Hubs decided the other day to treat the Babes to a matinée. He announced that they’d be going to see The BoxTrolls to which I replied, “The what? What movie is that?”
Now let me be clear, this is in no way a derisive commentary on this particular movie. I have not seen it and it may be a fine movie indeed. Later, I learned the kids really enjoyed it, although that’s not saying much because they also like infomercials. But seriously, I really have heard that this one was pretty good. So maybe this wasn’t the best example to use then… But the point I’m addressing here is not specific to the movie anyway but rather is more about my reaction to not knowing about the movie and my subsequent trip down memory lane that I had of my own childhood movie experiences.
Perhaps the reason it was difficult for me to initially give the movie a fair shake is due to the overwhelming onslaught of kids movies in general. Every weekend it seems there is a new release geared toward children. And most of them quickly fall into obscurity. On any given day, I’ll browse Netflix for The Babes and am astounded by the fact that while there is no shortage whatsoever of kid selections, I’ve never heard of almost any of them! And for good reason, it seems, after viewing a few of them: they stunk. Scroll through this category sometime on Netflix and you’ll see just what I mean.
I think back to my treasured cinema memories and find this saturation of less-than-stellar children’s films a bit sad. I remember when going to the movies as a kid was a big deal. Even now, I can clearly remember my very first ever movie experience as a wee tot. It was An American Tail and I can picture myself so vividly, sitting on a booster seat in the darkened theater next to my mother, both enraptured and reduced to tears by poor little Fievel’s separation from his family. This movie stuck with me, long after viewing, as did my second theater experience the following year of Disney’s re-release of Cinderella. This was my introduction to princessification and it also had a huge impact on me, although not as much as my next major movie memory, The Little Mermaid, the first new release of Disney (that I recall) in my young childhood. The Little Mermaid remains the defining movie of my childhood, even though watching it again as an adult I was slightly disturbed by much of it, but that’s a post for another day. I reveled in the sentimentality of it anyway, as that was probably for me the equivalent to what Frozen is for today’s kids.
I also clearly remember my next theater viewing which was Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and that of what (sadly) I believe was my last kid movie foray, Aladdin. I have to believe that one of the reasons these movies stick out so much to me is because they were basically annual events. Sure, there were several other kid movies released at those times (although still nowhere near todays numbers, and according to IMDB, most were actually Disney re-releases) but there was basically only one HUGE, BIG DEAL movie out once a year and it made going to the movies that much more exciting and special. Now it seems like ever since the runaway success of Toy Story, studios have stars and money bags in their eyes and have just been churning out nonstop computer animation drivel like it’s going out of style. Of course there are still some gems being made but, in my opinion, it still seems to follow the same pattern of only one (or two) really good ones each year.
Sure, I don’t have to take my kids to every release ( and believe me, I don’t) so going to the movies can continue to be a special and occasional event for us. But it still just feels like something is missing, that there’s something left to be desired with a lot of the children’s film offerings today. When taking The Babes to the theater, I want to be excited too over an impending magical experience and not worried that I’ll be bored to tears, continually checking my watch to see if it’s almost over, or playing on my phone the entire time. I guess I just wish to harken back to the day when you heard a kids movie title and you didn’t have to ask what movie it was. You already knew, as did the whole world, because it wasn’t just a kid movie, it was a great movie.
I’d love to hear what was your first movie theater experience and/or what title you consider the defining movie of your childhood!
Great, thoughtful post! (I laughed about your kids liking infomercials, so they’re not to be trusted.) I’d think it would be SO difficult to screen and limit what your kids see today – but so important. How can you explain to a child that corporate America just wants to sell related merchandise and doesn’t care what kind of drivel it pushes into their minds via lame/tepid/violent/otherwise-questionable films? (I don’t know.)
Like you, seeing movies in theaters was a rare treat. I think The Wizard of Oz was likely my defining childhood film, which came on TV once a year (I think) – don’t think I’ve ever seen it in a theater. It was a very big deal for the family to gather round and watch it.
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Oh Colette, you just made me smile! My grandmother loved The Wizard of Oz, and I loved snuggling up with her on the couch to watch it each year when it came on TV, I think it was usually around Thanksgiving.
And you could not be more right about kid movies and the huge merchandising push! The amount of junk that is sold just because it has a Frozen image on it is mind boggling. I l know it’s nothing new, I actually remember as a kid my Happy Meal having Cinderella toys in it and how excited I was about that. But still, the level to which its done today is insane.
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