Hooray For Hollywood!

Hooray for Hollywood! The score for three movies I watched with my family over the Holidays is a 10!!

Having the opportunity to catch up on a lot of movie going experiences was pure joy, especially when the offerings are of the quality I witnessed in The Blind Side, Invictus and Sherlock Holmes. Though we usually flock to the Cineplex for mindless paid entertainment, these three movies gave us more bang for our typically squandered-on-crap-movie buck.


Audience: Middle School

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual refrences.


Based on sport novelist Michel Lewis' book “The Blind Side”, the true story about how the Baltimore Raven's offensive lineman Michael Oher made it through the apparently insurmountable obstacles stacked against him,  the movie is a gem of a life changing story and an example of compassionate-person-turned-hero story. The film doesn't rely on sap to pull at our heart strings either. 

A homeless black kid is taken in and later adopted by the very wealthy and very white Touhy family, and the parents do this  in spite of having two children of their own, a pre-teen son and a teenage daughter about the same age as “Big Mike”,  without giving it a second thought or charity-work feel to their benevolent actions. I'm not going to retell the details of the movie, but Oher's tale of rags to athletic fame is a great film kids should watch with their parents because I think there are a few valuable lessons to discuss afterward.

First, compassion and grounding.  Our kids today enjoy so many spoils it's ridiculous. We parents self-indulge them for the smallest reasons, and then are disappointed when our offspring don't seem to grasp the impact becoming productive, compassionate members of society can have on others. This movie, if watched together and later discussed, can be an eye opener for those who have a life of privilege and lack the connection with the unequal reality others live.

The other reason to watch this film is to see a depiction of how hard work in school and athletics might affect your future college athlete. Not every kid is born with 'Big Mike's' attributes, but a few get to be in his same position should a college athletic scholarship be the goal. The real-life-to-movie depiction of what high school athletes go through is a good lesson about how much talent vs. drive is needed to make it in the big leagues – in this case the Big Ten. (Before watching this movie, I registered my aspiring golfer with the N.C.A.A., but had no idea how grueling and competitive this side of youth sports can be!)

The Blind Side is a splendid feel-good movie for  the Holidays!


Audience: Middle School

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for strong language


Invictus is the title of a Victorian poem by William Ernest Henley which Mandala would find refuge in while in jail, and serves as the title for this great movie. The film not only offers a very brief history lesson about apartheid and Nelson Mandala's (played by Morgan Freeman) journey to become President of his country after 27 seven years of incarceration, it also gives us a glimpse into the character of a leader  and the Rugby teams' captain (Matt Damon), a leader in the making. 

Leaving the movie's political view aside, the sports theme could be reduced to a micro situation where inspiration for young leaders can be found. There are good lessons in this story about how a national sport, the 1995 Rugby World Cup, united a country in the process of eliminating the barriers years of segregation had divided. But, more importantly the lessons about the charisma, responsibility and nerve it takes to be a leader can be applied to many situations including teens at the high school level who sometimes need inspiration or affirmation about why  there's a need for leaders – even at their age.  

Parents, though the movie does a good enough job of showing Mandala's situation before he became President,  you might have to explain the pre-existing situation of apartheid in South Africa so the kids can understand the hate that was behind the importance of the Springbok's win.


Audience: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material

Sherlock Holmes was pure delight for the senses. Action, scenery, costumes, adventure, and wit all in one extra-long movie left us wanting more – and the ending indicates there will be a sequel in the future.  This movie might be too violent for the little ones, but teens will enjoy the action sequences, London's gray and 'Goth' like sets, and the humorous exchanges between Watson (Jude Law) and Holmes (Robert Downy Jr.), although adapting the ear to both actors' heavy British accents may take a few minutes.

I hope 2010 will bring us more quality films for families who are always looking for activities to do with their older teens, and can enjoy together.


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