Akela's Favorite Movies & TV Shows

with parental guidance notes
from Common Sense Media


Are You Tougher Than A Boy Scout? (Not Rated, 2013) From the Emmy-award winning producers of Deadliest Catch comes this reality competition series in which six elite Boy Scouts compete against different adult men in a variety of Scouting-based challenges.

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (Rated G, 1954) Climb aboard the Nautilus and into an undersea world of adventure! 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is Disney's version of the classic 19th century Jules Verne novel of the same name. Some old stereotypes come through in scenes where island natives are portrayed as primitive and brutal. Lots of punching among sailors, and some perilous scenes with a giant squid.

The Jungle Book (Rated G, 1967) The Disney animated film that's loosely based on Rudyard Kipling's book of the same name (the same source Baden-Powell used as a basis for Cub Scouting), Jungle Book tells the story of a young boy Mowgli who was raised by animals in the jungle. This classic has positive messages for Cub Scouts about friendship and finding family in unexpected places. There are some scary scenes, such as the final battle between Baloo (a bear) and Shere Khan (a tiger), but there's also lots of humor and catchy songs.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Rated G, 1971) The mysterious candy maker Wonka hides a Golden Ticket inside five of his famous candy bars. The kids who find them are invited on a grand tour of the wondrous, wacky Wonka factory. Overall this is an excellent, imaginative family film. While it doesn't have any content that would be considered inappropriate for kids, author Roald Dahl's signature dark humor is evident. All of the ticket-winning kids end up in some kind of peril (some wind up in more dangerous situations than others), but they all turn out safe and sound in the end.


Star Wars (Rated PG, 1977) Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) gets to live out every boy's dream: ditch the farm and rescue a princess (Carrie Fisher). Accompanied by the roguish Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and trained by Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), Luke finds himself involved in a galactic war against the Empire and the menacing Darth Vader (David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones). For kids of Cub Scout age, this movie is an unforgettable ride through a vast galaxy of imaginative concepts and characters. Of the (currently) six films in the Star Wars series, this one offers the best and mildest balance of drama and action for younger viewers.

Searching for Bobby Fischer (Rated PG, 1993) Josh Waitzkin is just a typical American boy when one day he challenges his father at chess and wins. A renowned chess coach helps earn Josh a place in a national championship, but when he purposely throws a match, the prospects of winning are in jeopardy. At the core of this story is a valuable lesson about sportsmanship. Wolf and Bear Cubs will enjoy seeing someone their own age intelligently portrayed, even if they don't quite grasp his particular gift or the situations it places him in. For Webelos, this is one of the greatest movies around for demonstrating -- without preaching -- the value of decency and the payoff that comes from serious study.

The Iron Giant (Rated PG, 1999) A young boy rescues a huge robot which has rocketed to earth from space and tries to protect the genial giant from a nosey government agent. This movie provides the commensurate cartoon action that most boys love: a giant robot under attack; buildings, trains, and cars crashing; futuristic weapons firing; Hogarth, the boy hero, creeping through a dark forest looking for “trouble"; a boat caught in a storm; spooky music; and an arrogant, mean-spirited villain who threatens everyone and everything that is important. It also includes a poignant moment when a deer is shot. The filmmakers bring a point of view to the events, hoping to instruct, explain, and furnish thought-provoking ideas through which Scouts can view the action (i.e. “guns kill,” the collateral damage of paranoia, and taking responsibility for our choices). Set in the 1950s, one character smokes a pipe throughout and one character smokes a cigarette.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Rated PG, 2001) In this enchanting film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's delightful bestseller, Harry Potter learns on his 11th birthday that he is the orphaned first son of two powerful wizards and possesses magical powers of his own. This first movie in the Harry Potter series has some intense and scary moments. Harry Potter and friends -- who are only 11 years old here -- are in peril and get hurt, but not seriously, and most of the scares come from fantasy creatures. There's a flashback to the (bloodless) death of Harry's parents and discussion about how they died and the one who killed them.

The Jungle Book (Rated PG, 2016) This live-action/CGI update inspired by Disney's 1967 animated musical tells the story of an orphaned "man cub" raised as a wolf and hated by the jungle's most vicious predator, tiger Shere Khan. Although there are several intense moments, the movie is gorgeous, and there are clear, strong messages for Cub Scouts about the importance of courage, teamwork, family (especially the non-traditional kind), and friendship.


