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Movies With Life Lessons: 40 Great Films To Watch

Mar 25, 2013

"Elijah Wood was quoted as saying that 'Lord of the Rings was a story about courage more than anything else.'"

I view movies as truly being a gift from God.  That we would be so fortunate to live in this little snippet of history where we have the technology to have movies to watch at home and in the theater.  For myself I appreciate movies with life lessons more than any other kind.  Movies that deal with existentialism and the purpose of life.  These films can be convicting and inspiring for viewers from all walks of life.  I was deeply changed in my faith after viewing  Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” movie.  Although in this countdown I did not include it even though it is my all time favorite movie, as I wanted to do a countdown where other movies could have an opportunity for exposure.  Because there are many great lessons for people of all ages, races, nationality, and gender contained in all the movies in the list below.  These are not all necessarily Christian movies I must warn you, however they do contain I feel lessons worth hearing and seeing.

40. Courageous (2011)

Lesson:  The overall lesson of this movie from the Kendrick brothers is to have faith in your role as a father.

39. Rudy (1993)

Lesson:  Rudy is the classic story of someone who was always told they were too small for whatever their dreams were.  Rudy’s dream is to play college football for Notre Dame.  A lesson to take away from this film is determination.  Rudy had made up his mind as to what his destination would be regardless of what others thought or said.

38. Rocky (1976)

Lesson:  This one is pretty well self-explanatory because we have a saying nowadays where we will call certain sports stories “Rocky Stories.”  This means a small time underdog(boxer in this case)overcomes all incredible obstacles in his path to reach his goal.

37. The Butterfly  Effect (2004)

Lesson:  Ashton Kutcher stars in this one with an overall lesson being, if you change one thing then you change everything.  It’s biblical, Paul said we all have a pre-destination.

36. Fireproof (2008)

Lesson:  The Kendrick brothers produced film starring Kirk Cameron begs the question, is your marriage fireproof?  A strong lesson about the level of work and commitment needed to have a successful and lasting marriage.

35. The Vow (2012)

Lesson:  A story of a car accident which leads to memory loss.  This becomes an incredibly difficult task for the husband(Channing Tatum) to make the same woman fall in love with you twice in one lifetime.  Love and determination prevail in this epic tail based on a true story.

34. Titanic (1997)

Lesson:  Titanic is a story of “true love” that showcases exceptional bravery and courage.  Even when faced with death, Jack is with Rose to the very end offering support and love.  These kind of genuine feelings remind us of meeting our loved ones and how swept away we were in the moment.

33. Friday Night Lights (2004)

Lesson:  To me this a story about brotherhood and believing in one another.  The ultimate lesson from this movie to me is the stunning ending, when they come up 1 yard short of the State Championship.  This would seem like a somber ending, but since the boys gave everything they had on the field, all of their family and fans are proud of them just the same as if they had won.

32. The Social Network (2010)

Lesson:  Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as “Facebook”, but he later gets sued by two brothers that are claiming he stole the idea from them.  Also the co-founder later gets squeezed out of the deal as well.  The lesson here is a hard and cruel one.  Trust no one when it comes to business and money.  Make sure you are covered in writing or you could get sued and lose your position as well as your stake in something.

31. Never Back Down (2008)

Lesson:  A young rebellious teenager moves to Florida and falls in with an underground fight club.  However while there he finds a mentor that will transform his life through teaching him the discipline and honor that comes with being a martial artist.

30. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Lesson:  This movie shows the power someone can posses when they want badly enough to change their circumstances.

29. The Blind Side (2009)

Lesson:  A great story about how families are not made up of just bloodline.  Shows also how some people only need to be given a chance at reaching greatness.

28. Warrior (2011)

Lesson:  A truly marvelous story about family and fighting.  Two brothers are ultimately on a crash course to meet in the finals of a big money tournament.  These two brothers are no longer on  speaking terms.  My favorite lesson was that family can remain united above all circumstances as long as we let love prevail.

27. Wall-E (2008)

Lesson:  A futuristic Pixar film with a waste collecting robot who winds up going on a wild journey.  There are a lot of characters who have become so prone to using technology that none of them walk around anymore, instead they get around in electric wheelchairs.  This is a great lesson on how society is headed in the direction of losing exercise to technology.

