Movies for Unschoolers

These were in response to this request, in November 2015:

Name a movie (not THE movie, but ONE single movie) that you would recommend to every unschooling family to watch, that you think they would watch more than once.

Thank you, Sylvia Woodman, for collecting and arranging.

Auntie Mame
Avatar: The Last Airbender (TV show not the movie)
Back to the Future
Big Hero 6
The Croods
Curious George
Dead Poet's Society
Dinosaur Train (PBS TV Series)
Dolphin Tale
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Fly Away Home
How to Train Your Dragon
Howl's Moving Castle
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney version)
Inside Out
Karate Kid
Kiki's Delivery Service
The Last Unicorn
The Lego Movie
Little Miss Sunshine.
Mary Poppins
My family and other Animals
Mr Peabody and Sherman
Nanny McPhee
My Neighbor Totoro
The Neverending Story
October Sky
Pippi Longstocking
Princess Bride
School of Rock
The Secret of Kells
Secret of Roan Inish
Shark Boy and Lava Girl
Song of the Seas
The Sound of Music
Spirited Away
Stand By Me
Star Wars
Strictly Ballroom
Swiss Family Robinson
That thing you do
The Truman Show
The Way, Way Back
Wild Thornberrys
You Can't Take It with You (1938)

The list above was from a discussion in 2015.
Below, collected in 2010 in a different kind of discussion.
The best movies ever might come out next year, so the lists will never be "complete."
Christmas Story
The Cure
My Girl
Stand By Me
Bridge to Terabithia
Little Vampires
between older kids
The Breakfast Club
American Grafitti
Mean Girls
10 Things I Hate About You
Tuck Everlasting
between children and adults
Whale Rider
Searching for Bobby Fischer
About a Boy
Into the Wild
Fly Away Home
Dead Poet's Society
The Water Horse (a father who died)
Billy Elliot
The Spiderwicke Chronicles
Sydney White
The Parent Trap
Freaky Friday
Paper Moon
Mighty Ducks
Karate Kid (all three)
Adventures in Babysitting
Mary Poppins
The Addams Family
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Hope and Glory
The Sound of Music
Where the Heart Is
Mrs. Doubtfire
The Rogue Stallion
Split Infinity
Cinema Paradiso
Fruits Basket
Hikaru No Go
Spirited Away
My Neighbor Totoro
Little Miss Sunshine

Dan Filbin, 2017:

Just adding to the list of Movies for Unschoolers in Sandra's Big Book:

Cheers! The list in the book is:
I didn't see it on your list so I wanted to suggest "Little Miss Sunshine." It is one of our *favorite* movies as a family. The description to me should read "A beautiful love story of a dysfunctional family." The end has me sobbing and laughing hysterically all at the same time. I cannot recommend this movie enough.

Wendy S. in GA

Meadow Linden (meadowblue...) recommends:
Lionheart - a documentary about a 17 year old Australian who sailed around the world by himself (the youngest ever). He was not a homeschooler but makes a great case for unschooling.

Accepted - this is a mainstream, Hollywood movie about a young man who starts his own unschooly college. I was practically cheering at the end of this movie!

A Family Undertaking - a documentary about the home funeral movement...just another group of people doing things in a real and natural way. If you're squeamish about looking at dead bodies, you may not want to watch it but we thought it was done in a very respectful and beautiful way.

[email protected] wrote:
One movie that I associate with unschooling, because it is about thinking outside the box, and living life passionately (but it is NOT for little kids...) is Pleasantville.

Toby McGuire and Reese Witherspoon both star, and it may be the first big movie for both of them. It also has Jeff Daniels from "Dumb and Dumber" and "Fly Away Home"

Fly Away Home is VERY unschooly. The one about the flock of geese that bonds to a high school girl and she has to lead them through the air to a wintering spot...that's a good one for depicting a life of passion and interest.

But to tell you the truth, movies are just Highly Graphic Storytelling 🙂 and the little brains inside their little skulls are clicking away making connections that we can't imagine...and so, like everything else, movies ARE unschooly. Just like chopping firewood, baking bread, drawing symmetrical designs, counting change, swimming, reading Nate the Great, and grocery shopping are. 🙂

Yes, yes, yes! Loved this whole post. It is imo all about the Power of Story.

Pleasantville is one of our family favorites for just these unschool-y reasons. Then we discovered Strictly Ballroom last week and had great fun relating its themes back to Pleasantville, Dirty Dancing, and Footloose. We decided the Preacher in Footloose, the Mayor in Pleasantville, and the toupeed Dance Association head in Strictly Ballroom (Barry I think) all were the same character, embodying the repressive forces of convention, keeping the populace in line so people can't grow beyond the bounds those leaders represent and believe are necessary.

As an academic thinker, what I like about the heroes in each of these movies is that they beat the controller-standardizers at their own game. In other words, they aren't brought up as rebels or indoctrinated to rebel. They don't set out to be rebels at all, and they don't come to it by default because they aren't able enough to excel within the rules. Instead they come to it gradually and reluctantly, for their own reasons. It is a personal journey with meaning only to that young person who tries first of all to fit in rather than to rebel.

