Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 By 5: 5 Movies You Need To Share With Your Kids By The Time They Turn 5

It's that time of the year again. The Oscars have everybody talking about "the best" this and "the best" that. This got us thinking about the list of the top 5 movies our children should know by the time they turn 5... hence Five by 5. As many of our loyal readers will attest, we Stunt Dads have very different views of the world. So here are the rules we setup to make it a fair debate:

  1. No Disney Classics or Pixar movies allowed. This is way too easy and you are better than that.
  2. There must be a moral or life lesson to the story. 
  3. Ratings be damned. You are their parent. Are you really going to be bossed around by the MPAA?

Stunt Chad
I love movies. If you name it, I probably have seen it. I wouldn't be the amazing man that I am today if it were not for movies. My parents were very liberal with what they let us watch as kids. I can remember going to the drive-in movie theatre every weekend. I am probably the only kid in my kindergarten class that saw a double feature of Hotel Hell and Poltergeist. Now before you start judging my parents, they were quick to do the "turn around" when it came to nudity, sex, or extreme violence (what they didn't know is that the movie screen behind us was usually playing something just as filthy). This exposure to all things movie continued through my life. We were the first house on the block with a VCR. We were the first house with something called OnTV (cable before cable). My dad would even setup a movie projector on summer nights and play old reel-to-reels. It was fantastic. And more importantly, it helped form my worldview. What I mostly learned from movies was all of the stuff that nobody else was willing to teach me. The things that my parents wouldn't be able to say. The way that the world really works. When picking my movies, I wanted to select movies that exposed my kids to "anti-role models" that they could learn from (good and bad) and life lessons that I don't think they would ever be able to accept if I told them (quite frankly, most of these are lessons that might end up resulting in a call to the Department of Children Family Services or at least Super Nanny if I were to actually share them with my matter how true they are).

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) 
Cliff's Notes: Poor kid eats candy, gets to go on a factory tour with swinger grandparent, gets slipped some acid and ends up as the owner of a candy company.
Anti-role Model: Veruca Salt - Don't be a greedy pig or you are going to end up falling to your death and nobody will care.
Life Lesson: When invited somewhere, listen to instructions and don't be an a'hole... you will be rewarded.

The Goonies (1985) 
Cliff's Notes: A fat kid, an Asian kid, a couple of white kids, an ugly girl and a pretty girl are all going to lose their respective homes to a corporate housing development company, they find an old map in the greatest attic ever, break a penis off a statue, meet up with criminals, escape down tunnels, somehow avoid elaborate traps set by Captain M. C. Escher, team up with a mutant that enjoys his sweets, almost die, escape again, watch a pirate boat float away and end up finding a couple of rubies that are worth enough to save all of their homes. 
Anti-role Model: Chunk - Be nice to everybody regardless of what they look never know when you are going to need their crazy ape like strength to get out of a jam. 
Life Lesson: Stick with your friends and you will go far. You might might not be the fastest, smartest, or the most attractive, but combined, you and your friends will be unstoppable.

The Princess Bride (1987)
Cliff's Notes: A sick kid has to listen to a dopey story from his grandpa, but it ends up being the most awesome tale ever told. It includes a love story, an adventure tale, pirates, a giant, a Sicilian, revenge, Billy Crystal playing an old jewish guy, and some awesome swordplay.
Anti-role Model: The Dread Pirate Roberts - Chicks dig bad boys
Life Lesson:  If you find something you really want, go after it with all of your heart. No matter what gets in your way, find a way around it. If the woman you love is out of your league, get in her league. If the woman you love is in a relationship already, make her see that you are the better man. If somebody kills your father, track them down and make declarative statements about who you are and your intent to end their life. And finally... the fastest way to a woman's heart is no matter what she says, always reply with "As you wish...". 

