Wednesday 29 April 2020

20 Educational (and Great) Films for Teens to Watch during Lockdown

20 movies header

Lockdown is lasting us a fair while and I think it is safe to say that life will not go back to normal for many months yet, so I think we'll still be having our kids home with us for long periods of time to come. If your tweens and teens are anything like mine they are happily watching a lot of TV, with box sets being high up on their hit list.

I don't mind the kids watching TV at all, but it is nice to sometimes direct their attention towards something that is educational as well as being really enjoyable to watch. Here I have collated together a list of films that I have loved over the years and all of them have great lessons to teach - whether they are about life lessons, morals or maybe just giving an insight to our history.

These all offer guilt-free screen time and (I feel) could count towards their education -

Rating PG

1.   Dead Poets Society (1989)
Run Time:  140 Minutes
Themes:  Live life to the full, challenge the norm

When an inspirational and unorthodox teacher joins the staff of the elite all-male prep school, Welton Academy the students are inspired to be different and to break away from the norm. It's amazing to see the young men realise that can break from tradition and make their own choices. Rebellion isn't always a bad thing, especially not when it allows you to seize the day!

2.   Soul Surfer (2011)
Run Time: 106 Minutes
Themes:  Perseverance, overcoming adversity, hard work

The true story of Bethany Hamilton, who was a champion teenage surfer, when a shark attack took her arm. Her faith and the support of her friends and family help her to surf again and go on to be a professional surfer.

3.   Grace Unplugged (2013) 
Run Time:  118 Minutes
Themes: Faith, love, self-worth

Grace is an amazing singer who feels penned in and restricted in her regular life, so she reaches out to a music agent and gets her big break. What happens next tests her faith and the foundations her life has been built upon.

4.   Facing the Giants (2006)
Run Time:  112 Minutes
Themes:  Faith, hope, perseverance, teamwork, having a good attitude

It looks as if life is falling apart for Coach Taylor, both at work and personally, but he isn't willing to give up. Bringing a new philosophy to his American football team means the youths all improve their attitude and this starts to have amazing effects in all sorts of places.

Rating 12A

5.   Pay It Forward (2000)
Run Time:  123 minutes
Themes: Kindness, thinking of others

This is probably my favourite film ever, it starts a little slow, but warms up and ends up being a tear-jerker with all sorts os storylines weaving together. 14-year-old Trevor is inspired by a school assignment that instead of repaying a favour, he will pay ii forward to 3 other people and then encourages the recipients to do the same, and this the "pay it forward" movement is born.

6.   The Blindside (2009)
Run Time:  129 minutes
Themes:  Compassion, Empathy, Give people a chance, family comes in all forms

Based on a true story, this is part sports movie and part inspirational and loving family insight. Both lead characters give amazing performances. A homeless and traumatised black boy becomes a successful All American football player thanks to the belief, support and love of a wealthy white woman and her family. This one makes me cry every time!

7.   The Family Man (2000)
Run Time:  126 minutes
Themes: Money doesn't buy you love or happiness, appreciate what you have, contentment

An interesting glimpse at the life that could have been for high-flying and lucrative investment banker Nicolas Cage if he had decided to stay with his girlfriend 13 years ago instead of aggressively pursuing his career.

8.   The Help (2011)
Run Time:  147 Minutes
Themes:  Racism, oppression, friendship

Set in 1863 in Jackon, Mississipi this is a tale of a young white woman who doesn't like the racism she sees from these around her so she decides to write the stories of the African-American maids who work for the wealthy white families. It is a lovely story of friendship and challenging injustice.

9.   Click  (2006)
Run Time: 107 minutes
Themes:  Appreciation, savour the everyday moments

Adam Sandler is excellent in this comedy-drama, he is a workaholic who doesn't make time for his family. He receives a magical remote control that allows him to stop, rewind and pause his life. Of course, this seems like a fabulous tool at first, but he soon realises just maybe he is missing out on the simple and special moments of everyday life.

