Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Movies Worth Watching With Your Middle School Kids

I'm a movie buff.

And, a new tradition in our family is movie night. We love to put a movie in the DVD (or, yes, the VHS player), pop some popcorn, and settle down to watch. My husband and I have enjoyed introducing some of our favorite films to our daughter. This allows us to have a shared culture - things that we reference that she now gets as well.

Now that she is getting a bit older, she is able to appreciate and handle movies that we all enjoy. Here are a few we have enjoyed sharing:

1) THE PRINCESS BRIDE - This live-action film is witty and funny and timeless. The dialogue has great quotes that you and your kids will repeat to one another. It will even work with younger children as there is enough action to keep them entertained. And - it spans both boys and girls. There is love and romance and action and humor.

2) WHAT ABOUT BOB? - This is an 80s comedy starring Richard Dreyfus and Bill Murray. Bill Murray plays a psychiatric patient who suffers from extreme anxiety. When he attaches himself to his new psychologist and the doctor's family, it is both funny and touching. The film examines the issues of hospitality and self image. It also looks at parent/child relationships in a funny and, sometimes, sad way.

3) PLANES, TRAINS, and AUTOMOBILES - This is another 80s comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy. It tells the stories of two traveling salesman stuck at the airport on Thanksgiving. As they make the journey home, they learn about each other and about how to love your neighbor.

4) PRETTY IN PINK - John Hughes is our 80s favorite. This tale of a teenager on the wrong side of the tracks is about individuality and standing up for yourself in the face of teenage pressure. It says that it is okay to be different - and that, sometimes, things are not as they seem. Parents can decide whether some of Hughes topics are too mature for their middle schooler, but I have found that these subjects are already being thought about by kids this age.

5) BACK TO THE FUTURE - What if you could go back in time? Would you change anything? What if you could see the world that your parents grew up in? Would it change your view of your family? These are the questions faced by this teen who is shot back in time to see his world in the 1950s... It inspired a series of films - but the original is still the best.

6) DEAD POET'S SOCIETY - This is a heavier film with a weightier subject. A school teacher takes on the traditional values of a high-class private boys school. He challenges his students to think out of the box - to seize the day! He wants them to walk independently, to think for themselves. One boy does this, with tragic consequences... A good discussion starter about conformity and about your relationships with authority.

7) OCTOBER SKY - Four young boys decide to build a rocket. This is back in the era of space exploration and is set in a coal mining town. The main character's father does not understand his son's dream. He wants him to settle down and work in the mines like everyone else. How will he pursue what he loves? The story is a great lesson in teamwork and perseverance.

I could go on (and I might), but these were a few that were a big hit in our family... Which ones would you add to this list?
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