Time Bandits (Rated PG, 1981) Young Kevin's daydreams burst into astonishing and hilarious life when a band of time-traveling little men come crashing through his bedroom wardrobe and carry him off on an unbelievable crime spree, weaving through the greatest and strangest moments of history. There is a good deal of cartoonish violence. Also there are scary creatures, and depictions of a supreme being and his nemesis that some may find objectionable. Throughout, the movie advocates reading and an appreciation for both the factual and mythological aspects of human history. Its dwarf protagonists also address themes of tolerance.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (Rated PG, 1982) This timeless story follows the journey of a lost alien and the 10-year-old boy he befriends. Join Elliot (Henry Thomas), Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and Michael (Robert MacNaughton) as they come together to help E.T. find his way back home. Note that Steven Spielberg's classic has some scenes of mild peril, and there is brief but strong language by today's standards for a PG movie.

The Rocketeer (Rated PG, 1991) Based on a retro-styled comic book hit of the '80s, the story centers on a pre-World War II stunt pilot (Bill Campbell) who accidentally comes into possession of a rocket-propelled backpack. With the aid of his mechanic pal (Alan Arkin), he gets it up and running, then uses it to foil a plot by a gang of vicious Nazi spies led by Timothy Dalton. There are plenty of car chases, aviation disasters, gun fights, and explosions. There's some mild language and sexual content. Webelos will get a bit of a history lesson with the movie's depictions of Howard Hughes and W. C. Fields and a classic newsreel shown in a theater.

October Sky (Rated PG, 1999) Jake Gyllenhaal and Laura Dern star in this inspiring true story about a teenager living in a West Virginia mining town who dares to reach for the stars after seeing the Sputnik satellite. This moving drama centers on a very difficult, tense father-son relationship. There's also some surprisingly strong language for a PG-rated movie and a few mild sexual references. Ultimately, the movie is about following your dreams, no matter how unachievable they might feel.


The Right Stuff (Rated PG, 1983) From Chuck Yaeger -- the first man to break the sound barrier -- to the seven Mercury astronauts, it's the story of the birth of the U.S. Space Program. For Scouts, the movie offers a human perspective on what is arguably America's greatest technological feat -- space flight. It also addresses themes of loyalty and the value of cooperation through a gripping story and spectacular visuals that have aged well. Peppered with laughs, it also features an Academy Award-winning score. Note there is some salty locker-room language and at over 3 hours it is a long movie.

Captain America: The First Avenger (Rated PG-13, 2011) While this 1940s-set comic book-based superhero adventure is full of explosive action violence as well as a scary-looking villain -- in most other respects, it's pretty tame as these kinds of movies go. Captain America is wholesome, compassionate, and brave; he doesn't have the dark side that many other superheroes do, and what lingers after the last bomb has exploded and the last fight is over are the movie's messages about standing up against bullies and doing the right thing (that and a very strong sense of patriotism).

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Rated PG-13, 1989) In a prologue that reveals a young Indiana Jones (River Phoenix) as a Boy Scout in one of his very first adventures, this thrilling screen epic continues as an adult Indy (Harrison Ford) embarks on a perilous quest for his cantankerous father, Professor Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery). With lots of hand-to-hand combat, action-filled chases, and gun fights, the main characters are in near-constant peril. Minor characters are killed in somewhat gruesome ways. Language is mild, and there's ultimately a strong message about the importance of the father-son relationship.

Never Cry Wolf (Rated PG, 1983) A biologist studies wild wolves accused of killing herds. This Oscar-nominated drama includes some graphic animal eating scenes and some non-sexual nudity. Expect several perilous situations, pipe smoking, and beer drinking. Since the end isn't concrete, expect your Scout to ask questions about what happened after the credits roll.

Apollo 13 (Rated PG, 1995) A "routine" space flight becomes a desperate battle to survive in this breathtaking adventure of courage and faith starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris. Note that everyone in Mission Control smokes all the time.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Rated PG-13, 2003) There's a galleon's worth of fun in watching Johnny Depp's performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, a roguish pirate who gets all the good lines and steals the show, on an adventurous quest to recapture the notorious ghost ship, the Black Pearl. While the violence is not especially graphic, there are images, including the literally skeleton pirate crew, that may be disturbing to some. There's also some mild sexual references and colorful pirate language. Characters drink rum and get tipsy.