1. Freaky Friday: When teenagers say they wish they were adults, most parents roll their eyes and say ‘just you wait,’ knowing full-well that their kid’s idea of adulthood omits little details like ‘career,’ ‘bills,’ and ‘not being a hedonistic me-machine.’ Of course, being a teenager’s no stroll on the sidewalk either and in this body-swap comedy, mother and daughter learn to appreciate the issues and obstacles in each other’s lives by literally walking a mile in the other’s shoes.
2. Aliens: Single motherhood offers plenty of trials and tribulations in and of itself, but factor in ‘space marine-eating monsters’ and it looks downright impossible. Luckily for the traumatized Newt, her stand-in mother Ellen Ripley excels at beating long odds. As the scene where she moms up and takes on the Alien queen shows, hell hath no fury like a mother threatened.
3. Forrest Gump: As far from home as Forrest’s adventures take him, it’s hard to imagine him getting much farther than the front porch without his mama. From getting him an education to reminding him that ‘stupid is as stupid does,’ Ms. Gump (played with luminous heart by Sally Field) shows that behind every great man, there’s a mom who believed.
4. Finding Neverland: Although Johnny Depp got most of the kudos, Kate Winslet’s moving performance as a dying mother provides an all-too-adult counterweight for the childlike wonder and inspiration that Depp’s J.M. Barrie discovers with her four sons. As her health slowly fades, her stoic resilience and love for her children remind us that inspiring heroes don’t only exist in fairy tales.
5. Hairspray: Yes, she’s played by John Travolta, but let’s try to keep an open mind. After all, this is a feel-good movie about tolerance and diversity and the fact that Vincent Vega’s singing about being big and beautiful in the final song while shaking his groove thang shouldn’t get in the way of the message, right? Either way, Travolta gives a likeable performance as Edna Turnblad, a 1950s housewife who discovers that you’re never too old to love who you are, and shows that even a man can be Mom sometime.