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What are some good kid-friendly movies that emphasize virtues like reason, integrity, courage, honesty? Many or most of kids movies might touch on these, but tend to also go overboard with benevolence, toward altruism or self-sacrifice. And many bring in magic or some supernatural components. No movie may be perfect, or perfectly consistent, but I'd like to know what others have found, along with any qualifications (e.g. inconsistencies, shortcomings) that might need to go with them. Thanks in advance!

asked Dec 29 '10 at 17:25

QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

QEDbyBrett ♦

I think lots of movies celebrate virtues that Objectivism wishes to promote. Most American movies, even when the screenwriters etc are altruists, downplay altruism and emphasize courage, honesty, individuality, resourcefullness etc. In fact I think it is hard to find a popular movie that does not. There are not many that directly challenge altruism though. "The Incredibles" is often described as being clearly influenced by Objectivism.

(Dec 30 '10 at 05:50) Bruce Majors Bruce%20Majors's gravatar image

The original Sabrina (1954, I believe) is both wonderful and just about perfectly in accord with Objectivism.

Destry Rides Again (1939) features a pacifist made sheriff in a bad town, and has some fun with how annoyed people get when he strictly defends property rights. Plus, Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, and Brian Donlevy as the bad guy.

For pure, joyous sense of life, it's hard to top Singin' In The Rain.

(Dec 30 '10 at 14:21) deejf deejf's gravatar image

There are many wonderful movies (and books) that depict the virtues in action. Here's my list (and I'll keep editing as I think of more):

  • The Incredibles (mentioned above): the main theme is very pro-individual, that each person should use their talents to the fullest and be proud of what they can do
  • Star Wars Episodes IV-VI (also mentioned): what makes these movies classics is that they deal with classic themes such as good and evil, and fighting for what you believe to be right.
  • Harry Potter films: they aren't as great as the books, but they hold true to the main themes of the series, which are "fight evil" and "your character is determined by the choices you make."
  • The Iron Giant (written/directed by Brad Bird, who created The Incredibles): the theme of this movie is "You are who you choose to be." SPOILER: some people object to the Giant's "sacrifice" at the end of the movie, though I think he took a calculated risk (and indeed, survived).
  • A Bug's Life (another PIXAR film): a retelling of the old fable about the ant and the grasshopper, the themes include "it's right to fight for what is rightfully yours" and is very pro-invention/inventors, dreaming big, etc.
  • The Secret Garden (based on the book of the same name): the theme is pursuing, creating, and acting to gain positive values improves/creates your own character, too.
  • Blue's Clues (a tv series rather than a movie): use the evidence of your senses and your mind to solve puzzles.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: just watched tonight! (12/31/10) A fun movie, the theme is being true to yourself and doing what you know is right (thanks to Kyle who also suggested it)
  • Ella Enchanted: an amusing retelling of Cinderella. In this version, Ella is under a curse and must instantly obey anyone who tells her to do something. A great way to talk to kids about blind obedience. :)
  • Liberty's Kids: another tv series, animated depiction of most of the major (and quite a few of the minor) stories of the Revolutionary War. They repeatedly talk about how ideas matter and that the patriots were fighting for an idea.
  • Little House on the Prairie (not the tv series from the 70s): a miniseries based on the book. Shows a pioneer family working to establish and sustain themselves on the frontier (some scary parts, not for really small kids).

This is a start, I might add to this as I think of more, as I said. I would like to make two other points--I'm not generally concerned with magic or supernatural elements in kid's movies and books (or mine, for that matter). For one thing, it's nearly unavoidable, as even old time fairy tales and stories involve magic or talking animals. For another, I think kids can distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality, and if they seem confused, then that's a great conversation opener for the parent to discuss the idea.

The second point is that even the worst, most altruistic movie is not something I would prevent my children from viewing. I might not make that at the top of our movie list, but I do not shy away from them. A perfect example: Disney's Pinocchio, a movie I remember enjoying as a kid, is extremely altruistic and self-sacrifical in theme. I watched it with my children and they were (properly) horrified by what poor Pinocchio went through to become a Real Boy. They thought the Blue Fairy (is that her name?) was really mean to make him go through all of those hoops to prove himself when she had the power to make him real to begin with. The movie experience turned out to be a valuable one, precisely because it contained so many elements that are not values to me, my husband, or as it turned out, my children.

answered Dec 30 '10 at 11:52

rationaljenn's gravatar image

rationaljenn ♦

edited Dec 31 '10 at 21:38

Just about any film by Pixar should be on the list, really. I would also add the recent Dreamworks film HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. It's just a superb piece of work on every level; the first Dreamworks animated film that can really go toe-to-toe with Pixar and hold its own. DESPICABLE ME is also worth a look.

The DC Animated Universe ("DCAU") tv shows are also quite good, IMHO, particularly JUSTICE LEAGUE and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED.

(Dec 31 '10 at 01:32) Kyle Haight ♦ Kyle%20Haight's gravatar image

Thanks for the long answer Jenn! And everyone else here for your responses.

(Jan 03 '11 at 09:55) QEDbyBrett ♦ QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

The Incredibles

answered Dec 30 '10 at 11:33

John%20Hoffman's gravatar image

John Hoffman ♦

Star Wars Episodes IV - VI (the original trilogy) are good. Episodes I-III should be avoided like the plague.

answered Dec 30 '10 at 11:34

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John Hoffman ♦

My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki's Delivery Service, by Hayao Miyazaki, are both good films philosophically, and they are visually delightful.

My Neighbor Totoro is about childhood itself, with themes of adjusting to new places and people, fears and security, balancing independence with the drive to explore and discover, etc. Kiki's Delivery Service is about independence and self-reliance, with a plot-line that a young witch must go out into the world and support herself for a year.

Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks is enjoyable. Its heroine is notably not moved by altruistic motives, and the magical powers that are central to the plot are a metaphor for hidden personal strengths. Also, it is an excellent musical production.

Disney's Mulan is about individuality, courage, and cleverness, though the "comedic relief" character, voiced by Eddie Murphy, is over-emphasized.

The Thief and the Cobbler is another visually entertaining movie, quite unique in style, with an interesting pair of heroic characters. The princess is a wonderfully strong and determined young woman, whose virtues (and beauty) gradually draw the latent virtues of the cobbler into play.

answered Jan 03 '11 at 14:41

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

edited Jan 03 '11 at 15:30

ANY film by Miyazaki is an amazing experience, really. Totoro is toddler crack, and a delight for adults as well. Add Castle In The Sky for its unabashed romanticism. Plus, Air Pirates!

(Jan 03 '11 at 18:58) deejf deejf's gravatar image

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Asked: Dec 29 '10 at 17:25

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Last updated: Jan 03 '11 at 18:58