An astronaut has a meringue pie for a head and is holding a small-caliber pistol with his arms crossed

For Your Pies Only:

A Primer on Feel-Good
(or at least Not-Feel-Bad) Spy Movies


The spy thriller is a staple of the film industry. Its heyday was during the Cold War between NATO and the USSR, but the spy story existed prior (e.g., the novels of Sax Rohmer) and continues to thrive in the years afterward, although recent years have seen a macabre swing into the fetishization of assassins. A staple of the genre, especially in the subdomain of John Le Carré adaptations or homages, is spiritual malaise. The spies on all sides are salary workers, spending hours in offices reading memos, spending hours in sweltering cars on stakeouts, spending hours on planes skipping from one colony to the next (another staple of the genre is the maintainence of empire and subjugation of indigenous cultures). When action does happen, it is terrifying and brief. A year-long operation could result in one political official walking across a bridge from one side of Berlin to the other, and that is the highwater mark of a spy’s career.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Ian Fleming spy romp. The paperwork and drudgery are excised from the film. We only see the glamour and action, and the thousands of office workers who made it all work are out of focus in the background of shots. Even when these films replace research with gunplay, the tone is still the same. Maintain the empire at all costs.

Today, we are focusing on spy films that use the tropes of the genre but have a generally (generally) lighter tone. These are spy films that titillate or amuse but don’t look like they have three inches of cigarette tar covering every surface (I love you, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979, 2011)). But everything exists on a spectrum, so this primer uses two grades for each movie. While of these movies may be low-stakes or low-stress, some are more so than others. And a second grade was needed to quantify whether they function as good movies.


The Grading System

A pigeon looks on in disbelief

1 to 10 Pigeon Double Takes

Moonraker (1979) is the Bond movie where the last 40 minutes take place on a space station. There are spies with lasers and jetpacks. It is a silly, wild thing clearly riding the wave of Star Wars’ (1977) popularity. There is a moment of some notoriety earlier in the film, however, as Bond hydroplanes around Venice and the camera cuts to, in order, a villain, a sailor, a drunk photographer, a caricaturist, a pigeon, a dog, and a waiter who pours a beer on a customer’s head. They all do double-take reaction shots. Including the pigeon.

Any movie in this primer which gets 10 out of 10 pigeon double takes will be silly as hell.



An Irish spy with platinum blond hair is in a gray suit with blue tie. He is looking menacingly off the screen to stage left.

1 to 10 Red Grants


Our other scale grades the film on greatness. Red Grant (played by the legendary Robert Shaw) is the main villain in the best Bond film, From Russia with Love (1963). His train compartment fight with Sean Connery’s James Bond is the most riveting of the series and helped to innovate fight scene staging still used today. James Bond is a 60-year franchise with some very high highs, so a film scoring 10 out of 10 Red Grants is a must-watch.


The Movies!

And here are the recommended feel-good spy films in chronological order from earliest to latest. I’m not including every spy movie on this list. The exclusion of films like The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) or The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) is deliberate. I don’t want to waste your time on anything that I’d rate less than 1 Red Grant out of 10. I have included some James Bonds films for context but am not listing all 27 film adaptations as they would drown out everything else. (If you want James Bond rankings, here is my Letterboxd list.) I will also note that the list could be just Hitchcock films and still be a great time. We are limiting ourselves to one of the greatest and most fun films of all time for our Hitchcock fix.


A figure in a grey flannel suit and dark sunglasses stands in a train hallway next to a blonde in a black jacket and white dress

North by Northwest (1959)

Mistaken identity and gaslighting are two pillars of Alfred Hitchcock’s oeuvre. He also loves his icy blondes, fastidious villains, and Cary Grant. For my money, one cannot do better at checking all of these boxes than North by Northwest, a brilliant and very funny spy film from whose forehead the James Bond film was birthed as was Athena from lord Zeus. (I sprained my entire body stretching for that metaphor.)

Cary Grant is mistaken as a spy and drawn into an assassination plot that carries him all across the United States. The finale takes place on Mount Rushmore. He is nearly beheaded by a crop duster. Pencil indentations on a sketchpad created a gag that every person on earth knows by heart even if you have never seen the movie.

Eva Marie Saint is unbelievably charming in this. So are Cary Grant and James Mason. The movie is twisty and thrilling and ends on a sex joke. If you watch one film in this list, make it North by Northwest.

