Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Life in Movies Pt. 1: 1980 - 1984

Do you think you can tell much about a person by the movies they watch? I'd say you can, but barely so. If this were a truly accurate account of someone, how could we explain people who absolutely love slasher movies? Would we run screaming from them?

No, it's not that easy. At our house, for instance, we have spent the past few years watching lots of documentaries about serious topics (agriculture, diet, social unrest, the politics of Wal-Mart) and others about not-so-serious topics (grown men who love My Little Pony, the making of the worst movie ever, the people who dress up as celebrities and walk down Hollywood Boulevard to have their pic taken with tourists). We've watched dramatic films that have won awards (such as Argo) and other movies about men with very particular sets of skills (such as Taken and Taken 2).

Though we've not been as good about keeping up with it lately, we have also spent much of the last year celebrating Tuesday nights with "Bad Movie Night." Tim, Tricia, and I take turns selecting a movie we think will make the other two cringe. Tim and I are pretty good at this (our favorite so far being Cool as Ice starring the one and only Vanilla Ice). Tricia, on the other hand, tends to pick good movies she actually wants to see.

Now that Harper and Muluken have reached middle school they are beginning to see lots more movies than they used to - sometimes even going to the theater with their friends. Their tastes are often far different than ours. Thinking  back on the movies I watched as a child, this is probably typical. Last night Muluken went to see Million Dollar Arm, a movie about a sports agent recruiting athletes from India to play in the Major Leagues. As I was driving him home he said, "It was pretty good, but I liked the last one better." I asked which one he was referring to. He answered, "The movie about the plane with a killer on it!"

I've had my own interesting favorites through the years. As I look back on these I think I really can see a bit of myself in the titles I watched during each stage of my life. I can see shifts in my interests and my maturity, not to mention changes in  popular culture as well.

For the next few blog posts I'm going to share lists of movies as a timeline of my life. I'll focus on five-year increments.. For each year I will attempt to share a few of the movies I loved most, watched most frequently, or remember most vividly. Be prepared: 1984 was a kick-ass year for movies!

1980 - Age 6

I believe this was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. My Uncle Dennis took me and even bought me a Superman ring at the concession. Pretty doggone cool! I thought the three villains - General Zod, Ursa, and Non - were frightening.
Though it came out in 1980, I  actually saw this one a few years later when I was old enough to appreciate the humor. This, of course, is a landmark of the comedy genre.
I remember having seen this one a number of times. I can't imagine why. Must have been my parents' doing?

1981 - Age 7

The first of many Harrison Ford movies to make this list.
Seems as though this should have been, at least in part, inappropriate for a seven year old. Still, very funny!
My dad, who was a runner, loved this movie. The plot was slow and the movie was long. I mostly remember the music and the final race. It's one of those movies I think I know because I have seen it but in all reality I understand very little about it.
I watched this movie about a million times. I loved Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise. This was recently a pick for Bad Movie Night. It was anything but Bad. was bad, but in a great way.
This is a movie I watched a bunch of times but never understood the plot line. Most likely I just waited for action sequences.

1982 - Age 8

I remember crying at the theater. E.T was the greatest theater experience of any movie I've ever seen. It was such a big deal when it came out.
I saw this one on VHS when sleeping over with my Uncle Dennis. I didn't understand a bit of it but felt cool for having watched it with him.
Like many of the future picks. all I can say is that I was a young boy and it was the 80's. Beyond that I have no explanation.
Another questionable movie. Still, I loved it. I used to go outside and swing my Wiffle ball bat in a figure eight just like Marc Singer did with his sword.    

1983 - Age 9

So, I still think of this one as being really good. Ally Sheedy. Dabny Coleman. And, of course, Matthew Broderick. Because it was the 1980's this movie was firmly rooted in a Cold War-era mixture of hatred  and fear of communist Russia. "Do. You. Want. To. Play. A. Game?" Great line. Also...first I had ever heard of a modem. It was so futuristic- using your computer to access/hack other computers. Crazy.
Another movie that, looking back, was WAY inappropriate. Still very funny, though.
Though the third to be released in theaters, this was the first I was old enough to be aware of at the time. If E.T. wasn't the greatest theater experience this one was. Nothing beats hearing that music and seeing the words come scrolling up the screen. And of course...Darth Vader.
Saw this one on VHS. Very creepy. You have to love Stephen King. He can even make a car scary.
I wasn't so obsessed with this one like other people. Maybe this was in part due to the fact I'd never been to the ocean and wouldn't for another ten years or so.
A classic. Rarely does a holiday season pass by that I don't watch this one again. I'd throw in a quote but they're all so cliche by now.

1984 - Age 10

One of the best baseball movies ever made.
This is the first of a whole bunch of Brat Pack/John Hughes  movies. I don't know how many of them I'll put on my timeline but I can guarantee you I saw every one of them.
Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters! I actually thought the ghosts were a little scary. How embarrassing!
This was my favorite series from the horror genre - even more-so than Friday the 13th (at the time). This first one was by far the best. All the others become very campy. This one, though, was so scary.
How many other dorky boys kept doing that crane kick in their bedrooms? And Elisabeth Shue, the first crush of many boys my age.
This later became my favorite series from the horror genre. Last year Tim and I watched all of them again. I think this one, the fourth, is the best. It has Corey Feldman "killing" Jason and Crispin Glover doing the most awkwardly  hideous dance you could ever hope to see.
"I'll be back" (as performed in that Arnold Schwarzenegger voice  - an impersonation we all sadly believe we can do with 100% accuracy).
I remember renting this one on VHS from the grocery store. Do you remember when grocery stores rented VHS?
Phoebe Cates. Crush #2?
Muluken has decided he wants to watch scary movies. It's hard to find many without gratuitous nudity and sex (a hallmark of such movies). So I showed him this one. Oh my gosh, it was so bad. And NOT scary. Yet when it was over he said "Ugh, I'll never get to sleep tonight. And I'm never eating corn again!" I guess I was wrong. If you're twelve years old maybe this is kind of creepy. Maybe. But Peter Horton?


  1. Hey, crap! I had a lengthy comment already done and it just evaporated. It was one of the best things I have ever written! Filled with insight and wit. Now I got nothing. Hmmm Another approach.

    Yes I think you can tell a lot about a person based on his/her film choices. If I were a psychoanalyst I would say these show you are definitely cracked. Locked into some childhood fantasy that you will never realize. Possibly a latent killer and have a taste for human flesh.

    Seriously, the only way I could handle Friday the 13th is if I were guzzling some cold brewskies laughing and making fun with people like you guys. I have too much space between brain cells and I might store up some of this stuff for later unwanted use.

  2. What about Popeye? I had to watch that movie more times than I care to remember because of you.