Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox[This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Brave Writer!]

Roald Dahl wrote many books which captured the hearts of more than one generation. Many of his books have been adapted into films, and Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the very best.

In his youth, Mr. Fox had a thrilling time as a dashing hero, stealing poultry from any farmer he could find. But now he’s a respectable member of society, married with a son, and living a quiet life as a newspaper columnist. Until he secretly performs one last, spectacular raid on three different farms—belonging to Boggis, Bunce and Bean, three of the richest and scariest men alive.

As a result of his recklessness, Mr. Fox now has to save his family and friends from the farmers’ revenge. As the animals flee from their homes and shelter deep underground, with no food and no future, can Mr Fox make up for his selfishness by truly being fantastic?

It may differ wildly from the original book, but Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully unusual and witty family film, and one of the most beautifully animated films ever made. Give it a go!

Discussion Questions

  • If you’ve read the book, how do you think it compares to the film? Support your view with examples.
  • Was Mr. Fox right to risk his family’s lives by stealing from Boggis, Bunce and Bean? Pretend you are a lawyer, either defending Mr. Fox or prosecuting him then write your opening statement to a jury.
  • Were Boggis, Bunce and Bean justified in destroying an entire wood in order to wipe out a family of foxes? Were they just trying to protect their livelihood, or did they take it too far? Explain.
  • Instead of using CGI, the filmmakers used stop motion animation to make this film. Do you think the film would work as well if made with CGI animation. What about live action?
  • If you’ve seen any other films based on Roald Dahl books, such as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory or The BFG, which do you think is the best, and why?

Want to throw a Fantastic Mr. Fox viewing party? Here are some resources:

Fantastic Mr. Fox Movie Party

Fox Crafts (finger puppets, fox mask, etc.)

The food in the film is either meat or carrots and the drink is cider, so here are a few related sweet treats.

Yummy Scrummy Carrot Cake

Turkey Cupcakes

Apple Cider (store bought or make your own)


Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Bridge to Terabithia

Movie Wednesday: Bridge to Terabithia
[This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Brave Writer!]

Bridge to Terabithia isn’t a nice, simple movie you can unwind with. It’s the sort of film that breaks your heart, mends it again, and leaves you with tears in your eyes. It’s not the easiest film to watch, but it’s absolutely worth watching.

Jess lives a fairly ordinary life. He goes to school, avoids bullies, argues with his parents, and draws in his bedroom. But his life becomes extraordinary when a girl called Leslie moves in next door. She’s rich, outgoing, and an only child, everything Jess isn’t. Despite their differences, they become firm friends, and when they find a way into the woods near their homes and discover an abandoned treehouse, they create an entirely new world for themselves: Terabithia.

In Terabithia, they can do anything they want—right trolls, beat bullies, run as fast as the wind. But when tragedy strikes, all of Terabithia’s magic might not be enough to heal a broken heart.

This family film is sweet without bring sentimental, heart-breaking without being despondent, and uplifting without being cheesy. Give it a watch!

Discussion Questions

  • If you’ve read the original book by Katherine Paterson, how do you think the film compares to it? Is it a faithful adaptation? Share a few examples to support your answer.
  • Describe Jess and May Belle’s father.
  • Leslie tells Jess, “Close your eyes, but keep your mind wide open.” What do you think this means?
  • Was it selfish of Jess to go on the field trip with Ms. Edmunds without Leslie? Why or why not.
  • Were Jess and Leslie being sensible to play in the woods by themselves without anyone knowing? Would you let your children do that? Explain.
  • What might have happened if Jess and Leslie had never met?


Check out our upcoming summer Online Movie Discussion Club:

Magnificent Horses!

Check-In from Our Movie Club

Brave Writer Online Movie Club for Teens

Outlaw Readers and the Power of Words

by Nancy Graham

[This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Brave Writer!]

Brave Writer movie clubs draw a robust and enthusiastic bunch of cineastes. Our conversations call for close observation of composition, camera movement, light, sound, music, and performance. Naturally, we also look at literary elements such as story, theme, character, and narrative voice—so movie clubs prepare the participants for literary analysis as well as media literacy!