5 / 10 Pigeons. Cary Grant gets to play a very drunk person attempting to drive down a steep hill. There is an infamous jump cut from a stressful scene to the denouement. Everything turns out fine, I promise you, and you’ll be grinning the whole time.

10 / 10 Red Grants. This is a perfect movie if you only watch Saul Bass’ iconic opening credits or only listen to Bernard Hermann’s score. One of the great breezy films of all time and countless influential artistic choices.


From Russia with Love (1963)

The Soviets spread a rumor that one of their agents saw a picture of James Bond and fell in love with him, and she has access to a Lecktor code-breaking device. James Bond is sent to Istanbul to facilitate the defection of the agent. But secretly, the villainous organization known as S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is manipulating both sides so that they can get the device once it has safely been removed from Turkey… and they plan to kill Bond as revenge for the events in Jamaica (see Dr. No (1962).

This movie rules.

2 / 10 Pigeons. This movie is not especially silly, but it is a damn good time and moves at a quick pace. It is awarded 2 Pigeons because S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is an innately silly organization with deep influences on the genre.

10 / 10 Red Grants. Obviously. This is one of the great Cold War spy movies.


Two figures whisper in a busy public market

Charade (1963)

The Truth about Charlie (2002)

The greatest Hitchcock homage is Charade, a zesty spy romp about mistaken identity (or is it?) and mostly about how much fun it must be to do a spy movie with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Grant plays an inveterate bullshit artist and Hepburn plays a widow whose husband may have been involved with some shady people, and now those shady people are shaking her down for money. Also, Walter Matthau is a spy.

Jonathan Demme remade the film in 2002 as an extended homage to the French New Wave. This film is quite fun and Thandiwe Newton is amazing in the Hepburn role. Mark Wahlberg is grossly miscast in the Cary Grant role, which sank the film at the box office and diminishes its reputation. It is nearly as fun as the original, though, so watch ’em both!

6/ 10 Pigeons. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn are two of the all-time greats at looking slightly confused, slightly worried, and slightly amused all at once. There are dramatic stakes but this movie constantly reassures the viewer that everything will be fine. The remake is also airy and a dang good time.

10/ 10 Red Grants for Charade, 8 / 10 for The Truth about Charlie.


Our Man Flint (1966)
In Like Flint (1967)

It didn’t take long for imitators and spoofs of James Bond. James Coburn is the lanky spy in these films. They are not particularly good. But they were three decades ahead of Mike Myers on the same goofs that he uses in Austin Powers (Myers even co-opts sound effects from the Flint movies). Flint is a horndog who battles doofus evil scientists and radical feminists. Jerry Goldsmith composed the score, if one is looking for a positive.

8 / 10 Pigeons. These movies are winking so hard that they’ve inverted.

2 / 10 Red Grants. I am fond of James Coburn because he always sounds disgusted when he talks. That’s probably not enough motivation for most people.


Foul Play (1978)

Starring Chevy Chase (in the small window before he burned every bridge in the film industry) and Goldie Hawn (who rules in everything). This takes a classic Hitchcockian premise (mistaken identity, a protagonist who is unwittingly drawn into a spy game) and plays it a little sillier than usual. There are a lot of charmers in this, including Hawn, Chase, Burgess Meredith, Dudley Moore, and Brian Dennehy.

6 / 10 Pigeons. You’ll have a good time with this, but your enjoyment will be tied to how amusing you find mistaken identity. Four or five scenes of people not believing Goldie Hawn may wear you out. But this is a fun one overall.

7 / 10 Red Grants. People have made entire careers out of homage to Hitchcock, so you can do a lot worse than this.


A rumpled spy in a brown suit attempts to calm down a nervous dentist in a medical coat

The In-Laws (1979)

Peter Falk is a spy. That’s it. That’s the pitch.

(This is a pro-Falk website, if you didn’t know.)

10 / 10 Pigeons. This movie is the impetus for the Jennifer Lopez character voice in the early seasons of South Park (seriously). Outside of that ignoble legacy, the movie has pitch-perfect buddy cop energy, with Falk playing the grubby, easygoing spy and Alan Arkin playing the high-strung dentist who is dragged against his will into the spy world. This is oil-and-water. This is an immovable object and an irresistible force. This is Arkin in prime emotional collapse mode, and Falk at his best (that is, looking like he both slept in his coat and used it to carry deli meats). There is a dictator played by the editor in Fletch (1985). This is a goofy spy movie.

