My husband and I used to be obsessed with movies. When we first started dating in college, we’d see 2-3 movies in one day at the theatre. You don’t even want to know how much popcorn I ingested. We’re now the proud parents of two girls ages 10 and 14, and we have tried to pass our love of films along to them. However, it hasn’t been easy. In a generation that’s obsessed with watching video clips on Instagram and Tik Tok, it’s really hard to get our girls to settle down and commit to a two-hour movie – especially if it’s “old.”
Old movies to them are the flicks that we grew up with in the 80’s. Classic films. Movies that almost everyone has seen. It dawned on us recently that our kids haven’t watched most of these amazing pictures. Why? Because we’ve never forced them to do so. That gave us an idea for a fun family project.
For the past few months, we’ve been choosing one weekend a month to sit down and watch a classic eighties movie. We started this undertaking to introduce our kids to the history of entertainment. Little did I know that they would be providing the entertainment. Their creative commentary has been priceless. The comments have been SO good that I decided to write a blog about them.
The first movie we watched was The Karate Kid. I remember seeing it for the first time on a rainy day of summer camp. Since they couldn’t take us to the lake for the day, they took us to the movies instead. I absolutely loved the flick, and I’ve probably seen it twenty or thirty times since. Getting my kids to watch it, on the other hand, took a lot of convincing.
Both of my girls had no interest in watching a film about karate, but they relented when we told them that it was about bullying, friendship, and overcoming obstacles. While my husband and I sat there, smiling at the nostalgia of it all, my oldest daughter leaned across the couch and said, “This Mr. Miyagi guy is a creeper.”
As Daniel began to train at Mr. Miyagi’s house after school and on weekends, she continued to shake her head. “Doesn’t this mother think it’s weird that her son is spending all this time with some old guy?” I wanted to tell her she was wrong, but I started to see her point. It’s a completely different world today. Would any parent in 2021 let their child loose like Mrs. Larusso did back then? I know I certainly wouldn’t. I responded with “it’s just a movie,” but then felt like I had to follow up with “and be careful of adults.”
The second movie we tackled was Raiders of the Lost Ark. My older daughter had seen the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios many years ago, so she was familiar with the film. My youngest had no idea who Indiana Jones was (other than the same guy who played Hans Solo in Star Wars). About thirty minutes into the film, I heard her sigh, “Remind me not to be an archeologist when I grow up. Boring!” Both girls looked like they were falling asleep.
Once the movie picked up its pace, all I heard were comments about the quality of the special effects. “OMG. That looks totally fake!” was uttered at least five times, but most emphatically during the scene where the guy’s face melts. The pinnacle of the evening, however, was when they finally found the ark, and I heard one of my kids yell, “Hey! That’s not a boat!”
The third movie on our list was Top Gun. I vividly remember seeing this movie in the theatre with my mom, and her covering my eyes during the sex scene. At our house, we handle things a little differently. My husband and I just shout, “Inappropriate! Inappropriate!” while our kids give us death stares. That seems to work too.
At the very beginning of the film, when viewers first get a glimpse of Maverick and Goose in their plane, my older daughter looked over at me, rolled her eyes, and said, “I bet one of them dies.” I threw a piece of popcorn at her. Not long thereafter, the scene where Maverick and Goose sing You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling came on, and she started giggling. “This is so cringey. I would die if I was her,” she said.
After that, we had a stretch of time whereby nobody said anything at all, and I thought that maybe the kids were finally enjoying a movie. Then my youngest daughter cried out in exasperation, “Why do they keep playing this stupid Danger Zone song over and over and over again?” I wanted to ask her how she can play Roblox over and over and over again, but I decided to hold my tongue. As the scene approached where all the guys were playing volleyball on the beach, my husband leaned over to the girls and joked, “This is a really famous scene. Lots of hunks playing volleyball.” They both laughed at him and squealed, “All these guys are gross!” I guess Tom Cruise isn’t a heartthrob to Generation X.
The final movie we watched was Dirty Dancing. I remember it was such a big deal when I saw it as a kid, but nowadays, it’s no worse than an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Both of my girls were familiar with some of the classic scenes from the movie, and since they have both watched Dancing with the Stars for many years, they weren’t wowed by any of the ballroom dancing.
When Patrick Swayze made his first entrance in the film, my oldest asked, “Why are all the bad guys in the eighties named Johnny?” Good question. I guess back in the eighties we kept things simple. We didn’t have fancy names like Caleb, DeClan, or Grayson to choose from (all top names from 2020 according to BabyNames.com). Fast forward to the scene where Johnny teaches Baby how to dance dirty. “This is so embarrassing,” they giggled. “She’s awful.” They continued to laugh at the corny lines and stated adamantly that “sweaty men are gross.” Then they complained that the lift at the end of the movie “wasn’t even that great.”
I think the bottom line is that my kids aren’t going to like eighties movies. They’re too angst-filled and emotional. They don’t like the music, the dialogue, the outfits, or the bad special effects. They also don’t like that every film seems to teach some sort of life lesson. We’re not giving up though. There’s still a lot of eighties movies we haven’t shared with them yet. They’re bound to like one sooner or later, right?
My husband and I have thoroughly enjoyed this trip down memory lane. These movies and characters helped shape who we are today. I love that the entertainment industry is bringing back shows like Cobra Kai and making a Top Gun 2 and an Indiana Jones 5. While my girls might not appreciate them, Generation X certainly does. So, as far as I am concerned, forget the kids. My husband can be my wingman any time.