#Movies & TV
These Funny Films Gave Us the Best Life Lessons
by Jennifer Lafferty
Audiences gravitate to comedies for lighthearted entertainment but many of these movies offer a surprising bonus, valuable life lessons. From Mrs. Doubtfire to Life as We Know It, here are comedies with the best lessons.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
This 2001 romance starring Renee Zellweger as a young woman unlucky in love, is a classic example of an enlightening comedy. Bridget learns to be open-minded about love when she realizes “Mr. Right” has been there all along.
Another movie about destiny and finding love in unexpected places is the 1994 romantic comedy Only You, starring Marisa Tomei as Faith, a schoolteacher who fantasizes about her soulmate but who’s too supersitious to recognize him when he appears.
In this 2015 dramedy, Jules (Anne Hathaway) and Ben (Robert De Niro) both learn it’s never too late to start over, personally or professionally, when Ben comes out of retirement to be a senior intern at Jules’ fashion website.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
While writing an article about mistakes women make in relationships, cynical magazine contributor Andie learns that true love can blossom even when you do everything wrong. This 2003 rom com stars Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.
Grumpy Old Men
At the beginning of 1993’s Grumpy Old Men, John (Jack Lemmon) and Max (Walter Matthau) are two bitter old widowers, but when a beautiful, free-spirited widow moves into the neighborhood, they rediscover how to live and love.
In this 1982 comedy farce, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange, struggling actor Michael Dorsey learns how to be a better man through the experience of masquerading as a woman for a role on a soap opera.
Sweet Home Alabama
Reese Witherspoon stars as a successful but arrogant fashion designer, trying to convince her long-estranged husband to divorce her so she can remarry, in this 2002 romantic comedy. But the movie is ultimately about getting your priorities straight.
The poignant 1993 comedy Mrs. Doubtfire, starring Robin Williams as an actor who disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend time with his kids, teaches lessons about the impact of a divorce and the importance of preserving family relationships.
In the quirky 1995 Australian movie Muriel’s Wedding, we see ABBA-obsessed misfit Muriel Heslop (Toni Collette) go to outrageous lengths to reinvent herself in order to impress everyone, but learns it’s much more important to be yourself.
Maid to Order
The 1987 fantasy Maid to Order stars Ally Sheedy in a reverse Cinderella story about a spoiled rich girl who learns to take care of herself and recognize what’s important in life when she’s forced to become a maid.
The beloved 1981 movie Arthur, starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli, taught us that everyone has to grow up sometime, even a spoiled, wacky, millionaire playboy. The film was remade in 2011 with Russell Brand.
Sometimes the last thing we expect to happen is actually what we need the most, as seen in this 1987 film starring Diane Keaton as a power-hungry workaholic whose world is turned upside down when she inherits a baby.
Life as We Know It
The point that parenthood can lead to massive personal growth is made again in this 2010 romance dramedy, starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel as two enemies who agree to raise their late friends’ baby together.
Two Weeks Notice
In the 2002 rom-com Two Weeks Notice, playboy George Wade (Hugh Grant) learns there’s more to life than money and cheap thrills, while activist-turned corporate attorney Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) becomes less judgmental and more human.
Marley & Me
In the 2008 comedy drama Marley & Me, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, we see how a special pet, even one as exasperating as a rambunctious dog, can profoundly change our lives for the better.
The importance of independence and believing in yourself are overriding themes in this inspiring 1980 film. The flick stars Goldie Hawn as a sheltered, underestimated young woman who impulsively joins the Army after she’s widowed on her wedding night.
Cheaper by the Dozen
When a couple, played by Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, focus on themselves instead of their twelve kids by embarking on demanding new careers, the kids suffer. They learn family should always come first in this 2003 remake of a family classic.
When Harry Met Sally
This hugely popular 1989 romantic comedy about an unlikely relationship between the perky Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) and neurotic Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) shows how friendship can sometimes be the best foundation for romantic love.
This 1974 Mel Brooks comedy western cleverly uses humor to underscore the ignorance and injustice of racism, as Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) emerges a hero who exploits his enemies’ hatred instead of being victimized by it.
About a Boy
In another of his roles as a shallow, immature cad, Hugh Grant stars as the unfulfilled Will Freeman, whose life becomes more meaningful when he mentors the precocious young Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) in this endearing 2002 dramedy.