Sometimes the movies we least expect to inspire us…actually do. Now, I’m not talking about movies like The Shawshank Redemption, Dead Poets Society, or Ghost Rider 2, movies that are supposed to inspire us. Rather, I’m talking about flicks where the inspirational message is extremely subtle and often overlooked.

So, hopefully our countdown of 10 MOVIES THAT ARE SURPRISINGLY INSPIRATIONAL will give you an unexpected boost.

Note: for today’s countdown, the movies aren’t ranked in any particular order. 


10. Moneyball (2011)

Unfortunately, many people look at Moneyball as “just a sports movie.” Well, it’s their loss. Yes, the film is about baseball, but it’s also about managing disappointment in life and how we measure success. The inspirational part, is that we often “win” in life without even knowing it, and if we really appreciate that, then we’ll live much happier lives.

9. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

Grosse Pointe Blank is one of the most underrated comedies of all-time, but that’s for another day and another countdown. A lot of people see the movie as purely dark comedy, but there’s something really special hidden deep at its core. See, John Cusack plays hitman, Martin Blank, who returns home for his 10-year high school reunion. That’s all I’m going to give you, as I don’t want to spoil it. The inspirational part lies Blank’s shot (pun intended) at a second chance in life. The film also stresses that, even though you are broken, you can ultimately be fixed.

8. City Slickers (1991)

Like Grosse Pointe Blank, City Slickers is a criminally underrated movie. While on the surface, it’s your basic “duck out of water” comedy, its message is pretty profound. See, the lesson learned by the characters is about the significance of priorities in life and how everything else…”don’t mean shit!” So, find what’s important to you, and tune out all the other BS.

7. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

This film is often viewed as one of the most depressing of all-time. Really though, it’s as much hopeful as anything else. Leaving Las Vegas really drives home the importance of love and acceptance. Further, as viewer, you begin to see how you can find a little bit of heaven, even if you’re living in hell. Honestly, this is probably Nicolas Cage’s best performance and shows you how truly talented the dude (not Jeff Bridges) is.

6. Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard is regarded as the gold standard for action movies, but it has a lot to say as well. Most importantly, the film meditates on the power of resilience and how, even in the face of dire odds, you can still succeed. Now, most of you can’t swing from a skyscraper and operate a machine gun (Ho-Ho-Ho), but it’s all about baby steps.

5. Groundhog Day (1993)

Similar to Grosse Pointe Blank, Groundhog Day is all about second chances. While the film is set in some bizarre vortex of space-time, what you can take away is the idea that you’re never too old to start living the life you want. Now, you may get a Ned Ryerson…or seven, but just know that you can always change yourself or your life for the better.

4. Jurassic Park (1993)

Yep, there’s big scary dinosaurs that eat Newman and Shaft (c’mon, you’ve all seen this one), but the relative chaos that is life, always makes it unpredictable and exciting. See, outside of dinosaurs that might or might not eat you on the shitter, Jurassic Park is a meditation on determinism versus chaos. You can’t control everything in life, so do your best and enjoy the ride. That is, unless Jeff Goldblum’s on it too. If that happens, just sacrifice yourself to the T-Rex.

3. Swingers (1996)

Swingers may appear to be just a post-adolescent romp through a glamorized Los Angeles. But my friend, there is more to it than that. See, the film is about the importance of friends and how they can help you through the lean times. At the end of the day, we may not have money or a fancy car with a flux capacitor, but our friends will still be there for us…hopefully.

2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

People love to clamor about the shock value and the social commentary inherent in this one. Both are more than valid, but there’s something else to take away from watching this film. That is, the significance of authenticity and living life on your own terms. It may not always work out the best for you, but are you willing to take that chance if it means true freedom?

1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Old Ferris was onto something with the whole playing hookie thing. Not that you should skip school kids…at least not enough for people to notice. Rather, Ferris was trying to teach us to enjoy life and to savor the little things. Without doing that, we may as well be Principal Rooney.


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