Teens love movies. If you have a teen, you know how quickly a TV series or character can become an instant obsession. But when was the last time you watched a movie or show with your teen? When was the last time you watched one that had the potential to spur a discussion on the Faith?
Here are several movies that I have either used in a youth ministry setting or think would work as a great connecting point with a teen. As always, be sure to watch or read up on reviews for movies or shows you haven’t seen to make sure they are in line with what you allow in your home. All teens are different in regards to the topics they can handle and what might be appropriate. You know your teen best, so use this list discerningly.
- Bella. Rated PG-13. Starring this contemporary and mainstream movie by Lionsgate is the story of a mother in a troubled pregnancy and one man brave enough to help protect both lives. Talking topics: abortion, pregnancy out of wedlock, pro-life work, forgiveness, second chances, mercy.
- The Human Experience. Rated PG-13. This is a film by Grassroots Films out of Brooklyn, NY that is a documentary aimed to touch what it means to be human. It’s deeply moving and professionally done making it captivating and thought provoking. Talking topics: poverty, homelessness, living life to the fullest, travel, following God’s plan, the human family.
- There Be Dragons. Rated PG-13. This film portrays the life of St. Josemaria Escriva in a captivating and exciting story line. It feels a bit long, but moves along well enough to keep you interested and is definitely inspirational. Talking topics: fighting for your faith, modern Saints, doing what is right, persecution, listening to God’s voice.
- It’s a Wonderful Life. Not Rated. This is an old classic that’s an all-time Christmas favorite. It’s a 1940s film featuring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed telling the story of an average man finding his meaning in life through family and sacrifice. Talking topics: trust, family, suicide, meaning of life, serving others, holiness in ordinary circumstances, angels.
- October Baby. Rated PG-13. This is a newer film (2011) that has a good soundtrack and enough humor to keep teens captivated. It tells the story of a main-character Hannah who is on the search for her birth mom. It is well done and easily relatable making it a sure hit for teens. Talking topics: abortion, adoption, trust, finding meaning in life, searching for truth, being real.
- Hotel Rwanda. Rated PG-13. Based on the real events of the 1994 Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi ethnic group, this is a captivating but intense film that stretches the heart. This is a well done film, but also very serious and requires a mature audience. Be sure to prepare your teen and spend time after unpacking the film. Talking topics: genocide, sanctity of human life, suffering, death, strength in the midst of suffering, evil, sin.
- Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Rated PG. Many look at this as just a children’s movie based on the books, but the themes and artistry in this film are incredible for any age group. The main characters are believable and pull the viewer in to a land that thrives on awe and wonder. Definitely a must-watch with any teen to bring back a love of mystery and beauty. Talking topics: figures of Christ in the film, kindness, goodness, truthfulness, bravery, virtue.
- Yellow Day. Rated PG. This is a film out only in select theaters made by a budding young Catholic artist. I haven’t been able to see it yet, but added it on the list based on stellar recommendations from friends. It looks promising and especially geared towards families. Talking topics: living life, friendship, adventure.
I’d love to hear from you! What films have you watched with your teens? Did it bring about fruitful discussion?