100+ Character Building Movie Nights for Teens

Movies are a great way to help us learn more about the world around us. Why not use them to help teach character building?

Character Building Movie Nights for Teens

Use films to help encourage character building! I love redemptive stories of individuals who prove love, hard work, and faith are the keys to life’s successes. These films are a great reminder of this!
Movies are a great way to help us learn more about the world around us. Why not use them to help teach character-building? Here are 100+ character building movie nights for teens, filled with strong life lessons!

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The second half of this post is over at 50+ of the Best Character Building Biopics. Biopics (biographical pictures) are a fantastic way to remember the lives of incredible people!

Being for teens, some films may have mild inappropriate content. In each of these films, I felt the morals and benefits strongly outweighed the bad. Check out a filtering service like VidAngel to help you skip over inappropriate parts with your family!

Kindness really is contagious! Young Auggie has a facial deformity. When he enters public school for the first time, Auggie, his family, and his community learn valuable lessons on accepting differences. This uplifting and inspiring story is great for the whole family!

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Based on the bestselling children’s series by C.S. Lewis, this incredible film is about four children who visit the mythical land of Narnia. Learning powerful lessons of courage, family, and faith along the way – the children dethrone the White Witch to restore peace to Narnia.
It’s an incredible classic that is packed with so many great lessons for teens and adults!

Lord of the Rings
I *finally* watched (the first) Lord of the Rings for the first time this year! With lessons on sacrifice, hope, and courage, this epic is great for a long weekend. I can’t wait to finish the rest of the trilogy!

A Quiet Place
I’m not a fan of horror movies, and A Quiet Place feels more thriller and less horror. A family living in a post-apocalyptic must live in a constant state of silence in order to survive. Starring real-life couple John Krasinski (from The Office) and Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place has powerful messages of love, self-sacrifice, and parenting.

Mary is a child prodigy; a mathematical genius being raised by her uncle Frank. When Frank decides to send her to public school, the story of Mary’s history begins to unfold and a custody battle follows. It’s a sweet little story about family.

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
This is a spectacular remake of the classic Alexander Dumas novel. Edmund Dantes (Jim Caviezel) is young, dashing, successful, and has a beautiful fiance. After a betrayal from a “friend,” Dantes spends 13 years in the notorious Chateau D’if prison. Once released, he is on a mission filled with justice and revenge. There are great themes of forgiveness, revenge, loyalty, betrayal, justice, friendship, and hope.

Akeelah and the Bee
After winning her local spelling bee, Akeelah Anderson aims to make it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee with the help of an English professor. Through her journey, she learns about perseverance and dedication. It’s aimed at kids, but works well for teens as well.

Apollo 13
“Houston, we have a problem.” When an oxygen tank explodes, the Apollo 13 lunar mission to land on the moon is aborted. This is their courageous story!

Groundhog Day
A weatherman sent to cover Groundhog Day has to live the same day over and over again until he gets it right!

Pay It Forward
Can one person make a difference? Inspired by a school assignment, young Trevor creates the idea that involves doing something nice for someone. Instead of getting something in return, that person must then pass on an act of kindness to three others.

Fiddler on the Roof
In our ever changing world, it can be hard to balance the old with the new. Tevye, a Jewish milkman in Eastern Europe, is trying to make it work while marrying off his five daughters.

Finding Forrester
Jamal is at a prestigious private high school on a basketball scholarship. He also has a secret passion for writing. By chance, he meets a reclusive Pulitzer-Prize winning author. The two form an unlikely friendship. It’s a great story about words, friendship and facing the unknown.

The Help
Things are tense down in the south during the 1960s. Instead of sitting complacently, college graduate Skeeter attempts to write the story of several black maids who work for white families. It’s a great film filled with humor and tact that tackles racism and the human spirit.

It’s a Wonderful Life
This Christmas classic is a great reminder of the importance of us! After going through a rough patch in his life, a man wishes he were never born. His guardian angel takes him on his journey in a parallel universe where he did not exist. Through this pilgrimage, George realizes his many blessings and the impact he has had on his community. See: It’s A Wonderful Life Bible study guide.

