Kapoor and Sons (2006)

This slice of life in modern India pits family against each other as mores clash, which reminds me (in some ways) of Crazy Stupid Love: when its collision of subplots is funny, it’s absolutely hilarious; when it’s dramatic, it’s downright heart- wrenching. Regardless of where you grew up, life is complicated and people can be hard to love but learning to listen and communicate– despite obstacles– makes all the difference.

Priceless (2006)

The French Riviera is an ideal locale to hobnob with the wealthy; plenty of aging singles are looking for a young romantic companion on whom they can shower gifts. The only catch is you’ll have to trade true love for a lifestyle to which you will quickly grow accustomed. This is not a problem unless…

It’s rare to find a movie this engaging and entertaining. The secret is to cast actors who can carry a scene by conveying a lot of emotion and information without relying on dialogue, which– let’s face it– is usually empty and rambling. Furthermore, this plot is full of twists and turns. Rare for a romantic dramedy!

John Tucker Must Die (2006)

It irks me to have recommended a complex film to someone who watched it while distracted. I know sometimes you want to veg. Well, then here you go:

If you want something in the background, this one fits the bill. I first saw it at a girl’s night (board games and booze) with a group of chatty gals. No hard won victory, no poignant message; just goofy fun at the expense of a cheating high school boyfriend caught by his multiple side chicks, who team up to plot revenge. This movie is the perfect guilty pleasure because it’s pure fun.

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

At the urging of a summer camper with Downs Syndrome who wanted to be a movie star, a pair of writers/ directors made a movie just for him! It’s rare for any dramatic movie to have just the right timing of genuine humor without being trite but to procure such big names, who bring the characters to life is a remarkable thing. Best of all, it illustrates the big joyous heart of a man searching for a place to belong while retaining the dignity of so many whom he represents. Only a small, independent film such as this could stay true to its message without wandering down rabbit trails of gratuitous content that would only distract from its engaging premise and compromise the believability of its likable characters. The consistency of its quality is evidence of talent, especially considering its budget constraints; this inspiration story lacks nothing.

Crazy Stupid Love (2011)

It takes a delicate hand to capture modern relationships in all their complexities. That’s not to say there’s no place for humor; the skillful balance of drama–both poignant and entertaining– and humor–both silly and dark– keep this movie from being schmaltzy or condescending. Rather than resorting to flippant stereotypes, the characters are people we know (and perhaps are) and their realistic situation turns familiar tropes on their head. As they reveal what we’re afraid to admit, a little bit of honesty goes a long way and we’re all the better for it.

Sabrina (1995)

This retold tale of Sabrina, who grew up above the carriage house of her chauffeur father’s wealthy employers, isn’t slapdash like the original (1950s) version, which made me uncomfortable and confused. Upon coming-of-age abroad, Sabrina returns as a fully grown– not to mention sophisticated– woman. The two brothers slated to inherit their father’s company, who still attend lavish parties at the old estate, have differing attitudes toward her maturity. Stodgy, responsible Linus tries to shield Sabrina from playboy, David, on whom she had a childhood crush. The fantasy her father hoped would fade is further thwarted by Linus’ plan to woo her as a distraction. But how long can a workaholic loner remain unaffected by such a smart, vibrant and beautiful woman?

Living in Oblivion (1995)

I love movies about movies, anyway. But this one is far from farce; it’s realistic almost to the point of being painful as it manages to capture both the spirit and technical process of independent filmmaking. Should I mention the allstar top-notch cast? The meta cherry atop an already delicious sundae.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

In homage to every beloved Sci-fi TV series, the washed-up cast of an old show is mistaken for their on-screen personas by space aliens, who need their help. As in Three Amigos, they don’t realize what they’re getting themselves into; the faux crew are forced to spoof themselves to save both Humankind and the alien race from an evil warlord. The only catch is there’s no script or reshoots this time around.

What the Deaf Man Heard (1997)

That it was originally made by a greeting card company shouldn’t dissuade you from giving this a chance. Before Hallmark (or anyone else, for that matter) had an entire channel, they made dramas that aired on network TV. In this clever story, a boy finds himself alone on a bus, which arrives at a small town depot. Unaware of how frightened he is, everyone assumes the boy is deaf and mute (except, perhaps, the local rum runner). He plays the part out of convenience and grows up privy to all the town’s secrets. Instances of prejudice against his supposed handicap notwithstanding, he enjoys being the keeper of information… until circumstances require eyewitness testimony to catch a con artist who’s been scamming the town.

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)

Campy was never so astute as when former losers, Heather Mooney– still a dour loner– and Romy & Michele– two ditzy optimists, who are still BFFs– form the perfect yin and yang to face an intimidating 10 year reunion. Through facing their bullies, shedding their insecurities and appreciating their true selves (not to mention a little help from Sandy “The Frink-a-zoid” Frink), friendship blossoms.