You need a break. You can’t constantly pore over the news, bombard Facebook with earnest posts, tear out your hair over He Who Mustn’t (Constantly) Be Named. It’s just not healthy. So every now and then — during this unintentionally funny crapshow of an inauguration, but at other times over the next four to eight years as well — pencil in some Me Time. Maybe watch a nice movie that will allow your anxieties to chill, if only for a couple of hours. Here are some legit happy films you can stream now:
‘The Princess Bride’
Is this Generation X’s favorite ever movie? Based on our purely anecdotal, non-scientific research, maybe! Rob Reiner’s fractured fairy tale, which finds room for linguistic debates and some R.O.U.S.es, even features a wraparound story in which the tale is being read to a sick Fred Savage. It makes him feel better, and it will probably help you, too.
‘A Hard Day’s Night’
The new cinephile-centric streaming service FilmStruck has exclusive dibs on The Beatles’ first movie, one of the purest explosions of joy ever committed to film. It was intended as a quickie cash-in on a presumably passing fad. Instead, the world got a dazzling and lightning fast whirligig of great music, excellent wordplay and absurdist jokes. The film’s MVP: George. (Hot take, though: “Help!” is better.)
‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’
Speaking of feel-good tunes, the ’30s-era folk music liberally peppered over the Coen brothers’ silly-serious escaped prisoner romp will act like a soothing balm over your soul. Back in the year 2000, the soundtrack wound up eclipsing the rest of the movie. That’s a shame: It’s the Coens at their most creative and dense, and funny face-making George Clooney is the best George Clooney.
Up until last year’s “Love & Friendship,” our pick for the finest Jane Austen film adaptation was the “Emma” riff set in 1995 Los Angeles, featuring a popularity magnet named Cher (Alicia Silverstone) who says “Spartacus” as “Sparatacus.” Speaking of teen movies by Amy Heckerling, it’s worth noting that “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” touting Cameron Crowe’s first script, currently lives on Hulu.
‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’
We say this a lot, but it’s truly tragic: There just aren’t enough classic Hollywood movies available to stream (at least as part of big streaming service subscriptions). That’s doubly a shame because those are the happiest movies ever. At least you can dial up Howard Hawks’ blinding Technicolor musical, with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell vamping about an ocean liner, digging for rich husbands. Monroe gets the title song, but Russell scores the even better “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?”, set in a gym amongst bizarrely unresponsive hunks.
You can’t find “The Wizard of Oz” on the big streamers, but you can find “The Wiz,” the 1978 film of the all-black version. Diana Ross may be a little too old to play Dorothy, but she’s still Diana Ross, and she eases on down lavish NYC sets with Michael Jackson (as the Scarecrow), Nipsey Russell (as the Tin Man), Richard Pryor (as the Wizard) and Lena Horne (as Glinda the Good Witch).
Everyone loves Pixar, but not enough are into Aardman, England’s goofier stop motion animation outfit. Their first feature, from 2000, can’t touch their Wallace and Gromit shorts, but it’s an absurdist delight, filled with bad puns, surprising sight gags and their signature style, where every creature, human and animal, has an astonishingly toothy smile.
‘Beverly Hills Cop’
Remember Eddie Murphy? He used to make movies, didn’t he? This action comedy was only his fourth film, and he already seemed like cinema’s most entertaining performer, cracking ad-libs and sticking it to The Man in his first solo gig, after “48 Hrs.”, “Trading Places” and the little-remembered “Best Defense.” A special shout-out to Gil Hill, the cop-turned-actor who plays his seriously no-nonsense boss. His sweary dressing-down of Murphy early on is the one time the star is upstaged. (Hulu has the series’ second and third outings, if that’s your thing.)
We haven’t seen this since we were, uh, nine, and a little too young to understand or enjoy it. But we’re taking everyone’s word that this rom-com-drama, in which Melanie Griffith rises on Wall Street, is a deserved classic. And don’t you want to watch a strong woman plowing through a world of greedy businessmen right now?
FilmStruck and Hulu
If you’ll recall, back in the early aughts, you couldn’t escape the movie where Audrey Tautou and her saucer-eyes and killer bangs went from matchmaker to reluctant love object. It’s French, it’s silly and it’s blindingly romantic. And it’s so busy, so filled with riches that you won’t even think about checking what horrors await on Twitter.
Soak up a very different though still hectic era: It was 2002, and Ice Cube gifted the world with a hang-out movie where the staff and clientele of a Chicago barbershop talked about the issues, busted each other’s balls and made controversial jokes about Rodney King, O.J. and even Rosa Parks.
I mean, you could go with Charles Chaplin’s 1940 Hitler stab “The Great Dictator,” also on FilmStruck. But you might not be ready for a comedy making fun of a sitting demagogue right now. So why not go with the one about how technology dehumanizes the world’s working class? Chaplin’s burlesque finds hilarity in horrors, including at least four of his most iconic set pieces. (Hello, the stuck-in-the-gears bit.) FilmStruck has a ton of Chaplin, so you could go with this, “The Gold Rush,” “City Lights” or hours upon hours of his shorts.
‘Jackass: Number Two’
Hear us out: This is a masterpiece — a non-stop parade of pain and filth and semi-self-aware homoeroticism. There’s no plot — just one creatively masochistic stunt after another, one involving chugged animal semen. One of the highest-ever grossing documentaries (because despite what people say, the three “Jackass” movies are documentaries), it provides a valuable service: for 92 minutes you’ll think only about other people’s unimaginable suffering. And at the end you’ll feel terrible for laughing non-stop.