Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Night: James and the Giant Peach

Movie Wednesday James and the Giant Peach

James Henry Trotter has lived with his ghastly aunts, Sponge and Spiker, ever since his parents were eaten by an escaped rhinoceros. Life is miserable… until a mysterious old man gives him a bag of magic crocodile tongues, which James accidentally uses to grow a peach the size of a house!

This fantastic fruit, and the friendly insects who live in it, might just be James’ path to a new life of adventure, if he can survive ghost pirates, robot sharks, and the return of the deadly rhinoceros, that is.


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Roald Dahl was and continues to be a beloved children’s author. James and the Giant Peach was one of Dahl’s first and most popular novels for children, and in 1996 it was adapted into a film. Produced by Tim Burton and Denise Di Novi, the film combines live action and stop motion animation elements (it took a whole week to animate one minute of film!) in order to contrast of James’ miserable “real” life with the fantastical adventure he goes on inside the giant peach.

James and the Giant Peach is a scary, warmhearted, and beautiful film for the whole family.

Discussion Questions

  • If you’ve read the original book, how do you think the film compares? Out of the changes that have been made, which ones do you think are the most successful?
  • Does James change during the film or is it just that his circumstances change? Explain.
  • What do you think of the combination of animation and live-action sequences? What other films can you think of that do this?
  • Do the occasional songs seem justified or out of place? Why or why not.
  • Are Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker evil or simply unpleasant? Give examples.
  • Do you think there is a moral to the story? If so, what is it?

Additional Resources

The official Roald Dahl website

The ArrowLearn language arts with the James and the Giant Peach (free sample) Arrow!

The Arrow is the monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel (you purchase or obtain the novels yourself). It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Wednesday: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Movie Wednesday A Series of Unfortunate Events

By Brave Writer Alum Amy Frantz

Don’t look! Stop reading now. Unless you are a strange person and enjoy stories about misfortune and mishaps befalling young people, then I suppose you may continue.

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire suddenly find themselves orphaned when their parents die in a suspicious fire. They are sent to live with their “closest” relative Count Olaf, whose uninviting behavior is matched only by his dilapidated home and unreasonable list of chores he expects the children to perform. It soon becomes clear that Olaf’s intentions towards the children are sinister indeed–a phrase which here means “not with the Baudelaires’ best interests at heart”–in fact he just wants their fortune and will stop at nothing to get it. The children’s pleas for help are not taken seriously by the adults who surround them, leaving them to their own resourcefulness to escape the dreadful Olaf.


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Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


The Bad Beginning, the first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, was first published in 1999 by author Daniel Handler under the pseudonym—a word which here means “a fictitious name used by an author”—Lemony Snicket. In the books, Snicket is actually the fictional narrator of the Baudelaire children’s misfortunes and constantly advises the reader to stop reading (which really, you should do. Turn away now before it’s too late).

The books use a Gothic tone contrasted with exaggeratedly absurd events, while Snicket as the narrator maintains that his story is as true as it is unpleasant, bringing an element of whimsy to the otherwise bleak story.

In 2004 the first three books in the series were adapted into a film starring Jim Carrey as the nefarious Count Olaf. Behind-the-Scenes difficulties, however, prevented the making of any sequels.

But in 2017 Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events breathed new life into the story, adapting the first four novels of the Baudelaire children’s unhappy lives to screen.

The Bad Beginning was recently covered in the Arrow Book Club. If your kids wish to know more about the “misfortune, misery, and despair” of the Baudelaire orphans, for reasons which we here cannot fathom, then take this opportunity to deep dive into the filmed adaptations. Watch one or both and compare!

Discussion Questions

  • When the Baudelaires learn of their parents’ death, Snicket says that if you haven’t experienced what the children are experiencing, then you cannot imagine how they feel. Do you think this is true? Explain why or why not.
  • In the 2004 film, the events of the first book, The Bad Beginning, are split up and bookend the film instead of being kept together the way they are in the novel. How do you think this alters the characters’ journeys in the story?
  • The Netflix series adds in several scenes that aren’t in the books. Particularly Mr. Poe’s wife being more concerned with getting good headlines for the newspaper than actually caring about the newly orphaned children. How do you feel about these additions and what do you think they might be saying about society?
  • The film has an uplifting ending in stark contrast with the Netflix series, which maintains the ongoing nature of the Baudelaires’ unhappiness. Which way do you prefer the story to be told and why?
  • Which portrayal of Count Olaf do you find the most effective, Jim Carrey’s slapstick humor of the film or Neil Patrick Harris’ more subdued and sinister performance in the Netflix series? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources

How to make DIY A Series of Unfortunate Events themed mug, pillow, and notebook

The ArrowLearning language arts with the Bad Beginning Arrow!

The Arrow is the monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel (you purchase or obtain the novels yourself). It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Wednesday: The Hobbit

Movie Wednesday The Hobbit

Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit who values his ordinary life filled with ordinary comforts. But one day the wizard Gandalf puts a mark on Bilbo’s door and a company of thirteen Dwarves shows up on Bilbo’s doorstep. The Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, have set out to retake their home which they were driven from many years ago by a fire-breathing dragon. The company wants Bilbo to be their burglar and help them take back their home and the treasures within it. Bilbo is quickly sucked into a world of adventure, danger, haunted woods, trolls, and dragons, and he begins to discover that perhaps he’s not so ordinary after all.


