It's Labor Day weekend -- a time when we should all celebrate a few days off from our current jobs but also explore whatever it is our kids want to be when they grow up. As a tribute to the professions my kids, nieces, nephews, and young friends want to pursue, here's a list of special movies for the budding paleontologist, playwright or athlete in your family. Don't see a movie here for your children? Recommend more in the comments section. Happy long weekend, families!

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington1. For Aspiring Politicians: 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' (NR) - on DVD
Who's In It: James Stewart, Jean Smart, Claude Rains
What It's About: It's a miracle how well this movie holds up seven decades after its release. The titular Mr. Washington (Stewart), is a morally upstanding man who's appointed to replace a deceased Senator. When the politically naive Smith lands in Washington, he's labeled a country bumpkin, because he's completely incorruptible. Any kid interested in politics should take note of how Smith navigates the dirtier aspects of Washington and also witness the legendary "Smith filibuster," which is still referenced any time a bill is stalled to death.

Buy or rent the DVD It's Labor Day weekend -- a time when we should all celebrate a few days off from our current jobs but also explore whatever it is our kids want to be when they grow up. As a tribute to the professions my kids, nieces, nephews, and young friends want to pursue, here's a list of special movies for the budding paleontologist, playwright or athlete in your family. Don't see a movie here for your children? Recommend more in the comments section. Happy long weekend, families!

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington1. For Aspiring Politicians: 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' (NR) - on DVD
Who's In It: James Stewart, Jean Smart, Claude Rains
What It's About: It's a miracle how well this movie holds up seven decades after its release. The titular Mr. Washington (Stewart), is a morally upstanding man who's appointed to replace a deceased Senator. When the politically naive Smith lands in Washington, he's labeled a country bumpkin, because he's completely incorruptible. Any kid interested in politics should take note of how Smith navigates the dirtier aspects of Washington and also witness the legendary "Smith filibuster," which is still referenced any time a bill is stalled to death.

Buy or rent the DVD


Jurassic Park2. For Aspiring Paleontologists: 'Jurassic Park' (PG-13) - on DVD
Who's In It: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
What It's About: It's not for the youngest of the bunch, but Steven Spielberg's classic adventure will provide thrills and chills for any kid who has ever wanted to study dinosaurs. It's educational, funny, and a true visual spectacle -- those scheming, scary velociraptors; the gentle apatosaurs; that lawyer-eating Tyrannosaurus rex. It's the kind of movie you'll never forget.

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Center Stage3. For Aspiring Dancers: 'Center Stage' (PG-13) - on DVD
Who's In It: Amanda Schull, Zoe Saldana, Peter Gallagher
What It's About: Usually movies about dancers are high drama, but this one is good, plain fun. There's the Very Serious Student who's single-mindedly interested in being the best dancer in the company. There's Saldana as a salsa-dancing natural who just needs to polish her technical skills. And there's the Baryshnikov-in-the-making superstar who can have his pick of the ballerinas. Young dancers will love it.

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Spirited Away4. For Aspiring Animators: 'Spirited Away' (PG) - on DVD
Who's In It: Rumi Hiiragi, Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden
What It's About: Arguably the best animator of all time, Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli have created many beautiful animated films, but 'Spirited Away' is the kind of intricate masterpiece that kids -- whether they're interested in animation or not -- can watch over and over again.

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Romeo and Juliet5. For Aspiring Actors: 'William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet' (PG-13) - on DVD
Who's In It: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo
What It's About: This is perhaps the most teen-friendly rendition of the Bard in movie history. Baz Luhrmann's version, which retains the original's language but modernizes the setting, has a heralded cast -- leading with a quite young DiCaprio and Danes -- that should impress your actors in the making. This is the one Shakespeare play even the most hesitant teen viewers will find irresistible.

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Hoosiers6. For Aspiring Athletes:
'Hoosiers' (PG) - on DVD
Who's In It: Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Hopper
What It's About: This is on every single "greatest sports movies" list ever produced, and with good reason. Starring Hackman and Hopper in two of their storied careers' most memorable roles, this 1950s tale about how a new coach takes an Indiana high-school basketball team to unstoppable heights will give audiences that cinematic high that only the most motivational sports movies can elicit.

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Stand and Deliver7. For Aspiring Teachers: 'Stand and Deliver' (PG) - on DVD
Who's In It: Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips, Andy Garcia
What It's About: There are dozens of special-teacher dramas, but this one is peerlessly inspiring. It features Olmos as real-life East Los Angeles math teacher Jaime Escalante (who died earlier this year) -- a man who taught immigrant kids so well that his entire class passed the AP Calculus test. This is a touching look at how one committed teacher can make all the difference.

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Edward Scissorhands8. For Aspiring Hair Stylists: 'Edward Scissorhands' (PG-13) - on DVD
Who's In It: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest
What It's About: A fantastic choice for tweens and up, this Tim Burton comedy is a funny and sweet fable starring (naturally) Depp, as a misunderstood misfit whose scissor-like hands turn him not into a Wolverine-style action hero but the preferred hair stylist in a upscale suburb.

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Ratatouille9. For Aspiring Chefs: 'Ratatouille' (G) - on DVD
Who's In It: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano
What It's About: There's not a foodie alive who hasn't loved Pixar's tribute to gourmet cooking (and eating). Sure, it's about a rat, but Remy is as good as anyone who's competed on 'Top Chef,' plus he fits under a chef's hat. If this movie doesn't make you a) hungry for French cuisine and b) wish you could make it as well as Remy, then it's quite possible you have no appetite.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark10. For Aspiring Archaeologists: 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (PG) - on DVD
Who's In It: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Denholm Elliott
What It's About: Ford and Spielberg made archaeology fun -- sexy, even -- with their Indiana Jones series. By turning Professor Jones into a swashbuckling hero, the filmmakers (and Ford himself, outfitted with those khakis and that signature hat and bullwhip) elevated an otherwise boring-sounding profession into the mainstream zeitgeist. Anyone who grew up in the '80s will remember the countless boys (and girls!) dressing up as mini-Indianas on Halloween.

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