What makes a great movie? A thought-provoking story, of course, combined with outstanding acting. What makes a movie into a personal classic--one we want to watch again and again? The answer to that question is, undoubtedly, how it makes us feel. So often when life is difficult and times are hard, we're encouraged by a good, old-fashioned happy ending.

When we asked Beliefnet users to recommend the best in "happy ending" movies, they were happy to oblige. Next time you could use some cheering up, go ahead: print this out, and head for the video store.

Nothing sends us for Kleenex, it seems, faster than the triumph of the "ordinary" person. cmatkins55 says, "I love the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray! I watch it every Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) as my ritual of hope and renewal. It is funny, as you'd expect from Bill Murray, but it turns out to be a great story of personal evolution and redemption." kclawson3 recommends Mr. Holland's Opus. This is SUCH a great movie. A man who never wanted to be a teacher but ended up everyone's favorite. A man who wanted to be a musician but never took (or had) the time to work on his own music. If you haven't seen this movie, run (don't walk) to your local video store!"

"My favorite ending is from Baby Boom, enthuses beautifullife42. "It's about a single woman advertising executive who has to choose between raising an adopted child or getting promoted. She chose to raise the child and move to the country. After so much struggle, at the end she built her own company for babies which her former company wanted to promote and she told them no! I like it because I had to choose between the two. She told her old boss, we do not have to choose. We can do both. I am struggling to build my own business too.

Other believers in personal growth include mifmaf who recommends "the end of A Little Princess in which a little girl who kept acting like a princess, even when the world turned against her, is given her life back with a twist of fate." According to anniebell: "My favorite happy ending is in Where the Heart Is when Forny says, 'Novelie, there isn't anyone better than you.' When I watch that, I imagine someone saying that to me." cobthaigh acknowledges other posts, saying "I agree regarding The Shawshank Redemption, but I think my personal fave has to be Field of Dreams. I lose it every time Ray realizes who the catcher is..."

timat and amarina enjoy movies that confront issues. "My favorite ending is in the movie The Other Sister--I believe mentally challenged people can live full and happy lives and do not need to be stigmatized by the rest of us and what we feel they can or cannot do for themselves. A brilliant movie!" timat claims. Amarina's favorite ending is "Babette's Feast. A small puritanical group are thawed by a wonderful gift. That ending always chokes me up!"

rdimuzio says the same thing, about The Princess Bride. When the boy tells the grandfather he could come over tomorrow and the grandfather replies 'as you wish,' it always chokes me up."

"I LOVE a happy ending!" admits mommy2them. "My FAVORITE movie because of the story AND happy ending is Notting Hill with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. It's funny, lively, sincere and wonderful. Most movies, and I'm trying not to spill any beans here, end right when the chaos turns around, but this movie keeps going to fill all your emotions. Watch it, enjoy it, feel good all over."

Other raves pour in. Beaker50: "I have always cried happy tears ata the end of An Offier and a Gentleman. I think it's every girl's dream to have a handsome man sweep them off their feet and disappear into the sunset." mirnasmith: "My favorite happy ending is from You've Got Mail. When Meg Ryan tells Tom Hanks she was hoping it was him, I get choked up. Then they play 'Over the Rainbow' as the credits roll...it's just too perfect!"

rgisbill thinks, "To me very few movies compare to the oldies. I loved An Affair to Remember. Cary Grant was one of the Greats. When Debra Kerr asked how he was after all this time, he said, 'I thought everything was fine until I saw you last night.' The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant is also wonderful--far better than The Preacher's Wife (which I also liked). Unlike Denzel Washington's character, Grant always knows everyone's name before they walk into the room. Such heartfelt movies!"

geminee22 agrees: "I loved An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant. Of modern movies, Ever After has one of my favorite endings. The last line says it all: 'Gentlemen, the point is not that she lived happily ever after, but that she lived.'" Med adds another modern classic: "One of my favorite movie endings is Sliding Doors with Gweneth Paltrow. I don't want to spoil the movie if you haven't seen it. It's a really romantic, beautiful movie about how fate can affect your life."

"My favorite movie ending is from the old movie The Enchanted Cottage. The lead characters realize that because they love each other, they will always see each other as beautiful, no matter how physically unattractive or deformed they may appear," reports robinh8

rosiest touches on the same theme when she mentions, "I love the ending of Shrek, when Fiona says something like 'I thought i'd be pretty' and Shrek answers 'You are beautiful to me.' I love the message of that movie--there is always something beautiful inside us." ncfahn agrees, "My new all time favorite happy ending is Shrek. This is not just a kids' movie!"

The All-Time Favorite
Many films were mentioned several times, but there was one that got the enthusastic approval of many users. jalee49 summed it up. "I just saw It's a Wonderful Life for the first time. To me, it was a very inspiring movie. It got me thinking about my life and questioning myself about how I treat others. Have I done anything in my life that would affect anyone in that way? I hope, if I'm ever down and out, that I will have many wonderful friends who care about me. It was by far one of the best movies I've seen." HMRoll is another fan: "It's gotta be Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life. I think I have seen that movie so many times it's ridiculous. His 'Clarence, I want to live,' line always gets me."

What happy endings are your favorites? Check in and let us add your picks to the list!

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