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Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by J.R.R. Tolkien was first published in 1937. Although considered by some a “prequel” to the later published Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit was initially a separate story in its own right. It has gone on to be widely considered a classic both of children’s literature and high fantasy.

The Hobbit has been adapted many times over the years, one of the most recent additions being the film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. The three films are titled

The Hobbit Trilogy draws not only from Tolkien’s original novel, but also from material in the appendices of the third Lord of the Rings installment, the Return of the King, as well as original material created for the film.

At first intended to be a duology, the films were expanded into a trilogy with additional scenes filmed and added in. All three movies were filmed in 3D and have a higher frame rate giving the films a distinctive, clear, and “glowing” quality.

A note to parents: All three installments in the Hobbit Trilogy are rated PG-13. We recommend looking up the films on sites like Commonsense Media before deciding if they are right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • It has often been noted that the Hobbit novel does not feature any female characters. The film trilogy adds the female Woodland Elf Tauriel, a completely new character unique to the movies, and also features Galadriel, a character from Lord of the Rings. What do you think Tauriel and Galadriel’s presence adds to the story?
  • Do you have a favorite Dwarf in the company? How do you think the story might be different if it was told from that character’s point of view instead?
  • After the Dwarves retake Erebor, Thorin begins covetously hording his gold and grows suspicious of his friends and comrades. Near the end of the final film after overcoming his “dragon sickness,” Thorin reflects that “If more people valued home above gold, this world would be a merrier place.” What do you think the story may be trying to say about greed and materialism?
  • At the beginning of An Unexpected Journey, Bilbo is none too happy to have his quiet evening crashed by the Dwarves. How do you think you would react if you were in Bilbo’s position?

Additional Resources

The Hobbit Learning Resources and Activities

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Hobbit Boomerang!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Movie Night: The Sword in the Stone

Movie Wednesday The Sword in the Stone

England. The Dark Ages. The King has died and left no heir. But in a quiet churchyard, a sword is stuck fast in a stone, with an inscription saying that only one can pull out the sword — the new king of England.

Arthur (nicknamed the Wart) lives an ordinary life with his adopted father Sir Ector … until he meets the wizard Merlin, who offers him an education like no other! Under Merlin’s guidance, Wart is turned into a fish, a squirrel and a sparrow, and has some amazing adventures. But he’s still just a scrawny boy. He couldn’t be the one destined to pull out the sword. Could he?


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Everyone knows the legend of King Arthur. Throughout history, it has inspired films, musicals, operas, TV series — and The Sword in the Stone, a 1938 novel by T. H. White. Disney then adapted it into a film, released in 1963 it was the last animated film to be released before the death of Walt Disney.

The Sword in the Stone may not be Disney’s best known film, but it’s full of memorable characters and important themes and is still worth a watch.

Discussion Questions

  • If you’ve read the original book, how do you think the film compares?
  • If Arthur was destined to become king from the start, did he really have any choice about it?
  • Have you seen or read any other stories based on the Arthurian legend? Which is your personal favorite?
  • Several elements of the film, such as the character of Madame Mim, weren’t in the original novel. How do you feel about these additions?
  • What does Arthur learn through the film? How does his character change?

Additional Resources

Was King Arthur real?

How to make a cardboard sword

Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Jane Eyre

Movie Wednesday Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is an orphan. She lives in her cruel aunt’s household where she is mistreated and blamed for her mistreatment. Her aunt soon sends her away to an all girls boarding school where the appalling living conditions are matched only by the ill-treatment of the students. Finally, as an adult, Jane departs and takes up a governess position at Thornfield Hall where she meets the enigmatic Mr. Rochester. A strong passion begins to grow between Jane and her employer, but there are mysteries contained within Thornfield that will threaten everything Jane has come to know and love.


[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]


Originally published as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography under the penname Currer Bell in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is considered a classic of Gothic Romance and has been oft adapted to screen with films dating back as far as 1910.

In 2011, Jane Eyre was once again adapted to screen by director Cary Fukunaga and starring Mia Wasikowska in the titular role and Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester, alongside Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax. This film tells Jane’s story out of sequence, beginning with her fleeing Thornfield and flashing back to the events that led her to do so.

A note to parents: Jane Eyre (2011) is rated PG-13. We recommend looking up the film on sites such as Commonsense Media for detailed lists of content so that you can make an informed decision about whether the film is right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • The 2011 film uses a nonlinear narrative, meaning scenes are out of strict chronological sequence, did you find it difficult or easy to follow? How does the format impact the telling of the story?
  • Jane begins at Thornfield as Mr. Rochester’s employee, he even withholds a portion of her wages attempting to insure she returns from visiting her ailing aunt, how do you think that impacts the power balance between the two characters? Is it possible to form a healthy relationship when one person holds most of the power in a dynamic?
  • Fire is a running motif throughout the story, beginning as small candle flames and hearths but escalating to engulf Thornfield Hall and disable Mr. Rochester, what do you think the fire represents?
  • Mr. Rochester withholds vital information about himself from Jane with disastrous consequences, why do you think he did that? And do you agree with Jane’s decision to return to him after she has learned the truth?

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Jane Eyre Boomerang!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.