6 / 10 Red Grants. I like this movie a lot but don’t love it. I could have used a little more of the domestic part before it moved to the fictional South American dictatorship.


A US spy and a UK spy flirt at a table on a patio

Hopscotch (1980)

Walter Matthau plays a spy. That’s it. That’s the pitch.

7 / 10 Pigeons. You know from the minute Ned Beatty attempts to bigfoot Walter Matthau that everything will be turn out fine.

9 / 10 Red Grants. This is one of the great spy comedies. The film is deft at balancing comedy and espionage, and globe-trots like the best spy movies. The cast is brilliant, the pacing is great, and you’ll grin through the whole movie.


For Your Eyes Only (1981)

The impetus for this primer’s title. Roger Moore was 30 years older than his love interest and 31 years older than his other love interest. It is played for jokes which somehow makes it even worse. The plot is inconsequential and cribs ideas from better Bond movies like Thunderball (1965) and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

9 / 10 Pigeons. James Bond fights a hockey team and slowly knocks each person unconscious and slides them into the goal (which of course dings each time). A parrot has more screen time than Desmond Llewelyn. This is a goofy movie.

1 / 10 Red Grants. This movie is oogy and bad. It is included here as contrast to the good movies on the list.


Three spies of various nationalities encounter East German soldierse in a field

Top Secret! (1984)

A pop star is groomed for spy work before his trip to Berlin. Lots of slapstick fill 90 minutes of screen time. It probably should have been 75 minutes long.

10 / 10 Pigeons. The makers of Airplane! (1980) smash together Elvis movies and Hitchcock movies. A character in a cow disguise is mounted by a bull. There is a very obvious joke about The Nutcracker Suite. You can’t have lower stakes than in a Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker production.

1 / 10 Red Grants. You can probably skip this one unless you are a Val Kilmer completist.


The Man with One Red Shoe (1985)

Yet another Hitchcockian homage. This time a quiet musician is mistaken for a spy, and his entire life is slowly upended even as he unintentionally and unknowingly foils a CIA plot against him. Carrie Fisher is pretty good in this, and Tom Hanks as the titular man is not terrible.

8 / 10 Pigeons. James Belushi, on a bicycle, chases a panel truck in which spies are listening to a microphone, on which Belushi’s wife (Carrie Fisher) is making animal noises as she attempts to seduce Tom Hanks, and Tom Hanks’ house was bugged by the spies. Belushi, IIRC, crashes into a lake. This is a silly movie.

4 / 10 Red Grants. I loved this movie when I was younger but am not convinced it fully holds up.


A CIA office worker cheats on an exam by wearing a fake eye patch on which he has written answers.

Spies Like Us (1985)

This one, however, rules.

Doctor? Doctor. Doctor? Doctor. Doctor? Doctor. Doctor? Doctor. Doctor? Doctor. Doctor? Doctor. ….And Doctor.

7 / 10 Pigeons. Chevy Chase coerces Ackroyd into helping him cheat at a standardized test (“WHAT DOES K G B STAND FOR?”). Frank Oz as the proctor sees them cheating and a plan is hatched to use them as decoys for real spies. The Coen brothers play guards with machine guns.

7 / 10 Red Grants. This is a primo John Landis comedy. The jokes are crisp, the slapstick is broad, the cast is deep and excellent. The leads play scoundrels and there is a deep Bugs Bunny / Marx Bros. anarchism streak that runs through the center of this movie.


Company Business (1991)

A CIA agent (Gene Hackman) is called out of involuntary retirement to broker a prisoner exchange. He escorts his old nemesis (played by Mikhail Baryshnikov) to Berlin for the swap, but they are double-crossed (it might even be triple-crossed?) and must use all of their old contacts and skills to avoid KGB and CIA capture.

6 / 10 Pigeons. There are murders and some tense moments in this, including a pretty good gunfight in a train station. But ultimately this is a buddy spy movie with great chemistry between its leads and a propulsive script (by Alleged Beef favorite Nicholas Meyer). You’ll have a great time.