10.   The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Run Time: 117 minutes
Themes:  Determination, reach for your dreams, a fathers love

Will Smith plays a good-natured father who is a bit hapless. He spends his live savings on an invention and ends up losing his wife and his home because of it. Throughout his time as a homeless father, he looks after his son well and strives to make a better life for them both, working immensely hard and not letting anyone dull his enthusiasm for the future dream.

11.   The Bucket List (2007)
Run Time:   97 Minutes
Themes: Appreciate life, grab every chance, friendship

The touching tale of two men who are terminally ill with lung cancer. Through their treatments, they befriend each other and decide to embark on a trip of a lifetime to fulfil their bucket lists over a period of 6 months.

12.   Coach Carter (2005)
Run Time:  136 Minutes
Themes:  The importance of good values and hard work

Coach Carter agrees to coach his old basketball team in a poor neighbourhood of Richmond, California. He quickly recognises many problems and sets about putting in place a contract with the players to ensure they are making their academic grades and acting respectfully. When then start to get big-headed and stop upholding their part of the contracts Coach Carter benches the team and makes himself unpopular, but his tough-love methods prevail.

13.   Hidden Figures (2016)
Run Time:  127 Minutes
Themes:  Equality, Discrimination, Feminism, Racism

A truly inspirational film based on true events. Back in the 1960s when NASA was racing against Russia to put a man on the moon, they found they had genius untapped talent in the form of three African-American women mathematicians. They quickly rose through the ranks breaking all previous norms and became known as "human-Computers".

14.   The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
Run Time:  124 Minutes
Themes:  WWII, friendship

Correspondence between a London-based author Juliet and Dawsey and other residents of Guernsey, leaves Juliet wanting to know more about the German occupation of the British Channel Island. So a year after the war ends Juliet heads over to Guernsey to meet the members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the film continues with her making life-long friends and making life-changing decisions.

Rating - 15

15.   Made in Dagenham (2010)
Run time: 113 minutes
Themes:  Equality, fight for what you believe in, the underdog can win

Set in 1968 Made in Dagenham gives an insight into the sewing machinists strike at the Ford plant in Dagenham. The women striking caused quite a lot of controversy across the world with their claims of sexual discrimination and paved the way for the 1970 Equal Pay Act.

16.   Nappily Ever After (2018)
Run Time:  98 Minutes
Themes:  Self-acceptance, beauty is on the inside

An easy-to-watch film about a successful female advertising executive who has been fed the message all her life that looks are important and it is more important to be aesthetically perfect than it is to be real. Watch as this unravels and we see the real love story emerge.

17.   The Breakfast Club (1985)
Run Time:  97 minutes
Themes: Stop judging each other, respect each other, stop the facade

This is such an iconic film about a group of High School students who have to undergo a Saturday morning detention, where they must write an essay on "who you think you are". They all come from different walks of life and think they have nothing in common, but time can prove otherwise.

18.   Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Run Time:  142 minutes
Themes:  Hope, positivity in adversity

Tim Robbins is convicted of a double murder back in 1946 and receives a life sentence to be served at the Shawshank State Prison in Maine. He protests his innocence and this leads him to have hope for the future. Using his intelligence and past experience as a banker, he befriends guards and prisoners alike, as well as making the prison library a much better place through his determination.

19.   The Karate Kid (the original one - 1984)
Run Time:  126 Minutes
Themes: Self-belief, Hard work, Perseverance, Self-discipline

I personally love the original version of this movie the best. Daniel and his mother move to California for this mums work, but it soon becomes apparent that Daniel doesn't fit in with the surfer crowd and Daniel is bullied. After the landlord Mr Miyagi saves Daniel by outfighting a crowd of young boys, he teaches Daniel the discipline of karate so he can defend himself.

20.   Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Run Time: 123 Minutes
Themes: Overcoming adversity, perseverance, love

Jamal Malik is an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, and when he gets into the Indian version of "Who wants to be a millionaire" no-one expects him to do well. How can he be one question away from winning 20 million rupees? Watch as the film unveils how he has gained all the knowledge to be in this hot seat.

I hope you like my film picks. Please do leave other suggestions in the comments for me. I have had the most enjoyable few days rewatching many of these films and I'd love to see a few more that will inspire and move me. Mich x

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