I’ve loved movies for as long as I can remember. It started when my mom would drop my older siblings and me off at the Murray Theater. It was there – when I was 4 or 5 – that I convinced my very amused big sister to sit through the original True Grit three consecutive times because Glen Campbell kept getting killed. (I had a huge crush on Glen Campbell when I was little.) In those days you could pay for a movie once, and stay through it as many times as you liked.
And it was there that my brother John, his friend Andre and I saw our first “documentary,” sitting spellbound watching In Search of Bigfoot.
By the time I was in college the Murray had given way to multi-screen megaplex theaters. And my movies like In Search of Big Foot were replaced with Out of Africa and A Passage to India as my tastes matured. Back then, my best friend, Greg, and I saw a lot of movies. We’d also drive to Park City every year for the Sundance Film Festival and sit through four or five movies in one day.
I guess it’s no surprise then that I’ve passed my love for cinema onto my kids. More importantly, it’s something we enjoy together. I still like to tease Gus about the time he tried to grab a Swiss army knife that was floating right in front of his face during his first 3D movie, Journey to the Center of the Earth.
My sister shares my love for movies, so she usually takes the kids to all the first run films. That way they get to see a lot more movies than they would just with me. The poor dear; in just the past few weeks she’s seen everything from Arthur Christmas to The Muppets. But going to the movies is something she and the boys really enjoy doing together.
Plus, that allows me to see just those movies that I think are going to be really exceptional or that offer an important learning experience for the boys. For example, the boys and I are all big fans of Kung Fu Panda. So when I heard Kung Fu Panda 2 had a pro-adoption theme, I knew we had to see it.
SPOILER ALERT: when Po (the kung fu panda) learns that his father, who is a goose, actually adopted him, I leaned into the boys and asked, “Who else is adopted?” They nearly shouted, “we are!”
The boys and I have also declared every Friday night as Boys Movie Night at our house. We throw a DVD in, pop a big bowl of corn, and cuddle up on the couch. For me, it serves as both an opportunity to introduce my boys to some of the great kids’ classics of all time like The Jungle Book and The Rescuers, as well as a chance to enjoy newer films I’d otherwise not likely see.
It’s funny, and maybe I’m reading too much into this, but when each of the boys was very young – 2-3 years old, their favorite movies were Bambi, The Jungle Book and Finding Nemo – all of which involve a boy without a mom. Who knows? Maybe they could relate.
It’s been so much fun to watch their cinematic tastes mature: they’re now connoisseurs of Wallace and Gromit films, and very much appreciate the work of Tim Burton. But every now and then, I can still get them to watch Nemo.
Underneath it all, I’m hoping that by establishing this mutual interest in film while they’re young will help us stay connected when they become teenagers. There are just way too many differences that arise between fathers and their teenage sons as they navigate that transitional time between being a boy and man. It’s still a few years off, but I’m trying to prepare us all for the inevitable showdown.
Who knows, maybe, just maybe, when that time comes, we’ll be able to put our differences aside, every now and then, and just watch a good movie together.