6 / 10 Red Grants. Avoiding spoilers, I will say that I don’t care for the denouement. The ending feels abrupt, as though they ran out of time on set or lost a reel of film. However, it is a good time up to that point.


True Lies (1994)

James Cameron adapts a French comedy into a huge-budget (biggest budget in history at that time) spy film and manages to keep it fun despite a few missteps.

8 / 10 Pigeons. Bill Paxton plays a weenis who lies to women so he can sleep with them. Jamie Lee Curtis murders a room full of kidnappers when she drops an Uzi down a set of stairs. Schwarzenegger does some hilarious truth-serum acting. A nuclear bomb detonates in the background while a married couple kiss. This one is a breezy James Bond homage by one of the great living directors.

7 / 10 Red Grants. The script is not nearly as clever as they think it is. The part where Harry uses CIA resources to spy on his wife are really scummy and he doesn’t work hard enough to make up for it. The last 30 minutes are also extraneous. But this is still a pretty fun one.


Two dark-haired figures in black clothes stare in different directions. One holds a silenced pistol

Goldeneye (1995)

Many people my age played the Nintendo-64 video game adaptation of this film. Good game! But the movie is quite fun too. It is certainly in the top tier of breezy Bond movies. I like the computer hacker aspect, I like the bungee jump from the dam, I like Xenia Onatopp.

6 / 10 Pigeons. Minnie Driver plays a Russian singer who croons “Stand By Your Man.” Robbie Coltrane plays a smuggler. Famke Janssen murders people mid-coitus by suffocating them. Joe Don Baker starts a car with a sledgehammer. If your recent memories of James Bond are dour Daniel Craig films, this will cleanse your palate.

7 / 10. Good movie! Brosnan is one of my favorite Bonds but the movies were too extra: too much score ruining the tension, too many jokes ruining the tension, too many set pieces ruining the pacing, too many winking references to old Bond movies. You get the idea. However, this one rules.


Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

The classic Mike Myers joke construction is to spend a long time on the setup so that the audience knows what the punchline will be. Then keep building suspense so the audience keeps waiting for the expected punchline. Then have the character deliver the punchline while they look straight into the camera. Outside of The Pentaverate, which was super freaking weird, I have not enjoyed The Mike Myers Experience in decades. I dislike the Austin Powers movies more every time I watch them. I’d imagine that I would outright loathe the films if I hadn’t seen them in high school.

10 / 10 Pigeons (all three movies). “A signed copy of the book Swedish-Made Penis Enlarger Pumps and Me. It IS My Bag, Baby. By Austin Powers.” There are a hundred gags in these movies that are great despite none of the movies working for me. But you’ll rarely find a sillier film than these.

5 / 10 Red Grants (Austin Powers). The novelty carries the first one pretty far. Dr. Evil as an awkward Blofeld was a stroke of genius.

3 / 10 Red Grants (The Spy Who Shagged Me). Mike Myers has done his Shrek voice across four decades and it was never funny.

1 / 10 Red Grants (Goldmember). This doesn’t even seem like a movie. It feels like an SNL sketch that was over-lit and under-edited.


The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)

Hey, would ya look at that? It’s another wrong-man spy movie! That Hitchcock fella must have been on to something! Bill Murray plays the well-meaning brother of a diplomat visiting his brother in England. With an important dinner meeting on the schedule, the diplomat arranges for an improvisational live theatre event for his brother. However, a mistake lands the man (who knew too little) in a real espionage plot, but he thinks it is all part of the live theatre show. So he gleefully leans into being a “spy” and his gusto keeps him ahead of the spies throughout the film.

10 / 10 Pigeons. Alfred Molina plays an assassin nicknamed The Butcher. The phrase “smoke some ambassadors” somehow has multiple meanings. The finale hinges on a bomb hidden in a matryoshka doll and Bill Murray joining in on a Russian squat dance at an embassy as Joss Ackland nervously tracks the bomb-doll. (Ackland plus the doll feels like a deliberate homage to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and I AM HERE FOR IT.)

8 / 10 Red Grants. This is one of the underrated comedy gems of 1990s. The elegant premise gives the performers so much room to work. Because Murray’s character thinks he is in a live improv show, his character is all false gusto. And because the blackmailers/bombers think he is a real spy, they must take him seriously, which makes him happier that his performance is well received, which then ratchets the tension further for the blackmailers. The movie is better than you remember and a good time.


