Storytelling has always been an effective tool in shaping the minds of children. From the moral lessons found in classic fairy tales and fables to films that tap into more profound themes, such mediums are perfect for assisting in teaching young minds good values. Films are doubly influential in this regard as they can provide a rollercoaster of emotions that can cap off with a genuinely rousing finale.
As such, here are the best movies that can inspire children to change the world for the better.
Table of Contents
Movies That Will Inspire Young Minds to Change the World
1. The Lego Movie (2014)
The 2014 CGI kid’s movie, The Lego Movie, surpassed all expectations and became a worldwide box office hit. Despite what appears to be a typical marketing strategy to sell more toys (it is), The Lego Movie manages to deliver a fundamental lesson for its younger audiences: It is okay to be different and always be true to who you are.
Creativity and imagination are also focal points of the film. Emmet (Chris Pratt), an average Lego figure, breaks away from the status quo and lets his creativity fly to save the Lego universe from the tyrant Lord Business (Will Ferrell).
The movie also features themes of individuality and a subtle jab at the downsides of conformity. It is a pretty good message to give to children in that they should embrace who they are and never stifle their imagination.
Duration: 1 h 40 min
2. Whale Rider (2002)
This is a New Zealand drama film that centers around the Maori culture. The film follows the story of Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), an 11-year-old girl in a patriarchal Maori tribe. The succession of tribal chiefs is given to the first-born child, which always has been male, and this has been the tradition for centuries.
Pai goes against the status quo of the tribe and believes that she can be the next chief of the tribe. However, her grandfather is against this idea, bound to tradition, and decides to pick a male successor. While the love between a family is strong, Pai’s determination to prove that she can be the next tribal chief will put a strain on the relationship between grandfather and granddaughter.
Whale Rider also delivers a similar message of being true to yourself, despite what is considered the norm in particular cultures. Sometimes a person must stand up for what they believe is right, even if it means going against the flow.
Duration: 1 h 41 min
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
One of the most celebrated Japanese filmmakers of modern times, Hayao Miyazaki has given the world dozens of fantastic and beautiful films. One of the most beloved of his work is the 1989 animated fantasy movie Kiki’s Delivery Service. The film tells the story of a young witch, Kiki, who makes up for her lack of experience with her indomitable determination.
The film has Kiki moving to a quaint European seaside village to start her independence. She uses her magic to earn a living in the town, mainly as a delivery service. The story is about the transition between adolescence and adulthood and how one should use their talents for the betterment of the people.
Kiki’s Delivery Service can help plant the seeds of independence in children, showing them that they can achieve what their minds and hearts are set upon with determination, ingenuity, and imagination.
Duration: 1 h 43 min
4. Moana (2016)
Moana is a CGI animated musical movie from Disney. It stars Auli’I Cravalho as Moana Waialiki, who is on a journey to help her village suffering from a drought. She learns that the misfortune that has befallen her village is caused by a demigod named Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), who stole the heart of the goddess, Te Feti.
Moana then embarks on an ocean adventure to persuade Maui to return what he stole and return her prosperity to her village. The movie is packed with fantastical scenes, humor, catchy songs, and lessons about self-discovery and following your true calling.
While based on Polynesian mythology, this film is a product of modern times. Moana’s journey is about figuring out who she truly is and beating the impossible odds thrown at her with an iron will and ingenuity.
Patience is also a key element in the film. Moana’s patience is tested as she learns to sail. Maui’s patience is also put to the test with Moana, who he has little to no faith in at first. Finally, however, both start to understand the benefits of being patient, and each exceeds the expectations of one another during their journey.
Duration: 1 h 47 min
5. Wall-E (2008)
Leave it to Pixar to create CGI animated masterpiece after masterpiece. Wall-E is the story about a garbage-collecting robot that is the only active unit of its kind left on Earth. Wall-E is a loveable and innocent robot who lives a solitary life in a deserted and uninhabitable world. But, that is after a robot probe arrives on Earth named Eve to check if the planet’s state has improved.
Wall-E falls in love with the robot and goes on an outer space adventure with Eve, which will significantly affect the future of humanity. The film has a pretty obvious lesson to teach the younger audience: taking care of the environment. However, it also touches upon themes of self-awareness and knowing that everyone’s action has the possibility to affect the world and people around you, either negatively or positively.
The pro-environment message of Wall-E is an essential aspect for children to understand. They will inherit the planet, and protecting it should be a major priority for future generations before it becomes too late.
Duration: 1 h 38 min
6. Pay It Forward (2000)
Pay It Forward is a drama film that stars Haley Joel Osment as Trevor McKinney, a 12-year-old boy who starts a movement called “Pay It Forward,” which aims to spread goodwill and positivity to the world. The lessons in the film can inspire young minds about the importance of being kind to your fellow man. Doing random acts of kindness to others can create a chain reaction that will grow and spread positivity in a community and, hopefully, the world.
Such a lesson is essential for kids to learn as kindness and acceptance are somewhat in short supply these days. The heartwarming positivity of this movie makes it one of the modern classics, and while it comes with a bittersweet ending, the message is clear and concise: Always be kind to others.
Duration: 2 h 3 min
7. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
This underrated stop-animation fantasy film deserves more recognition for its impressive visuals, story, characters, and themes. Featuring the voices of Matthew McConaughey (Beetle), Charlize Theron (Mother), Rooney Mara (The Sisters), Ralph Fiennes (Moon King), and George Takei (Hosato), Kubo and the Two Strings is a fantastic film about gods and monsters with a more resounding theme of family and compassion.
The film follows the quest of Kubo (Art Parkinson), a young boy living in a peaceful seashore village with his mother. However, when sinister forces appear to destroy his home, he must go on a quest to find a legendary Samurai armor and defeat a powerful spirit. During his journey, he will be joined by a mentor figure in the form of a Japanese macaque monkey and an amnesiac human-insect warrior named beetle.
The movie starts as a classic fantasy adventure tale but actually holds deeper themes about love, family, sacrifice, and redemption. Despite touching upon darker subject matters, Kubo and the Two Strings is a fantastic movie that holds a valuable lesson for kids.
Duration: 1 h 41 min
8. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
While The Pursuit of Happyness features more serious themes and is pretty much a straight-up drama movie, the lessons that it imparts to its viewers have no age restrictions. The film is based on the memoir of Chris Gardner (Will Smith) and his son Christopher (Jaden Smith) during their struggles.
The movie shows the very real struggle of being on the poverty line but also shows highlights the determination of the human being to survive and succeed. The father and son’s hardships make the eventual triumph that much sweeter.
The central theme of The Pursuit of Happyness is about never giving up on one’s dreams. With determination and grit, anything can be achieved. Furthermore, it imparts the lesson that miracles are something that people make happen, which is a worthy message to everyone.
Duration: 1 h 57 min