Films to Love: Quickest Way to Forget Your Troubles


How many of you, dear readers, like a way to forget your troubles? I know I do. (Sometimes forgetting my troubles requires donning a tailored jacket and tights and singing my heart out a la Judy Garland in Summerstock; Forget your troubles, come on get happy…)

Troubles. We all have them. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that we all abhor them, too. No one wants troubles.

Some problems are solvable. Like when the faucet leaks. Other problems, well, the fixes aren’t so easy.

Those sorts of problems can get heavy. They can leech the joy out of our lives.

What do you do when you are faced with those sorts of problems?

You take a page out of Shirley Kenyan’s book:

The quickest way to forget about your problems is to listen to someone else’s.

Today I’m giving all y’all a few of my go to movies and miniseries that help me either laugh at my troubles or realize how much worse those troubles could be.


I mentioned Shirley Kenyan before. She’s not a real person (apologies if you’re reading this and your name just happens to be Shirley Kenyan). She’s the main character in the movie Straight Talk. Played by Dolly Parton, who nails this performance, Shirley Kenyan is a dance instructor in a small town, shackled to a loser of a boyfriend. She has big dreams, though. She’s going to move to Chicago and become a huge success. Although she doesn’t know all the particularly of how that’s going to happen, she holds that dream tightly in her heart and won’t let it go. Even when she’s ridiculed by those closest to her. After a fight with her boyfriend that amounts to the straw that breaks the camel’s back, Shirley packs up her things, loads them into her small car, and heads for the big city. She’s going to be somebody. She’s going to be a contender. (See post here about Being Bold and Being Fearless.)

And, boy oh boy, her dreams take on a life of their own. Before she knows it, she’s thrust into a position that gives her fame and success. Through a series of hilarious mishaps, she finds herself one of the top radio psychologists on the airwaves, dispensing good old common sense to a city yearning for it. She’s in the limelight, but it’s superficial light. You see, Shirley has compromised on a few things she wishes she hadn’t and those things have consequences. What you compromise to keep, you invariably lose. But, have no fear, this is a feel good movie, therefore it has a feel good ending. There’s ups and downs, but in the end, it all levels out.

This situational comedy directed by Peter Bogdonovich has delivered so many laughs for my husband and I that just thinking about it makes me smile. Chronicling the mishaps and chaos that ensues as a theatrical production makes it way across the country. Starting the night before it’s debut, the actors are still learning their parts and juggling the personal backstage dramas with the play’s drama while the director, played by Michael Caine, slowly loses his mind. Caine displays the patience of a saint while he endures countless interruptions, the mistrust of his actors as they question everything he does from the placement of props to the lines that are written, and the issues of over-exhaustion, exasperation, and frustration wrought. It’s chaotic. It’s quick paced. It’s farcical. What it most certainly will do is make you laugh. Out loud. From the charming frippery of Christopher Reeves to the quick, dry wit of Michael Caine to the slapstick of Carol Burnett and the blathering babble of John Ritter, this film will have you in stitches. And, one of the perks is that it might just help you forget your troubles and get happy for a two hour interval.

It’s hard to say what my favorite part of this film is. It might be the violence-shunning Christopher Reeve’s penchant for getting bloody noses whenever he witnesses an act of violence. It might be Carol Burnett’s cockney accent that she slips in and out of while the theater falls down around her. However, I think it really is John Ritter’s babbling. He doesn’t finish his thoughts, but you somehow know what he’s talking about. Most of the time anyway. Here’s an example.

I’ve worked with a lot of directors but I’ve never met one who is so totally and absolutely… I don’t know.

Last year, two of my good friends went through pretty wretched divorces. This series was at the top of my list to help them get their mind off the horrors of what they were enduring for the duration. Mrs. Maisel is truly marvelous. I would even go so far as to quote Johnny Mercer here- she’s just too marvelous, too marvelous for words. What I appreciate about Midge the most is her indomitable spirit. She’s a plucking, somewhat crass Pollyanna. Her world completely falls apart, at the worst possible time (not that there’s ever a good time for your entire life to fall apart), and yet she maintains her humor. Many people would understandably slip into depression or bitterness, but not Midge. She channels all her frustrations into a new career that not only is the last thing she expected, but it’s also the last thing the industry expected. I mean, it’s the 1950s. There are no successful female stand-up comics. From the Upper Eastside. Who are Jewish. With a cast that provides slices of life that also add humor and pathos to the narrative, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a worthy watch for anyone who wants to be encouraged while they laugh so hard they have to hold their sides. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel reminds us that no matter how horrid life can be, there is always- ALWAYS- something to laugh at.

This series makes me miss New York City because even though this is a period piece, it’s also a slice of life that shows no matter how the styles change, some things will always remain the same, like family ties, romantic love, and NYC delicatessens.

While the entire British comedy series The Vicar of Dibley is hilarious, my favorite episodes have to go to the two part finale: A Very Dibley Christmas and A Wholly Holy Happy Ending. The series is about a rural village, Dibley, in England, where the townfolk are surprised when a female vicar arrives to replace the one who has died. Dawn French plays Geraldine Granger, the vicar. As a viewer, we identify with her the most as she encounters the extremely weird, but positively wonderful parishioners of Dibley. By the finale, Geraldine has been vicar for over a decade, having performed a bevy of weddings, but never getting the chance to be a bride. Furthermore, she’s lamenting all the Londoners that are moving into Dibley and dismantling the tight knit community that she has worked so hard to nurture. One such Londoner happens to be the handsome Harry (played by Richard Armitage), and as luck, or God (Gerry is a vicar, lest you forget) would have it, Harry becomes interested in Geraldine and asks her out. Several times. Things seem to be going along swimmingly, and Geraldine is uber excited by the romantic turn of events in her life. Excited, that is, until a mysterious woman moves in with Harry. Gerry sees them together, holding hands and engaging in public displays of affection. Gerry is crushed. Absolutely crushed. And like any good modern heroine, she takes solace in Jane Austen movies, particularly Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson. The way A Very Dibley Christmas plays out will delight the Austen fans out there. And, as you navigate the whole lot of crazy that Geraldine has to live with on a daily basis, you’ll probably take a look at your life and see that things could be a whole lot worse. Regardless, you will definitely smile at the lovable absurdity that is this series.


While I won’t go into a great deal of description for this situation comedy, I have to include the series Frasier as a go-to in times of trouble. It would be impossible to pick my favorite episode. There are just too many. Frasier’s love of the fine things in life- whether it’s wine, sherry, classical music, expensive automobiles, artwork, or opera, he places preeminence on elegant culture. I admire that. But, what makes me love the series, is that it’s somehow achieves a balance between that snobbery and the everyday man. Niles and Frasier are cultured, yes, but their nerds, and they don’t know a lot about a lot things- like plumbing or mechanics. And when they get too big for their britches, looking down their long noses, their father Martin is right there to give them a much needed reality check. And it’s all done with heart and humor. That’s a success in my book.

Now it’s your turn, dear readers. What are your go-to Forget Your Troubles movies or series? Please, please share.

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