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7 Movies that encourage kids to break the mold (in the best of ways)


Disney | Marvel

Paul Asay - published on 06/02/18

These films remind us that it's not easy to get out of our comfort zones, but it's always worth it.

“I am the gatekeeper of my own destiny, and I will have my glory day in the hot sun!”

So says Ignacio in Nacho Libre, a delightfully silly 2005 comedy that lands on Amazon Prime today. Jack Black plays Ignacio, a cook for a Catholic orphanage in Mexico. Ignacio was raised in the orphanage himself, and he’s happy to serve these kids in any way he can.

But his cooking skills, frankly, are lacking. “Maybe I am not meant for these duties,” he says. “Cooking duty. Dead guy duty. Maybe it’s time for me to get a better duty!”

That “better duty,” he believes, is becoming a luchador — a Mexican professional wrestler. So even though the monastery frowns on wrestling (“It is in the Bible not to wrestle your neighbor,” Ignacio solemnly intones), Ignacio sets down his cooking ladle and dons a luchador mask, determined to wrestle for God and the orphanage both.

Nacho Libre does not pretend to be a particularly subtle, profound story. It’s a Jack Black comedy, after all. But the PG-rated movie does teach a valuable lesson: That we don’t need to fit a pre-set mold to serve God and bless those around us. God made us all different for a reason.

Nacho Libre is hardly unique in its cinematic support for the mold-breakers. Indeed, a bunch of movies have descended, or are descending, on various streaming networks that illustrate that point, albeit in very different ways — some suitable for older kids, some for younger ones. Here’s a look at six of them.

A Beautiful Mind(PG-13, 2001)

John Nash indeed has a beautiful mind. The brilliant mathematician thinks in ways that no one else does — perhaps in ways that no one else can. The eccentric math whiz eschews normal routes to success and wants to forge his own identity, taking numbers where they’ve never been before. All that creative genius comes with a dark, unstable seed, unfortunately: A beautiful mind can still be an unbalanced one. But through the help of his wife, Alicia, and colleagues, he manages to control his delusions and hit his potential. (You can watch the movie on Hulu.)

Imagine Entertainment

Blue Like Jazz (PG-13, 2012)

Based on Don Miller’s landmark 2003 book of the same name, Blue Like Jazz traces the steps of a young, college-age Don as he swims through the halls of an ultra-liberal college and searches for meaning, faith and forgiveness. The movie, like the book, can be critical of some aspects of Christianity (most pointedly evangelical Christianity): Loving God is about relationship, not religion, Miller argues — a vertical relationship between God and us, and a horizontal one between us and the people around us. Some Christians don’t like the book or the movie, and it certainly isn’t your standard Christian flick (it contains some swearing and uncomfortable scenes). But for believers who love God and yet sometimes don’t feel very comfortable in church, this film reminds us that Christianity isn’t about the foibles of its followers: It’s about the One whom we follow. (This film is on both Hulu and Amazon Prime beginning this month.)

Roadside Attractions

The King’s Speech (R, 2010)

Prince Albert never planned on being king. He neither wanted it, nor did he think he’d be particularly good at it. Saddled with a speech impediment, Albert’s not the guy you want giving speeches. But when his brother, Edward VIII, abdicates the throne, Albert has no choice: He must assume the royal office as King George VI, shoulder the responsibilities of leading Great Britain in wartime and make, in 1939, the speech of his life. Despite his stammer and his unassuming manner, George becomes one of British history’s most beloved monarchs. A word about the R-rating: Take it seriously, but outside using a flurry of f-words in one scene — part of a technique he’s taught to rid himself of his stammer — the movie might well be rated PG. (The movie drops on Netflix today.)

The Weinstein Company

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (PG-13, 2001)

Everyone knows that Hobbits don’t go on adventures. And even when they do, they certainly don’t go on adventures in which the fate of the earth hangs on the outcome. They’re just not built for peril. But when Middle Earth’s boldest and bravest meet in Rivendell to decide what to do with evil Sauron’s evil ring, who steps up to the plate to carry it? Frodo Baggins, an otherwise reputable Hobbit from Hobbiton. Think about it this way: In an all-star team staffed with the Middle Earth equivalents of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, the most important duty is given to a backup middle-school guard. But despite his lack of strength and skill and, well, anything, Frodo handles the task mostly admirably — helping to save the day, and the world, a couple of movies later. (All of The Lord of the Rings movies are on Hulu.)

New Line Cinema

Sing (PG, 2016)

Rosita, a pig housewife with a love of song. Mike, a petty street hustler with a big voice. Meena, an elephant with some beautiful pipes but crippling stage fright. All these characters and many, many more audition for a (somewhat accidentally fraudulent) singing competition, pursuing dreams that are beginning to take shape or have been on hold for years. Few of the characters here are prototypical singing stars, but they have the ability and will to show what they’re made of, no matter what their critics say. While not without its problems, this film encourages young viewers to dream big and to utilize the gifts and talents God gave them. (Singis playing on Netflix.)

Universal Studios

Thor: Ragnarok (PG-13, 2017): You don’t think of superheroes as being plucky underdogs. I mean, it’s right there in their descriptor, right? They’re super! They’re heroes! But Thor: Ragnarok gives us several who break from the mold made for them and go off-script. Take Hulk, who was in his element as fearsome gladiator on the trashy planet of Sakaar. Instead, he and alter-ego Bruce Banner leave the planet’s relative luxury to help friend Thor. Valkyrie was parceling out her life in a haze of booze and bounty hunting until she, too, found a higher purpose. And Loki — well, one of the Marvel universe’s most memorable villains turns good one more time. Even Thor himself undergoes a radical change. He loses his hammer, his hair and even an eye along the way, and he becomes something we might never have anticipated in his first movie: a king. (You’ll have to wait until June 5 to see Ragnarok on Netflix.)

Disney | Marvel


Read more:
7 Inspirational moms in movies you shouldn’t miss

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