Five Movies That Teach Empathy…And Deals on Each of Them

There are a lot of things people say we need these days: fewer guns, better schools, less rain on the eastern U.S. coast, more rain in the West, a certain person out of political office, etc., etc. I would argue that, above and beyond any and all of those things, what we need is more empathy. It’s a personality trait that’s hard to define, especially to younger minds, and harder, perhaps, to develop and express. In a recent council my husband and I had with our kids on the subject of empathy, the best we could do was: “walking in other people’s shoes.” That is, indeed, a part of it: using one’s imagination to picture what it must be like for someone to experience something. But the actual act of using one’s imagination to do that can be difficult, especially if one thinks quite literally, like children do, or if one has limited experience. And let’s be honest: none of us has experienced everything so we’re all limited in some respects. And the expression of empathy is another important “ball of wax” too. So, I’ve put together a list of a few movies that demonstrate, in practice, what the exercise of empathy can look like.



Some of them are “family” movies, but not all, because it’s as important for adults to expand their ability to empathize as it is for kids to develop it. Oh, and I found deals on all of them for you! You’re welcome!

Ender’s Game

One might ask how a movie (and book) about a boy who ends up at an exclusive space school for kids training to defeat a once-ubiquitous alien race that almost wiped out the human species has anything to do with empathy. Bear with me, because I think this movie demonstrates empathy beautifully.

Ender’s too young to remember the almost-extinction of his race, but not too young to’ve learned about Mazer Rackham, a former fighter in that battle who saved humanity. At the school, he meets Rackham and, through him and letters from his sister back on Earth, becomes more acquainted with Earth’s past. Even as his understanding awakens, his battle skills sharpen, until he leads squadrons of soldiers in what they think are simulation attacks on the “bugger” race that originally attacked them. When he and his squadrons finally, through a “preemptiveness” mentality and great skill, annihilate that entire race, he’s told that the simulations were in fact real. Because of he’s learned about what Earth went through, he realizes the horror of what he’s done. At the very end of the movie, he’s given an opportunity to atone for what he did. In the sequels to the book upon which this movie is based, he spends the rest of his life doing so.


You can get an Ender’s Game DVD on Amazon for $2.99.



Similarly, one might wonder how a movie about a man woken prematurely from a cryostatic sleep on a space ship bound for a colony planet millions of light years away could demonstrate empathy. One might, in fact, really wonder that when one discovers that the man, after years of complete solitude on this ship, wakes up a woman and tells her that she was accidentally woken up early too but that he’s there to help her. He’d found that his premature awakening meant that he would age and die before the ship ever reached the planet. Waking the woman meant condemning her to the same fate. He was the opposite of empathetic, right? Yes.

Through a series of twists, though, Aurora, the women he woke up, is faced with the possibility that Jim, the man, might be killed and she would be completely alone for the rest of her life, aboard that ship. She realizes the desperate straits into which he was plunged. She doesn’t forgive him for lying to her, as well she shouldn’t, but he strives to atone for what he comes to realize as the worst of mistakes by discovering a way to put her back into cryostatic sleep. She refuses.

It’s not for kids because there is nudity and some scary moments. But it’s great for some adult empathy developing, and…


The blu-ray version is $9.38 on Amazon.

Inside Out

Straight from

Parents need to know that Inside Out is an outstandingly original, heartfelt story from Pixar about growing up and learning to handle your biggest emotions. Told primarily from the perspective of the feelings inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind (brought to life by the voices of Amy PoehlerMindy KalingBill Hader, and more), the plot has many moments of peril/tension — including bridges/islands crumbling, a train tumbling over a precipice, and characters falling into a deep, dark pit. (Spoiler alert: One key character also permanently fades from existence; that and scenes in which it seems Riley is “borrowing” her mom’s credit card and running away are definitely upsetting.) Some of Riley’s fears are also on display, including a giant, scary clown. Parents are likely to get hit hardest by the film’s heart-tugging moments (bring tissues!), but anyone with empathy will feel for Riley as she experiences life’s ups and downs. Ultimately, Inside Out has important messages about needing to feel — and express — all of your emotions, whether happy or sad. Although most of the content is appropriate for elementary schoolers and up, younger kids may need a bit more explanation about what’s going on, since there are references to abstract thought and the subconscious, and it can be a little confusing when other characters’ emotions are shown.


A new copy is available on eBay for $6.


Remember how I said empathy is all about getting into other peoples’ heads? That’s literally what 90% of this movie is about.  The main character, Dom, has the technology to get into their dreams to learn their deepest secrets and even plant ideas in their subconsciousnesses, but to do so he and his team of dream operatives have to dive deeper into his own secrets than he’s comfortable with. Indeed, such a dive puts more than just their minds on the line.


You can watch Inception on your Kindle for $8.99.

Beauty and the Beast

One might say that true love is a form of the purest empathy possible, one in which the person who truly loves is most easily able to understand the person he or she loves. It’s also the form in which that empathy is most easily expressed, and ideally, the most often returned. The tale of how empathetic love develops between Beauty and the Beast, especially the original version, is a sweet depiction.


The theatrical 2017 version of the tale is available on Amazon for $3.99.

What movies have you seen that demonstrate empathy or its expression? Comment below!



Ant Man character, plus six supporting characters, staring off-screen on top of a red and yellow stripe, with "Ant Man & The Wasp" across the bottom

Ant Man & The Wasp: Movie Review and Deal

Last Tuesday, me, my husband Bruce, and my two kids went to see Ant Man & The Wasp at a local independent theater called the Water Gardens. I loved both the movie and the deal we got on tickets for this first-run, awesome show! First off, though, I have to warn you of the awesomeness of the pictures of us I took at the theater:

Four people standing in front of the Water Gardens movie theater in Pleasant Grove, Utah., waiting for Ant Man & The Wasp to start.
Aren’t we so photogenic?

