12 Movies That Teach Us About Money
Of course, it makes sense that the film industry is obsessed with money. In a world of huge budgets, extortionate salaries and priceless dresses, money is king. So much so in fact, that there are countless films that teach us an important life lesson about the dollars in our pockets. These hugely successful films, no matter the genre, all put out a clear message on the role money should play in our lives, whether that’s in business, property or family.
Here are our favourite movies about money, and the lessons we can learn from them.
1. It’s A Wonderful Life
No movie has a money moral more heartfelt and lovely than It’s A Wonderful Life. The quintessential Christmas classic that has had people sobbing into their leftovers since 1946. Played by James Stewart, George Bailey comes upon hard times, and in contemplating his suicide, he stumbles across his guardian angel, Clarence. The friendly guide shows Bailey, in a series of increasingly tragic scenes, what life would have been like if he had never existed. The movie’s values are nestled firmly in family, friendship, generosity and love triumphing over money every time. To date, there has been no more heartwarming money story in cinema.
2. Catch Me If You Can
Leonardo di Caprio plays opposite Tom Hanks as Frank Abagnale Jr., a guy who had successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars before the age of 19. By posing as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a parish prosecutor, he conducted fraud to fund his extravagant lifestyle. His prowess for deception was noticed by the FBI, who after having caught him, used his expertise to help catch other criminals.
3. The Wolf Of Wall Street
Leonardo di Caprio shines again, this time as Jordan Belfort, a smooth-talking stockbroker. His lavish lifestyle is funded by conning his clients out of their money, spending it foolishly and collecting the commission. His duped clients, meanwhile, are losing money. The lessons here are innumerable. Avoid the trap of instant gratification, handle success wisely, and of course be careful which greedy broker you trust with your money.
This rags to riches flick starring Jennifer Lawrence tells the real-life story of Joy Mangano, inventor of Miracle Mop and now millionaire. The message? Never give up, believe in the strength of your ideas and ignore the setbacks along the way. Nothing beats the triumph of the underdog.
5. The Full Monty
Set in the North of England during a harsh financial downturn, six miners turn to an unusual career path to makes ends meet. A job opportunity that sees them taking on the Chippendales in a rival striptease show. Not that we’re suggesting you have to take your clothes off, but think about what other marketable skills you have, or learn a brand new one.
6. The Social Network
The 2010 award-winning movie about the birth of Facebook tells the story of a young Mark Zuckerberg and the legal issues he encountered when the Winklevoss twins took him to court claiming he had stolen their idea. In the end, the twins won, costing Zuckerberg and a fledging Facebook a vast sum of money and a serious dent in pride. The moral of the story? Take proper legal advice and protect your intellectual property when starting a business, as you never know much it might cost you further down the line.
7. The Money Pit
A classic from Tom Hanks, in which he and his partner buy themselves a house at a bargain price, convinced they’ve just found their dream home. However, it soon becomes clear that the house is going to do nothing but take their money, as the bill for repairs mounts and mounts. Of course, what they should have done is taken more care to invest their money wisely.
8. Ocean’s 8
This 2018 movie reworks the classic Ocean’s 11 with an all-female cast, showing that woman are just as capable of greed and deception as the guys. Debbie Ocean, played by Sandra Bullock, employs a super talented crew to perform an ambitious heist at the New York City Met Gala. Combining smart tactics with impossible glamour, the team plan and execute the most impressive robbery in history.
9. Slumdog Millionaire
Directed by Danny Boyle, this modern classic won no less than eight Oscars. Starring Dev Patel as a teenager raised in Mumbai who finds himself a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. No one can believe that this kid from the slums is getting answer after answer correct. But through a series of flashbacks, we learn how he came to acquire this knowledge, as he gets closer and closer to that final question. Another epic tale where the underdog triumphs.
10. Jerry Maguire
Tom Cruise is a high-flying sports agent who decides to go solo. The movie teaches us to value people over money, respect oneself over the corporate machine, as well as the value of morality in business. We learn that there is more to life than money, and that a person cannot be valued based on their financial worth.
11. The Pursuit of Happyness
Another movie in our list that is based on a real-life story. Will Smith plays a man who became homeless following a divorce, facing working an unpaid internship as well as caring for his young son. Against all odds, he managed to work his way out of destitution. This heart-wrenching film has so much to teach us about hard work, self-belief and never giving up. We should also, however, heed the movie’s warning about preparing for the future and having a backup plan.
12. Capitalism: A Love Story
If you like your money lessons more direct, we have a documentary to close our list. This 2009 flick from Michael Moore discusses the capitalist system in light of the then recent financial crash. Moore examines the social cost of corporate greed and raises questions about where the pursuit of profits will ultimately take us, and where our humanity lies in all of this.
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