My List of Safe Movies

A bubble timer distorts a computer screen that plays Five Feet Apart

A friend of mine asked me for recommendations on “safe” movies, and as I began to compile this list, I thought that other people might like it, too.

The movies here are all low-action, safe-feeling, and romantic comedies. There’s no horror, gore, intense action, etc.

When I find a good, safe movie that feels like it has the right “vibe,” I will watch it repeatedly for days on end. It’s not just about the actual content or genre, but the feeling that it gives me. It’s a combination of the subject, the characters, the setting, the soundtrack.

Movie poster for Five Feet Apart

1. Five Feet Apart

This movie tops my list right now because I only recently discovered it and have been religiously watching it every night for a few days.

It’s based on a YA novel, so it’s a “teen” movie. Like most others of the genre, it features complex, witty, traumatized characters who are struggling to cope with various things they encounter. This movie is about Stella, Will, and Poe who all have Cystic Fibrosis and are all inpatient in the hospital at the same time. It’s a love story but it’s also a tragedy.

What makes it safe:

  • The setting is a hospital setting, which my brain unequivocally registers as safe.
  • The characters are funny.
  • The soundtrack is lovely.
  • It’s a love story.
  • The narration is appealing.

Things to watch out for:

  • The characters are traumatized teenagers, which means that sometimes they hurt each other.
  • There is a death in the movie.
  • There are two terribly tense moments where you fear the worst but it does not come to fruition- the first time I watched this film my heart legitimately dropped for both of these scenes, but it is quickly resolved.
  • There is a near-death incident.
  • The end is very sad (but not in a catastrophic way).
  • There is one particularly gross coughing scene featuring mucous.

Watch the trailer here.

Movie poster for The Fault In Our Stars

2. The Fault In Our Stars

This movie maintains a permanent “close to the top” status in my mind. I adore it. What can I say? I’m a sucker for this trope.

This one is also based on a YA novel by the same name. It’s about two teenagers with cancer, Hazel and Augustus, and features a third cancer patient, Isaac. Again, a love story that is also a tragedy.

What makes it safe:

  • The setting is immaculate. There are scenes in the hospital and in a public park, but many of the scenes are in Hazel or Gus’ homes, a church basement, and throughout Amsterdam. The Amsterdam scenes are stunning, but the scenes in Hazel’s bedroom are also lovely.
  • The characters are funny.
  • The soundtrack is lovely.
  • It’s a love story.
  • Hazel’s narration is some of my favorite narration ever in a movie (although I will say, Jude Law’s narration of the movie version of A Series of Unfortunate Events gets 1st place).
  • The only “sex scene” is tasteful. There is nothing remotely explicit.

Things to watch out for:

  • There is a death of a lead character.
  • There is a funeral.
  • There is a hostile alcoholic man who causes distress to the lead characters.
  • Death is discussed at great length throughout.
  • There is one sort-of flippant mention of suicide.

Watch the trailer here.

Movie trailer for Just Go With It

3. Just Go With It

I realize that Adam Sandler movies are among those generally hated by people who think they have good taste, but I love them. I think his sense of humor is clever, the movies are usually safe, and I genuinely enjoy the predictability.

Just Go With It is about a plastic surgeon who meets a girl and ends up entangled in a ridiculous web of lies with his assistant, her kids, and his cousin. They go to Hawaii to uphold these lies and in the end, two characters fall in love and get married. It is riddled with incredible humor.

What makes it safe:

  • The setting. The beginning of the movie is mostly scenes in a doctor’s office, but almost all of the movie takes place in Hawaii. The setting is gorgeous.
  • It’s hilarious. Each character brings a different brand of humor and collectively you end up laughing the entire time.
  • The soundtrack is nice.
  • It’s a love story.
  • There is no tragedy, action, or scary moments.
  • There’s a happy ending.

Things to watch out for:

  • There’s cheating in the first scene.
  • There are genital and breast references in relation to plastic surgery.
  • Some of the humor is pretty crude.
  • There are references to a deadbeat parent and to child abuse.

Watch the trailer here.

Movie poster for Blended

4. Blended

Another Adam Sandler movie that I have watched at least a dozen times.