26. Signs (2002)

Lesson:  Mel Giboson and Joaquin Phoenix were a great casting combo for this film.  The best overall lesson is to keep your faith.  In “Signs” Graham(Gibson) loses his faith as a pastor after his wife dies in a freak accident.  Ultimately this movie comes full circle in a great and rewarding way for the audience.

25. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Lesson:  A great lesson in this movie is about letting shields down, and how different we can be whether we are at home or at work.  You should always give people the benefit of the doubt as we get to know them better.

24. Toy Story (1995)

Lesson:  A cowboy doll named “Woody” is very upset when a new “spaceman” figure arrives on the scene.  His name is “Buzz Lightyear”, and Woody ends up creating quite a stir, so the big lesson here is that we should always try to get along with our neighbor.

23. Click (2006)

Lesson:  Adam Sandler plays a great comedic and dramatic role in this movie.  He is a workaholic who gets lost in his work and doesn’t make quality time for his family.  Then he learns a lesson when he stumbles into a Bed Bath and Beyond which will lead him on a journey showing him that he should savor everyday with his children and treat his loved ones with great care and appreciate what he has in life.

22. Secretariat (2010)

Lesson:  This movie is a great lesson in overachieving and triumphing in miraculous fashion even when against the odds.

21. The Notebook (2004)

Lesson:  An inspiring story of how true love works.  The key in this movie is loyalty and devotion.  Once we have lifelong bonds with people, we can’t just walk away and leave them in a room somewhere.

20. The Lion King (1994)

Lesson:  A story of a father and son relationship that is cut short on time.  The son is put to the test over time as to whether or not he can believe in his own abilities enough to reclaim the throne.

19. The Family Man (2000)

Lesson:  Nicolas Cage does a nice job in this comedic drama about a highly successful investment banker who has a fast lane lifestyle.  The big lesson in the movie comes into play when he is given a glimpse of what life would be like if he had chosen to stay with his girlfriend.  A story of how love will always triumph over money.

18. Cast Away (2000)

Lesson:  In a word this is the ultimate “survival” story.  Tom Hanks is spellbinding in his performance and his interaction with “Wilson”, his imaginary character personified by a Wilson basketball.  The lessons here are the human ability to survive and overcome great odds when faced with death being the only alternative.  Chuck Nolan has a picture of his wife that he looks at and motivates him to continue to strive for rescue.

17. Bruce Almighty (2003)

Lesson:  Jim Carrey stars in this comedic relief film about God.  He plays a guy who complains far too often about God and isn’t grateful enough.  But when Bruce is given almighty power, he then learns how hard it could be to rule over so much.

16. Lord Of The Rings:  The Return Of The King (2003)

Lesson:  A very Christian themed storyline contained in “The Return of the King”, I feel there are many great lessons.  My favorite lesson from this movie was when  Mary had been told he was irrelevant to the battle, but because he believed and upheld courage he played a key role in the battle.

15. Brother Bear (2003)

Lesson:  A terrific story of friendship and adventure.  The key lesson to me was to keep searching and never give up hope.  In friendship there has to be room for forgiveness and compassion.

14. Seven Pounds (2008)

Lesson:  Will Smith plays an aerospace engineer who has a fatal secret looming over him.  He begins an unbelievable journey which if he can complete, he will have changed the lives of seven strangers for the better.  It shows how we as humans strive for repentance and redemption.

13. The Secret (2007)

Lesson:  I have to throw up a disclaimer on this one as I only agree with less than half of the theories proposed in this movie, but the ones I agree with are pertinent.  The Law of Attraction is the theme of this movie, and how if we can learn to use that law to our benefit life can become easier and more manageable.  My favorite example is how Mother Theresa wouldn’t attend anti-war rallies, she would only attend Peace rallies.  As she didn’t want to associate with the negative connotation of “anti-war”, she understood to only promote the positive by only attending peace rallies.

12. Eat Pray Love (2010)

Lesson:  This is a story of trying to find a new start for one’s self.  Julia Robert’s stars in this around the world adventure.  An arching theme is to continue searching for happiness, when you are forced out of your security.

11. The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006)

Lesson:  Will Smith plays Chris Gardner in this based on a true story movie adaptation.  The big lesson from this movie is to never give up, and be thankful in all circumstances.  An emotional high point in the movie comes when they are homeless and living in the streets, they take refuge in a train station area and the Dad makes the best of it by playing make believe with his son until he falls asleep.