The Strictly Ballroom dancer was the best at all the conventional steps, and then he needed even more, to grow beyond their limits. Tobey Maguire knew and loved everything about the old black-and-white tv world—he didn't want to rebel, but eventually it happened in spite of his desire to fit in, just because its limits couldn't hold him forever.

The preacher's daughter in Footloose who just wants to rebel and run away has a horrible time of it until she's inspired to understand her own feelings and her father's feelings as well. Same with the Dirty Dancing daughter, who is such a good girl in every way, until she meets the rebel dance teacher and her generous heart grows even more, finally breaking through beyond societal limitations. All the successful hero characters first steep themselves in the rules and boundaries and learn to understand them, thereby also learning about and eventually exceeding their own limitations through experience. These are acts of personal growth and discovery, not social rebellion.

That's how we see unschooling. That's the Power of Our Story.

Not trying to rebel or decide anything for anyone else, or reform the public schools or take over homeschooling. We are simply being true to our own family's journey of personal growth and discovery. We do this just like in the movies, by first knowing more than most people about what those boundaries are and how to live within them and what is possible beyond them. And sometimes, it just happens to have revolutionary import of which we never dreamed! :)


Movies for CHEERING UP! Recommended by Paula/sjogy 1/18/02:

Monty Python
Wallace & Grommet (animation)
Muppet Treasure Island
The Princess Bride
Born Yesterday
Raising Arizona
O Brother Where Art Thou
Galaxy Quest (highly recommended!)
Meet the Parents

Dana recommends:

Billy Murray in "The man who knew too little"
Steve Martin's "The Jerk"
guaranteed to lift your spirits :)

Good for awakening ideas about learning:

Mary Poppins
The Sound of Music
Ferris Beuller's Day Off (too rough for some little kids)
Heidi (Shirley Temple)

Just plain rich with images, characters, history, ideas, STUFF:

El Cid
Ben Hur
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Star Wars (all)
Karate Kid (all three in marathon was cool once!)
Hamlet (I like the one with Mel Gibson)
Romeo and Juliet (I like the one by from Zeffirelli from 1968)
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Music Man
The Last Starfighter
Last Action Hero
The Patriot

I think those would be easy to see the wealth in. When you get better at it, more comfortable with what your child likes, knows, and wants to know, you could find lots of value in just about any movie. We had plenty to talk about the other day with The Little Princess, with Shirley Temple. We talked LOTS about characterization and motivation and plot detail after the first Ninja Turtle Movie, when the boys were little. They have learned to milk a movie for all it's worth, and I helped. Marty came in halfway through Joe vs. the Volcano (which I bought at the fleamarket after someone quoted it here, or at, and though I offered to rewind it, he was happy to just pick up where it was and fall into it.

How NOT to watch movies:

Don't be cynical and critical and dismissive. Find the good acting, the good sets, the good props. Don't say "OH BROTHER." If there's a movie you really don't like, don't watch it with your kids. For me, that is Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, which I think is atrocious. I walked out of it in the theatre. It was on TV the other night, and I watched some I had missed that first night, and TRIED to watch it to the end, but the script and the acting and the whole concept just irritated me beyond bearing, and I turned it off. If someone else had been watching too and been interested, I would have just left the room instead and let them watch in peace.

I've brought this "film review" from my page on negativity

It's from The Onion, a parody/humor site. Language Warning!—This isn't to share with kids, but is a communique for cynical, negative parents.

If you go to that page, there's also a comment from a longtime unschooler saying she used to be that way, and assuring the readers that it's better not to be. Here's a direct link to that.

I can't make a long list—I'll have to just add them as they come

Fiddler on the Roof
All Mel Brooks movies - especially The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and The Twelve Chairs
Muppet Treasure Island
Muppet Christmas Carol
Time Bandits
Wallace and Gromit cartoons - and Chicken Run
Into the West
The Secret of Roan Inish

paula, in a family of movie lovers

So, I am adding our favorite movie videos to this list.

* The King and I
* The Sound of Music
* Kiki's Delivery Service
* My Neighbor Totoro
* The Indian in the Cupboard
* Wild America
* The Ten Commandments


The Truman Show (soundtrack too)

Songcatcher (also own the "soundtrack" even though it isn't really from the movie, but inspired by it)

I don't think anyone mentioned The Princess Bride

Defending Your Life

The Fifth Element

Ditto on Time Bandits and The Secret of Roan Inish.

Jocelyn Vilter

Anne Mills posted this on Facebook in May 2010:

MUSIC & LYRICS avec Hugh Grant (pour ado mais ca peut etre bien) très drôle le début et quand Hugh est sur chante en concert...

MAMA MIA avec Merryl Streep - pure merveille musicale

Sister Act

Men in Black
The Blues Brothers
The Commitments
Dirty Dancing
Pretty Woman
Nacho Libre avec Jack Black SO SO FUNNY

Joyce Fetteroll has collected other people's movie recommendations too, and those lists are here

Thoughts about repeated viewings: Again! Again!

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