Movies play a big role in our family. We try to have regular movie nights and discuss themes and ideas afterward. Sometimes we just laugh until we all cry.
When my oldest son was very young, he suffered from night terrors over the tiniest things. To help “cure” him of the nightmares, we explained that TV shows and movies were pretend. We began pointing out the actors, and how the same man could pretend to be someone else in another movie. I think I had the only three year-old who knew who Danny Glover is. He picked him out in Angels in the Outfield and Operation Dumbo Drop. The nightmares lessened considerably.
Recently, we watched Kindergarten Cop with our kids, and since that night, our boys have been quoting, “It’s not a tumor.” My husband and I say this to each other all the time, only to get looks of confusion and sympathy from our children—until now. They get it, now.
Our boys enjoy us “letting them in” on all the jokes and quotes from classic movies. They feel like part of an elite club. They are the ones who ask their friends, “Have you seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? No? Oh, man! You have to see that movie!”
We keep the movies age-appropriate. My boys are sixteen and twenty, not six and nine. When they were little, we loved the old black and white classics. My guys loved Bing Crosby and Bob Hope comedies. They roared through Abbot and Costello features. They love Hitchcock’s suspense. They enjoy Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant movies.
Robert Osborne hosts Turner Classic Movies’ “The Essentials” program, which features 20th century films that have shaped our culture. My boys don’t tune in on a regular basis, but when a particular film airs that I feel strongly about, I have them watch. They enjoyed the story of To Kill a Mockingbird. They liked the suspense of Gaslight. They laughed at the physical humor in Arsenic and Old Lace.
One of my favorite things about passing these films on to my children is watching them share them with their friends. They have their friends over all the time to watch the “Old 80’s” movies like Back to the Future and Real Genius. They like the original version of The Italian Job. “Michael Caine? He’s the rich con man from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels!”
They quote movies all the time, and now their friends are the one giving them confused and sympathetic looks.
“How do you know she is a witch?” –Sir Bedevere, (Terry Jones) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
“It is better to be truthful and good, than to not.” –Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
They also sing—songs like “I ain’t got nobody, and… nobody… cares… for… uh, me… yuck-a-tuh-tuh… a-yuck-a-tuh-tuh!” –Igor (Marty Feldman) Young Frankenstein
With them sharing their movie finds, now their friends are starting to quote right along with them. They’ve watched Alien and Aliens. “Game over, man! Game over!”
Our kids enjoy our holiday movie traditions, as well as watching their favorites with their younger cousins, passing down their love of cinema in turn. We have our own private Saturday marathons with new classics and old. We have fun with our movie trivia and name that tune/ actor/ car or whatever.
The fact is, movies are a part of the culture—the American dialog. To overlook them or consider them only trivial and fleeting ignores an entire portion of our history. My children understand this. They appreciate film for what it is. I trust they will carry on the tradition of movie appreciation to the next generation.
That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema! Thanks for reading!