Terminator 2 (1991)
The Life Lesson: Kids need a strong father figure in their lives.
How It’s Taught: Poor little John Connor is on the rocky road to juvenile delinquency, before the T-800 shows up to put a paternal arm round his shoulder.
With the steering hand of a father figure to guide him, he goes on to become the second Messiah. Even a robot dad is better than no dad at all. There’s your next policy Cameron, “Robot Dads For All!”
First Blood (1982)
The Life Lesson: Treat everyone you encounter with respect.
How It’s Taught: If only Sherriff Teasle were a bit more tolerant and a little less judgmental, he could have let John Rambo go about his business in peace, and he probably would have left town in a few days anyway.
Okay, so the guy looks a bit scruffy, but he wasn’t doing anyone any harm. Instead, Teasle treats him like shit, and all hell breaks loose. Nice one Sherriff.
48 Hrs (1982)
The Life Lesson: You can find friendship in the most unlikely places.
How It’s Taught: You’d think a cop and a robber could never be pals, but friendship’s a funny old game, particularly in Hollywood.
So when crooked Eddie Murphy delivers a criminal to Nick Nolte’s copper, the two realise they’ve formed a bond despite all the odds. It’s enough to bring a tear to your eye, it really is.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Life Lesson: Money isn’t everything, fun is important too.
How It’s Taught: Bruce Wayne is absolutely loaded, but spends the majority of the film in a deep funk.
The Joker, on the other hand, doesn’t give a hoot for money, and seems to be having a whale of a time.
Indeed, as Bruce glumly stares out of his million-dollar penthouse, the Joker is gleefully setting fire to a vast pile of cash.
Are either of them truly happy? Perhaps not, but we know who’s having more fun.
The Life Lesson: Parenthood is all about sacrifice.
How It’s Taught: When Brucey decides to step up to the plate and save the earth, he does so in order to protect his little girl.
In fact, the idea that fatherhood includes the responsibility to sacrifice oneself can be extrapolated further to suggest that one generation has a responsibility to protect the next, family or otherwise.
Al Gore should take another look at Armageddon. It’s basically a Green propaganda piece. With explosions.
King Kong (2005)
The Life Lesson: Fame isn’t always a bed of roses.
How It’s Taught: Kong was happy on Skull Island. Sure he had the odd T-Rex to fend off, but other than that, living a life of obscurity suited him just fine. It’s only when he becomes a celebrity back in New York City that things start to take a turn for the worse.
He might have enjoyed a better quality of banana there, but when the public turned, you can bet your life he’d have taken it all back to be an unknown again. A cautionary tale if ever there was one.
The Life Lesson: Bitterness will get you nowhere.
How It’s Taught: All the explodey mayhem that Dennis Hopper unleashes on the city of Los Angeles is a result of him feeling a bit put out by the way he left his job. And in the end, where does his bitterness get him?
An early exit off this mortal coil, courtesy of a low hanging tunnel light. Life will hand you plenty of bum cards, but it doesn’t do to dwell on it. It’ll drive you mad.
The Life Lesson: Virtue is often thankless.
How It’s Taught: Uncle Ben was the one who told Spidey that “with great power comes great responsibility”, but he should probably also have mentioned that no-one will thank you for being a hero either.
Throughout the three films, Peter Parker largely finds himself suffering for the greater good, with nary a hint of thanks from those he cares about most.
Batman is the same over in Gotham. Virtue is its own reward, chaps, which is why not many people go in for it!
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The Life Lesson: There is always someone you can trust.
How It’s Taught: Even when things are looking bleak, and it seems as though the whole world is out to get you, there’s always someone out there who’s willing to lend a hand.
In Bourne’s case he’s got the whole weight of Treadstone and Blackbriar coming down on him like a ton of bricks, but suddenly finds out that Joan Allen’s ice queen is actually backing him up. No man is an island etc. etc.
Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace (1999)
The Life Lesson: Fear is the biggest enemy one can face.
How It’s Taught: There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Well actually, there’s plenty, but fear is the main one.
Don’t believe us? Well maybe you’ll listen to Yoda then. “Fear is the path to the dark side,” says the little green oracle. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
There is plenty of evil in the world, but so long as you don’t live in fear of it, it can never truly prevail.