10 inspirational movies to get you off the couch


Yesterday I was offered the chance to publish a fantastic post (courtesy of Best Online Colleges) about movies that do, literally, get you off the couch! Read on and enjoy...

Movies have been, and continue to be, the most powerfully transformative art form in our century. Often, we recommend a particular movie to a friend or family member because we believe they will find it inspirational, telling them, "This movie will change your life." Some movies can make you feel as if you've been tricked, after blowing your hard-earned cash on a ticket, into viewing scene after scene of CGI-created destruction with intermittent pauses for inane dialogue. After such a movie, you feel cheated, and ready for a nap. Thankfully, there are other movies, movies made with more integrity, that can inspire you to get your butt off the proverbial couch and do something you didn't previously think you were capable of doing. Here are 10 such movies.

Julie & Julia
In this 2009 drama, Amy Adams and recent Oscar winner Meryl Streep play Julie and Julia, respectively, two women from different generations who find themselves at a crossroads, wondering how to take control of and enjoy their lives. Adams' Julie works in a cubicle at a call center in lower Manhattan answering questions about insurance claims from those affected by September 11 attacks. At the same time, we see Julia Child living with her devoted husband Paul in 1950s Paris, and, after some unsuccessful attempts at playing bridge and making hats for intellectual stimulation, enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu cooking school to learn the art of French cooking. Julie, who loves to cook, is inspired to create a blog to document her attempt to cook every single recipe contained in Julia Child's masterpiece Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Though they never meet in person, their stories are similar and similarly inspiring.

Breaking Away
"He's never tired! He's never miserable! When I was his age, I was tired and miserable!" So says used car salesman Ray (Paul Dooley) of his son Dave (Dennis Christopher), who at the age of 19 has yet to apply to college, preferring instead to obsess over competitive bicycle racing, and all things Italian. Dave and three of his buddies, all from working class families, live in a sort of post-adolescent limbo in their hometown of Bloomington, Ind., until each is forced to make a clear decision regarding their future. It's a completely believable movie about working class life, a subject that Hollywood today seems completely unable or unwilling to address.

Still Bill
This 2009 documentary traces the career of singer-songwriter Bill Withers, who composed and recorded such timeless classics as "Lean On Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone." In 1985, Withers more or less walked away from the music industry, grateful for the degree of success he had achieved, and content to enjoy life with his family, away from the spotlight. In one scene, at a special event, Withers meets a group of children who, like he did as a child, stutter. Withers dropped out of ninth grade in part because of his stuttering, and eventually received speech therapy while he was in the Navy. The children sing Withers a song, and he's moved to tears, reminded of how far he has come. It's one of many powerful yet understated moments in movies that tells the story of a great American songwriter who happens to be still Bill.

The Karate Kid
We have no actual data to back this up, but we believe the 1984 film The Karate Kid inspired untold numbers of grade school and adolescent aged boys and girls to seriously begin studying a martial art. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel who has relocated from New Jersey to the lion's den that is California's San Fernando Valley. There, in spite of his best effort to fight back, he is bullied and beaten up by a blond psycho named Johnny, the disciple of a martial arts instructor channeling post-Vietnam stress disorder into training his own personal army of teenaged samurai. Daniel is rescued from a brutal attack by Johnny and his buddies by handyman Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita) who happens to be a martial arts master. Mr. Miyagi spends time training Daniel to fight Johnny and his crew at a martial arts competition, teaching him that humility and martial arts must go hand in hand. This is a surprisingly moving film as Daniel, the child of a single mom, puts all of his energy into becoming a good man.

Harold and Maude
Funerals, multiple staged suicides, and acts of civil disobedience are all found in abundance in the 1971 cult classic, Harold and Maude. Harold (Bud Cort) is a friendless, emotionally stunted young man who, in his free time, attends funerals. At one funeral, he meets Maude (Ruth Gordon), who goes to funerals for reasons that are very different than Harold's. Maude insists they become friends, and slowly Harold is pulled out of his shell by Maude who inspires him to live life instead of pretending he is dead. The movie's soundtrack is a collection of songs by Cat Stevens, including "If You Want To Sing Out Sing Out," memorably performed by a joyous Maude and a mumbling Harold.

The Matrix
Violent, but not ultraviolent, and absolutely capturing the collective zeitgeist of 1999, The Matrix is an inspiring work on many levels. The most superficial being, perhaps, Trinity's arm muscles, and the overall physical health of the rebellious heroes in the movie who have trained to kick the asses of the clones of the evil Mr. Smith. Beyond gifted gym and dojo memberships, the philosophies alluded to throughout the film have arguably helped to inspire or at least create some of the vernacular for this past years' "Occupy" movements. Both liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, have appropriated the film's famous blue pill or red pill quote to support their own political agendas.

It's a Wonderful Life
If you have not seen this 1946 classic, DO NOT WATCH THE TRAILER WE'VE KINDLY EMBEDDED BELOW (NB. find this in the link at the top and bottom of this article)! However, if you have seen this movie, chances are you've watched it more than once, most likely every year at Christmas time. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, who is granted the opportunity, thanks to his guardian angel in training, Clarence, to see what would have happened to his friends and family if he had never been born. This comes after a series of setbacks, all having to do with the lack of money, that threaten the well-being of Bailey's wife and children, and compel him to try and commit suicide, so they can collect on his life insurance policy. Anyone who can imagine themselves in Bailey's position will take something away from this movie.

My Left Foot
The award winning 1989 movie My Left Foot is inspired by the life of author, poet, and painter Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy, grew up in working class Dublin, and could only control muscle movement in his left foot. Brown's mother ignored doctors who told her Christy was a "mental defective," and instead taught her son how to read and write. He would grow up to write an autobiography and paint. In spite of revelations that Brown toward the end of his life suffered physical abuse by a neglectful wife, the movie and his story are incredible testaments to one person's ability to overcome overwhelming physical challenges.

American Splendor
Comic book writer Harvey Pekar revolutionized his chosen medium by writing stories that elevated the most mundane events of everyday life, including buying bread, riding a city bus, and arguing with your spouse, into literate, poetic, even heroic tales for the everyman. As Pekar himself says early on in this movie's narration, "If you're the kind of person looking for some fantasy figure to save the day, you got the wrong movie!"American Splendor features not only Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar, but Pekar himself, along with some of his real-life co-workers, giving the movie a thoroughly post-modern feel. Pekar's journey includes a bout with cancer, an ordeal his and his wife Joyce documented in an award-winning graphic novel, Our Cancer Year.

The Pursuit of Happyness
Like a lot of the films we've listed, The Pursuit of Happyness is based on a true story, in this case, the story of Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith, who went from being homeless, to forming his own multi-million dollar brokerage firm. While Gardner was homeless, he interned as a stockbroker, competing against 18 other interns for one paid position. Smith's real-life son Jaden plays Gardner's son Christopher, who was in his care while he was homeless, and slept alongside his dad in homeless shelters and public restrooms.

Visit http://www.bestonlinecolleges.com/blog/2012/10-inspirational-movies-to-get-you-off-the-couch/ to see the movie trailers!

1 comment :

  1. ...great list, Suzy, and yes, I was one of those kids who started performing the crane technique into a punching bag after watching Daniel LaRusso do it ;)



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