Three people in candid poses outside a movie theater, waiting to see Ant Man & The Wasp

What’s Ant Man & The Wasp About?

From IMDB:

As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.

Ant Man Review

First off, none of us had seen the first Ant Man movie before seeing this one. While it would have helped us understand the motivations of the characters a little more, it didn’t hamper our enjoyment of this movie. It managed to be both a wonderful visual spectacle, a very funny (like rolling-on-the-floor funny), and action-packed flick, with a touch of emotion. Paul Rudd is the perfect guy to play Scott Lang/Ant Man and Evangeline Lily’s character played his perfect counterbalance. The supporting cast members–primarily Michael Douglas, Michael Pena, and Michelle Pfeiffer–were awesome. For Michael Pena, who I last saw as an astronaut in The Martian, this was quite a different role, but one that he seemed to fit into like a hand fits into a glove. Five stars.

Ant Man character, plus six supporting characters, staring off-screen on top of a red and yellow stripe, with "Ant Man & The Wasp" across the bottom

What’s The Deal?

If you go to the Water Gardens Theater in Pleasant Grove, Utah on a Tuesday, you can get tickets to first-run movies for $5. Five dollars, people. Included with every ticket is a free soda and small popcorn. And the snacks don’t cost more than $3. Ever. You cannot pass that up!

Nutrition Facts, Anyone?

Because it’s a new movie, a transcript is not yet available from which I can get exact counts for profanity, etc., but it is rated PG-13. In my opinion, it’s closer to PG than it is to R because there’s no nudity, some language, and a good amount of violence but no gore. There’s also a strong family message.

Movie Review & Deal: Arrival for Only $9.99!

It’s been a busy week, but I’ve got another good movie and deal to tell you about! Have you seen Arrival yet? Like Interstellar, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago,  it’s a thought-provoking sci-fi movie, quiet and tense, and it’s available on Amazon for $9.99.

Arrival Movie Review: What Is It About?

>From Rotten

When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team–lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams)–are brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers–and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Who Would Like Arrival, And Why?

Anyone who likes movies that are science fiction, or have less action and more intelligence and emotion, will like Arrival. Louise, the main character, has this whole backstory that involves a daughter she has that dies (don’t worry: I’m not spoiling anything. They tell you that in the first five minutes of the movie), and it’s fascinating how her visions/memories of that daughter weave into the ever-increasing tension of the plot. At the end, there’s this big a-ha moment where you as a viewer put the puzzle pieces together, and it feels huge, but in the movie, it’s a very quiet moment.

Nutrition Facts

Profanity (D*, S*, F*, G*D*, H*):  0

Instances of Nudity: 0

Instances of human-to-human violence: a few (glimpsed as part of news broadcasts)

Deaths: 0

Positive Relationships (love + effort, some kind of formal commitment, family): 2

Negative Relationships (dysfunctional, dishonest, no effort, mean, etc.): 1

Positive themes represented (communication, love, desire for peace): 3

Negative themes represented: 0

What’s The Deal?

Arrival is available on Amazon for $9.99, for either the blu-ray or DVD versions. So totally worth it.

interstellar movie review astronaut walking on an icy planet

Movie Review And Deal: Interstellar, A Thought-Provoking, Non-Violent Watch

Although I know I’m not the only one who sees movies and has opinions about them, I do hope to share some valuable information about movies–other kinds of “tales”–and deals so that you can make more informed decisions about your entertainment,Int and fit more of it in! If you haven’t seen Interstellar yet, you need to, and if you haven’t bought it yet, you should! My Interstellar movie review is that it’s a wonderful, thought-provoking movie, and it’s available on Amazon for $13.99!

Interstellar Movie Review: What Is It About?

From Rotten

With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history; traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars. That team is piloted by Joe Cooper (played by Matthew McConaughey), a widowed engineer and former NASA pilot, who finds out about this mission while trying to solve a physics mystery he witnesses in his farmhouse. The mission is covert because Earth is in imminent danger of running out of food, and all funding for interstellar travel, as far as the public knows, has been suspended as wasteful so that resources can be focused on helping people survive. Cooper is faced with a choice: leave his two children behind, possibly to never see them again, and possibly find another habitable planet to which everyone on Earth can eventually be sent to, or stay and watch them starve. He chooses to go, but the quest to find that other planet ends up taking him and the other members of the team places they never thought they’d have to go, and into moral dilemmas they never thought they’d have to face.

Who Would Like Interstellar, And Why?

If you’re a fan of science fiction movies, you’ll love this one for obvious reasons: its basis in hard and deep physics, the visual effects, and mind-bending plot twists. Even if you’re not, but are looking for something emotionally deeper and less violent than the most recent Avengers movie, you’ll like Interstellar for its superb acting and the wonderful portrayal of the very sweet and unique relationship between Cooper and his daughter, Murph.

Nutrition Facts

Profanity (D*, S*, F*, G*D*, H*):  12

Instances of Nudity: 0

Instances of human-to-human violence: 2

Deaths: 3

Positive Relationships (love + effort, some kind of formal commitment, family): 3

Negative Relationships (dysfunctional, dishonest, no effort, mean, etc.): 0

Positive themes represented: 1

Negative themes represented: 1

What’s The Deal?

If you get Interstellar for Amazon Prime, it’s $13.99, which is $6 less than the $19.99 we bought it for three years ago. So worth it. That’s 30% off.