Star Wars (The Original Trilogy—1977, 1980, 1983) 
Cliff's Notes: Orphan kid buys old robots with a message for a desert hermit that ends up being a former knight. The knight reveals that he was friends with the the orphan's dad and that he wants to train the boy to be a knight. They meet up with a rouge and his hairy sidekick to rescue the princess. In the process of rescuing the princess, the old man gets killed by the bad guy. The team escapes. They meet up with the rebellion and move to a snow planet where one guy puts another guy in a snow cow. The bad guys show up and the rebels have to escape. The orphan decides he needs to continue his education so he goes to meet with a muppet in a swamp. In the middle of his training he learns that his friends are in danger, prompting him to leave early. He shows up to a cool space station to find out his rouge friend has been frozen and that the bad guy is after him. He fights the bad guy. He gets his hand cut off. The bad guy reveals that he is the orphan's father. They all escape. Rouge guy gets sold to a big earth worm. The team saves him. They all go after the bad guy. The orphan tracks down his wayward father, the bad guy, and meets an even badder guy that want him to take his dad's job. The others go to a planet of teddy bears where they need to blow up a shield so that all the rebels can attack the badder guys big ship. They succeed. The orphan almost kills his dad and then stops. The badder guy decides to kill the orphan. The bad guy kills the badder guy and reconnects with his son right before he dies. The orphan meets back up with his friends and the teddy bears for a party. The bad guy that is now a good guy, the old knight and the muppet all appear as ghosts and smile.
Anti-role Model: Han Solo - Shoot first... and chicks dig bad boys... also it doesn't hurt to have a ship that can do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.
Life Lesson: Sometimes your parents make bad decisions and you can't follow them down that road. Be your own person and follow your dreams. You will be a better person for it.
Fight Club (1999)
Cliff's Notes: If you don't know Fight Club, please close your computer, head to Blockbuster (are they still around?), and then ask the person working there to punch you as hard as they can... and then rent the movie.
Anti-role Model: Tyler Durden - Sit-ups are important, be your own man (or somebody else if your own man isn't working out for you), date whomever you like, don't let the trappings of life trap you, people respect honesty, and never get too far away from the primal appreciation of being alive... or understanding just how meaningless most things in this life truly are.
Life Lesson: This is your life. Good to the last drop. It doesn't get any better than this.This is your life and its ending one minute at a time. This isn't a seminar. This isn't a weekend retreat. Where you are now, you can't even imagine what the bottom will be like. Only after disaster can we be resurrected. Its only after you've lost everything that you are free to do anything. Nothing is static. Everything is evolving. Everything is falling apart. This is your life. It doesn't get any better than this. This is your life. And its ending one minute at a time. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We are all part of the same compost heap. We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world. You are not your bank account. You are not the clothes you wear. You are not the contents of your wallet. You are not your bowel cancer. You are not your grand latte. You are not the car you drive. You are not your f'ing khakis.You have to give up. You have to realise that someday you will die. Until you know that, you are useless. I say never let me be complete. I say may I never be content. I say deliver me from Swedish furniture. I say deliver me from clever art. I say deliver me from clear skin and perfect teeth. I say you have to give up. I say evolve, and let the chips fall where they may.Welcome to Fight Club. If this is your first night, you have to fight.

Stunt Pete
The are certain things my son Munch will need to learn by the time he's 5 years old that can only be truly conveyed by watching sports films: 1) if a bully picks on you, kick his ass, 2) if you can save a coach's job, he'll reward you with a state championship, 3) even alcoholic fathers get second chances in life, 4) grades really don't matter, playing football does, and 5) man up, face your fears, and hit a god&!@ homerun. Each of these takeaways can be learned by watching the 5 films below. Each of the films are rated no higher than PG to ensure the Sex, Language, and Violence (SLV) is kept to a minimum (Munch isn't going to be a Bible banger, so a little taste of action at the age 5 is good for his personal development).  Each have won or been nominated for awards to ensure the credibility of the film (Munch deserves the best, so I will show him the best). Each has to have a good guy and a good message for Munch to relate to (I'm raising a hero in this kid, so he needs to know that heroes win and villains lose).

The Karate Kid (PG, 1984)

Sport: Karate
Awards: Nominated for 1 Oscar (Best Supporting Actor)
Role model: Daniel Larusso is a level headed kid and tenacious for learning, while Mr. Miyagi is the all-knowing, clever, subtle teacher
Message to Munch: stand up for yourself, fight out of need, work hard, patience
SLV: no sex, minor language (sh*t), and mild violence (karate fights throughout)

Hoosiers (PG, 1986)
Sport: Basketball 
Awards: Regarded by many as the best sports movie of all-time, nominated for 2 Oscars (supporting actor and score) 
Role model: Jimmy Chitwood is honorable, saves a coaches job and leads his team to victory 
Message to Munch: Teamwork, overcome big challenges, passion and commitment to a sport 
SLV: No sex, minor language, no violence 

The Mighty Ducks (PG, 1992) 
Sport: Hockey 
Awards: Nominated for 2 Young Artist Awards (YAA): Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture, Best Young Actress Co-starring in a Motion Picture 
Role model: Charlie Conway is a good kid, wins under pressure 
Message to Munch: teamwork wins out in the end, accept others, how to deal with losing 
SLV:  no sex, minor language (damn, bastard), and plenty of violence, after all, it's hockey for godsake!