A spy holds a cocktail while a man in a bowtail and white suit looks at him in confusion

Johnny English (2003)
Johnny English Reborn (2011)
Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)

What if everyone around Austin Powers realized that he was a doofus, but there was no one else available so he kept his unearned bravado? That is the general premise of the Johnny English movies. I’m as much of a fan of Rowan Atkinson as anyone is, so I appreciate the amount of effort he puts into the crummiest of movies. The Johnny English films are not great. The third one isn’t even good. But there is joy to be had in him confidently screwing up everything, and he is surrounded by a great cast including Gillian Anderson, Ben Miller, Tim Pigott-Smith, Natalie Imbruglia, Daniel Kaluuya, Rosamund Pike, and Charles Dance.

8 / 10 Pigeons. These feel specifically like satires of Brosnan-era Bond films. The unnecessary techno music, the hyper cameras, the ludicrous plots, it is all here. And it is all very dumb and airy.

4 / 10 Red Grants. The best Johnny English is not much better than the worst one, so we’ll average it out to a 4 out of 10. This is the kind of movie that you’ll enjoy more if you watch it while at the gym, or while dozing off on a couch. These are not meant to be seen in their entirety in a single viewing.


Two figures are dancing, one in a black tuxedo and one in a magenta-and-black dress with arm-length black gloves.

OSS-117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006)
OSS-117: Lost in Rio (2009)
OSS-117: Red Alert from Black Africa / From Africa with Love (2021)

You would probably recognize Jean Dujardin from The Artist (2011) or The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), but he is known in France for his adaptations of the French spy Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, also known as 0SS 117. This iteration of the iconic Cold Warrior is a little more mean-spirited to its source material, playing up the spy’s xenophobia, misogyny, obliviousness, and his love of his own jokes.

The movies mostly work like the other Bond spoofs by placing this buffoon within a world where everyone else is more competent. His victories are by sheer luck or by the work of others (which he will not hesitate to claim as his own). However, Dujardin is absurdly handsome and charming, adding an extra layer to the films that is lacked with films starring Mike Myers, Rowan Atkinson, James Coburn, et al. (with no offense meant to those fellas). Dujardin gives the films a ton of extra buffer, because even when the comedy is not working, he looks great in the suits and at the beautiful locations.

7 / 10 Pigeons: de La Bath is so obstinately French that won’t learn a word of another language, letting turncoats and double agents freely talk in front of him while he smiles at himself in a mirror. There are countless sight gags and slapstick in addition to the numerous jabs at the imperiousness of James Bond-style spies.

6 / 10 (Cairo), 5 / 10 (Rio), 4 / 10 (Africa) Red Grants. The films get worse in chronological order, so I’d suggest Cairo: Nest of Spies to a neophyte. It’s a good time and only an hour and 40 minutes long.


Burn After Reading (2008)

What if a spy decided to spill all of his career’s secrets in his memoirs (“mem-wah”), except they were just inconsequential ramblings? But what if he accidentally left the disc at the gym, and the buffoons who worked there thought it was full of important secrets and tried to blackmail him? And then, what if that spy had a huge temper and a bad drinking problem, and refused to give in to their demands?

5 / 10 Pigeons: This is a very mean-spirited film. A beloved character actor is beaten to death with a hammer. Two actors who have been in roughly a dozen movies together share one five-second scene that ends surprisingly. The lesson spouted by the CIA section chief is “don’t do it again, I guess? I don’t know. Whatever.” But if you don’t mind the mean-spirited nature of the comedy, this is a very funny movie about a lot of flawed characters making bad decisions.

7 / 10 Red Grants. This doesn’t crack the top tier of the Coen brothers filmography, but that is hardly its fault (good luck beating Miller’s Crossing; Inside Llewyn Davis; No Country for Old Men; Fargo; The Big Lebowski; Raising Arizona; True Grit; and Barton Fink). This is a good time.


