14 March 2012

Wisdom from Hollywood

I find myself quoting Yoda quite often these days.
“Fear and anger are the path to the dark side…”
Dash is a Star Wars nut and you'd be surprised how many deep conversations have occurred as a result. Obi Wan, Anakin and co have much to teach us - which is very useful when you're talking about life with your kid.

“Son, you need to let that go and forgive that person…”
“But mum it’s too hard.”
“Don’t you remember that fear and anger are the path to the dark side…?”
“Remember how Anakin was scared of losing Padme after he had those bad dreams…?  {nodding} …so he listened to Palpatine’s lies?”
“Oh yeah and when the sand people killed his mother he got really angry and killed them all, aye?”
“That was the start of it… and look what he lost! His family, his friends…”
“Yeah, he ended up really ugly with his face burnt off in the lava…”

Thanks Anakin. Your mistakes are a great signpost for my kid. He can relate.

{Pointless or pathetic kids movies we wish hadn't spent money on}

That’s what I love about movies.
They are rich with meaning and snippets of wisdom we can steal (as well as being a whole lot of fun).
Not all movies of course. Some are a complete waste of time and have no hidden meaning or deeper message at all (Open Season - why?)

But the best ones. There’s always a little kernel of deeper truth we can use in our parental lectures.

“I want one! I want one right now!”
“Er, what’s that Varuca Salt??”
“I’m not Varuca Salt!”
“Well you sound just like her. Sorry I thought for a minute that was Varuca talking…”

Varuca Salt is the nasty spoilt brat from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
Whether its the cheesy seventies flick or the slightly weird Johnny Depp version - Varuca has life lessons for all. 
“Stop being a Varuca!” is often heard quoted around our place.

Actually we can learn a lot from Willie Wonka’s whole gang.
Greedy Augustus Gloop who got his "just desserts"; Violet Beauregard who just wouldn’t listen. Mike TeeVee who thought he knew everything… Charlie Bucket who had nothing but stayed honest and gained everything… The Chocolate Factory is truly rich material!

There is plenty of wisdom to be found in kids movies, if you know where to look. Take the original Cars movie where Lightning McQueen learns about the value of friendship, fair play and what it takes to be a real winner.

Discussing this story with my ultra-competitive sports-mad son really made him stop and think.
Is winning at all costs worth it?
Does helping and caring for others actually make you feel like a winner even if you don’t get the trophy?
If you have to cheat to cross the line first, does that count as a win?
Thanks Lightning McQueen, you’re a winner in my book.

{Starring Taylor Lautner as SharkBoy in his pre-Vampire days}

Another one of my favourites is “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl.”
It’s a movie about having a dream, and discovering who you are.

“Everything that is or was began with a dream.” – Lava Girl
“So Dream a better Dream and then work to make it real…” –Max

There were some great conversations after watching that movie.

Alvin and the Chipmunks” looks like pure silliness at first glance. But even this movie can be quoted to kids who won’t go to bed and want to eat sweets til their teeth rot out of their heads! The movie shows that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! And people who care about you will give you limits, and make you go to bed at a reasonable hour, not feed you sweeties all day. You’ve got to love that.

In every culture there are stories, fables and parables which have been used to teach lessons about life, what’s true and what’s important.

In New Zealand we have Maori legends like Maui and the Sun (resourcefulness); Bible stories and parables like the Good Samaritan (kindness); Aesop’s Fables from Ancient Greece like the hare and the Tortoise (perseverance)… Stories are the way human beings have always passed on wisdom.

Movies are the parables and fables of our day. Movies speak our kids’ language.
They might not be able to relate so much to Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox (unless Pixar eventually makes a movie) but they can probably relate to Nemo and Simba. Gabriella and Troy. Lightning McQueen. Charlie Bucket. Anakin. Luke.

When we sit down for a family DVD night, I have my antennae up… is there a message I can use? Is there a story I can tuck away for some future heart-to-heart??

So, pop the popcorn, dim the lights... and discover the wealth of wisdom hidden in children’s entertainment.


What's your favourite "family movie"? Seen any good ones lately (or any duds?)

** This post is adapted from an article I wrote for Parenting Magazine last year 

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Laura said...

and of course

Barbs said...

We finally went to "Dolphin Tale" in the weekend. A wonderful story about hope, never giving up, looking outside the square and loving all God's creatures no matter what - Lots of warm fuzzies.

Meghan Maloney Photography said...

Home Alone - don't judge people by how they look...the old scary guy who comes to Kevin's rescue has been a good moral story for us...

Haven't seen Sharkboy and Lava Girl will have to have a look out for it...

And I agree Star Wars is full of great wisdom :-)

Stephanie @ Hugs, Kisses and Snot said...

We saw The Lorax last weekend. Thumbs up! Lots of life lessons...taking care of our earth, keeping promises, consequences for promises broken, standing up for yourself. The list goes on.

Simoney said...

Ooh, Stephanie, we are SOOO looking forward to seeing The Lorax!! xx

Catching the Magic said...

Fabulous post and, 'Star Wars' has totally been quoted countless times in our house - and Veronica from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I must get out to see Dolphin Tale soon.

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