If you have a teenage daughter, chances are there’s a hole on your couch where your child used to sit and watch “Blue’s Clues” with you.
You think she’s still around. Food mysteriously disappears from the fridge. Hair products routinely liberate themselves from your bathroom. A feral snarling noise erupts whenever her younger brother gets too close to her bedroom door. The data from your family cellular plan evaporates like fog under the noon-day sun.
But you haven’t seen her in a while. So tempt her away from her cave with a trail of Reese’s Pieces and one of these parent-tested movies. They might even open up a good conversation when the credits roll.
“Hidden Figures” (2016):
African-American women (Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer) face racism and use their math skills to help get NASA off the ground in the 1960s.
“Freaky Friday” (2003): Anna (Lindsay Lohan) and her overworked mom (Jamie Lee Curtis) walk in each other’s shoes when a magical fortune cookie swaps their bodies.
“The Princess Bride” (1987): True story: I had children only so I could someday watch this movie with them. Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles … and an eminently quotable script.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962): Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch defends a black client against an unjust rape charge; and his daughter, Scout (Mary Badham), learns that her quiet Southern town isn’t what she thought it was.
“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (1947): A weeper about a young widow (Gene Tierney) who moves to a seaside cottage, only to find it haunted by the ghost of a handsome but cranky sea captain (Rex Harrison).
“What a Girl Wants” (2003):
An American teenager (Amanda Bynes) learns that her father (Colin Firth) is a wealthy British politician, so she goes to England to meet him. And makes a lot of trouble, while she’s at it. Consider this your kid’s Colin Firth gateway drug and check out his “Pride and Prejudice” miniseries and, depending on your tolerance for a few F-bombs, “The King’s Speech.” If your kid likes Bynes, make it a triple feature with “Sydney White” and “She’s the Man.”
“Bend It Like Beckham” (2002):
All Jess (Parminder Nagra) wants to do is play soccer, but her conservative religious family thinks she should spend more time learning to cook and landing a husband.
“Mean Girls” (2004): Lindsay Lohan’s Cady has lived her whole life in Africa, being home-schooled and living oblivious to the toxic aspects of girl culture, when her folks move back to the States and enroll her in high school. She’s soon in the orbit of Queen Bee Regina George, learning about girl rules and burn books. Many a meme was born here.
“Warm Bodies” (2013): A dreamy zombie (Nicholas Hoult) saves a living girl (Teresa Palmer) in perhaps the loosest interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” ever.
“10 Things I Hate About You” (1999):
More Surprise! Shakespeare! Mysterious Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) pursues the smart and sarcastic Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) so a rich kid can have a shot at Kat’s younger sister. “The Taming of the Shrew” never had a better soundtrack.
“Real Women Have Curves” (2002): A first-generation Mexican-American woman (America Ferrera in her breakout role) is torn between her traditional family’s expectations and her desire to get an education.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012):
Two high school seniors (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) take a socially awkward freshman (Logan Lerman) under their wing.