A spy in a black dress and a spy wearing a wig and sunglasses stand in a crowd at a concert

Spy (2015)

This is a personal favorite, but I caution you that the language is as coarse in Spy as you’ll ever find in a studio comedy. Melissa McCarthy plays a CIA analyst who is excellent at her job, but lack of confidence has kept her confined to office duty despite skills that would have her thriving as a field agent. A longtime crush on super-spy and coworker Bradley Fine (the excellent Jude Law) has also kept her talents unrecognized. However, Fine goes missing and there is a NOC list (shout-out the great Mission: Impossible) so Cooper must go undercover to investigate. She finally has a chance to prove herself despite neverending digs by her coworkers. God, this movie is so funny.

6 / 10 Pigeons: Cooper’s coworkers treat her like garbage, openly scoffing at her conjuctivitis and giving her punishingly embarrassing secret identities for her missions. Zach Woods drinks a glass of poison just to spite Rose Byrne. There are multiple gags that involve a corpse teabagging a character as a plane experiences turbulence. There is a nuke and some stolen diamonds at the heart of the plot, but who cares? And Peter Serafinowicz plays the most horny Italian in the world.

8 / 10 Red Grants: My three-word, positive review of this film is “It’s so mean!” One rarely gets a good movie where characters are this actively hostile to each other at all times. Melissa McCarthy can be as foul-mouthed as anyone, and she is given free rein here to verbally assault every henchman and villain she encounters. She is so mean to the blonde henchman that he starts crying. This is also Jason Statham’s funniest performance in a very long (and very mixed-bag) career.


Three stylishly dressed figures stand around a table on a veranda and look toward the camera. There is a cathedral in the background

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

I imagine that anyone reading a movie article is roughly my age or older. I don’t really understand youth culture, but brief observations of younger relatives or friends makes it seem that their idea of long-form storytelling is a toy unboxing video on YouTube or a three-part Instagram Story.

So should a younger person accidentally click into this thinking it was a Paid Content social media post from Dua Lipa or whoever: lots of movies and TV shows are remakes of old movies and TV shows. This is one of those. The Witcher and the cringe guy who allegedly got canceled for maybe-cannibal-adjacent reasons are a US and a Russian spy forced by the extra villian from Paddington 2 to work with Tomb Raider. The bad guy is the really tall woman from that time travel movie with Robert Pattinson. Based.

Have the Zoomers left? Out of the countless adaptations of television shows into film, this is near the top just because it is so fun. This already has me thinking about a TV adaptations primer, actually.

2 / 10 Pigeons: There is never any doubt that the good team will prevail. The movie has some silly moments (such as the electricity torture scene) and several good jokes, but it is not especially goofy. This falls on the low end of the goofy spectrum for a comedy.

8 / 10 Red Grants: Infinite charm oozes from Henry Cavill and Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki and Armie Hammer. You could power a space station on this much star wattage. The movie is sumptuously shot, the bro-off between the male leads generates much of the humor, and the costumes are great. This is the one Guy Ritchie movie of the past 15 years that I wish had a sequel.


Central Intelligence (2016)

Kevin Hart plays an uptight accountant who runs into a nerd from high school who turns out to be a spy. Much stress is exuded by Hart. Dwayne Johnson plays against type here as the nerd; it is an enjoyable performance as he really leans into how awkward and shy his character was, and how much he idolized Kevin Hart for being nice to him at school. The plot is entirely gone from my mind but I think there is a red herring about Johnson maybe being a double agent? I don’t remember.

6 / 10 Pigeons: Low stakes and pretty silly. This leans heavily on buddy-cop tropes but has a weirdness thanks to Johnson’s character and his parasocial affection for Hart.

4 / 10 Red Grants: This a light recommend because I did laugh a lot, but it is also a movie that I have yet to rewatch, so picky viewers may want to start elsewhere on the list.



The Aftermath

That was 30 spy movies that range from outright spoof to tense thriller, but they all share the basic vibes of “ehh, it will all be fine. Or it won’t. But it will at least be fun.” I would steer you toward those with higher Red Grant ratings, especially if you’ve never enjoyed classics like North by Northwest or Hopscotch, but even the dumbest movie on this list is still a good time. After all, we are mostly powerless against neoliberal nation-building and the legacy of colonialism, so we might as well laugh at it as we slowly attempt to dismantle it.


Connective Tissue is a series that takes a particular genre, storytelling trope, or iconic story and highlights its descendents and predecessors across history. Some past entries include a focus on Jean-Pierre Melville’s masterpiece and the influential comedy “Some Like It Hot.”