Rudy (PG, 1993) 
Sport: Football 
Awards: Nominated for 1 YAA: Outstanding Family Motion Picture - Action/Adventure 
Role model: Rudy is a loveable underdog, who's not the brightest kid in school, but will do anything and work harder than anyone to follow his dream 
Message to Munch: keep your head up kid, hard work wins out in the end

SLV: no sex, minor language (GDs, BSs) and, it's not technically violence when it's football

The Sandlot (PG, 2002)
Sport: Baseball 
Awards: Nominated for 1 YAA: Outstanding Youth Ensemble in a Motion Picture 
Role model:  Scotty Smalls and the rest of the gang are typical kids from the 60s 
Message to Munch: stay loyal to your friends, experience new things, remember the good old days

SLV: no sex, minor language (sh*t), and no violence, unless you consider "The Beast" violent

Stunt Ben
Movies are awesome, but movies centered around music are awesomer—especially for little ones that like to dance, sing, and rock! While there are many worthwhile movies not about music (my fellow Stunt Dads will surely detail those), the 5 films I want my boys to see and hear before their 5th birthday. 

The Blues Brothers (R, 1980)
Role Model: Elwood Blues takes on the Nazi party, the Chicago police, The Good Ol' Boys Country Band, and a pissed off princess Leia with a machine gun all to help the children. 
Life Lesson: Keep your eye on the next gig, don't get distracted.
Commentary: Nothing gives more street cred to a 4 old then when they start a field trip with "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses." or when they start snack time off by ordering "Four fried chickens and a Coke." Add to that the pleasure and excitement of performances by Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, and John Lee Hooker not to mention the Blues Brothers themselves. It's fun for the whole family and when made at a time when adult movies could be shared with little ones with just a few moments of ear muffs and a few simple conversations. 

The Music Man (1962)
Role Model: Harold Hill starts with the intention of scamming kids and families into buying band equipment, and in the end he turns a new leaf and gives these town the greatest show they ever had.
Life Lesson:  Music can turn a con around.
Commentary: "Oh ya got trouble, and that starts with T which rhymes with P and that stands for pool".

School of Rock (2003)
Role Model: Dewey Finn
Life Lesson: Don't get kicked out of your band or you will be forced to become a substitute teacher.
Commentary: Great soundtrack chocked full of iconic classic rock such as "Sunshine of Your Love," "Highway to Hell," "Back in Black," and "Touch Me" and it has a small cameo by the now defunct The Mooney Suzuki.

Amadeus (1984)
Role Model: n/a
Life Lesson: Opera kills
Commentary: No list of music movies is complete without mention of Amadeus. It's a look inside the twisted world of Mozart, but the characters depict such passionate love for music that it is truly infectious. It also reaffirms the importance and enjoyment of a music that is far too scarce in the world today and shows that musicians have not changed much in the last few hundred years.

Wayne's World (1992)
Role Model: Wayne brought back Bach into the future to rock a shopping mall.
Life Lesson: Do your homework and something good will come of it.
Commentary: Cameo solo by Eddie Van Halen, and the second best performance of "Bohemian Rhapsody" ever.

Uncle Terry
Alright... yet another Stunt Dad 5 By 5 list. I love these because you get a peak inside each of our Stunt Dads' parenting philosophies. Stunt Chad revealed that he embraces the wonderment and joyousness of being a kid... and recognizes the troubles that come later in life. Stunt Pete goes all in on sports movies as a teaching tool. And Stunt Ben hits it 5 times like James Brown for music. Well... now it's time for the Uncle's perspective on things. Sure, we all want kids to believe that life is all gumdrops and rainbows. But it's not. It's heartbreak and disappointment. And the sooner this younger generation understands that the better. You're not gonna beat the Chinese if you spend your youth watching cartoons—and you're sure as heck gonna be screwed by those aliens when we're living on that recently-promised space colony on the moon. So how better to prep the kids of today for the problems of tomorrow than with the movies of yesterday. Now the Stunt Dads already touched upon a few solid topics: kiddie classics are covered (so no E.T. or The Wizard of Oz or The Muppet Movie for me), sports is gone (so I won't mention Brian's Song at this point), and music is solid (so I'll not touch upon Oklahoma and The Song Remains The Same). So let's toughen up these 5 year olds, shall we! Get ready to take your medicine and learn life's hard lessons (sans the spoonful of sugar).

