Movies with a Message

Movies with a Message

A collection of movies with positive, uplifting messages. How many messages can you find?

One of the cool things about my martial arts practice of Jung SuWon was the way we would all gather around Grandmaster Kim afterwards, and tell her what we had learned from watching the movie.

As with all such sessions, junior students went first, so they wouldn’t be influenced by senior’s observations — which were expected to be just a touch more insightful!

From our observations, Grandmaster learned as much about us and our growth as we did from watching the movie — but the cool thing was that weren’t just being entertained: We were expected to grow.

Here is a list of more than 50 movies (53, at the moment) that I keep on hand for a positive-message refresher. Only the shortest of synopses and main actors are given — so there are no spoilers.

The messages you observe will be the ones you need in your current situation, and the ones you are most attuned to. So what you take from a given movie will be a highly personal thing. But since these movies contain multiple messages, there’s something in there for everyone. (And they are just darn good, entertaining movies!)

Enjoy the movies! Find the messages, and tell me your favorites in the comments below. (You may find it added to the list, with a credit!)

The 13th Warrior

Accomplished Muslim courtier Antonio Banderas joins a band of Viking warriors. (Amazon Link)

300 Spartans

Gerard Butler and a small band of warriors saves Greek civilization. (Amazon Link)

August Rush

Musically gifted prodigy searches for his parents. (Amazon Link)


People explore an alien world — as aliens. (Amazon Link)

Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony

The most spectacular Olympics opening ceremony of all time. Set a standard that has yet to be matched. (Amazon Link)

Billy Elliot

Young step dancer grows up in Ireland. (Amazon Link)

The Bodyguard

Kevin Kostner and Whitney Houston. Bodyguard protects singer. (Amazon Link)

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz. Music vs. war. (Amazon Link)


Instant animated classic. Race car gets left in a small town. (Amazon Link)


Potato farmer enters ultra-long distance race in Australia. (Amazon Link)

Coal Miner’s Daughter

Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones tell the story of Loretta Lynn. (Amazon Link)

The Cutting Edge

D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly as an unlikely pair of figure skaters. (Amazon Link)

Dirty Dancing

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey tear up the dance floor. (Amazon Link)

Doc Holiday

New York doctor Michael J. Fox, on his way to Hollywood, is forced to spend time in a small southern town. (Amazon Link)


Exceptional drummer Nick Cannon joins a college marching band. (Amazon Link)

Eddie and the Cruisers

Poet Tom Berenger partners with a singer Michael Pare. (Amazon Link)


Jennifer Beals makes a life as a dancer. (Amazon Link)


Kevin Bacon tears up the dance floor. (Amazon Link)

The Four Feathers

Heath Ledger’s hard times as a British soldier in the mid-East. (Amazon Link)

G.I. Jane

Demi Moore takes on Seal training under Viggo Mortensen. (Amazon Link)


Roman general Russel Crowe is forced to become a gladiator. (Amazon Link)

Good Will Hunting

Boston “southie” Matt Damon as a mathematics genius interacting with Robin Williams and Ben Affleck. (Amazon Link)

Green Street Hooligans

American teen Elijah Wood is introduced to a London soccer crew. (Amazon Link)

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

Based on true story. Loyalty and love of a dog. Heart warming. (Amazon Link)

Harry Potter

The entire potter series is chock-filled with terrific messages on how to live life well. In my estimation, it is the best possible collection for young adults to read. (Except for book 5. That one is a major downer that is three times longer than it needs to be. So for that, I recommend watching the movie instead.) And unlike the bible, the Potter books are consistent. It lacks the mixed-messages that are so frequently used to justify anything at all. (Amazon Link)

King Arthur

Clive Owen as realistic King Arthur, with Keira Knightly and a great supporting cast. (Amazon Link)

A Knight’s Tale

Squire Heath Ledger becomes a knight. (Amazon Link)

The Last of the Mohicans

Daniel Day-Lewis in the frontier, with Madeline Stowe. (Amazon Link)

The Last Samurai

Tom Cruise stars as an American in Japan as Western culture was being introduced. (Amazon Link)

Legally Blonde

Fashionista Reese Witherspoon becomes a lawyer. (Amazon Link)

The Legend of Bagger Vance

Will Smith councils golfer Matt Damon as Bobby Jones. (Amazon Link)

Master and Commander

Russel Crowe  sets sail for the far side of the world as commander of a British sailing ship, with Paul Bettany at his side. (Amazon Link)

The Matrix

Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburne, and Carrie-Anne Moss take on the “world”. (Amazon Link)

Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood is persuaded to train boxer Hillary Swank. Morgan Freeman assists and narrates. (Amazon Link)


Matthew McConaughey is hiding out on a river island in the South. (Amazon Link)

My Cousin Vinny

Teen Ralph Macchio in the deep south (and deep trouble) needs help from brand new lawyer from New York Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei. (Amazon Link)

October Sky

Teen Jake Gyllenhaal discovers rockets and the stars under guidance of teacher Laura Dern. (Amazon Link)

Premium Rush

Bicycle messenger Joseph Gordon-Levitt braves the dangers of New York, on a fixed-gear bike–with no shifters, no coasters, and no brakes. Heart-pounding action. (Amazon Link)

Race the Sun

True story of teens entering a solar-car race in Australia. (Amazon Link)

Remember the Titans

Denzel Washington coaches a newly-integrated football team in the South. (Amazon Link)

Rocky Balboa

Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire take on the boxing ring. (Amazon Link)


Sean Astin is determined to play football at Notre Dame. (Amazon Link)

Saint Ralph

With little more than faith, young scrawny kid becomes a distance runner. (Amazon Link)

Searching for Bobby Fischer

Max Pomeranc plays chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, who grows up as normal kid thanks to his father, played by Joe Mantegna. (Amazon Link)

Somewhere in Time

Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour in a truly stunning love story that transcends time. (Amazon Link)

Spare Parts

Based on a true story. George Lopez helps high school students enter an underwater robot competition. (Amazon Link)

Sweet Home Alabama

New Yorker Reese Witherspoon returns to her childhood home in the South. (Amazon Link)


FBI agent Val Kilmer investigates on an Indian reservation, supervised by Sam Shepard, but cooperating with local constable Graham Greene. (Amazon Link)

Top Gun

Tom Cruise takes on Naval Flight Training with Kelly McGillis. (Amazon Link)


High school football hero whose career was cut short by an injury gets to live out his life without the injury. (Amazon Link)

Vision Quest

Wrestler Matthew Modine takes on great new challenges, including Linda Fiorentino. (Amazon Link)

Walk the Line

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon recount the story of Johnny Cash. (Amazon Link)

Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot saves the world. (Amazon Link)

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