When my son was in middle school, I remember becoming irate at this time of year as spring term came to an end. Hed come home telling me how they watched a movie in science class, and Id assume it was an episode of Nova, or something from the Discovery Channel but no. Aladdin, hed tell me.
There are plenty of popular movies out there that can be used as teaching tools. I dont know if Id count Aladdin as one of them. But as our kids grew up, we had a list of required films we had them watch with us, just to make sure we got our values across to them in a way that we thought might be much more emotionally effective than a parental lecture:
Sid and Nancy (1986) Get your tweens to watch this very unglamorous chronicle of drug addiction in late 1970s punk rock London and theyll think a lot more than twice about shooting up. Theyve all seen Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon in the newest Batman movies and as Harry Potters godfather Sirius Black; theyll be fascinated to see him as the weak and naive Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious as he soars and then crashes in a tangle of lethal codependency with his groupie girlfriend Nancy.
Schindlers List (1993) Kids still study The Diary of Anne Frank and other Holocaust-related works of literature, but Steven Spielberg illuminates so many economic, political and racial facets of World War II by allowing events to unfold around a central character whos neither Jewish nor German. The issues, which began as strictly business, matter less and less as Oskar Schindler becomes more engulfed in the human struggle.
Parenthood (1989) Are your teens getting serious romantically? Have the awkward frank conversation about the consequences of unplanned pregnancy, and then have them watch this thoroughly enjoyable Ron Howard flick with you. The ensemble cast includes Steve Martin, Jason Robards, Dianne Wiest, Rick Moranis, Mary Steenburgen, Keanu Reeves and a pre-teen Joaquin Phoenix, and will have you alternately howling and dabbing your eyes at the roller coaster ride that is having a family.
As patriarch Robards tells his son Steve Martin, Its not like that (parenting) all ends when youre 18, or 21 or 41 or 61 ... it never, never ends. ... There is no end zone; you never cross the goal line, spike the ball and do your touchdown dance. Never.
But if you can spend time doing things together even watching movies youll agree with the films doddering grandmother: What a ride.