Do you have a teenage daughter? Does she run for her bedroom when she gets home from school and emerge only to scavenge snacks from the kitchen or reset the WiFi?
Here’s an idea: Hide her charger cable, pop a tub of corn and hang out on the couch watching movies together like in Ye Olden Tymes. It’s like camping. But with electricity.
Here are a few movies that feature girls and women whose actions change the course of their lives and others’. Save a little popcorn for the after-movie discussion. Oh, and tolerances may vary, so check content warnings on IMDb.com before watching.
“Howl’s Moving Castle” (2004, PG): Hatmaker Sophie (voices of Emily Mortimer and Jean Simmons) doesn’t have a lot of confidence, but when a witch curses her with the body of an old woman, she gathers her courage and goes off in search of a selfish wizard who can reverse the spell. She finds adventure, magic, chaste romance and more in this gorgeous animation from Japan’s legendary Studio Ghibli.
Bonus: If you like the story, check out the quick-read novel it’s based on from Dianna Wynne Jones. If you like the animation, binge other great Studio Ghibli films like “Spirited Away” (2001) and “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988).
“Akeelah and the Bee” (2006, PG): Akeelah (Keke Palmer) is smart. Like, really smart. But her father is dead, her mother ignores her and nobody in her neighborhood seems to expect much from her. Until, that is, she wipes the floor with her competitors at her first spelling bee and an English professor (Laurence Fishburne) agrees to tutor her for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“Ella Enchanted” (2004, PG): Anne Hathaway stars as a denizen of a fairy tale kingdom cursed to be absolutely obedient. Hint: It isn’t as great as most moms would think. Oh, and did I mention it’s a musical?
Bonus: Cary Elwes chews the scenery like a starving termite as an ambitious royal.
“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (2005, PG): Four best friends (Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively and Alexis Bledel) stay in touch as they set off on different paths by sharing a pair of thrift-store pants that magically fit each of their bodies perfectly.
“The Devil Wears Prada” (2006, PG-13): A smart young woman with journalism aspirations (Anne Hathaway) lands a dream job in the office of demanding — very demanding — fashion editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Emily Blunt is especially terrific as a driven, acerbic assistant.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012, PG-13): The world of 6-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) is unraveling as floodwaters rise in her village at the end of the world, the prehistoric aurochs are unleashed again and her father’s health fades.
“Whip It” (2009, PG-13): Shy Bliss (Ellen Page) is on the pageant circuit. Not really because it’s her thing but because it’s her mom’s. But when Bliss discovers women’s roller derby, she trades the tiara for a helmet and the pageant track for the derby track — while trying to keep her mom from finding out. Good luck with that.
“Easy A” (2010, PG-13): Olive (Emma Stone) lies about losing her virginity and soon finds that having a reputation does wonders for her social standing.
“Erin Brockovich” (2000, R): A street-smart single mom (Julia Roberts) harnesses her awesome powers of dogged persistence to talk her way into a job as a legal assistant and then force the utility that poisoned a small California town to take responsibility for its actions. Based on a true story.
“Winter’s Bone” (2000, R): Before she was fighting for freedom as Panem’s Katniss Everdeen, Jennifer Lawrence got raves for playing a tough Ozarks teen hunting down her drug-dealer dad to try to keep her family together.
“Elizabeth” (1998, R): Birth and politics put her on the throne, but here’s how Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) made herself a queen to be reckoned with in the same court that proved deadly to her own mother. Come for sumptuous costumes as far as the eye can see, stay for the intrigue and Joseph Fiennes as the dreamy Earl of Leicester.
“Teen Witch” (1989, PG-13): There’s probably nothing here about a teen girl (Robyn Lively, Blake’s big sis) who discovers she’s, yep, a witch that you wouldn’t hate your younger teen to watch. But younger kids probably won’t appreciate the nuances of this triple-decker ’80s cheese sandwich. Be prepared to rewind through the “Top That!” rap battle several times. Then explain to your kid that you once meant to dress like that.