Family Film Mom is a weekly column about family entertainment for parents with kids (and kids with parents) by Tara McNamara, the editor and founder of KidsPickFlicks.com.
I’ve always wondered if recruitment for radio ad salesmen dropped after the release of City Slickers, in which Billy Crystal’s character is derided because he sells "air" for a living. As a teen trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life, the movie led me to believe that sales was not for me. On the other hand, Absence of Malice – which was in heavy rotation on HBO at the time – made truth-telling through journalism seem like the most exciting job on the planet.
Opening new worlds in the way professions are portrayed onscreen is one of the undervalued components of movies. Kids can get a glimpse of what it might be like to work as an astronaut, an architect, a superhero or a spy. As a parent, I’m ecstatic when I see movies with characters with careers in fields other than the performing arts. At my house, my tween became intrigued with becoming a marine veterinarian after seeing Dolphin Tale.
Initially, I was thrilled to see a scientist character in this week’s The Bourne Legacy (a teens-only PG-13 film); if anyone can make science seem sexy it’s Rachel Weisz! However, the audience soon learns that being a scientist can be just as stressful and morally complicated as being a professional assassin. On the other hand, The Odd Life of Timothy Green should be lauded for portraying a couple who enjoy their real-life, non-glamorous jobs. Jim and Cindy Green work in their small town’s big industry: a pencil factory. Working in a factory isn’t just a way to pay the bills while the Greens wait for their big break; instead, it’s portrayed as a desirable job one would wish to keep. In fact, along with their son Timothy, the Greens become passionate about trying to create a cheaper and more ecofriendly pencil.
Perhaps careers in radiology, cabinet making or accounting don't make for interesting movies, but they can still make for interesting careers – and unlike Weisz’s groundbreaking scientist, there’s not much chance the government will dedicate all their resources to hunting you down.
Here are three movies to see with your kids this weekend:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. To get out of spending his summer interning for his dad, Greg Heffley tells his parents he is working at the country club. Greg’s lies catch up to him in hilarious fashion in the most relatable Diary of a Wimpy Kid yet.
Nitro Circus 3D. Dads, take your teen sons to see this insane stuntathon. You guys will be talking about it for weeks.
Ice Age: Continental Drift. When the land mass breaks apart, Manny, Diego and Sid and are on the wrong side of the ice sheet. The only way to get back to Manny’s family is by overcoming pirates, sirens and Sid’s set-in-her-ways grandma.
To find out what kids think about these films, please go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com, where all kids are movie critics.