Need a little break, along with a shot of motivation?
Been working hard?
Look forward to Motivational Movie Night.
Every Saturday night, while preparing for the bar exam, watch a movie where the character beats the odds.
Below, I compiled a list of movies that I thought were conducive to your aspirations and diverse tastes. I provided a brief synopsis, and why it made the list, to help you make your selection.
Rudy, "5 foot nothing, 100 and nothing", wants to play football for Notre Dame. Being from a working class family, and having a learning disability, makes it even more unlikely he will actualize his dream. After witnessing Rudy trying so hard, and receiving rejection letters (failure notices), you too will want this little guy playing football for Notre Dame. This movie will have you chanting “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy” by the end.
It is high in perseverance and determination.
The Pursuit of Happyness (intentionally misspelled)
This movie pushes perseverance to the limit. I was concerned about a happy ending, so I will tell you upfront you will get it. This movie is about a guy who makes a bad investment, and really suffers for it...wife leaves him, loses his home, no money. He decides to better himself by becoming a stockbroker; however, this requires a long, unpaid internship.
It is listed here because it is an inspirational true story that is goal-oriented.
Loosely based on the struggles of the rapper Eminem, 8 Mile depicts a white minority rapper trying to get his big break. If you have not seen a rapper showdown, it is something to be appreciated. This one is here for moving forward after failing and making it against the odds.
The King's Speech
The new King hires an unconventional speech therapist to overcome his stutter for a radio broadcast to unite the country when Britain goes to war with Germany.
This movie was selected because it portrays an effective, high stakes, tutorial relationship. If you are working with a tutor, this is a nice inspirational choice.
If your movie menu has the option of hearing the actual King's speech, listen to it after you see the movie. It is interesting how you are aware of the techniques being used since you were in on the lessons...ah, similar to my tutorial candidates.
Yentl must disguise herself as a boy in order to study the Talmud because girls were not allowed to study the law. This is a Barbra Streisand movie and she lends her moving tunes to deepen the emotional experience. Her performance rings true, and provides a sense that maybe she has not had it so easy herself.
This film is here to help you appreciate your privilege to sit for the bar exam and to persevere.
Adam Carolla wrote and stars in this movie. This film is about a construction worker, and part-time boxing instructor, unhappy with his life, who decides at forty to pursue his amateur boxing career.
It is a surprisingly sweet, uplifting comedy.
Facing the Giants
This movie was brought to my attention by one of my bar exam candidates. Plot: The head football coach, at a Christian school, teeters on getting fired after failing football seasons. Desperate to keep his job, he decides to change his coaching philosophy to emphasize praising God whether they win or lose. The behind-the-scenes production may serve as greater inspiration than the movie. The coach is played by the writer, and director, who wanted to write movies of substance for the Christian community. With the limited pool of volunteers at his church, and a limited budget, he created a heart-driven production that goes beyond the typical underdog sports film. The sincerity and determination makes up for the inexperienced acting and serves as motivation for those motivated by religious principles and perspective.
Seriously, if you have not seen it since 1976, or you have never seen it, now is the time. The best motivational theme song ever. Incorporate it as your own. No one has to know. Likely, you know what this movie is about; however, for you young-ins, an underdog fighter ceases an opportunity to become champion.
This one made the list for motivation, inspiration, and determination.
A retired Rocky is challenged to an exhibition fight by a fighter in his prime and 30 years younger. This movie brings back the heart and drive of the original Rocky. The added age brings greater inspiration to the story.
Julie and Julia
This film depicts the life of Julia Child early in her male-dominated career, and Julie Powell whose goal is to cook 524 recipes from Julia Child’s cookbook within one year.
This one made the list for two reasons: (1) because it is goal minded; and (2) it depicts two lovely supportive husbands. If your significant other is supportive, you’ll want to give them a hug after this one.
A chemistry teacher, and head high school baseball coach, is encouraged by his students to try-out for a Major League Baseball team.
Nothing better than middle-agers doing well in sports to fire you up.
In this famous historical last stand, the outnumbered Spartans, to keep their freedom, hold back thousands of Persians. You need to think of the big picture in this one... the righting of the wrong, making a difference, and the greater good...to get your motivational ending. In addition, if you need motivation to keep in shape during your prep period, or want the divergence of beautiful bodies, or to vent vicariously, this movie is a good choice.
Warning: Blood, copious decapitations...and nudity!
A young woman goes to Harvard Law to pursue her love that left her because he thought she was not an attribute to his professional goals.
The attractive, underestimated, and anyone who was hit on by an unscrupulous professor, will see this movie beyond the blonde stereotypes.
It's A Wonderful Life
This movie is a Christmas classic, which makes it especially nice to view during winter exam preparation. Feeling like a failure, thinking his family is better off with him dead, George considers killing himself. In response to concerned prayers from friends and family, an angel is sent to earth to show George the positive affect his life has on others. I chose this movie because I wanted you to dwell on your positive influence.
Run Fat Boy, Run
Want a little comedy mixed with motivation? Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead), and Hank Azaria (of The Simpsons), star in this movie. When Libby’s new boyfriend tells Dennis he is running a marathon, Dennis thinks that if he too runs the marathon Libby will see Dennis in a more favorable light. The problem is, he is out of shape, the marathon is in three weeks, and he has never run a marathon before. This movie made the list because of the hitting-the-wall scene.
The military is pressured to integrate females into the Navy Seal program. Demi Moore’s character is the test case. This is here for the prove-everyone-wrong factor and for you to say...”At least the examiners are not spraying us with hoses during the exam”.
Work hard, but don't forget to reward yourself!
Best of luck to you.
Paulina Bandy, Esq.
Bar Exam Tutor
CA Bar Exam Repeaters' Resource