Eight Feel-Good Movies to Brighten Your Day

Branden Aranda, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The Parent Trap (1998)

The twins, Hallie Parker and Annie James, in The Parent Trap.

Two twins are separated shortly after birth when their parents divorce. One twin lives with her father, who owns a vineyard in California, and the other with her mother, who designs wedding dresses in London. They coincidentally reunite 11 years later at a summer camp. After realizing they are twins, they hatch a plan to switch places to spend time with the absent parent in each of their lives, and conspire to bring their parents back together.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Spider-Man (left) and teenager Miles Morales (right) in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

This is the origin story of teenager Miles Morales and his transformation into Spider-Man. While he is spray painting an abandoned section of the subway, he gets bitten by a radioactive spider, which gives him superpowers. Miles meets other spider men and women from different universes, unknowingly brought together by the villain of the movie, Kingpin. Miles Morales has to learn to control his superpowers to face Kingpin, and in the process becomes Spider-Man.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

The cast of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

While cleaning the school basement  in detention, a group of high school students finds an old video game that takes place in the jungle. Upon choosing their in-game avatars, they get sucked into the game and literally become the characters they’ve chosen. The students have to adapt to their avatar’s skills and ways of thinking, while also navigating an unusual environment. They have to beat the most perilous game of their life with only three lives each, or they will be trapped in the video game for the rest of their lives.

Inside Out (2015)

Bing Bong (left), Riley’s imaginary friend, accompanied by Sadness and Joy in Inside Out.

Riley is content in her Minnesota hometown, but everything shifts when her family moves to San Francisco after her father accepts a job opportunity. The movie revolves around the journey of Riley’s personified emotions, who attempt to lead her through a challenging and new stage in her life. Sadness, who takes a more prominent role during this confusing time, is not well received by the usual captain, Joy. They both get accidentally transported around Riley’s mind, leaving the other emotions, Fear, Anger, and Disgust to try to fill in for Joy while she isn’t present. 

Soul (2020)

Joe Gardner (left) surrounded by a cast of characters from another realm in Soul.

A musician who never got to live out his dream, Joe Gardner becomes a middle school band teacher. When he gets his chance for a big break in his music career, he falls into a sewer and dies. He reaches a realm where everyone goes after death and, in trying to escape, travels to another realm. In this new realm, people are given their true personalities and ‘sparks,’ and Joe discovers that his purpose isn’t what he initially believed.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Chris Gardner (left) and his son, Christopher Jr. (right) in The Pursuit of Happyness.

While trying to get by as a single father, Chris Gardner can’t afford to pay rent, so he and his son get evicted from their apartment. Chris is an unpaid intern, and he and his child spend days in homeless shelters. Despite his circumstances, Gardner strives to provide for his son.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump sitting on a bench in Forrest Gump.

Though he isn’t the most clever person, Forrest Gump surpasses his childhood obstacles. He learns how to walk without braces thanks to support from his mother. He excels on his college football team, displays courage in his time fighting in Vietnam, and inspires those around him with his innocent and naive personality. His biggest challenge, however, comes when he is reunited with his first love.

Up (2009) 

Carl Fredricksen’s balloon-propelled house in Up.

When his wife passes away, Carl Fredricksen remembers the promise he made to her decades ago: He would take her to Paradise Falls, a waterfall in venezuela, she had always dreamed of visiting one day. After being referred to a retirement home, he realizes he can’t go back on his promise, and arranges to take his home to the Falls by tying thousands of balloons to his house. He comes across an obstacle in his journey when a Junior Wilderness Explorer named Russell is brought along by accident. Carl has to complete his promise and get Russell back home safely.