An exotic bird infects an artist (George Peppard) with a happiness virus which he and his girlfriend (Mary Tyler Moore) give to New York.
Whats So Bad About Feeling Good? is the title of a 1968 comedy film, starring George Peppard, Mary Tyler Moore, Jeanne Arnold, Dom DeLuise and Gillian Spencer.
A box-office disappointment, it was directed by George Seaton, whose next film, Airport, would become the second highest-grossing film of 1970.
The film has never been released on video or DVD.
A new infection that simply makes people feel happy is treated as a threat by the authorities while its "victims" work to spread it to others.
Pete (George Peppard) is a former advertising executive living a Beatnikâ€“Bohemian life in a loft in New York City. Since living in the commune, Pete has turned into a cynical, misanthropic artist. The members of the commune are seemingly aimless, indolent or melancholy while waiting for the world to end; one member (Gillian Spencer) lives her life in a burlap sack, with only her bare feet protruding.
One day, a wayward toucan arrives at the loft. The toucan, which stowed away on a Greek banana boat from South America, carries a unique and highly contagious virus. The virus causes intense feelings of giddiness, happiness, and kindness in anyone affected by it.
Pete and the members of his loft all catch the virus and in an outbreak of euphoria, suddenly sense a purpose in their lives. They keep the toucan, nicknaming it "Amigo". They then decide to spread the virus to as many people as they can in New York City. Petes girlfriend Liz (Mary Tyler Moore) doesnt know it, but she is the only loft member immune to the virus. Pete, also not knowing that Liz is immune, plans to trick her into getting infected. He pretends to be the nihilist German philosopher leader of a doomsday cult, popular in the commune, and convinces Liz to let him kiss her. She remains physically immune, but psychosomatic symptoms take over and she responds in kind.
The virus is quickly spread across New York City. Rude telephone clerks are suddenly polite and understanding. Those immune to the virus are also nice, as almost everyone else acts nice to them. Pete shaves, puts on his suit, and returns to his job as an advertising executive. Pete insists, however, all the ads be honest.
Government leaders determine that the spread of the virus threatens the economic lifeblood of New York City; residents suddenly stop buying alcohol, tobacco or drugs, and the stock exchange and business districts are threatened with collapse if everyone is happy and nice to one another.
J. Gardner Monroe (Dom DeLuise) is sent by the government to New York to stop the outbreak. He arrives wearing a space helmet. After several attempts, a cure is found and the vaccine is dumped into New Yorks water and gasoline supply. Cured New Yorkers return to their nasty ways, but those immune to the virus, and who only acted nice because others were, remain nice.
Pete, now "cured", desires a return to the loft, while Liz declares she can no longer live in such a way, and liked Pete better when he was "sick". Liz plans to rescue the toucan from the zoo and release him once again. The plan almost fails, but Pete shows up and realizes that feeling good is great. Liz pretends to be pregnant to rescue Amigo and they all escape from the zoo.
Whats So Bad About Feeling Good? represents juxtaposition of the concepts of "normal" and "sick." The "sick" people are the ones who act nice, while the normal ones are mean and cutthroat. The film is also a slight departure from Mary Tyler Moores candy-coated image. The film, made between the end of The Dick Van Dyke Show and the premier of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, features Mary, at least in the opening scenes, living together with a man in a hippie commune, pretending to be pregnant in order to hide the toucan, and has, perhaps the only time in her career, a sex scene. (The screen is black and only the audio is heard.) Several actors in this film went on to successful TV careers including Moore, Peppard (The A-Team), Cleavon Little (Temperatures Rising), Dom DeLuise (Candid Camera) and Susan St. James (McMillan and Wife). Catskills comedian Morty Gunty has a small role as a policeman named Officer Gunty.