Five Kid Friendly Sports Movies

Here’s a short but sweet list of some sports flicks that I’ve seen with my nine year old that are both entertaining for the two of us while also providing a boat-load of positive messaging around hard-work, commitment, team work and all around good sportsmanship. I know there are a ton others out there but here are the five that we’ve seen most recently. If you’ve got any suggestions to add to the list, please submit.

 

Rudy – just saw this again for maybe the 5th time with my son. Despite a few cuss words here and there – it’s a straight-out true story no-brainer for a young kid.  I still get a bit teary-eyed at the end when they carry the young Samwise Gamgee off the field – which is BTW, the last time anyone has ever been carried off the field at Notre Dame.

Express – great entry point for the discussion of racism. The true story of Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Nice historical view of early ’60s college ball.  and the determination it took for Davis to withstand the hostility, threats and ignorance that ruled the day. Dennis Quaid does a pretty good job as Coach Ben Schwartzwalder of Syracuse University who recruited Davis amid a lot of resistance from his peers and associates.

 

Hoosiers – love, love, love this movie. Always been a big Gene Hackman fan and Barbara Hershey is down-home beautiful in this movie (which is nice to see given her recent performance in Black Swan!). Totally inspiring story of the underdog triumphing through sheer will and determination. Great period piece capturing the spirit of 1950’s era mid-west basketball.

Blind Side – given Sandra Bullock’s Academy Award most everyone has heard of or seen this picture, which is based on Michael Lewis’ book about the true story of Michael Oher, who was a poor, over-sized and under-educated teenager, taken in by a upper middle class family and is supported, encouraged and academically and physically trained to play college-level football and eventually becomes the first-round pick for the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft. Another A+ sports movie with strong messaging.

Miracle – Kurt Russell takes on the role of Herb Brooks, the coach for the 1980 US Olympic hockey team that went on and per the namesake of the movie, seemingly miraculously beat the unbeatable Russian team for the gold. Tons of great hockey action and pretty good capture of Coach Brooks’ highly unconventional, intense but effective training style and methods.

 

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Kid Friendly Black and White Movies

I’ve written previously about the ever-increasing extremes movies are reaching to blow the audience out of their seats – with the nearly ubiquitous recent appearence of 3D, IMAX screenings and mind-blowing CGI animation.

There’s nothing inherently bad about how Hollywood is bringing more to the movie experience except there’s a risk that our children’s threshold for entertainment will be so amped-up they’ll not be able to appreciate less nuclear-powered eye candy. Ultimately the story has to reign supreme.

That was the big ding on Avatar. Despite the off-the-chart never seen before animation and visual experience – the story itself was nothing but a rehash of Pocahontas – which is a really good story in and of itself.

And there are a lot of amazing unforgettable stories collecting dust in the Classics section of Blockbuster (or virtual dust in the catalogs on NetFlix) that deserve to be watched. So what better way to emphasize the importance of really really good story telling than to see them unfold in glorious black and white. No Dolby or THX. No HD. No spine tingling eye-searing computer generated animation… just simple classic stories told in a simple voice and style. 

Here’s a list of ten classics good for any kid over six or seven. We’ve only been through two of them (Casablanca and Pride of the Yankees – which my eight year old loved – partly because it’s about baseball/Lou Gehrig) but I’m committed to getting through them as part of my son’s education.

Safety Last – 1923 w/ Harold Lloyd
Mr. Deeds goes to Town – 1936 w/ Gary Cooper
You Can’t Take it With You – 1938 w/ James Stewart
Boys Town – 1938 w/ Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – 1939 w/ James Stewart
The Pride of the Yankees – 1942 w/ Gary Cooper
Casablanca – 1942 w/ Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
Bells of St. Marys – 1945 w/ Bing Crosby
Christmas in Connecticut – 1945 w/ Barbara Stanwyck
It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946 w/ James Stewart

Fantastic Flix for Kids

Been meaning to write a post on Fantastic Mr. Fox – Wes Anderson’s marvelous screen version of the classic children’s book of the same name by Roald Dahl. Although it’s been out for about eight months (Nov 2009), we recently saw it and instantly fell in love. Both my children, one eight the other four, were mesmerized by the colors, characters and overall visual approach – and the storyline kept myself and my wife glued to the screen – which is rare when watching a kids’ flick. It helps greatly when the voice talent includes George Clooney (as Mr. Fox), Meryl Streep,long-time collaborators Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman.  

In the age of CGI-based animated spectacles on IMAX screens in mind-blowing 3D – it was a very nice change of pace to see a movie using stop motion to tell the story. It feels so different and precious (in a good way) – considering the amount of effort and painstaking detail necessary to bring the dolls used in the movie to life. And if you’re familiar with Mr. Anderson’s work – Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – then you’ll immediately notice the director’s highly recognizable and unique style in this movie.

The other remarkable aspect of the picture is the eclectic and surprising soundtrack with songs ranging from The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, The Bobby Fuller Four, Burl Ives and magical original music by Alexandre Desplat – the French film composer who has scored over 100 films including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Julie and Julia, Syriana, The Golden Compass – to name just a few.

We rented it once but then went out and bought it as this movie will be (and has been) watched many times over. If you’ve got kids of any age – I suggest you do the same.

Iron Man 2 Trailer

Surprise, surprise. Mickey’s back: