Sometimes you just need a good holiday movie, something not too fluffy but not too serious. Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed watching, each with a literary connection:
84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
Anthony Hopkins plays a British bookshop manager who strikes up an accidental correspondence with Helene Hanff, an outgoing and enthusiastic bookworm from New York. Their decades-long friendship spans both book recommendations and the hardships of WWII, along with Helene’s life changes and a great yearning to visit Britain. This is based on a true story and very heartwarming.
The Anne of Green Gables trilogy
I don’t know if they still play this on PBS anymore, but the 1980s Anne movies (the first two particularly) were rewatches of mine growing up. While perhaps not a purist’s adaptation of the Green Gables series, the script nonetheless stayed true to the spirit of the books, and the cast was incredible.
And now for something completely lighthearted! I never thought I’d love a Paddington movie (the books were “meh” for me as a kid), but on a whim I gave both movies a try and really enjoyed Paddington 2. Our well-meaning bear with the red hat goes through a number of ups and downs, at one point landing himself in prison (!!). The humor was more on point in this sequel, and Hugh Grant’s role as a shady actor (yes, actor) was hilarious. Give it a try; you might be pleasantly surprised.
Little Women (2017)
A couple of years before the Hollywood adaptation, PBS aired this BBC production of Lousia May Alcott’s novel. After watching it through, I had to admit it surpassed even my affection for the Winona Ryder classic. The script is quite true to the book, Emily Watson is perfect as Marmee, and the Christian themes were left mostly intact. I loved the costumes and felt that the movie struck a good tone between joyful and sober (Beth’s struggles are given more attention than usual, and rightly so). All in all, a lovely costume drama that will leave you feeling cozy-hearted.
Nancy Drew (2007)
If you’re not looking for a purist adaptation but just a cute movie with some laughs, Nancy Drew is fun to watch. Emma Roberts plays a quirky old-fashioned girl who moves to LA with her dad. Unable to fit in with the hip crowd, she can’t resist turning her attention to more interesting things, like solving the mystery of a deceased movie star. I love the innocent, quasi-90s vibe of this film and feel it’s underrated!
Finding Neverland (2004)
So of all these films, I would say Finding Neverland is the one I hesitated to add, since I had mixed feelings about it (3.5 stars). It’s basically a fictionalized portrayal of the friendship between J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) and a widow and her sons, which becomes the basis for his Peter Pan story. While it’s unknown exactly how platonic the relationship was in real life, it’s an interesting basis for a movie, and Depp plays Barrie pretty convincingly as a man who lives in his own world, struggling to fit into social norms and yet yearning for friendship. Though I wouldn’t call it a favorite or anything, I’m glad I saw it.