By Chloë Bloodworth
For me and many other high school seniors, 2020 is a very special year. It means graduation, potentially starting college in a new place, and making new friends. As 2019 comes to a close, so does my childhood. I have just turned 18 and will be able to vote in the upcoming presidential election. With all of these new beginnings, I do not want to forget who I was as a child and what I appreciated growing up. Reflecting back on my childhood, I remember my favorite movies that helped shape me into the person I am today.
The first movie I would like to discuss is Nim’s island, which came out in 2009. In this film, a preteen girl named Nim (Abigail Breslin) lives with her kind father on a beautiful island full of wildlife. I greatly admired Nim’s courage for eating unusual foods (think mealworms and ants) and for trying to protect the island in her father’s absence. She works well with animals, taking after her dad, a marine biologist. Seeing them work together on his projects sparked my interest in marine biology, and some of my friends can attest that the movie did the same for them.
There is also an eventual friendship between Nim and an author/ newcomer to the island, Alex Rover (Jodie Foster) as they work together. This movie taught me about friendship, courage, and marine biology. It is based on a book by Wendy Orr so if you would prefer to read the book before watching the movie, feel free.
The second movie I appreciated a lot as a child is It Takes Two. Plot-wise, it is pretty similar to The Parent Trap, but it features Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, some of my favorite celebrities growing up. A twin myself, I appreciated seeing real twins onscreen that were not shown as essentially the same person, like many twins were portrayed as in shows and movies at the time. This movie is charmingly 90s and takes place on a beautiful summer camp for underprivileged kids. Amanda (Mary-Kate) is an orphan who is super close to a woman named Diane (Kirstie Alley) who is almost like a foster mother to her, and who helps the orphans and runs the camp. I greatly admired Diane’s fun and caring spirit, which partly inspired me to become a summer camp counselor.
When Amanda runs into Alyssa (Ashley), a girl who looks identical to her and has come outside to escape the wrath of her dreadful stepmother, she is taken by surprise. If you have ever seen The Parent Trap, you can probably guess what Alyssa and Ashley figure out and what schemes they cook up. Regardless, I highly recommend this movie to any teen. It is pretty timeless, and the kids I babysit enjoy this movie as much as I did back in the early 2000s. It Takes Two expressed the joys of being a twin and the power in being a kid.
As I got a little older, I watched Bend It Like Beckham and loved it. In this movie, Jess, a girl whose parents from India hold her to a particular standard that does not exactly match who she really is, is caught between her Indian family and her dreams of becoming a soccer star. With the help of her soccer player friend Jules (Kierra Knightly), Jess attempts to reach her goals. I loved getting to see both Indian and British culture in this movie, as well as tons of humor and girl power. The soccer moves are pretty fun to watch, too. This movie taught me about friendship, and that a parent’s expectations for their child may not always fit that child’s true self.
The final movie I look back on is 13 Going On 30. This was just the thing I needed to see in middle school, because I remember feeling insecure about myself and wishing I could just grow up fast. In the movie, 13-year old Jenna feels unattractive and rejected by her peers. After a particularly embarrassing experience, she makes a wish to be “thirty, flirty, and thriving”, a line that she read in a women’s magazine. With the help of some magical fairy dust from her best friend, this wish turns to reality. Jenna discovers what it would really be like if she had the adult life she had been envious of as a middle schooler. It turns out not to be as exciting as she had imagined it. Adult Jenna (Jennifer Garner) realizes that in order to be truly happy, she must become in touch with her authentic, 13-year-old self. This movie reminded me to appreciate where I was in life and to value my dreams and ideas despite my young age.
Adults may see these simply as goofy kids’ movies, but for me, they were stories that shaped my views on courage, friendship, beauty, and life in general. I am thankful for all of the role models in each of these films and strive to be as curious as Nim, as empowered as Amanda and Alyssa, as caring as Dianne, as determined as Jess, and as authentic as Jenna. Are there any movies or books from your childhood that have shaped you into who you currently are? If so, I would love for you to share them in the comment section. I hope you all have a wonderful 2020!
Nim’s Island [Photo]. (2008, May 15). Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/phim/2496576514