I don’t know about you but finding movies that work with me as a parent instead of against me became an even bigger chore when my children passed the age of 7. It’s like the available entertainment went from primary to high school in the blink of an eye. Now on my third child entering the no man’s land that is known as “tweenagedom”, (as in “in between” World’s), I have amassed a library that I consider a parenting partner instead of an enemy of state. Below is a list of my top 10 favorite live action movies that fall under my parenting partner category of “brownies with wheat germ”. They are entertaining, but they are also fortified with good life lessons that will nourish your child’s soul. (In my humble opinion.)
Zathura is a boy centered journey that any child with a sibling can appreciate. It has a good kick to it thanks to the space tie in, but the emotional conflict is very earthly. I don’t think it is a coincidence that three of the movies on my list star the young actor Josh Hutcherson. He does a masterful job of communicating the ever confusing emotions of a maturing child with subtlety and respect. He is a regular kid on screen which makes it easy for you to crawl inside his experience and learn through him and with him.
Game Plan PG
I do hate that the unifying factor of most Disney stories is dead mommies. It is once again proven true with Game Plan. But if you can get passed the extermination of mother’s issue you will find Game Plan to be a great story about love, acceptance of responsibility and the role each of us has to play, child and adult, it making our family a unit. I hope that Dwayne Johnson doesn’t stop making family movies because he is rock solid at the job. He is funny, endearing, gracefully ackward, but always dynamic in the end. He is not afraid to let the audience in as an actor. You can see it in his eyes. And that is very important in a family movie. We have to believe he believes in the lesson of the story otherwise we won’t take it to heart. He achieves that with all of his movies, even when the scripts are iffy. Luckily the story of Game Plan is a inviting as his performance.
Nanny McPhee PG
Continuing with the theme of dead mother’s. (I know, I know, but it’s hard to get around it.) Nanny McPhee is the kind of Nanny any household would benefit from mother or not. I know I have called out her name a few times since first seeing the movie. I’m still waiting for her to arrive. But while I wait the lessons of this excellent film are here for the absorbing.
The Pacifier PG
Nanny McPhee isn’t the only babysitter in town. He may not have McPhee’s cane, but Vin Diesel in the Pacifier does walk softly and carry “big guns”. (That’s slang for muscles. My children taught me that.) The Pacifier is an action adventure event and a family drama wrapped in one. And this time it’s the daddy who is dead! (Well, at least it’s a change.) The gaggle of children in this movie offers a variety of scenarios and life lessons to meet more of your families’ needs. Now all that’s missing is the sequel!
When you have Laurence Fishburn and Angela Bassett in a movie you can’t possibly go wrong. But add to that the intelligent performance of the very young Keke Palmer and you definitely spell success. Akilah and the Bee opens our eyes to World’s we may not be familiar with and in doing so breeds tolerance, acceptance and hopefully future inclusion.
I always say that parenting takes a team, but these movies are about parenting a full team of children. It’s a great examination of parent child relationships, sibling relationships, married relationships, pet and owner relationships… You get the picture, it’s wide reaching. And unlike many sequel situations the follow up to the first is a movie that stands on it’s own two ( or twelve) feet, it doesn’t have to perch on the shoulders of it’s predecesor. Isn;t that what we hope for our children too, that they will stand tall all by themselves. It’s nice when things work out like that.
Secrets, royalty, transormations and Julie Andrews to boot. Yes, that’s a recipe for a pleasurable movie experience. That’s exactly what The Princess Diaries is. And even though it is rated G it is not light on storyline engagement. It is just a good old fashioned dish of family enjoyment.
August Rush PG
This movie requires a few tissues. Maybe it’s the music, it could certainly be the acting, whatever it is this movie is aptly named because it is definitely a rush. The issues in this movie remain visually PG but the content pushes the limit a bit. So be mindful it may require some extra conversations. But hey, that’s the idea right. We want these parenting partner movies to be the beginning of lessons, not the end.
Here’s another two hanky film. Though a great deal of the movie relies on a fantasy World that the two main characters create through their friendship to keep life afloat, reality brings them and the viewer smack down to the ground. The lesson of life and this movie, is not just how to stand tall, but what to do when we fall. Because every path has a few rocks that will trip us up along the way.
Last but not last is my favorite coming of age film, Little Manhattan. Once again it stars Josh Hutcherson. (His third in my list for those of you keeping score.) This movie is about love. Yes, love between parents. (Or faded love as the case may be.) But the real story is about that very first love and the mixed bag of emotions that invariably comes along with it. You will laugh, you will cringe, you will sniffle and you will smile. Yup, mixed bag of emotions.
What’s on your list?
Miss Lori can be found Musing from her Minivan at MissLori.TV, Wearetherealdeal.com, YoungChicagonista, and TheChicagoMoms.com. You can also see her Activating to Be Great at Miss Lori’s CAMPUS on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, TOUT and LinkedIn.