The movies that cheer up Den of Geek

The writers at DoG all have a platter of cinematic comfort-food to chow down on in dark moments. And here they are...

Julie Hagerty cheering Mark Oakley up in Airplane! (1980)

Mark Oakley on Airplane! (1980)Apologies for picking an obvious choice but for me, Airplane! is hands down the funniest film ever made, hence the film in my collection guaranteed to pick me up when I’m down. From airport announcers arguing about abortions, to old women talking jive, to Leon getting larger, it’s the one film in my collection that I cannot watch without at least once roaring with laughter. That it can be dipped in and out of easily also helps,with my particular favourite scene involving Rex Kramer’s relentless walkthrough the airport, pushing aside various zealots and do-gooders. Superb.

Matt Edwards on Footloose (1984)Everyone has a film that they’ll flip on after a bad day at the office. I actually have a shoe box full of them under my bed, but for the sake of not turning this blue, we’ll ignore that and stick to my proper DVD racks. And if we’re sticking to the proper DVD racks then it seems only right that the spotlight fall on Footloose.

There are certain things you want from any film and Footloose has them all. Kevin Bacon? Yep. John Lithgow? Yes. Frustrated Chris Penn finding peace through dancing lessons? Present. Furious ballet in an abandoned warehouse? Uh-huh. A dangerous game of chicken using tractors whilst Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding Out for a Hero’ blasts out in thebackground? You know it.

Footloose is magic and it makes me smile.

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Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy on Saving Face (2004)For those not in the know, Saving Face is a charming little romantic comedy about a young woman dealing with her newly pregnant mother, who won’t say who the father is and proceeds to turn her life upside down. It’s a bit been there-done that, really – there’s a madcap rush tothe airport at the end so a character can declare her undying love, for goodness sake! – but it’s also honest, funny and really, really well acted. And it has the incredibly attractive Michelle Krusiec hooking up with the just-as-attractive Lynn Chen. Which always helps.

Ron Hogan on Snatch (2000)When asked about my personal mood-changing movie, it didn’t take too much thought. All I had to do was hearken back to my days as a counter jockey at a gigantic video store chain, nearly 8 years ago (now I feel old, thanks). I watched it at least 15 times while suffering through the day to day grind at Nameless Video, and I’ve watched it hundreds of more times since then. While it’s not his best work, Guy Richie’s Snatch is a movie that never fails to perk me up when I’m feeling down. It’s that combination of black humor, action, memorable characters, and Pikeys that does it for me, even though it’s probably not as good as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels to most people who can get past the Cockney rhyming slang. The summer it came out, everyone at the video store decided that whenever anyone came up with a copy of Dracula 2000, we’d tell them to take it back and get Snatch instead. Most people thanked us. Those that didn’t obviously didn’t like daigs.

Simon Brew on Starship Troopers (1997)I’ve got a pair of moviesto turn to when the world is closing in and I just need a smile putting back on my face. And so I’m going to cheat, and talk about them both.

Part of the reason for that is that I’ve rambled on about the joyous Top Secret often enough. A few more words won’t hurt, of course. For Top Secret is the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker spoof that was made in the years between Airplane! (another candidate for inclusion in my book) and The Naked Gun (er, likewise). It’s a terrific spoof of the spy movies of old, as Val Kilmer – who’s never been better – steps into the shoes of Nick Rivers and brings American music with a twist (Skeet Surfin’, anyone?) to East Germany. It’s chock-full of quotable moments, has the best jokes on film about little Russians and little horses, and gleefully rips to pieces all the clichés of the genre it’s clearly in love with. It’s as good as anything else ZAZ has done, and never fails to put a smile on my face.

Neither does Starship Troopers, which just edges out Con Air, Waiting For Guffman and A Very Brady Sequel (Gary Cole can always be relied on) as my second choice (cunningly, you’ll see, I’ve shoehorned lots of films into this list now, to save me having to make a definitive decision). Paul Verhoeven, in my humble view, should make nothing other than sci-fi films, as Total Recall is arguably Arnie’s 90s highlight, while Robocop is a flat-out genre classic.

Starship Troopers is my favourite though, a generous cauldron of comedy, teen movies, satire, fascism and all-out action (Beverly Hills 90210 goes bug hunting, as it was once lovingly described). Verhoeven’s best films work on more than one level, and Starship Troopers is no different at all. And while it’s not hitting my top ten movies of all time, it’s still a terrific, five star science-fiction classic that hooks me in from the first moment it questions whether I want to know more. Credit too for giving the likes of Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown the kind of roles they deserve. And Mr Verheoeven? Get back to the genre where you’ve never failed to deliver, and stop making The sodding Thomas Crown Affair 2.

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Martin Anderson on The Dambusters (1955)It’s all very jolly-hockeysticks in Michael Anderson’s mid-fifties war-flick about bouncing bombs off German dams. The appeal lies mainly in Michael Redgrave’s delightfully dotty portrayal of arch-boffin Barnes-Wallace, whose long hours and grim determination to shorten the war take him on a long journey through Whitehall bureacracy and the vast testing tanks of the National Physical Laboratory in the pursuit of a bomb that will ‘stick’ to the wall of a dam and cause maximum disruption to the German war effort.

The now-infamous ‘Bomber’ Harris gets a rough-edged but fairly favorable treatment here compared with later years, played by Basil Sydney as a pragmatist besieged by crackpots. If Dambusters ladles large amounts of populist myth upon issues that have since become far more controversial, it creates in the process a comforting story of the triumph of endurance over multitudinous obstacles. In addition, I am perennially (who I am kidding? I watch this film far more than once a year) tickled by the exchange where a Whitehall jobsworth asks Barnes-Wallace what possible justification he could give his superiors for the release of a valuable Wellington bomber for the scientist’s off-beat newtests.

“Would it help if you mentioned that I designed it…?” responds Barnes-Wallace, drily.