In a summer full of superheroes and studly Olympians, it’s easy to forget that people love an underdog. Never fear, Hollywood is here to remind you. This month, moviegoers will fall in love with a screw-up (Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Aug. 3), a freak of nature (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Aug. 15) and a creepy kid who can speak with the dead (ParaNorman, Aug. 17).
In real life it seems like it's the popular, the physically fit, the attractive, the wealthy, and the well-connected who succeed. In the movies, audiences can laugh and root for characters who struggle to fit in while staying true to themselves. Some of our most iconic movies are about lovable misfits, such as Revenge of the Nerds, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles and The Goonies.
It’s satisfying to root for dorks and screw-ups because, deep down, most of us see ourselves in the same light. We know our own most awkward moments and, of course, the most awkward age is tweendom. Wimpy Kid Greg Heffley lies to get what he wants and makes terrible decisions, yet we pull for him because he makes the selfish choices we’d all like to make…but know better. Timothy Green does stuff that’s a little weird, and who among us doesn’t have a secret “weird” habit? While most of us can’t communicate with the dead like in ParaNorman, we can all relate to being rejected or misunderstood. These three kids’ films present the universal struggle to be accepted by our peers and our own families.
Ultimately, underdog stories are the most gratifying because when a dark horse succeeds, it gives our inner dork hope that we, too, can succeed.
Here are three films you can watch with your family this weekend:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Greg Heffley’s shenanigans go full throttle in the third edition of the franchise. Kids love this series (Rodrick Rules was voted Best Film of the Year by KidsPickFlicks readers) but this film is laugh-out-loud relatable for all members of the family. Steve Zahn’s hilarious father-son bonding attempts may make him the Best Movie Dad Ever.
Ice Age: Continental Drift. Nothing squelches a sassy teen more than facing what seems to be the end of the world. Manny has to overcome pirates, sirens and Sid’s comedically set-in-her ways grandma to reunite with his family after the land mass starts to break apart.
Brave. Merida may be a princess but she has a little Greg Heffley in her, too. Her selfish decision threatens to ruin her family and her kingdom in this mother-daughter film.
Find out what kids think about all of these films at www.KidsPickFlicks.com, where all kids are movie critics.