Good Movies for Pre-Pubescent Boys

Two films have been recently released that are ideal for boys, ages roughly 8-12:        A Monster Calls, and Moonlight. These films address often unspoken questions boys have at this age: Why do bad things happen to good people?  What do you do in those situations?  How do you know what is the “right thing” to do in those situations? What do you do if you hate your mom/dad?  What is sex about?  How can you tell if you are heterosexual or homosexual or something else?

A Monster Calls is about a boy whose mother is dying due to cancer. The boy’s parents are divorced and dad’s presence in the boy’s life is insufficient.  The grandmother is present, is attempting to care for the mother and willing to take the boy in but the grandmother and boy DO NOT get along.

One evening, a wooden man grows out of a tree and addresses the boy.  He tells the boy he will tell the boy 3 stories and then the boy will tell him a story…the story of the nightmare the boy has been having for some time.

The boy reluctantly agrees and then is told 3 stories. The stories correspond to what is going on in his life.  The boy has emotional reactions to the stories. The tree man gives more rational conclusions. These lessons are not lost on the boy.  Eventually, the boy shares his story….his nightmare and together they face it and discuss it.

The lessons of all the stories include: life is not fair, one’s actions need to be evaluated not only on outcome but also intent, life involves suffering, love doesn’t conquer all but can be eternal, tremendously powerful and comes in different forms.

Moonlight teaches the same lessons but in a dramatically different way.  A boy’s life is explored at the ages of approximately 10, 15 and 20.  This young man grows up in “the projects” with a drug addicted mother.  He is shy, quiet, observant, insecure, wanting and needing to be loved. He questions is sexuality.

Early on, he is rescued and develops an attachment to a man who is a drug dealer.  The drug dealer feels for the boy and tries to teach him about being a man, trust, relationships, etc.  Later, the boy asks if he deals drugs and if he sells to his mother.  The dealer is honest. The relationship ends.

In the second chapter, he is an insecure adolescent, unsure of his sexuality, taunted by other, bigger boys, struggling to figure out how to be a man.

In the third chapter, he is now a man and struggles to make sense of his relationship with his mother, a close friend, his chosen profession and his sexuality.

These are films to view before deciding if your son should watch them.  They are excellent films to raise questions for discussion that boys at that age have and often don’t ask or get answered. These are serious films about the hardships of life, not “feel-good” movies.  Don’t be surprised if you or he cries after viewing them.  Don’t be surprised if he reports nightmares about them. Serious but essential things in life are often like that.

I encourage you to view and then watch them with your son.