...But this WON’T be another apoca-list. I started making a list of downer end of the world films, but no one wants that right now (right?). So, this list is gonna be a list of films that I think are just a riot. The films are just pure fun to watch for kids of all ages, cuz we all need a good-hearted romp right now!
Platforms: There are various platforms to check out cool movies, TV, etc., and I’ve scoured these to try to find ones that are either free (BoB, Mubi) or that you might already be subscribed to (Netflix, Amazon Prime). If you don’t already know, Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is a free to students site that lets you watch anything that has been aired on British TV in the last 10 years (I think), so it’s good for just searching up any ol thing before renting. Unfortunately, BoB doesn’t have the most user-friendly interface and you may have to watch/skip through commercials, but if you’ve got some time to spare (which I think you do) it’s a good option. Mubi is a curated film lovers’ site that has a 30-day turnover, so every day a new film comes in and another leaves, and it’s free to sign up for students. Netflix and Amazon Prime are likely options that you may already be subscribed to, but Prime also has fairly affordable rentals and Sky is another decent option for good content, like HBO/ Sky Atlantic shows (Game of Thrones, True Detective) along with films you can’t find most other places.
And now in no particular order:
1. Shaun of the Dead (BoB) – Okay, here’s an apocalypse film, but it’s also the most fun you can have during a zombie apocalypse. One of my all-time favorite films, Shaun of the Dead takes the familiar tropes of the zombie film and pokes fun at every last one of them, while still endearing us to the characters. This is a must watch.
Also big in my anglophile canon of films, Shaun was and is big influence on my own filmmaking and introduced me to Simon Pegg (Star Trek (Netflix), Paul (Netflix)), Nick Frost (Attack the Block (Prime),Fighting with My Family (Netflix)), and their cult classic TV show, Spaced (BoB), which is a hilarious must watch in these quarantine times.
2. Last Action Hero (Netflix) – Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator (Netflix), Conan the Barbarian(BoB), That hand washing video) doing everything that makes him the Arnie we know and love, while also poking fun at everything that is Arnie. This film is literal escapism as young Danny finds himself in the middle of his favorite action film franchise with the one and only Jack Slater (Schwarzenegger) shootin’ bad guys and blowin’ things up!
This was a childhood favorite and I recently rewatched it since it’s on Netflix and it still has that magic! Directed by John McTiernan the same guy that did Die Hard (Sky) and Predator (Sky), so have a peek at those after this if you haven’t already.
3. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (Netflix) – This film has/is everything! Comedy, Action, Romance, Music, Video Games, EV-ERY-THING! Scott Pilgrim is dating a high schooler, but now he’s going after the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers. Unfortunately, to date Ramona, Scott will have to do battle with Ramona’s seven evil exes…
You may also notice a recurring theme of Edgar Wright films on this list (see #1), and if you haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim, stop what you’re doing and give it a go. Make sure you’re not wearing any socks, because they’ll be clear across the room after this. But after you’ve seen these do try and find Edgar Wright’s other films: Hot Fuzz (Sky), Baby Driver, The World’s End (Netflix, Sky).
4. Thor Ragnarok (Disney Plus) – Chris Hemsworth is Thor. Another favorite director of mine, Taika Waititi, has helmed a number of awesome films (Boy (Prime), What We Do in the Shadows (Prime), Hunt for the Wilder People (Prime)), and Ragnarok is easily one of my favorite superhero films. The guy can’t miss.
5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Netflix) – And now for something completely different. A staple of absurdist comedy through late 60’s and into the 70’s with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the troupe transitioned to the big screen and made some of the best comedies of all-time, The Meaning of Life(Sky) and Life of Brian (Netflix).
Far and away top of the heap is the Arthurian legend retold to comedic effect in The Holy Grail.
