Picture this: it is once again ok to spend time in close proximity to other human beings and you’ve got a whole bunch of human friends gathered up into your newly finished basement with all kinds of warm, soft lighting and yummy snacks at the ready.
Everybody’s feeling great, but the energy level has dropped far enough that the ongoing, circular conversation has all but died off in favor of a peaceful silence and the comforting protection of being surrounded by close friends.
Somebody floats the idea of watching a movie. The idea itself sounds alright, even kind of exciting, but the choice is daunting, especially given the vast array of viewing options presented by the internet and your smart TV. After all, between the lot of you, there are more than a dozen subscriptions to various content streaming services and that means literally thousands of movies to choose from.
We want to help, whether you’re in this situation currently or plan to be in this situation at any point in the future.
We have worked out some very good movies to watch with your friends. If you’d like to skim our picks, you are more than welcome to scroll down and get your fix, but if you’d like to learn a bit more about selection process, then read on down to the next paragraph.
Since this is such an important topic of discussion, we had several guiding factors that aided in our selection. Some of the most important factors were:
-Modernity and Relevance: There’s nothing wrong with movies made prior to the year 2000. In fact, most of our movies were made before then, but as soon as you move into the 90s, 80s, and even further back, you’re not only going to be dealing with some very decisive movies, no matter how popular they were upon release, but you’ll also have to be sensitive about whether each potential pick was a formative movie for at least one person in the room. It wouldn’t really fit the mood to send one or more people at this gathering down a path of intense nostalgia and perhaps memories of a favored childhood dog. As such, we have chosen movies that still feel at least somewhat modern and relevant, even if they’re actually not so much anymore.
-Lightly Toasted Tone: One of the most important rules was that we had to stay away from movies that are enormous bummers. Again, we quite like plenty of movies that are just miserable to watch, and even a few movies that might ruin your whole week if you manage to finish them. But this is not the time for any of that nonsense. Cold pizza doesn’t taste all that great when you’re watching some horrific body evisceration material or a dramatic scene between father and long-lost son.
-Simplicity of Story: Why this one? Because you don’t want to sit a whole bunch of people down and show them a movie where they won’t feel like it’s ok to crack jokes, ask questions, or leave the room. That would be a very minor form of kidnapping and we simply can’t condone that here. Instead, the movies we picked have fairly simple storylines, which means it’s more than ok if everyone isn’t paying complete and total attention. They’ll be able to come back to it and not feel completely out of the loop. If they really like the movie, then they’ll probably come back to it some other time and thoroughly absorb all the good jokes.
Now you’ve had a peek at the process, let’s get on with it already and talk about some movies to watch with friends or with family or with pets who already took their daily nap(s).
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Please let us know what there is left to say about the goodness of Hot Fuzz because we have just about run out of ideas of things to say about how good this movie is and why people should watch it even if they have watched it many times before.
It looks a lot better than its budget, the humor is some of the best around, still, and the pacing helps the movie just fly by, even if you know what’s gonna happen next.
Also, ya know, it meets all of the requirements we just talked about above. It’s easy to jump in and out of, and if you happen to be out grabbing a cola during an important scene, you’ll probably still be A-OK.
If one of your friends has never seen an Edgar Wright movie before, their eyes will open real wide. If you can, throw a cheese puff in their gob while you have the chance.
Steven Universe: The Movie (2019)
We don’t talk a whole lot about Steven Universe on this site, but that might have to change, at least as long as the internet has decided that Steven Universe is allowed to be good again this week.
Genuinely, it was a very good television show and the movie actually managed to be alright in its own way, even if it does end up adhering to many of the standards laid down by other movie versions of popular children’s cartoon shows.
We get a compelling new character, some pretty wonderful songs that you will look up later on Spotify, and a meaty storyline that actually fleshes out a decent amount of material from the original show.
Worst-case scenario, everyone kind of stops paying attention to the story after Jerry tries to shotgun an entire 2-liter of Dr. Pib and everyone’s just happy that colorful things are happening on the screen– a nice contrast to the fizzing puddle of brown that now soaks the IKEA area rug.
Beach Bum (2019)
Harmony Korine is a person and a topic too large for this lil’ ol’ article, so don’t expect too much deep diving there, but Beach Bum gets a recommendation here mainly because it doesn’t dive very deeply at all, in any direction.
Only a few characters even stick around for the whole movie and plenty of plot threads just get left behind completely, apparently so that our slightly lovable lead can just continue to waltz through a somewhat interesting Floridian landscape for a while longer.
Sure, it feels like a weird, off-track sequel to Spring Breakers, but this movie is actually pretty fun compared to its predecessor, and, as with most Korine movies, these characters will make you and your friends feel a lot better about yourselves and how you’ve decided to spend your leisure time.
The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)
This movie definitely got missed by a lot of people, probably because it’s generally harder to sell grownups on live-action kids’ movies than it is to get those same grownups to watch an animated children’s film. This is just the way of the world.
But The Kid Who Would Be King is a very good movie for just about everyone who bothers to watch it, and that’s partially because it’s one of those rare kids’ movies that actively makes you feel like a kid, even if you’re not.
You get to be a middle schooler again, just without so much of the awkwardness, and while you’re there you can also enjoy quite a nice movie where Patrick Stewart sometimes shows up and then turns back into a kid again. What more could you want?
Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017)
At least for Western audiences, this movie may always be fated to be remembered as that one Studio Ghibli movie that’s not actually a Ghibli movie at all.
It has many of the hallmarks of that famous studio’s work, just without that extra little touch of magic and creativity. Which is fine. This movie is certainly its own thing, and it still delivers a fanciful story that involves magic, cats, and occasionally magic-infused cats.
The story doesn’t make too much sense to begin with, so just go with the flow and let this one carry everyone off to sleep once the bedtime threshold has been crossed.
We probably couldn’t call this a good movie, or even a good children’s movie, or even that great of an animated movie.
But Storks is still weirdly compelling in an easy, plain cheese pizza kind of way, and yes, that is the second pizza reference in this article. Please send us some pizza if you get the chance.
The voice acting in Storks is actually kind of great, and the animation still feels modern, despite this one getting a bit older every year, like so many other movies tend to do.
They Came Together (2014)
This is a fake rom-com, but the extra bit of fun with this one comes from putting it on and acting like it’s just another by-the-book romantic comedy.
Then, see how long it takes for your buddies to catch on to what’s really happening. They’ll probably get it by the end of the opening scene, but still, what’s a fun night in without at least an attempt at fooling your friends.
Outside of that, it’s just a good time, especially if you’re already a fan of the Wet Hot American Summer material.
Puss in Boots (2011)
And finally, to top it all off, here’s a suggestion that’s another animated movie, but one that most people have probably forgotten about entirely.
Remember when the Shrek franchise was still very much alive and Dreamworks was still very much interested in producing big feature films?
Well, Puss in Boots is basically from the tail end of that period, so to speak. It’s not very good, but it’s pleasant, and, best of all, it’s not distracting.
You can pop this one on, not pay attention to most of it, and still have a firm grasp of what transpired over the last 90 minutes or so, thanks in part to its reliance on very old movie tropes surrounding betrayal, adventure, and redemption.