Old Yeller (1957)
Category: Grow up fast, youngster, movie
Awards: Best boy-and-his-dog film
Role Model: 1) The son, Young Travis Coates, steps up and runs the ranch and tends to the family while his father is on a cattle drive (dad's away on business... again...) 2) The dog, Old Yeller (proof, yet again, that dogs are way cooler than cats).
Lessons For Kids: Alright. I'm breaking Rule #1: No Disney movies. When we wrote that, we were trying to steer clear of the obvious disney animated features. Old Yeller is far from that. Move over Lassie, enter one big "yeller" dog. Travis adopts dog. Dog protects Travis from snakes, 'coons, bears, and wild boars. Travis loves dog. Dog gets sick after animal fight. Dog turns on Travis. Travis shoots dog. Key lessons: 1) Your best friend will always save your life, but even your best friend will eventually turn on you and you'll have to shoot him. So learn how to shoot. 2) If you open your heart to love something, it will eventually contract rabies and try to kill you. So don't get attached. 3) Dogs are cooler than cats. So don't buy a cat. Next...

The Dark Crystal (1982)
Category: The Dark Side of Jim Henson movie
Awards: Best puppet movie
Role Model: 1) Jen and Kira, the last Gelflings 2) The Mystics (UrRu), peace-loving wizards who can sing bass like Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys
Lessons For Kids: 1) Better to be UrSkeks than either Mystics or Skeksis... basically, there is good and evil within us all, so let's all try to be aware of that and work together... oh, and don't break the crystal. 2) Always be present for a Great Conjunction if you hear of one going on. 3) Girls can fly. Who knew.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Category: Awesomest dude in a movie
Awards: Best carwashing scene in a movie
Role Model: Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman), taking on The Man
Lessons For Kids: The world is a rough place. And the only one who really cares about you is your mama. So learn how to find your way. And don't let no one break your spirit. 1) Stand up to The Man, kids. 2) But if you stand up to The Man, you will spend a night in the box. Same goes for losing your spoon, fighting, or not being in bed on time. You will spend a night in the box. 3) Curry powder can throw off scent-tracking bloodhounds (you may need this... you never know). 4) Yeah, well sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand. Learn how to read a situation, fool others, and keep the upper hand.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)

Category: Classic loner movie

Awards: Best poncho action

Role Model: The Man With No Name

Lessons For kids: Dude... it's Clint Eastwood. Come on, now. 1) Don't get stuck in the desert without any water. 2) Life is full of cons and cross-ups... just make sure you're the one doing the conning and crossing-up. 'Nuf said.

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Category: War and life lessons movie

Awards: The award of respect for ending World War II

Role Model: Lee Marvin and Jim Brown. No wonder the Nazis got scared—Jim Brown?! Are you kidding me?

Lessons For Kids: It was nearly impossible to pick just one movie. As a kid, I spent my weekend afternoons watching classic movies on the local tv station—and half of the time, they seemed to broadcast war movies. I could have gone with The Great Escape and the awesomeness of Steve McQueen, Kelly's Heros and the magic of Clint Eastwood and Donald Sutherland, or Old Blood and Guts, Patton, with an amazing portrayal of the 4-Star General by George C Scott. But I think The Dirty Dozen is the best of all worlds. In it, you have the Band of Misfits working together on a seemingly suicide mission to achieve a common goal (just like in The Great Escape and Kelly's Heros), you have a focus on teamwork and determination, and you've got a great leader running the show (just like in Patton). And this thing has it all. You've got a bunch of miscreants who, over time, turn into a lean, mean, fighting machine. You've got acts of heroism and selflessness. And you have troubled and flawed characters too. Life ain't perfect and neither are people—and those guys will get killed off before the final scene. 1) Work hard and be there for your brother. 2) Mnemonic devices are great tricks for memorizing complicated information for tests (ONE! Down at the roadblocks, we've just begun. TWO! Guards are through. THREE! The Major's men are on a spree...). 3) Life is full of second chances and redemption.

So what do you think? What are your top 5 movies to share with kids? Let us know in the comments below.

- Not a parenting blog, not a daddy blog, not a mommy blog — it's a Stunt Dad blog. 
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  1. Best part most of these you can grab out of the 5 dollar dvd bins at walmart if you dont still have them laying around! =)

  2. Okay, then. Passing up Snow White (Disney classic) and Wizard of Oz (too obvious) from the '30s, Willy Wonka (been done) from the '70s, and Pixar greats from the '00s, we're left with:

    1. The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
    2. Hans Christian Andersen (1952)
    3. The Music Man (1962)
    4. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
    5. Babe (1995) or The Iron Giant (1999)

    Westerns and war movies and sports stuff much later.

  3. What awesome recommendations! My girl's turning 5 this summer so I've got to get moving. Bookmarking! ps. I have a soft spot for Monster Squad =)