Life is Beautiful
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to be a better person after watching this. Guido, a Jewish waiter, uses his wits and charms to land the girl of his dreams, open a bookstore, and start a family. As WWII comes around, he must use that same good-natured personality to survive a concentration camp with his son. This is a poignant Oscar-winning film, and is everything the name implies. It’s filled with humor, courage, family, and love.
Also, I would recommend you watch this film in Italian with English subtitles, versus in dubbed English. I’ve seen both and the Italian is so much better. Grab the movie study guide.

The Truman Show
From birth, Truman has been the star of his own show! 24/7, his life is on a giant filmset that is broadcast for the world to see. After seeing his dead father, Truman begins to put together the pieces of the world he lives in. It’s an excellent, thought provoking film! See: The Truman Show Movie Study Guide

Frequency is a fast-paced scifi action film with two big lesson: each of our actions (no matter how small) have consequences, and family is important. Father (Dennis Quaid) and son (Jim Caviezel) use an old radio to communicate despite the father dying 30 years earlier in a fire. They use this communication to save the father’s life, but the mishap results in a string of murders the two work to stop.

To Save a Life
Popular kid Jake has his life rocked upside down when his childhood friend commits suicide. Jake begins to ask himself, “Could I have prevented this?” It’s a Christian film, but has many great lessons about suicide, faith, and making a difference.

Dead Poet’s Society
Dead Poet’s Society wasn’t my favorite film, but it is definitely filled with some great nuggets of wisdom and lessons. Robin Williams stars as an unconventional teacher at a private boy’s school, and he’s determined to teach his students beyond the textbook.

Secondhand Lions
This is one of my favorite family movies! It’s a feel-good coming of age flick. One summer, Walter (Haley Joel Osment) is sent to live with his two eccentric, aging uncles for the summer. Over the summer, Walter’s adventures include hearing stories from his uncle’s adventure-filled youth and adopting a lion. See: Secondhand Lions Movie Study Guide

Forrest Gump
Tom Hanks stars as Forrest Gump in this classic film. Rising above obstacles and expectations, Forrest lives an extraordinary life. It’s funny, sweet, and teaches us that we can never know what we’re really capable of until we try. There’s a few scenes not appropriate for younger age brackets, but overall is a great quality flick.

The Kite Runner
Based on the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Kite Runner is a poignant story about friendship. Set in the midst of war-torn Afghanistan, two boys from different backgrounds have their relationship tested. The story is heartbreaking at times and is filled with betrayal and redemption. But, it’s a quality film with so many great lessons! (The story centers around a child rape.)

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Set in the 1960s, a black man and white woman challenge social norms with their interracial relationship. Both of their families perceptions are challenged in their intolerance. Interestingly, this movie was made the same year the Supreme Court deemed banning interracial marriage unconstitutional.

The Sound of Music
Free spirited nun Maria is sent to be the nanny of seven children in this lovely musical! This film is great for the whole family, and has strong themes of family, caring, forgiveness, trying new things, honesty, and the importance of music! See: The Sound of Music Movie Study Guide.

Yours, Mine and Ours
Based on a remake of a 1960s film, Yours, Mine and Ours is a sweet story about differences and blended families. A widowed coast guard and a widowed free-spirited designer fall in love and marry. The catch? He has 8 kids and she has 10! It’s a fun movie for families (minus some mild sexual content) about working together!

Field of Dreams
An Iowa farmer turns a cornfield into a “field of dreams” baseball diamond in this quirky, feel-good fantasy flick.

Ladder 49
Firefighter Jack Morrison may be a hero to strangers, but it’s not as easy being a hero to your wife. In the midst of a horrific fire, Jack must place his priorities into focus.
I’ll admit I haven’t seen this firefighter movie and probably will not (my dad is a firefighter – firefighter movies aren’t my thing!). However, it still seems to be an excellent story of bravery in the face of danger, and focusing on what is most important in life.

