During this record heat wave, the best way to spend a summer afternoon may not be sizzling at the pool but escaping into an air conditioned movie theater. Unfortunately, to buy tickets and snacks for the whole family to enjoy a show at the multiplex requires taking out a small loan. Disney and Pixar aren’t the only games in town though. Consider going “old school” and exposing your kids to classic films that rely more on storytelling than the latest 3D cartoon characters or CG graphics. They may be surprised to learn that movies that don’t involve explosions, snarky humor or require special glasses can still have a “wow” factor.
Most kids have seen The Wizard of Oz,It’s a Wonderful Life and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Here’s a few recommendations for middle schoolers and up for other flicks that aren’t necessarily “kids movies” but are still entertaining and have the potential to lead to some interesting post-viewing discussions. (Hint: Don’t include that last tidbit when selling these titles to the kids.)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, 1967
Set in the 1960’s, this film tells the story of two families dealing with the issue of race relations when the subject is personal, rather than just an abstract concept. For kids who have friends of all colors, and have never thought anything about it, this film is an eye-opening experience for just how recently society has accepted relationships among different races.
To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962
What makes this timeless story about class differences and prejudice so powerful is that it’s told from the viewpoint of a child, Scout. She learns that despite our best intentions, justice isn’t always served and people aren’t always what they seem to be – as in real life.
Breaking Away, 1979
Who can’t relate to feeling lost, disillusioned or not fitting in at some point in their lives? Filmed in Bloomington, this classic coming of age movie should be mandatory viewing for anyone calling themselves a Hoosier.
Brian’s Song, 1971
Considered one of the best sports movies of all time, this true story of the friendship between Chicago Bears football players Brian Piccolo and Gayle Sayers illustrates what true character is in the face of adversity andwhat real friendship looks like – not bad themes for today’s kids to think about.
So, next time the kids clamor to see the latest blockbuster, pick an older flick and skip the theater. No overpriced popcorn, no one kicking the back of your chair and no one “shushing” your thoughtful commentary during the show. Try a classic film fest at home and see what kind of reviews you get.