Move over ‘Goosebumps’ — our family movie nights have gone retro with ‘Knives Out’ and ‘Rocky’

0
8

The first question my younger son Ibrahim asked when we started watching the 2013 movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” was: “Is that what laptops looked like in 2013?” Also, “Did any of this actually happen?”

I’m learning a lot about my kids by watching old movies together. Last weekend was “Walter Mitty” starring Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig, a fun take on the famous short story about a man and his rich imaginary life.

In our bid to find something to do when there’s nothing to do, my family has turned to watching old movies. In the absence of new releases this year, my husband and I are digging into the back catalogue and introducing old favourites to our sons — the movies they were too young to sit through only a few years prior.

We’ve always been a movie family. My husband can recall, with the accuracy of a walking IMDB website, the cinematic history of favourite performers. As a writer, I watch films for fun, but also to deconstruct character arcs and admire tightly constructed plots.

A few months ago, during a particularly cold weekend, I convinced my kids to watch “Knives Out” with me, writer-director Rian Johnson’s homage to the classic whodunnit. The movie, with its all-star cast including Chris Evans, Daniel Craig and the late Christopher Plummer, is an intellectual and visual treat that, up until last year, would not have interested my sons. Yet they sat through the entire film, and then asked if there were other movies just like it.

Pre-pandemic, the only movies we used to watch together were animated flicks, superhero fare, or children’s movies. Part of me misses those low-stakes films. But with Ibrahim turning 13 this year, they’re no longer willing to humour me by watching “Goosebumps 2” or the live-action “Dora” movie.

Despite what the pandemic has collectively taken from us, time continues to march on, and my children are growing up.

Now, both my sons are interested in expanding their cinematic palates. They want to give classic franchises and more intellectual films a try. And since Hollywood is slowly returning to production after a desultory 2020, we have several decades of movie history to share with the next generation.

My husband started with the “Rocky” movies, a classic of the genre. He then moved to “Predator” and “Rambo.” Though dated, the movies appealed to my younger son, who enjoyed the David and Goliath themes.

My older son, now 16, was more interested in cerebral movies. We watched “Catch Me If You Can,” and then dived into Christopher Nolan’s past works with “Inception” and “The Prestige.” We will probably get to “Memento” in the next few weeks.

My captive teenage audience has been remarkably receptive to our selection. They laugh at the funny parts, and are transfixed by the drama. In contrast, my own reactions have taken me by surprise. Rewatching my past favs, I’ve realized how many of the movies I love are stories about courageous men. Few of them contain any female characters with agency, leave alone characters with more diverse backgrounds.

This doesn’t seem to be bother my sons as much, but then again, they know they’re watching history. In contrast, I’m watching MY history through the movies that captivated me when I was growing up. All still great movies, but I’m different now. The world is different now.

Movie-making has changed a lot in style and substance too; for instance, the 2001 classic heist movie “Ocean’s Eleven” was a hit with my kids, even though they thought the acting was overly dramatic for modern sensibilities.

Strangely, diving into old movies has revealed Ibrahim to be a plot-savant. He has accurately predicted twist endings, identified secret killers, or predicted the concluding scene for every movie we’ve watched so far. Perhaps he is ready for M. Night Shyamalan’s classic, “The Sixth Sense.”

Compiling a list of old films to watch together has now become a fun pastime for me, an escape from the endless loop of days. I’m looking for “four quadrant” movies, those films that appeal to all major demographics, the classics that my husband and I loved when they first came out, nothing too racy or too disturbing.

Loading…

Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…

We’re even combining hobbies: this Saturday, I plan to try out a new recipe for homemade pizza, which we will devour in front of the 1994 blockbuster “Forrest Gump.” A movie about a young man who travels the world despite personal limitations feels downright aspirational right now.

If you have any older movie suggestions for me and my family, please email me at [email protected]!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here