Following on from Monty Python, the troupe went their own ways and made some film classics; Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (Prime) and Time Bandits; John Cleese’s Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda(Prime)…
6. Army of Darkness (BoB) – This is the boom stick! Okay, so it’s the third film in a trilogy, but you don’t need to have seen the first two (Evil Dead (BoB, and the gory remake is free on Prime) & Evil Dead II(BoB, Sky)) to appreciate this zany medieval zombie comedy/action film. It would help, buuut I’ll catch you up quick, our hero Ash has lost everyone he loves, his hand, and now he’s been transported to some crazy magical medieval land… Oh, yeah, he’s also replaced his hand with a chainsaw…
Another film flashback to my childhood, this creeped me out when I was a kid (some scenes still do, especially the eyeball one), but it’s got so many awesome one-liners and hilarious moments that overpower everything else and turn it into a real romp. Most of Sam Raimi’s filmography is like that though, action with a comic sensibility (Spider-Man 1, 2, & 3 (All three are on Sky), Darkman).
7. Kung Fu Hustle (BoB) – 2004 was a good year for film. We got two classics with Shaun of the Deadand Kung Fu Hustle. In this we get some live action Looney Tunes, AMAZING high-flying Kung Fu in the vein of Dragon Ball Z, axe mobsters, and some brilliant comic timing. If you’re cool with subtitles or dubbing (I’d suggest the subtitles for the comedy) this is a masterpiece.
As I said 2004 was a formative year for my filmmaking and I’ve been following Edgar Wright and this film’s director, Stephen Chow and you should too. Shaolin Soccer (BoB) and King of Comedy should be on this list along with CJ7, but that film will have you in teeeeears!
8. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (BoB) – We’re continuing our run through 2004 with my personal favorite Wes Anderson film (The Royal Tenenbaums (BoB, Sky), Rushmore (BoB), Moonrise Kingdom (BoB)), The Life Aquatic. A father-son story with the whimsy of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (BoB). It’s not all sunshine and light, but, hey, Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe wearing silly hats with silly fish… It’s pretty awesome.
9. The Princess Bride (BoB) – A timeless classic, this film couples swashbuckling and romance with fantasy punctuated with hilarity. I cannot express all of the emotions this film will put you through. Even if you’ve seen it, now is the perfect time to revisit this classic from an all-time great director Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally (Netflix), Stand By Me (BoB), This is Spinal Tap (BoB))
This film came to me at an early age being that It’s my mom’s favorite film (HI, MOM!), and it has stuck with me ever since. The Film Council/Society recently screened this film for Valentine’s, and it has lost none of its magic. We laughed, we cried, we cheered, and so will you.
10. Idiocracy (BoB) – I’ve put this on the list because it’s hilarious, but also because it liiike toootally predicted this future we’re all living in, or are about to be living in. Mike Judge (Office Space (BoB), Beavis & Butthead) brings us the glimpse of our future ex-pornstar/pro wrestler American President, everything sponsored by corporations, and everyone’s complete idiots. We’re not that far away…
11. Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse (Sky) – Easily one of my favorite films of the last few years and one of my favorite superhero movies, Into the Spider-Verse is HILARIOUS and it has one of the coolest animation styles I’ve seen on screen. Following the journey of a new Spider-man, Miles Morales, through his coming of age as Spider-man with the help of an aging Peter Parker offers some gut-busting antics and some beautiful and heartfelt moments. And if you like this check out the writer’s other film The Lego Move (Sky), because it’s also another soon to be classic.
I hope you all get a chance to check out some or all of these films to help pass the time in isolation. If you’re feeling a bit lazy these days and don’t want to search for them on Box of Broadcasts, I’ve put together a playlist that has a large number of these films on it: https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/playlists/257723
If you want to connect hit me up on Letterboxd @ d3mnhuntr, or to get more info on these films, I’ve created a list here: https://boxd.it/5g6Ps
And be sure to check out The Film Society’s IG @rul.film where Hannah’s been posting film recommendations. Check back here as we’ll try to do more of these film lists with special guests throughout the quarantine (summer), and we’ll try to host more viewing parties through either Netflix Party (if we can get it to work) or maybe discord… Keep in touch with us through the Instagram above!
Have fun and stay safe!