This is a fun topic for me to write on. Who doesn’t love the movies?! Some “escapes” are not healthy, like crystal meth or serial killing. But the ninety to a hundred and twenty minute escape of a motion picture is very appealing, dare I say to us all. I have put together nine movies and one television show that were written and designed to not only temporarily lose ourselves in, but also inspire us.
Dead Poets Society
Writer Tom Schulman creates a near masterpiece in this work of inspirational art. A cast lead by Robin Williams as teacher John Keating shows us that mundane school work and boring lives can have fresh life breathed into it. This movie uplifts and gives us hope to achieve higher, even in the face of great repression and tragedy.
The Pursuit of Happyness
Will Smith’s Chris Gardner is a down on his luck, can’t keep his wife happy, yet amazing father kind of man. This film documents his rise after losing his wife and home, and attempting to become a stock broker, all the while homeless and raising his son. Written by Steven Conrad, this movie has us cheering for Chris, as he is just a man like any of us, yet he barrels through obstacle after obstacle as he fights and claws to reach his goal. Love it.
Kind of a no brainer, had to be added. George Lucas created this fantastical world where good defeats evil and it never gets old. From Luke Skywalker, to Han Solo, to Jabba the Hutt, to Darth Vader, to Jar-Jar Binks (wait..what?!)…these are fun characters we all enjoy and lose ourselves in.
This is one of my top favorite movies of all time. Yes, we love to hate on Mr. Mel Gibson but here, with the help of writer Randall Wallace, he gives us nearly three hours of inspiration. Love, lost love and bloody vengeful war! A thousand stars out of five.
It’s a Wonderful Life
An oldie but a goody, as they say. Frank Capra gives us a (literally) wonderful Christmas movie featuring Jimmy Stewart as lovable, suicidal, then given a second chance George Bailey. The idea of being so down on your luck that you have no way out, only to be given another crack at things, even if that means seeing your life as though you never existed. Brilliantly written.
Yo, Adrian. Who can ever forget the underdog story of gutter-living Rocky Balboa who goes on to face boxing’s heavy weight champion of the world! We love his numb-nut charm throughout his journey, whether (un)skillfully swooning geeky Adrian, to training with the ultimate has-been Mickey, to ultimately squaring off with the immortal Apollo Creed. Now I want to watch it again!!
The Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum wrote an absolute classic here. Nothing but fond memories flood in when remembering the beloved, quirky characters that are Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion. This movie allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the story, in the characters and in the good that most definitely conquers the evil wicked witch of the west. Six stars out of five.
The Karate Kid
I’m talking about the original one, with Ralph Macchio playing Daniel LaRusso, Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi and that ridiculous song, “You’re the best around, Nothin’s gonna ever keep you down!”. Always seem to have that stuck in my head. Yet another tale of the underdog, we see vicious bullies get their butts kicked, and we enjoy Miyagi’s unorthodox training of young Daniel and the confidence that comes. Written by Robert Mark Kamen.
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
A gem of a movie. You cheer for the “good guys” aka loonies, and you cringe when you see Nurse Ratched, the poisonous enemy and face of all that is evil in this world. Writer Ken Kesey gives us such classic characters as Randle McMurphy, the anti-hero portrayed by a young Jack Nicholson. We also throughly enjoy Danny Devito’s Martini, Christopher Lloyd’s Max and who can forget the beloved pretending-to-be-mute Chief. We feel bursts of victory for these sad folk, as they briefly escape, and later on let women in for a party that obviously goes haywire. So good.
I had to include this sitcom! I adored it growing up and my children are now loving it as well. Creator Jeff Franklin gives us a fresh look at single parenting (back in its day fresh, at any rate). Father of three girls, Danny Tanner loses his wife, so brother-in-law Jesse and childhood friend Joey move in to help out with the girls. It definitely speaks to me as a single father. The inspiration lies in that with help, life can be better than ever. Life is what we make it.
Inspiration, folks. Some might say it is the lifeblood of creativity. As a writer, I can still lose myself in these great works of film and television, but I always consider the origin of these stories and all stories, for that matter. No matter how well of a job the actors did, or how great it made us feel…it all started with the writer who created and crafted each and every show. My hat goes off to them, even though I never wear them.