I was going to write a list (yes, another one) about my guilty pleasure films… but then I quickly realised that I don’t feel any guilt, whatsoever, about loving all of the classics on this list. These are, therefore, the films I put on when I need bucking up, or I’m ill, or just in need of some heartwarming giggles.
1. Dirty Dancing
Who doesn’t know the story of Dirty Dancing? A coming of age story for the innocent Frances “Baby” Houseman, as she discovers herself, and the dance captain, Johnny Castle – they engage in a slightly raunchy and dance-fueled affair before they’re split by the old fogies at the holiday resort. I was about 14 when I utterly fell in love with this film – the music, Baby’s pink dress at the end, Johnny Castle’s hips -you name it. All I wanted to do was dance and sing along with the soundtrack. I must have worn out the VHS playing it over and over on my little TV in my bedroom! I’ve yet to see the stage show, but it’s on my to-do list.
Based on the book of the same name, this film is pure Jane Austen fantasy fluff. It’s hilariously silly, with a talented cast who all appear to be having the time of their lives. If you enjoy period dramas and comedy, this is right up your street. A woman saves up to spend time at an all-immersive Jane Austen experience, along with contrived “romances” and period costume.
Written by, and staring, the original cast of Horrible Histories, Bill is the tale of William Shakespeare’s “missing years” – the bit of his life we don’t know much about from when he left Stratford-Upon-Avon for London, and him becoming an actor and writer. Chances are, none of what happens in this film is remotely true, but it’s full of proper historical nods, bad disguises and the odd grown-up joke – oh and King Philip II of Spain covering himself in orange juice…
4. High School Musical
Yes, yes, I know, entirely uncool. But it is fluff at its best. The songs are catchy, and cheerful, and make perfect washing up karaoke tracks. Baby Efron though! Bless him.
5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
I’ve seen the stage show 6 times now, I think, starting when I was 17 (with Jonathan Wilkes as Frank, and he’s still my favourite.) The film is amazing – Tim Curry is magnificent! It’s a bit hard to explain if you’re not familiar with it beyond The Time Warp, but it’s a musical B-movie. Brad and Janet are clean-cut all-American kids who find themselves stranded on a dark and stormy night when their tyre blows. They seek a telephone and shelter from the first house they come to – the impressive but neglected castle of Dr. Frank N Furter, a mad scientist, who also happens to be a self-proclaimed transvestite alien from Transexual, on the planet of Transylvania.
More Efron. Can’t go wrong with that. I worked at a cinema for a while in my student days, and it was around the time this remake was released. I never had more fun cleaning a screen than during the credits of Hairspray! It’s bright, it’s body positive, the songs are amazing (if hard to sing) and it never fails to cheer me up seeing John Travolta play a woman in a fat suit. Hairspray tells the story of Tracey Turnblad, a larger than average teenager who just wants to sing and dance on her local television channel’s afternoon dance show, and winds up fighting for the end of racial segregation on TV in Baltimore, and winning the boy of her dreams.
7. Mary Poppins
I watched this on repeat as a child. I just wanted to be Mary Poppins. I’d written down all the lyrics and could sing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (and yes, I typed that without looking it up…) in my sleep. When X was little I would sing the lullaby to him in a vain attempt to get him to sleep. Even Dick Van Dyke’s awful cockney accent couldn’t put me off.
8. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
Despite Zaphod missing a head and Ford Prefect not being a ginger man from Guildford, this is still a good film. Douglas Adams’ stories started life as a BBC radio comedy, and grew to a collection of books – known as the Trilogy even though there’s now 6 of them. Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent is inspired casting, and I loved Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast. Even Zooey Deschanel grew on me as Trillian. I adore the books, so it was a bit jarring when bits of it were so Hollywood-ised, but I still enjoy watching it. Marvin makes it for me…
9. Back to the Future
I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this film for a while, as I had to study it for my AS Level Film Studies course, which genuinely threatened to strip it of all joy for me! Thankfully, I’ve got over that since, and it’s waaaaaaaay up there as one of my favourites. Marty McFly’s scientist friend, Doc Brown, has built a time machine using a DeLorean, and Marty finds himself not only stuck in the past but at risk of wiping out his own existence by changing his parents’ relationship.
10. Shaun of the Dead
A Rom-Zom-Com – a romantic zombie comedy! Simon Pegg plays Shaun, a man-child who’s relationship ending at the same time as a zombie apocalypse threatens to take hold takes him on a journey that involves trying to get his girlfriend back while also heading for the apparent safety of their local pub. The first film in Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy (completed by Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) is one of the most quoted films in our house! As a fan of Spaced, when I heard this film was coming out I couldn’t have been more excited! I even went to see a load of Zombie Horror films so I’d get the references – and I’m not one for scary movies.