My favorite movies are not the best movies I’ve ever seen, but they must be my favorites since I watch them over and over. They are The Big Lebowski, That Thing You Do, The Wizard of Oz, Mars Attacks, It’s a Wonderful Life, Bad Santa and Mama Mia. (I didn’t realize I was a closet Abba fan until I saw the movie.)
Except for possibly Mama Mia, the most recent release, I’ve seen all of these films at least ten times. Unless there’s some serious sports on T.V., I’ll watch any of these films whenever I see they’re on. It doesn’t matter if there’s only 10 minutes left. For three of these—It’s a Wonderful Life, The Wizard of Oz and The Big Lebowski—if you say a line of dialogue I can tell you the next one.
With the exception of The Wizard of Oz and It’s a Wonderful Life, I’d rate none of these films in the best 100 ever made. I’ve seen Casablanca, Gone With the Wind and North by Northwest, films that would be on that list, probably at least ten times each, but I wouldn’t watch either of them several times in the same week the way I do The Big Lebowski. (And there are other films in that top 100 I don’t care to ever see again, e.g. Raging Bull and The Deer Hunter.)
So what is it about these films that hooks me so? Except for the Christmas films and Mars Attacks, these films are full of music. Two are out and out musicals.
But what really links them is that they’re all “feel good” films with happy endings. True, Donny does die, Martians incinerate thousands and perform grotesque medical experiments, and Bad Santa disappoints children, but in the end, George really does have a wonderful life, Dorothy gets back to Kansas, Bad Santa turns out to have a heart of gold and the Dude abides.