase the iconic Child (Meryl Streep) as she attends a French culinary institute and tries to publish her iconic cookbook.
Normally, stories set in a Catholic school aren’t all about sex, but Yes, God, Yes is a clever, comedic look at how the religion’s strict rules impact the sexual development of its young adherents. It is written and directed by Karen Maine, who makes her feature directorial debut here with a story loosely based on her own experiences as a teenager. Yes, God, Yes is an extremely charming film about self-discovery. Alice (Natalia Dyer) has to maneuver her own sexual appetites, something she is constantly told to feel ashamed about, and survive a stuffy school retreat in this swift and funny tale.
Few live-action characters are as iconic as Paul Reuben’s Pee-Wee Herman, so when the Netflix original Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday hit in 2016, there was a reason to celebrate. Pee Wee is happy with his life in the town of Fairville, but when actor Joe Manganiello pops up in town and convinces Pee Wee that he should come to New York for his birthday party, Pee Wee sets off on a wacky road trip full of twists and turns to attend the celebration. Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday isn’t the character’s first (nor most iconic) film, but it’s incredibly satisfying and will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear.
Mary Poppins is one of the most iconic characters ever put on the silver screen, but before Julie Andrews brought her to life, she existed only in the pages of P.L. Travers’ children’s books. Saving Mr. Banks, directed by John Lee Hancock, tells the silly, stressful and emotional story of how the notorious Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) persuaded Travers (Emma Thompson) to adapt her work. A Disney movie about an older Disney movie, Saving Mr. Banks, is a must-see for any fans of Hollywood history that leaves audiences appreciative of the things that made their own childhoods so special.
In 2001, director Steven Soderbergh released a remake of the 1960s classic Ocean’s Eleven. Stacked with one of the best ensembles ever assembled—including icons like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Bernie Mac—Ocean’s Eleven sees a crew of thieves come together to pull off a massive heist in Las Vegas worth $160 million. Danny Ocean (Clooney) gets out of prison and decides to assemble a crew for one more heist, a decision that leads Danny to come in contact with numerous eccentric and entertaining individuals who all have a particular set of skills. An entertaining and sharp story, Ocean’s Eleven is both hilarious and bewildering as audience members have to pay attention to all the wonderful activity taking place on the screen to grasp the full picture.
Another Netflix original, writer-director Alice Wu’s The Half of It, is a cheeky coming of age story that focuses on two introverted friends falling for the same girl. Ellie (Leah Lewis) is a shy high school student who makes a bit of money by helping her peers write essays, but after Paul (Daniel Diemer) asks her to help him write letters to his crush Aster (Alexxis Lemire), everything changes. Not only do Ellie and Aster develop a close friendship, something that helps the two nervous individuals feel more comfortable in their own skin, but they end up both developing feelings for the same girl. A sweet film about accepting yourself and others, this is the perfect film for anyone ready for some sweet laughs and motivation to start a new chapter in their life.
I personally NEVER want to go back to high school, but for those who sometimes pine after a second chance at their younger days, 17 Again is the perfect movie to watch. When Mike O’Donnel (played by both Matthew Perry and Zac Efron depending on his age) magically transforms into a 17-year-old after hitting a rough patch with his professional and personal life, he decides to make the best of it and go back to high school for a second chance at greatness. Directed by Burr Steers, 17 Again is an incredibly funny story that reminds audiences not to take their life and loved ones for granted even when they may be feeling unworthy of love or success.
Written and directed by Sean Penn, Into the Wild is an emotionally charged film about self-discovery and determining one’s own path in life. Adapted from Jon Krakauer’s book about the life of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), Into the Wild sees the recent college graduate walk away from the life he thought he would embark on in favor of a solo cross-country trip to Alaska. As he journeys across the country, he meets new people and pushes through both his physical and emotional limits in order to reach his destination. The film certainly has darker moments as McCandless’s journey becomes more harrowing, but the film’s positive, adventurous spirit is infectious from start to finish.
The holiday season is the gift that keeps on giving on this list, and Seth Gordon’s Four Christmases is one of the funniest, most delightful Christmas movies I’ve ever seen. Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) are a couple who try to avoid their families on the holidays, but after their travel plans are canceled, they give-in and decide to visit their families. Brad and Kate both come from divorced households, making the idea of marriage and kids harder for them to swallow. That also means they have four very separate and very different holiday gatherings to attend. Family drama and crude humor aside, Four Christmases is a love-filled movie that leaves the viewer with a big smile on their face.
A movie about mental illness may not be the first thing someone thinks about when they want to find a feel-good flick, but David O Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook is full of joy. The film follows Patrick (Bradley Cooper), a bipolar individual after he is released from a psychiatric hospital and readjusting to life with his parents. As Patrick fixates on regaining his old life by hopefully winning back his old wife, he gets closer to another mentally distinguished individual named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawerence). A touching yet smile-filled film about vulnerability and letting new relationships blossom, Silver Linings Playbook is a must-watch for anyone struggling to accept the wrinkles in their own life.
Many Happy Madison films are actually rather mean-spirited, but 50 First Dates strikes a different tone entirely. After Henry (Adam Sandler) meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore), he’s immediately smitten. Unfortunately, Henry doesn’t realize that Lucy has a rare form of amnesia that resets her memory back to right before she was in a bad car accident a few years prior. Although Lucy’s family warns Henry to stay away from her, he commits himself to making her fall in love with him every day so they could have some type of relationship. There are definitely some creepy elements to their relationship, but if viewers can put those things aside and just enjoy the romantic ride, they are in for a treat.
Starring and co-written by Kevin James, Paul Blart Mall Cop is a heartwarmingly silly movie about a schlubby mall security guard who takes his job – and responsibilities as a single father- incredibly seriously. When a group of criminals infiltrates the mall on Black Friday, Paul has to think creatively and save the day. Paul Blart is big on slapstick comedy, but more importantly, for the sake of this list, it’s a heartfelt movie that shows anyone is capable of accomplishing great things.
No one makes it through high school without being made fun of a few times, but Jody (Ava Michelle) unfortunately deals with more bullies than most. A 6.5 foot tall junior, Jody has always been taller than her peers- something that has unfortunately made her self-conscious and desperate to blend in. The film has some cute high school romantic elements as Jody juggles her feelings for a tall foreign exchange student and her short best friend, but at its core, Tall Girl is all about accepting yourself no matter how other people perceive you, and nothing makes an audience feel better than watching a movie’s protagonist finally learn to love themself.
2020 was a challenging year for everyone, but we can all breathe a sigh of relief and say that 2020 is OVER! This Netflix original mockumentary, written by Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker, sees stacked ensemble parodies and breaks down the tumultuous year’s biggest stories. If saying goodbye to 2020 (and watching Samuel Jackson) doesn’t make you feel good, nothing will.