I remember being 11 and finding a copy of Judy Blume’s novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Earlier this year, an on-screen adaptation was released and it’s now one of my favourite comfort movies.
It’s interesting how, even as adults, we might want to go back to our old lists of favourite movies buried in a notes app somewhere, to the comfort films where a character goes on a journey of self-discovery, all the while making everything seem a little bit dramatic, but also just a little bit magical. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re so reminiscent for some people or relatable, or the warmth these movies convey just gets to you as you watch Lady Bird (2017) on your couch with a blanket and a hot chocolate.
These films are also predictable in many ways. It’s easy to tell when the main character is about to get out of trouble, when someone finally makes the right decision, when you know how the friendship will end, or how the first conversation happens. But perhaps that’s part of the beauty of it – knowing what the main characters will inevitably do. Experiencing those feelings of falling in and out of love, seeing characters soaring with their best friends by their side and feeling like they can conquer the world for the first time.
Lady Bird reflects high school love, angst, and being 17, but also follows Christine McPherson’s deeply fractured yet intimate relationship with her mother. Yet, their love shines through their fights and issues in how they fiercely protect each other in the most loving ways.
13 Going on 30 (2004) is for the people who wish to be “thirty, flirty and thriving”. On second viewing, watching Jenna Rink make bad decisions but knowing she’ll end up alright in the end, that her future self finds innocence, joy and her happy realisations, is comforting to watch – like a warm hug with a feeling of gratitude.
Little Women (1994) is a wonderful novel adaptation that, like Lady Bird and all of Greta Gerwig’s other films, captures the great joys yet trials and challenges of being a woman in the 19th century. Even then, many of the ways these characters are portrayed resonate with the experience of being a woman in the 21st century, showing the timelessness of these films.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is exciting and fun yet heartwarming, making it an easy favourite. It challenges social stereotypes whilst being funny, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, with the overarching message reflecting the importance of being your own person.
From the adaptation of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret that almost made me cry to the films I randomly found that taught me to think and explore, to love being curious and to love life; for young people, these films are so important. I believe it is so important to have the opportunity to experience life through the lens of your favourite characters sometimes, to sit back, relax, and know how it’s going to play out for them, even to sometimes think and wonder what they’re doing now after the movie ended. The radical self-love in these movies makes for an immensely rewarding watch. Watching the almost unreal depiction of the emotions we face every day in some way play out on a screen exactly when all you need is a hug, hot chocolate, and a night in with yourself is a big part of the tangible sense of catharsis.
Maybe that’s a good enough reason for these stories to feel like home, maybe not. Either way, you can’t deny the comfort and joy that comes from returning to stories from when you were 11 and realising how you’ve grown from loving the characters whose journeys are so similar to yours. And while that goes on, it’s a good idea to keep holding on to these movies.