I must have seen hundreds of films over the years, some good, some bad and some indifferent. A select group is worthy of more than one viewing. So, here—just for fun—is my list of favourite ‘play it again’ films.
This list is not about artistic merit or Oscar-winning performances. It’s all about what me, myself, I enjoys in a film. To make the cut, all films had to meet two very simple criteria. First, I originally saw the film in question at the cinema. Second, I am willing to watch it over and over (and over) again on the telly box. I expect that I’ve missed some but my memory isn’t what it once was…
Big Forget the plaudits for Forest Gump, Philadelphia and Saving Private Ryan, this film is easily Tom Hanks’ finest hour. The 12-year-old boy trapped inside an adult body is a fabulous conceit. In a similar vein, I am more than happy to replay 13 Going on 30 with the lovely Jennifer Garner.
Bridget Jones’s Diary The original book by Helen Fielding spoke to a generation of singletons. No wonder then that women across the UK were outraged when an American was cast as their home-grown heroine (the Yanks no doubt getting their own back for the casting of Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind). But hats off to Renée Zellweger for her turn as Bridget. A musical version of Bridget Jones’s Diary is apparently in the works, with Sheridan Smith rumoured to be playing Miss Jones and Lily Allen providing the score. Watch this space.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang First seen on a wet weekday afternoon while on a family holiday in Sidmouth, Devon. The Child Catcher scared me witless.
Enchanted An old-school mix of animation and live action. Brilliant songs. Amy Adams is delightful as eternal optimist Giselle, although Pip the chipmunk almost steals the show.
Grease This was the absolute must-see film of 1978. Basically, you were no one at school if you hadn’t seen it. My dad gamely queued with me and my friend for hours before we finally got our bums on cinema seats (there were no multiplexes back then). I saw Grease at the cinema again in 1998 when it was re-released to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary. Without a doubt, Grease is the word!
Home Alone Enterprising young Kevin McCallister takes on two inept villains in ways that would make Tom and Jerry very proud. A total Christmas classic, I won’t say no to reruns of the other films in the franchise either.
James Bond: the Roger Moore to Daniel Craig years It goes without saying that Sean Connery is the ultimate Bond (although let’s gloss over Never Say Never Again). However, my personal cinematic Bond journey started with Roger Moore in Moonraker in 1979 and has gone right thorough to Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace (2008), taking in Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan along the way. The latest Bond film—Skyfall—is expected in cinemas next year.
Liar Liar Jim Carrey contorts himself trying not to tell the truth. Excellent out-takes run during the credits.
Love, Actually Featuring a stellar cast of predominantly British actors, this ensemble piece explores the interlinked relationships of a group of Londoners in the run-up to Christmas. The many threads of the plot have it all: comedy, tragedy, romance, a small child dressed as an octopus for the school nativity play, and Martine McCutcheon as British Prime Minister Hugh Grant’s tealady. My favourite Richard Curtis film by a mile (but see below).
Miss Congeniality The mother of all make-over movies.
My Cousin Vinny Another wet afternoon film, I first saw My Cousin Vinny at the Odeon Leicester Square while on a father-daughter day out in London Town. My love of this film became so legendary that I once received an urgent phone call from a friend anxious to tell me that a rerun was about to air on some obscure cable channel. The magic grits still make me laugh out loud.
Notting Hill The epitome of British rom com. End of. Aficionados of Richard Curtis should check out From Notting Hill With Love…Actually, Ali McNamara’s chick lit homage to the genre of rom com, in which the heroine moves to Notting Hill in an attempt to prove that real life can be just like the movies.
Pretty Woman A modern-day fairy tale that paired new girl Julia Roberts with hunk du jour Richard Gere to create movie magic. Has anyone ever seen escargots on a menu and not thought “slippery little suckers”?
Raiders of the Lost Ark A rip-roaring tale of adventure that made archaeologists cool.
Sleepless in Seattle A reworking of An Affair to Remember, this film is pick of the bunch of the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan partnership and notable for the fact that they only share screentime during the climatic scene atop the Empire State Building.
So I Married an Axe Murderer Mike Myers is a genius. This film is much-loved in our house for its Scottish cultural references.
Star Wars We all take special effects for granted nowadays but when Star Wars was first released in 1977 it quite simply blew our little kiddie minds. I once saw Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in a back-to-back all day movie marathon. We got time off between films to go to the bathroom and stock up on sweets from the concession stand.
Sweet Home Alabama Despite being one of Reese Witherspoon’s best movies, Legally Blonde didn’t make my list as I missed it at the cinema; however, I’m very happy to include Sweet Home Alabama instead. Cute story, excellent soundtrack. I adore Miss Witherspoon.
The Muppet Christmas Carol Muppets plus Christmas. What’s not to like?
The Railway Children Pretty much the first film that I remember seeing at the cinema as a child. I love the book too. Bernard Cribbens was fantastic as station porter Albert Perks.
The Return of the Pink Panther and The Pink Panther Strikes Again Vintage Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. My brother and I never tire of doing Clouseau impressions. Not now Cato!
Toy Story The film that gave us Pixar, computer-generated animation and toys working together as a team. The rest, as they say, is to infinity and beyond.
When Harry Met Sally The ultimate relationship film. I once spent a weekend in New York City scouting out the film locations, including Katz’s Deli (famous for the oft-imitated ‘faking it’ scene, although they also do a very good beef sandwich). The memorable quotes on offer in this film are quite literally endless.