November 18, 2016
With the election over (whether your side won or not) many Americans felt exhausted and beat up. We still do! Collectively, many of us wanted to unplug, relax and escape—even if for just a few hours. Where to do that? The movies.
Last weekend’s box office was up 56 percent from last year, according to Box Office Mojo. The top three films were Dr. Strange, Trolls, and Arrival. That would be two sci-fi/fantasy films and one animated kids’ movie about happiness.
“Inside Edition” recently had me as a guest to discuss why recovering voters flocked to the theater. This past week has been full of protests, turmoil, and reports of depression and fear—so we’re offering a solution on how to feel good again, at least temporarily.
Get a big bowl of popcorn, snuggle up with your kids, and watch one of these 10 spirit-lifting films available to view now or soon:
Moana. The Disney Animation musical is, for real, about a country’s inexperienced future leader about to take office. In this case, Moana is a 16-year old Pacific Islander preparing to take over as chief of her village as it faces a food crisis. Catchy tunes and a lot of laughs provide some solid escapism (not to mention it takes place far away, on a fictional tropical island). What’s really great? No one ever questions Moana’s ability to lead because she’s a girl. What’s even better? She finds her footing by believing in herself, following her gut, and taking the time to learn what she does not know. (In theaters Nov. 23.)
The Eagle Huntress. If you’re one of the parents who say you don’t know what to tell your daughter after this election, take her to see this G-rated documentary. Aisholpan is a nomadic Mongolian teen who is ready to take over as her Kazakh tribe’s Eagle Hunter, a role passed down in her family for hundreds of years. The elders have an issue, though: she’s a she. With her father’s support, Aisholpan overcomes the sexist and antiquated opinions of the leaders in her tribe and shatters her community’s highest, hardest glass ceiling. (In limited release now.)
Sing. Focused on an American Idol-type competition in a local community, a group of anthropomorphic animals throw themselves into making their dreams of musical stardom come true. It all looks within reach, but then a disaster wipes out all their hope. Hillary supporters can definitely relate, while Trump supporters will connect with trying to overcome the impossible. All voters will rejoice in how the Sing community comes together to rebuild and, consequently, makes everyone’s dream come true—the way we’ve always been able to make America great, again and again. (In theaters Dec. 23.)
Trolls. The trolls are so full of joy, happiness can be achieved just by eating one. This film explores depression and fear, but ultimately, it’s about finding your happiness—and that being happy may require opening your perspective. The film’s finale delivers contagious elation that will leave you finding you “can’t stop the feeling” or stop smiling. (In theaters now.)
Dr. Strange. After a car accident, an arrogant surgeon desperately looks for a cure for his mangled hands and learns to open a spiritual realm. Dr. Strange is part of a team battling a band of renegades who seek to upset the world order, but both sides believe their efforts are for the betterment of the universe. This trippy film isn’t based in reality (although there’s a nice lesson about the danger of distracted driving), but viewers will walk out of the theater realizing that just because a group opposes you, it doesn’t mean your objective isn’t the same. (In theaters now.)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Life is stacked against Charlie Bucket and his family, but he finds his Golden Ticket. His open-minded embrace of an unorthodox and unfiltered corporate billionaire’s approach to business (staffed by assumably undocumented, hard-working immigrants) changes his life’s trajectory. Remember, Americans may feel like this:
But, it all ends like this:
(Currently streaming on Netflix.)
Planes: Fire and Rescue. Emergency responders are some of our most revered Americans, bravely running toward danger to help others. This animated children’s adventure focuses on the power of teamwork, but more importantly, it centers on getting past the depression that often accompanies disappointment and how to roll with the punches. (Available to rent On Demand.)
Tomorrowland. The children are our future. Given how we grown ups have created a mess of the world, the sooner the kids get to work on creating solutions to fix it, the better—and this Disney film ambitiously sets out to inspire our progeny. (Available on Starz and On Demand.)
Lincoln. For Never Trumpers concerned about the racist, sexist and xenophobic language that came from the campaign and some of its supporters, this PG-13 Steven Spielberg film about America’s 13th president reminds us it’s been much, much worse. We got through it then, we will get through it now. (Available to rent on demand.)
The Martian. Ridley Scott’s PG-13 film is about how one man, against all odds, survives when abandoned on Mars. By movie’s end, though, it’s clear that the key to surviving any circumstance—whether it’s Mars, middle school, or muddled politics—is through solving problems, tackling them one at a time. The end sequence leaves viewers with more than happiness, we feel full of hope. (Available on HBO.)
And if you’re still down in the dumps come Christmas, leave the kids with a sitter, and see:
Patriot’s Day. This film depicts the events of the Boston Marathon bombings and the tenacity of the City on the Hill. In unraveling the events as they occurred, this film proves to viewers that our country is unstoppable when we all work together, in this case: local police, FBI, the community, and the media. It’s especially relevant in this divisive post-election period because it’s a reminder that love will keep America together and that’s our path to overcome terrorism. (In theaters Dec. 21.)