Science reveals what makes a feel-good film


What makes a feel-good film good?Scientists reveal how Love Actually, Amelie and Pretty Woman all strike the right mix of humor, plot emotion and happy ending

  • Study determined the science of feel-good movies to see what type of elements are needed to uplift viewers 
  • Scientists found they all have elements of humor and classic happy endings
  • Most plots focus on an outsider looking for love and a place to belong
  • Movies deemed feel-good include Love Actually and Pretty Woman 

A new study dives into the science behind ‘feel-good’ movies to reveal why films like ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Pretty Woman’ make viewers laugh and smile, even when worries fill their real world lives.

A team from Max Planck Society found that such films have an element of humor, a classic happy ending and certain recurring plots and characters.

This, according to researchers, typically includes an outsider in search of love, who proves themselves and fights against adverse circumstances until they find a fitting role in the community.

At the same time, these features are often embedded in a fairy-tale setting, which is another typical aspect of the genre and contributes considerably to its perceived lightness – and the elements combined create a feel-good film.

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A new study dives into the science behind 'feel-good' movies to reveal why films like 'Love Actually' and 'Pretty Woman' makes viewers laugh and smile, even when worries fill their real world lives

A new study dives into the science behind ‘feel-good’ movies to reveal why films like ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Pretty Woman’ makes viewers laugh and smile, even when worries fill their real world lives

Movies, although entertaining, can create different emotions for viewers ranging from happy, to sad and terrified.

Comedies are found to lower stress and blood pressure, while horror flix get the heart pumping and adrenaline rising.

With this in mind, the team from Max Planck Society wanted to see what constitutes as a feel-good movie and why people are captivated by them.

Scientists conducted a study with nearly 450 participants from Germany, Austria, and the German-speaking regions of Belgium and Switzerland.

Feel good movies include an outsider , like Vivian (Julia Roberts), looking for love, which she finds with Edward Lewis (Richard Gere

Feel good movies include an outsider , like Vivian (Julia Roberts), looking for love, which she finds with Edward Lewis (Richard Gere

The study found romantic comedies have  particularly high potential for emotional uplift, which is found with all the different stories in Love Actually

The study found romantic comedies have  particularly high potential for emotional uplift, which is found with all the different stories in Love Actually

A team from Max Planck Society found that such films have an element of humor, a classic happy ending and can also be identified by certain recurring plots and characters

Their responses point to romantic comedies as having a particularly high potential for emotional uplift. 

The feel-good films they identified as typical include ‘Love, Actually,’ ‘Pretty Woman,’ ‘Amélie’ and ‘The Intouchables.’ 

The study’s findings provide clues as to which content-related and formal characteristics films must have in order for audiences to feel particularly good while watching them.

However, this uplifting movies are not just those with romance and humor – they also include a little drama.

The study showed that scenes and plots that have a strong emotion effect are also considered feel-good films. 

Combine all of these elements into a fair-tale setting and you have a movie that is sure to tug on your heart strings.

The stud emphasized the fact that many people watch feel-good films specifically to relax and lift their spirits. 

‘Many of the study participants agreed that while feel-good films may be sentimental, they were not kitschy, and that above all, they were technically well made,’ researchers shared in a statement.

‘In this respect, the positive use of the genre label by viewers differs considerably from the predominantly negative perspective brought to it by professional film critics.’



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Written by bourbiza

bourbiza is an entertainment reporter for iltuoiphone News and is based in Los Angeles.

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