Recommended Movies

Reaching, motivating, and inspiring young adults can be a challenge fraught with awkward questions and evasive answers. More than ever before, family members are immersed in electronics: computers, smartphones, iPods, anything with a screen. While many of us who are older have become proficient at visiting the electronic world and can even get around in it pretty well, our children and grandchildren are natives. They've grown up on short bits of information, presented in intriguing ways. A powerful key to reaching them is to find ways to speak with them in their language.

Most teenagers and young adults love to watch movies, and I have found that they can be thoughtful and articulate in discussing them. So I have developed a repertoire of movies that are relevant to the principles I teach. I have my younger clients watch selected movies from my list, and we then discuss the pertinent issues and values. You can do this too. Here are my favorites.

Feature Films

Blue Jasmine

(2013) PG-13
This film, directed by Woody Allen, tells the story of a New York socialite falling apart in the wake of her marriage built upon falsehoods and deception. Broke, she travels across the country to impose upon her sister, who is living a modest lifestyle. She brings chaos into her sister's life and ultimately can't escape the chaos of her own life. The writing and acting are superb.

Failure to Launch

(2004) PG-13
In this movie, frustrated parents hire a beautiful "relationship consultant" with a patented plan to help move their thirty-something, slacker son out of the house.

A Good Woman

(2004) PG
The dynamics of relationships, where at least one of the players is out of money, are intensified in this film. This is a provocative movie, which will have you reflecting on morals and wealth.

The Great Gatsby

(Leonardo DiCaprio) (2013) PG-13
A new adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, where Midwesterner war veteran Nick Carraway is drawn into the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby.


(Michael J. Fox) (1994) PG-13
Many very real attitudes and behaviors are portrayed in this classic depiction of greed. Though seemingly overstated in a dramatic movie, the all-too-human impulses are well represented. Watching can be helpful in understanding family members who are behaving badly.

The Inheritance

(Arven) (2003) NR
The theme of this movie is the clash of personal hopes and sense of duty. This takes place in the realm of family business pressures at their most intense. It is a tough movie to watch, as we see the damage that this stress can cause.

Life of Pi

(2012) PG
This movie about survival, faith and discovery, portrays a journey we can all admire. The main character is a young man and we watch as he matures. The full range of emotions is tapped and at many, many points we find ourselves identifying with this young survivor.

The Philadelphia Story

(1940) NR
The Philadelphia Story is the classic tale of the heiress, her men, what is proper in society and what is demanded by love. It is fun to experience the great Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart at their best; and thought provoking to watch them in their element in 1940.

Pride and Prejudice

(Keira Knightly) (2005) PG
Jane Austen's writing is rich in understanding of human interactions and emotions. In this movie we see Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy struggle with the pride and prejudice they have acquired growing up in different classes.

The Pursuit of Happyness

(Will Smith) (2006) PG-13
This movie, starring a bright and penniless man working to make a life for his young son, inspires all of us to think about our own pursuits of "happyness."

Sense and Sensibility

(BBC) (2008) NR
Questions about sincerity, seduction and abandonment arise as two sisters, who are as different as night and day, explore possibilities with their suitors. A Jane Austen classic, by the end of the movie, we have all formed our answers.

The Ultimate Gift

(2006) PG
Like Stovall's book of the same name, in many ways, the messages of The Ultimate Gift are very similar to those in my first book, Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth: A Life Guide for Inheritors. Stovall has crafted a masterful story, which comes to life on the screen.

Wall Street

(1987) R
Wall Street is the introduction for the outsider to the bad behaviors of investor greed. Full of intrigue, it is sick but fascinating to watch.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

(2010) PG-13
The infamous Gordon Gekko, out of prison after all these years, gets a new run at bad attitudes and behaviors. This time he uses his future son-in-law to accomplish his destruction. It's a view of what some people are like, and inheritors are wise to be aware.

The Wolf of Wall Street

(2013) R
Directed by Martin Scorsese, this film is based on the true story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort. It follows Belfort’s rise to become an affluent stockbroker living the high life surrounded by money, power, women, and drugs; to his fall involving crime, Wall Street corruption, and securities fraud.


Born Rich

(2003) NR
Born Rich is a look at the insular world of some of the world's richest young adults. Their realities are useful perspective on our own beliefs and priorities.

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

(PBS) (2008) NR
Best viewed in segments, not all at once, this documentary is a fascinating study of how money in our world developed as it has. There are surprising and not so surprising facts, that contribute to the context of our financial capital.

The One Percent

(2006) NR
This film is a thoughtful exploration of the wealth gap. The interviews in it, for instance with Milton Friedman, Steve Forbes, and James (Jay) Hughes, Jr., to name a few, are varied and add depth to the complexity of the challenges of the wealth gap. The One Percent offers an unusual view of our world.

The Queen of Versailles

(2012) PG
This film documents the lifestyle of a billionaire and his family, construction on their mansion, and their excess and pride. It exposes how the American Dream can be used and abused. This family is a glaring example of what can happen when people fall prey to easy money, and what can happen in a financial disaster – in this case, the crisis of 2008.