As a rebuttal to the idea that adults can learn things from kids’ movies, I offer a few new grown-up movies (not to be confused with adult films) that contain valuable lessons for the children.
1. The Campaign
Children should know how the political field works in their country. This… well they’re calling it a satire… is so true to life that after 2 hours, your kid could probably pass the AP US Government Test (probably not with a 5, but not everyone has Jeremy Adams and The West Wing to teach them; some people just have Will Ferrell). With the amount of immaturity, ignorance, stupidity, and total and utter wrongness exhibited by these Southern candidates, coupled with the sheer number of people who are senselessly offended by it, I have seen few truer political films. I honestly don’t think that any more accurate political films even exist. Actually, you know what? This isn’t a comedy. It’s a docudrama with A-list actors. You want a political comedy? Ides of March.
In these highly-charged political atmospheres especially, it is important to posit possible theories that will give equal opportunities to creationism theorists as well as smart people, in the interest of fairness (also known as “affirmative action” but don’t tell them that). For instance, it is always possible that we came from a race of marble-skinned Dr. Manhattans who create life ad infinitum until one creation eventually goes wrong and destroys them. Makes perfect sense, right? It explains evolution (not really) while also leaving room for a creator. After all, and as mentioned in the film, how do we know who created them, “the Engineers?” It must be God. Or maybe some race of golden Iron Men. Who knows? It’s open to interpretation! Just like the science of biology!
Runner Up: Dark Shadows. Because Johnny Depp mentions Chloe Moretz’s “womb” at one point. Besides, kids can learn a lot about their bodies from vampires, witches, ghosts, and werewolves. And Alice Cooper. Like the fact that they can never, ever be immortal, no matter how hard they try.
And I’d just like to say that I expected this film to be relatively lame, and ended up loving it. You may get frustrated with him for being creepy all the time, but Johnny Depp is damn good at what he does.
3, 4 & 5. Jack the Giant Killer, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Snow White and the Huntsman
Show these films to your children so they may learn how to take one or two relatively weak, but still beloved storybook characters and end up with thousands upon thousands of casualties. The little boy whose failed business model of trading a cow for beans suddenly becomes an epic butcher; the two future diabetics who couldn’t keep their grubby paws off other people’s property become a two-person Salem; and the girl who takes apples from crones, the traditional version of candy from strangers, decides to grow a pair herself – but not a pair of apples (Ba-dum-chh!). Are these good messages to send the children? No worse than telling them it is “improper” for 1 to be on top.
6. The Great Gatsby
They’re going to have to read it anyway. (Even though, in my beloved Fitzgerald’s defence, This Side of Paradise is a far better piece of literature, all things considered.) And this way, they know to expect the ridiculousness of some vapid bimbo weeping on a bed and screaming “THEY’RE SUCH BEAUTIFUL SHIRTS!” – a courtesy I was never afforded.
8. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Speaking of well-known figures who never used to be known as violent, ass-kicking white ninjas before but are now, Abraham Lincoln gets a bold new makeover that’s even better than the fantasy built around his historical legacy. And by “better,” I mean “far more imaginative.” Instead of “Great Emancipator” he is now a “vampire hunter” (because “slayer” would have sounded ridiculous). Older children will benefit from seeing snippets of real speeches and historical events like various monuments’ construction, while younger children will be indoctrinated with the proper fear of Abraham Lincoln that we all should have enjoyed. The violence can be explained the same way you do with video games: it’s not real.
Then you roll the dice and hope your kid doesn’t become a serial killer.
9. Les Miserables
Children need to be taught the price of theft. A functioning economy can only be so called if everyone contributes and enjoys their fair share, when no one individual or group possesses any more bread than another without having earned it fairly… Oh, wait, never mind. That’s apparently called “socialism” now. Whereas when I grew up, it was just called “common decency.”
Also, I guess the huge dose of French history couldn’t hurt their little brains… Unless you’re one of those people that hates the French for no good reason.
U.S. History: (because you obviously failed the first time)
11. Django Unchained
Kids will have to be warned of potentially disturbing rape scenes, but other than that, this movie offers charming insight into the plight of the slaves who worked for Southern plantations in pre-Civil War America (and Leo in period dress). Many of them did get free, and would try to return for their families. Most of them were unsuccessful, due to the abundance of bounty hunters and racists in general who would report them. Those that were not, like those led by Harriet Tubman, were quite brave, formidable figures upon whom the annals of history smile. But primarily, I believe that Tarantino should be an integral and quintessential part of any well-adjusted childhood.
12. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This is the only time I’m not joking. Take your kids to see this movie, and the documentary about bullying, and all other things that seem overly serious and kind of pretentious. There’s a reason people describe them that way, and that reason is because they are true and alarming things that are actually occurring, but because no one brought attention to it a million years ago, we’re pretending it’s not a real thing and psychologists just invented it to make money. Bullying is a problem; peer pressure is a problem; a lack of sexual education in classrooms is a problem; sexual repression is a problem (that can lead to self abuse if a person think there’s something wrong with them); simply having a low self image is a problem. Because no one should. Watching films like this educates people, and education makes everything better (FACT). And also, Emma Watson with an American accent will be worth the cost of admission.
13. Killer Joe
Ok, the whole point of school is to teach children the things they will need to know in order to function in life. Well, I can think of nothing more appropriate. Some of them may need to know this stuff! See, this guy’s debt is getting crazy and he knows he will inherit his mother’s money and life insurance when she dies. So what does he do? He goes about coming up with ways to kill her and collect it, like any normal/rational person would. Talk about your valuable life lessons!
14. The Dictator
It’s important for children to understand that people who rule Middle Eastern-sounding countries are insane, trigger happy, cruel, racist, ignorant, rich, and stupid. This way, they too will grow up believing in the God-given ultimate sovereignty, righteousness, and moral infallibility of the United States Armed Forces. See Battleship for further details. And for Rihanna’s attempt at acting. There’s also this bit at the end wherein some very interesting connections between modern-day America and the average dictatorial regime are made; it’s an awkward moment of simultaneously hilarious and alarming truth.
15. The Amazing Spider-Man
I would have put this in with Biology, (or made you re-take biology since you failed pretty hard the first time, but you’re already re-taking US History) but the physics are far more disturbing. Not only is he part-spider, but his webs can do things no spider’s can. For instance, a single strand of the stuff that comes out of his wrists can hold up extremely heavy things; spider silk can hold spiders. He can climb up the side of the building – while carrying another human; spiders generally only take responsibility for number one.
Also, the technology, I guess.
There you go, so many movies from 2012 that can (and should!) be enjoyed by the whole family. Who says the modern media have nothing to offer our children?
To them, I say: The Hunger Games.
– THE DUEL CITIZEN