What movies inspired you as a youngster?
July 28, 2010 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Seeking suggestions for inspirational short films or videos appropriate for teens.

I am currently teaching a county run program where we work with approximately 25 "at risk" students ages 14-16. We've had a great summer so far, doing a lot of team building activities and talking about careers, budgets, jobs and money as well as vo-tech schools, college and general planning for your future kinds of topics.

We'd like to show a video during our last week together and I'm having trouble coming up with something that is entertaining as well as inspirational that these teens will like. Last year we showed Gifted Hands (the made for tv movie about Dr. Ben Carson) and this year we showed Rudy. We have access to the internet and a Netflix account.

So what short movies or videos would you recommend? What films inspired you as a youngster?
- Inspirational (not religiously so, more along the lines of someone who faced the odds and became a success, or someone who made a difference in others' lives)
- Entertaining for 14-16 year olds
- 45 to 90 minutes in length
- PG or PG-13 is ok, these kids have heard cuss words before, but we don't want something with a lot of unnecessary sex/cursing

Thanks in advance!
posted by NoraCharles to Education (11 answers total)
Not a "movie" exactly, but I was pretty inspired after watching this Inspirational Video . Maybe contact that guy and get a full fledged video of one of his talks?

Also, if you showed "Rudy", then maybe "Dead Poets Society" would do well.
posted by Spyder's Game at 2:00 PM on July 28, 2010

How about Pursuit of Happyness?
posted by CathyG at 2:12 PM on July 28, 2010

October Sky is a great movie - true story about teens, very inspirational.
It is the story of NASA scientist and rocket engineer Homer Hickam.
posted by Flood at 3:47 PM on July 28, 2010

I might not be exactly what you've described but the NFB animated short The Man Who Planted Trees will move any kid's heart. There's a bit of God-talk towards the end but I think the animation transcends that sentiment.

If you can borrow a 16mm print from the library, it's absolutely the best way for kids to watch this kind of animation.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:45 PM on July 28, 2010

A Walk to Remember, very good influence for teenagers. Outline was of a troubled teenage male who gets into some trouble, meets inspirational young lady who changes his life. Novel was by Nicholas Sparks.
posted by sandyp at 5:21 PM on July 28, 2010

Cool Runnings.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:35 PM on July 28, 2010

And Bend It Like Beckham, and The Longest Yard. Oh, the sport movie genre is all about PG inspirational feel-good.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:39 PM on July 28, 2010

The Iron Giant is a kids movie, but it's an absolutely fantastic one, with cheeky humor and a "manly tears were shed" ending. Sell the kids on the fact that it's from the director of The Incredibles.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:29 PM on July 28, 2010

One of the best documentaries I've ever seen, appropriate for teens as well as adults: "Protagonist," directed by Jessica Wu, 90 minutes long, available on Netflix.

The story: a German terrorist, a thief, an "ex-gay" Christian evangelist and an obsessed martial arts student talk about their lives. Interwoven with ideas from Euripides' plays, performed by (very adult) puppets; the puppets sometimes act out scenes from the subjects' pasts as they talk about them. There's no way to really describe this film, but it is absolutely first rate, and I've never known anyone who's seen it who hasn't wanted to talk about it afterward.
posted by kestralwing at 9:54 PM on July 28, 2010

I second Bend it Like Beckham and October Sky.

I thought Whale Rider was an inspirational, mythical, coming-of-age film. However, there was a brief scene of some marijuana use.

I also liked the film short, In God We Trust, which could vaguely be considered a commentary on living life by doing the right thing, in order to secure a good afterlife.

Also, Billy Elliot.

Oh, uh, these didn't inspire me as a youngster. I can't really think of any movies that inspired me when I was kid (1970's).
posted by indigo4963 at 8:16 AM on July 29, 2010

Response by poster: Just got my 'follow up' memail for this post.

These were all great suggestions and I'll probably come back to this thread in the future, but we ended up going with "Take the Lead" and the kids really seemed to enjoy it.
posted by NoraCharles at 12:20 PM on August 28, 2010

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