We had three movie clubs in a row this spring at Brave Writer—Monster Mash, Enchanted April, and the one that just wound up: Outlaw Readers and the Power of Words. For this last club we viewed and discussed four movies—all of them adapted from novels—set in times and places in which reading is forbidden in one way or another. The first three dealt with book burning as a strategy of oppression and censorship: The Book Thief, set in Nazi Germany; Nightjohn, set in the American antebellum south; and Fahrenheit 451, set in an imagined future in which firemen rout out books and burn them. In our final movie, Dead Poets Society, a band of young men at an elite prep school have their love of poetry ignited by an unconventional teacher, inspiring them to meet for midnight poetry readings and make choices that defy the expectations of their parents and the school administration.

We have such great conversations in our movie clubs. Below are some thoughts from some Outlaw Readers club members, ending with a couple of intriguing questions for you to mull over.

Timothy (age 15) on The Book Thief:

When I close my eyes I see the scene were the car is driving along in the snow, there is nothing there it is like the car is driving along on a blank sheet of paper, there is nothing written on it no trees no houses not even a smudge of a road, a blank world. The scene is sort of like her new life, she is driving away from the old one to the new one, it is blank, waiting for her to start again from the start she has new parents, a new house and new friends. The only thing she has from her old life is a picture of her brother. Everything else is left behind.

Julio Wagner (age 16) on Nightjohn:

I think that the literacy of slaves was considered dangerous because if a slave knew enough as much as their master/owner did, they would have a sense of control and free will about them, as I think John displays in the movie. And it’s that last bit of idea that led me into this next one. The moving scene where John is punished and after starts writing in the dust with a stick. John says, “A, stands up on its two feet…” It’s that saying that really stands out to me, as it shows strength and will power for the will and commitment of acquiring knowledge.

Olivia Vazquez (age 10) on Fahrenheit 451, in which characters save books from burning by memorizing, therefore “becoming” them:

If I had to choose one book to save, I would choose “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson, which is a story about twins who drift apart. This is one of my favourite books because it switches from one point of view to another over the course of a few years, and I like how the characters evolve throughout the story. Although I would rather save this book, the book I would most like to become is “Beauty” by Robin McKinley because I like the way it is written and because it possesses poetic qualities. “Beauty” retells the story “Beauty and Beast” and is about Honour (widely known as Beauty), who was once rich then tragedies made her life take a drastic turn.

Josie (age 18) on Dead Poets Society:

I think what Mr. Keating teaches his students is important because of the culture of conformity in the school. There was definitely a lot of pressure on the boys—from both their parents and schoolteachers—to do what was asked of them, and live up to the expectations and wishes of the society they lived in. Mr. Keating taught the students that they could “seize the day” and take control of their own lives. He taught that there can be more to poetry than simply memorizing or studying it.

The conflict between Mr. Keating’s independent, free-thinking philosophy and the high-pressure culture of the school and parents comes to a climactic point late in the movie. One of the students, Neil, kills himself as a response to his father’s demands that he quit acting, a pursuit he is passionate about. The school tries to explain this by saying that Neil’s death was the result of Mr. Keating and the Dead Poets Society, who inspired Neil to try acting. This results in Mr. Keating being fired from the school, and the students gathering in a last show of support as he leaves. I think this is important because it shows that, in the end, Mr. Keating did have an impact on his students.

Ivy Favier (age 15) on the feeling of being moved…

I loved how the last boy to understand Mr. Keating was the first to stand up for him. Though it took him the longest to show it, I think that he was the one who most understood the importance of what Mr. Keating stood for; to be who they want to be and to live life fully, while they still can.

Wow. That was a powerful scene. It made me cry and laugh at the same time. And it gave me that feeling… I’m not quite sure how to describe it… Chills going up my spine. I got that same feeling in Nightjohn, when Sarny told all of the slaves their worth, and when John kept writing after he lost his finger, right when he said that A stands on its own two feet. I also got a little bit of that feeling when Liesel and Rudy shouted “I hate Hitler!” I always seem to get that feeling whenever someone in a film does something extremely brave and meaningful, like in those moments I described. The only way I can think of describing that feeling is the chills running down my back, and sometimes laughing and crying at the same time. How would you describe this feeling? What adjectives would you use to describe it?

The next movie club’s theme: Magnificent Horses! Starts July 25th! Movie Discussion Club

Movie Wednesday: Mary Poppins

Movie Wednesday: Mary PoppinsThis vintage Disney melmac plate is part of a set that was released as original
movie merchandise that accompanied the film in theaters (Grannies Kitchen cc).