Captain America: The First Avenger
I watched Captain America for the first time last year and loved it! It’s an all-American film about the underdog, filled with courage, patriotism, and fighting Nazis, of course.

The Giver
Jonas lives in a perfect world. There is no pain, suffering, or death… or is there? On his 18th birthday, Jonas is appointed the mysterious job Receiver of Memory.

The second half of this post is over at 50+ of the Best Character Building Biopics. Biopics (biographical pictures) are a fantastic way to remember the lives of incredible people!

War Movies

Red Tails
During WWII, the Tuskegee Airmen broke racial barriers by becoming the first African Americans to become aviators.

Return to the Hiding Place
Many of you know the story of Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. This is the true story of the teenagers who worked in the resistance with her! The story is faith-based but it’s a great film on faith and courage.

During WWII, the Battle of Dunkirk in Dunkirk, France was a battle and an evacuation. It was the defense and evacuation to Britain by Allied forces. It’s not the best war film ever made and can get overlooked, but the Battle of Dunkirk sometimes gets overlooked to bigger battles. Still, it involves many positive traits.

Band of Brothers (R)
This highly-rated miniseries follows Easy Company during World War II, from training to the end of the war. With a fantastic cast, this classic series is worth rewatching over and over again.


The Karate Kid (1984)
Self defense isn’t just about fighting. A young boy learns the importance of things like honor and confidence after an elderly handyman teaches him martial arts.

This sweet story is about the friendship between a high school football coach and a mentally challenged man. It’s a strong reminder of the importance of kindness and tackles mental disabilities and race!

A coach and a former-star-turned-alcoholic join forces in this redemptive basketball flick. It was made in the 1980s, but is definitely a classic among sports films!

Remember the Titans
In 1971, a town torn apart by racism becomes united through football. Starring Denzel Washington, this classic is one of our favorite family films!

McFarland USA
This is an all-American underdog story of a cross country team at a primarily Latino high school. It’s a great film about a strong work ethic, personal growth, and other family values!

Faith Based

It’s 1973, and a spiritual awakening has spread throughout Woodlawn High School’s football team. With it, the school battles racism and prejudice.

Courageous is one of my favorite Christian flicks, and is a much-needed movie in our culture. When tragedy strikes the life of a police officer, he is challenged to examine his life and role as a father. It’s thought provoking and in a world that sometimes makes fun of dads, emphasizes the role of fatherhood.

When the Game Stands Tall
High school football coach Bob Ladouceur tells his players winning doesn’t matter. Still, their team has a record-breaking 151 straight wins. During one game, their record – and ego – is shattered. Inspired by a true story, this is a great film with many values without being preach-y or cheesy.

Rated R

The Green Mile
Tom Hanks shines in this film about life, death, and the human spirit. A death row guard crosses path with a black man, John Coffey, who was convicted of murdering two white girls. However, John has a gift of healing and Coffey’s probable innocence starts to surface. There are many positive, strong themes of resilience and faith.

Saving Private Ryan
The first 20 minutes of the Battle of Normandy are alone worth watching in this stunning collaboration between Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. It’s a classic filled with the horrors of war, patriotism, courage, and sacrifice.

The Shawshank Redemption
The #1 rated movie on IMDb, banker Andy Dufresne is sentenced to life in prison for double murder. Over two decades, he befriends a man named “Red” (Morgan Freeman) in this must-see film about humanity.

The second half of this post is over at 50+ of the Best Character Building Biopics. Biopics (biographical pictures) are a fantastic way to remember the lives of incredible people!

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  • I love this list, Samantha! I was thrilled to see Frequency and Finding Forester on it! (The language of Finding Forester isn’t great, BUT, the storyline!
    Have you seen Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford? It’s adult themed but really good (IMHO)
    Thanks again for this list!

    • Thank you! Frequency in particular is one of my favorites. I haven’t heard of it but I just added it to my to-watch list.