I don’t remember watching a lot of movies when I was a child. That’s probably mostly because a VCR wasn’t even in our household until the early 1980s, and we didn’t go to the movies very often. Suffice it to say, there are plenty more options for all of us today.
I do remember going to the drive-in a few times. Going anywhere in the car while in your PJs was always a fun adventure as a child. The double feature usually played the G/PG movie first, then the R rated one after the kids were (hopefully) asleep in the back seat. Sadly, I forget what the movies were for my brother and me, but I remember seeing parts of the movies my parents were there to see: Arthur (1981) with Dudley Moore, and Tootsie (1982) with Dustin Hoffman. I think they might have also seen An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) with Richard Gere, and possibly Private Benjamin (1980) with Goldie Hawn, but I haven’t verified that yet. My mom used to make a huge brown paper bag of popcorn for us all to share. That was the best part. I hope it’s an experience that I can give to M someday, though it’s becoming harder as drive-ins disappear.
E.T. was the only movie that I can distinctly remember seeing in a theater. Since it was released in 1982, I must have been around eight years old, and I’m pretty certain I saw it at a theater while we were visiting relatives in Ohio. I was utterly wowed and moved to tears by the story. Still am. Oh, how I loved Gertie.
We didn’t see a lot of Disney movies growing up. I used to jokingly give my mom a hard time about that later on. Honestly, I think it’s part of the reason I am not as fired up about Disney as some other folks might be. It just wasn’t a big portion of my childhood, and certainly nothing like it is for today’s children. One Disney movie I do clearly remember is Jungle Book. I remember loving it very much. We bought a copy for M a year ago. She wasn’t impressed. The only other two that come to mind are 101 Dalmatians and The Rescuers, which I recall as being kind of scary.
Once my parents purchased the VCR, it was a game changer. I remember going to the movie rental store quite a bit and that sense of anticipation of what we might walk out with. It just felt so incredibly awesome to say your family had a VCR and talk about movies that you rented. Only a few movies come to mind from that time period (say ages 7-10) though. Annie (1982), Mr. Mom (1983), National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), War Games (1983), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and certainly the various Superman and Star Wars movies.
I’m not even sure if all of these were viewed on the VCR, but they certainly standout out as the seminal movies of my childhood. They are, in my mind, the classics. And between you and me, they just don’t make them like they used to.
M has not had a very robust movie watching experience so far, though granted she will only be seven in September. But it’s not for lack of movies or attempts at trying. To be honest, until Frozen came along, she just wasn’t that interested in and/or too afraid of most movies, with one huge exception: Gnomeo and Juliet. That was last summer, when she was about to turn six. We bought the DVD because we had heard it was cute (though I know plenty of people who think it’s lame; I really like it, actually). To say she was obsessed with that movie (as well as the soundtrack) is an understatement. She learned every single song in under a week. Elton John was in heavy rotation last year.
The same thing happened with Frozen this year, times infinity.
Speaking of infinity (and beyond), she didn’t finish Toy Story. She found it creepy. Right at the same part I did: that weird doll head on spider legs/wheels. Yeesh—that thing creeps me out just thinking about it!
Her first movie theater movie was Winnie the Pooh (2011) when she was weeks shy of four years old. The only reason we even went to the movies was because we were on vacation in Rhode Island during an unusual heat wave; being in 103 degrees was not fun and we were desperate to find cool. I remember that she wasn’t even heavy enough to keep the seat down by herself. Her next movie theater experience wasn’t until Frozen came out.
As I mentioned above, she didn’t like Jungle Book either, though now as an adult I can see why it might not be that interesting to a young child who is aware of the more flashier graphics and story lines these days. She only liked Annie, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid. We didn’t get very far into Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which I chose because she seems to like movies with a lot of singing) before calling it quits. She has no desire to see Despicable Me or Cars, so we’re the last people on the planet to have not seen those. She still hasn’t seen Brave, but she has recently said that she wants to, so we might make that a movie day during summer vacation. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast? Hasn’t watched, could care less.
Like me, she, at least right now, seems to likes shorter and more predictable (read: safe, formulaic) visual stories, like those that are found in television shows rather than movies, or repeat viewings (ad nauseam) of the movies she already knows. Maybe it’s an attention span thing too (for both of us). That’s not to say that I don’t like movies, but just ask my husband how painfully long it takes for me to finally agree to watch a movie with him. Our dusty Netflix pile would also give you an idea. I also, honestly, don’t find a lot of the movies today all that compelling or interesting, save for a very few. Which is why, I suppose, I turn to my “safe” movies, like Legally Blonde. I just can’t seem to let it go.
What movies do you remember first seeing as a child? Have you shown them to your children? Were they totally bored out of their minds?
Next week in Me + Her, Then + Now: Telephones and communication
And, last but certainly not least, HAPPY FATHERS DAY to all those fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and father figures out there. You’re doing a great job. Thank you.
Copyright (c) 2014 Kristen M. Ploetz