This one is about a single dad and a single mom who bump into each other a few times and can’t stand each other, but end up on a vacation together and fall in love.

What makes it safe:

  • It’s a love story.
  • The setting- this film primarily takes place at a resort in South Africa.
  • The soundtrack is great.
  • It’s funny.
  • There’s also a teenage romance.
  • There is no tragedy, action, or scary moments.
  • There’s a happy ending.

Things to watch out for:

  • Some of the humor is pretty crude.
  • It deals with sexuality in young teenagers, some of which is pretty bizarre.

Watch the trailer here.

Movie poster for Soul Surfer

5. Soul Surfer

Soul Surfer is the true story of Bethany Hamilton, adapted from her book about her experiences.

It’s about a girl who experienced a trauma, lost a limb, and learned about life and how to move forward from a tragedy.

What makes it safe:

  • The setting (I’m sure you are noticing a theme here). It takes place in Kauai, with a few scenes on Oahu and in Thailand.
  • The story is about growth and strength.
  • The family unit and friendships featured are very secure.
  • Surfing is continually shown throughout which is very visually and mentally appealing.
  • The soundtrack is fantastic.
  • There’s a happy ending.

Things to watch out for:

  • There are a lot of scenes where you anticipate the tragedy to happen which are anxiety-inducing the first time around.
  • There is a shark attack. It features a lot of blood and the panic that ensued thereafter.
  • Bethany grapples with becoming disabled in a way that is sometimes hurtful if you’re disabled.
  • The scenes in Thailand might be overwhelming because of the nature of the disaster that lead to it.

Watch the trailer here.

Movie poster for Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List

6. Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List

This is another recent obsession of mine.

Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List is also based off of a YA novel, this one featuring a pair of teenagers who are best friends. The characters deal with a lot of hard things ranging from absent parents to dismantled friendships. There are two love stories nested inside the bigger friendship story.

What makes it safe:

  • The setting- New York City, New York University, an apartment building, Central Park.
  • The characters are likeable and feel authentic.
  • It’s two love stories (one of which is LGTBQIA+) wrapped up inside of a friendship story.
  • There’s a happy ending.
  • The soundtrack is cool.

Things to watch out for:

  • Several mentions of cheating, both involving parents and involving friends.
  • An absentee parent.
  • A character has a mental breakdown of some sort, which involves taking a sledgehammer to a wall.
  • There is abundant heartbreak and a friend breakup.

Watch the trailer here.

Movie poster for Valentine’s Day

7. Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of my all-time favorites. This movie follows roughly a dozen Californians through the day on Valentine’s Day, most of whose stories intertwine.

What makes it safe:

  • It’s at least half a dozen love stories.
  • The setting is pleasant- in and around Los Angeles with a few airplane scenes.
  • The soundtrack is fabulous.
  • The characters are loveable and nuanced.
  • The intertwining plot is fascinating.
  • There is no tragedy, action, or scary moments.
  • There’s a happy ending.

Things to watch out for:

  • An engagement is broken off.
  • There’s cheating.

Watch the trailer here.

Movie poster for New Year’s Eve

8. New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is the same premise as Valentine’s Day, but it takes place in New York City on New Year’s Eve.

What makes it safe:

  • It’s at least half a dozen love stories.
  • The setting is pleasant- in and around New York City.
  • The soundtrack is great.
  • The characters are loveable and nuanced.
  • The intertwining plot is fascinating.
  • There is no tragedy, action, or scary moments.
  • There’s a happy ending.

Things to watch out for:

  • There is a death of an elderly person.
  • A teenager sneaks out of their home.
  • A teenager flashes their bra briefly.
  • There are scenes in a hospital setting.
  • There is a character who video chats from a war zone.

Watch the trailer here.

Movie trailer for This is 40

9. This Is 40

It’s a sort-of spin-off of Knocked Up, focused on a couple/family navigating the mundanity of ordinary life.

What makes it safe:

  • The setting.
  • The premise of mundane daily life.
  • It’s funny.
  • There is no tragedy, action, or scary moments.
  • There’s a happy ending.

Things to watch out for:

  • It’s crude.
  • There are sexual references/scenes.

Watch the trailer here.

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