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MOM-tastic Movies for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is just a few days away. Doubtless, many husbands and children will buy flowers for or serve breakfast to or maybe even just call (if they live far away) their moms. But for the mom who enjoys a nice family movie night (or even just wants her own alone time to reminisce on motherhood), we’ve got five momtastic suggestions to consider. Each of these films celebrate mothers and honor all they do. They might make you laugh, cry or perhaps both. But for the moms out there, we hope they’ll encourage you and let you know just how much your family appreciates you for all you do.

(Each of these films is rated PG, but be sure to check out our full reviews before giving any movie a green light.)

Unsung Hero

Unsung Hero, now in theaters, is the true riches-to-rags-to-riches story of the Smallbone family (which includes Christian artist Rebecca St. James and For King and Country’s Luke and Joel Smallbone). Adam Holz writes of mom Helen Smallbone, “The unsung hero here is, of course, Helen Smallbone. The movie is a tribute to her faith and courage, the glue—the atomic connectivity—that binds the Smallbone family together.” When times got tough, Helen lit a fire under her husband to get him back on track. And she encouraged her kids to keep pushing forward, no matter the circumstances, all while never losing her faith that God would provide. Holz continues, “It’s no wonder that when Helen asks Rebecca what her dreams are, the teen replies, ‘My dream is to be like you. It always has been. You’re my hero, Mom.’”

Mom’s Night Out

Sometimes moms, as much as they love their kids and husbands, just need a night out with the girls. “A little time at a nice restaurant where they can share a good meal together. Talk. Relax. Be pretty. Unwind,” writes Bob Hoose. In 2014’s Mom’s Night Out, Allyson, Izzy, Sondra and Bridget’s night out goes terribly but comically wrong. And what ensues is, Hoose writes, “a pratfall-filled night of calamity that’s a refreshingly clean take on the cinematic chestnut.” But the film also recognizes how God’s presence can make busy lives and stressful moments just a little easier for moms to deal with.

Freaky Friday

“Trading bodies is not a new concept to Hollywood,” writes Bob Waliszewski of the 2003 version of Freaky Friday. “Therefore, most viewers will have the plot nailed within the first 10 minutes: Mother and daughter are growing apart. Abracadabra. Switcheroo. Then they realize the error of their ways. Switch back. Instant bonding.” But what makes this film so momtastic is how teenage daughter Anna really begins to understand what her mom, Tess, does for their family on a daily basis. Anna thought Tess was just a career-driven, rule-making fun-sucker. And while the first two are true, by spending a day in her mom’s shoes, Anna realizes that Tess is also human. Tess is insecure about her body, worried about how her kids will turn out, and (although she’s on the verge of matrimony) still grieving the death of her late husband a bit. But everything Tess does, she does out of love and what she hopes will be best for her family—not out of some secret desire to ruin Anna’s life, as proven by how Tess maintains Anna’s friendships and dream of becoming a rockstar even though those things are counter to what Tess had in mind for Anna’s future.

Mars Needs Moms

Milo has a good mom, but he’s a bit tired of her smothering attention. In fact, after a “heated spat and a subsequent punishment,” according to Bob Hoose’s 2011 review, Milo says his life would be better if he didn’t have a mom at all. Of course, Milo didn’t mean it. And he realizes just how much he loves his mom when Martians arrive to take her away to mother their own alien hatchlings. “Mars Needs Moms is one of those light family flicks that will likely produce a few extra hugs before bedtime,” writes Hoose. “And it’ll remind kids that Mom just might be a bit more useful and cool than they thought a couple of hours earlier.”


If Rebecca wanted to be just like her mom in Unsung Hero, Merida wants to be anything but in Pixar’s Brave. Another take on body-switching hijinks, Merida is so determined to change her fate of becoming a corset-wearing, bow-and-arrowless lord’s wife that she employs magic to change her mom, Elinor—the one pushing Merida to the altar. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just change Elinor’s mind but her body, too. And the pair are shocked when Elinor transforms into a bear. And unless they can somehow figure out how to see eye-to-eye (further impeded by Elinor’s inability to speak), Elinor’s transformation will become permanent. Writes Paul Asay, “Elinor and Merida wind up risking their lives for each other, and their contentious-but-beautiful bond mimics, in its own surreal way, many a mother-daughter relationship. We see here a mom’s need to prepare her kids for the real world, a daughter’s desire for freedom and the ability to make her own decisions. Those teen years can be difficult in many households. Brave doesn’t tell us otherwise. But it asks us to remember that when you strip away all the differences and all the hurt, the bond between mother and daughter is a thing of transcendent beauty.”

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

2 Responses

  1. Here’s a good suggestion for the list: “Not Without My Daughter” about the true life story of Betty Mahmoody and her harrowing escape from Iran.

  2. For an anime, Mamoru Hosoda’s “Wolf Children” would be a strong recommendation, with a somewhat “adult for its PG rating” and sometimes overly convenient but largely beautiful plot about a single mother raising her two mixed-species children (TW/CW: one of whom nearly drowns).