10. The Karate Kid (1984)

Lesson:  A handyman named Mr. Miyagi is also a martial artist who unconventionally trains Daniel to compete in a karate tournament.  He teaches Daniel to be in touch with nature and that the fight is won mentally and not physically.  Miyagi also trains Daniel through normal household chores like waxing a car.  When he demonstrates the “wax on, wax off” that he does to the car is the same motions he would use in his karate defense technique.

9. Star Wars Episode III:  The Revenge Of The Sith (2005)

Lesson:  One of the best movies of all time, a thrilling conclusion to the opening trilogy.  The best lesson comes in the end when Obi Wan tells Annakin he loved him like a brother, but he couldn’t help him if he wouldn’t surrender.  This is like Christianity when we have someone who is a non-believer that is causing us grief, we must break away when the cost outweighs the benefit of trying to save them.

8. The Bucket List (2007)

Lesson:  In a story about two terminally ill patients who  go out and try to do things they’ve always wanted to do in life, but never had the chance to.  This is a great lesson in how sometimes we never start really living until it is too late.

7. Numb (2007)

Lesson:  This is the premium pioneering work on the phenomenon known as “Depersonalization Disorder” which effects approximately 1% of the population.  Matthew Perry hits a homerun in this film portraying someone with D.P.D.  The movie does a good job of showing how debilitating this disorder can be.  The biggest takeaway lesson is that there is no cure, and only one’s ability to try to cope and possibly even someday thrive while still having D.P.D.  The “DP” community agrees that Matthew Perry delivered a masterpiece performance in this film.

6. I Am Sam (2001)

Lesson:  A story about Sam Dawson who has mental disabilities but is also responsible for caring for his daughter Lucy.  The conflict in the story arises when the girl reaches an age where her mental prowess has surpassed that of her dad’s.  The best lesson for me was Sam’s determination and belief in doing what he felt was right, no matter how big a fight it was.

5. Finding Nemo (2003)

Lesson:  A fantastic animated adventure about a clown fish who gets separated from his father.  An important lesson from this movie is certainly persevearance, both Marlin and Nemo have the will to press on in their individual pursuits.  Also teaches the power of true family love and the lengths we will go to for one another in our group of family and friends.

4. Forrest Gump (1994)

Lesson:  A classic motion picture starring Tom Hanks.  This movie won the Oscar for Best Picture, it has a collection of life lessons as this movie covers the entire life of Forrest Gump.  The famous quotes of “ stupid is as stupid does” and “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get” are just a few of the nuggets of wisdom from this film.

3. Pay It Forward (2000)

Lesson:  One of the greatest thoughts at the close of the 20th century when that young boy said “pay it forward.”  This means that when someone does you a random favor or act of kindness, instead of paying it back, he was saying pay it forward to some random stranger and bless them.  This is the lesson in itself, revolutionary thinking.  Imagine if we all participated, what the impact could be to all engage in random acts of kindness.

2. Facing The Giants (2006)

Lesson:  This movie perfectly intertwines football and faith.  So many great and inspiring lessons from this film.  Let’s start where Coach Grant Taylor starts, as he is told that he is meant to blossom where God has planted him.  Coach talks to the team and preaches Jesus’ main message to them of:   love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.  He teaches them to honor God in victory and defeat the same.

1. Peaceful Warrior (2006)

Lesson:  Lessons abound in this film, the main ingredient I would say is learning to “live in the moment.”  Soc (Socrates) is the mentor to Dan Millman who is trying out for the Olympic team.  He suffers a severe leg break from a motorcycle accident, and then descends on a journey with Soc to discover his true purpose.  This is a must see movie.

Favorite Quote: “A warrior is not about perfection or victory or invulnerability. He’s about absolute vulnerability. That is the only true courage.”

Conclusion

As you have seen above a countless number of nuggets and gems of wisdom from all of these movies. Some of these movies changed my life for the better, I hope some of them can do the same for you. If I have missed any of your favorites please tell us at F&E in the comment section below.  God bless, Jesus is King!

Resources- The Holy Bible, English Standard Version“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”, www.youtube.com, imdb. com, photo credit: bandita via photopin cc

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