Where Are the Happy Movies?
By Ben Kayser, Managing Editor
“Why are so many movies, even Christian movies, depressing? Why can’t we be entertained? Why can’t movies be fun?” – Chemotherapy patient
These are great questions. Life is tough. As the great movie SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS proves, entertainment is a worthwhile goal for a filmmaker. And, it helps to realize that there is more to life than slashing, gashing and mutilating. Where is Frank Capra, who gave us the hope that IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE? Why can’t the RUNAWAY BRIDE find true love (and the PRINCESS BRIDE too).
Anyone who’s seen their fair share of faith-based movies knows that too many are depressing, and the blame can’t wholly be put on bad acting and poor production quality. No, there’s been a trend among Christian storytellers to find the most dramatic, dark, sad stories that may have wonderful uplifting endings and turn them into theatrical movies. Now, there’s nothing wrong with these stories. In fact, many of them are incredibly powerful tools for the Gospel and will reach many souls for Christ. However, the Gospel shouldn’t be limited to stories of people dying, reaching heaven and coming back to earth or being held captive in an apartment by a serial killer. Nothing against 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN or CAPTIVE, both are terrific movies and should be supported, but has this genre been overused recently? If I got a dollar for every time I heard a Christian wanna-be screenwriter pitch a “culture changing, cutting edge” story about a man overcoming his addictions, or fighting the sex-trade industry or going up against the corrupt government, I’d be a wealthier man. Even Disney Animated movies fall prey to this, it becoming a joke that nearly every child character is without a mother, father or both. Ecclesiastes 3 mentions “a time to weep” and “a time to mourn”, I’ve seen plenty of beautiful movies that allow for that. That being said, in a culture that is already dark, that is already full of pain, sorrow and difficulty, there’s an audience out there that’s ready for “a time to laugh” and “a time to dance” and “a time to rejoice,” even if it’s only for two hours at the movie theater. After all, it is the Entertainment Industry, not the “bring you down and shock you for two hours with more misery than you can take” industry.
That’s not to say that reality should be white washed. THE SOUND OF MUSIC and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL are all about having joy amid painful situations. Let’s face it, believers have the best reason to be joyful and full of happiness, maybe it’s time to share that through our stories.
If you’re looking for a happy movie, here are ten options.
5. PRINCESS BRIDE
10. DUCK SOUP
And, there are many more, so go to www.movieguide.org.