Fifty-two years ago, a film arrived in cinemas that would go down in history as one of the greatest of all time. Based on the novel of the same name, Mary Poppins (affiliate link) tells the story of a mysterious woman who flies by umbrella into the lives of the Banks family. With their father busy at the bank and their mother committed to the Suffragette’s Movement, Jane and Michael need a nanny to look after them, and Mary Poppins is just the woman for the job.

Mary and her friend Bert the chimney sweep take the children on the adventure of a lifetime, into a world of singing penguins and tea parties on the ceiling, magical merry-go-rounds and staircases made of smoke. They discover the fun in tidying up a nursery with magic, journey into chalk pavement drawings, and explore the rooftops of London. But the children’s harassed father doesn’t entirely approve of magic and fun, and when he loses his job at the bank it will take all of Mary’s powers to make everyone happy again.

A true giant among family films, Mary Poppins is a timeless classic that’s so packed full of color and fun that it’s impossible not to enjoy!

Discussion Questions

  • The writer of the original books, P.L. Travers, discussed the film with Disney while it was being made. She wasn’t pleased with the finished product, feeling that the songs and animated sequence were unnecessary. Do you agree with her?
  • What do you think the film’s message is? Maybe strive to be happy? Give to charity? Don’t be afraid of chimney sweeps?
  • Dick van Dyke’s performance as Bert was well received, but his attempt at a Cockney accent was considered poor. Do you think that matters? Should Disney have cast an actor with a real Cockney accent instead?
  • Out of the many songs in the film, which is your favorite and why?
  • Which of the characters do you think changes the most during the film? Give examples of their character arc.
  • Is it true that Mary Poppins helps everyone? Explain.
  • Mary and Bert have a close friendship, but do you think they have stronger feelings for each other than they acknowledge? Do you think the film would be better or worse if they had a romantic relationship?

Practically Perfect Ideas (all optional!)

If you want to make your movie experience even more supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, you might try one or two of these ideas.

Dress in Costume

  • lace gloves
  • hat with a sprig of quirky flowers
  • big purse or carpet bag
  • umbrella
  • “chimney sweep” equipment (a duster could work!)
  • black eye shadow for soot

Serve Special Treats

Create Sidewalk Art

After the movie you might invite kids to create their own sidewalk chalk art like Bert does. And if you’d like to make your own sidewalk paint, here are instructions.


P.S. Our summer online movie discussion club starts July 25th. The theme: Magnificent Horses!

Movie Discussion Club


Movie Wednesday: Paddington Bear

Paddington Bear Movie Wednesday

Paddington Bear is one of the best ­loved characters in children’s literature. The story of the bear from Darkest Peru who came to Britain with a suitcase, a battered hat and a label saying, “Please look after this bear,” has captured the hearts of millions since the first book was published in 1958.

In the 2015 movie adaptation (affiliate link), Paddington arrives in modern ­day London one cold winter in the hope of finding a new home. And that’s exactly what he finds with the friendly Brown family. But life is never going to be simple when you have a bear living with you, especially when there’s an evil taxidermist after him…

The film has a stellar cast, a witty script, snow, pigeons, a high point in the Natural History Museum, a beautiful message of acceptance and hope, and lots and lots of marmalade. It’s a fantastic film for the whole family. Give it a go!

Discussion questions

  1. If you’ve read any of the original books, how do you think the film compares to them?
  2. Paddington is a CGI character, but all the humans are played by live ­actors. Do you think that works? Why or why not.
  3. Paddington says, “A prudent bear always carries a spare marmalade sandwich under his hat in case of emergencies.” Do you think a marmalade sandwich would come in use in an emergency? What would you need in an emergency?
  4. The bad-­tempered Mr Curry doesn’t like Paddington and wants to get rid of him, but he is horrified at the idea of Paddington being stuffed. Does this make him a good person or not? Explain your answer.
  5. While the original books don’t have any villains, the film does, in the form of Millicent the taxidermist. What are your thoughts about the addition of a bad guy?

Paddington Bear statue in Peru

Paddington Bear statue in Peru. Photo taken while visiting Johannah!

For a little something extra you might try one or two of these ideas:


Gummi Bears!

Marmalade Muffins

Easy Homemade Orange Marmalade

Adorable Paddington Bear Cupcakes


Paddington Bear made from a toilet roll (much cuter than it sounds!)

Paper plate Paddington

Many more fun ideas!

Movie Discussion Club
Top image by Jespahjoy (cc cropped, text added)