On Families and Film October 12, 2010Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: 1980's family movies, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, The Neverending Story
Whatever happened to the family movie?
There are not too many things I lament from the passing of the 1980’s some two decades ago, but one piece of that decade that seems to be sorely lacking today is that of quality cinema aimed at families. Now, I realize that there have been several films released in recent years aimed at specific demographics (children, tweens, teens, etc.), but there are few that appeal across the age spectrum while also providing entertainment for parents.
Many times it seems as though today’s kids’ movies are perhaps too sheltered, too separate from reality, as though children lack the mental or emotional ability to handle certain situations that arise in life like death, depression, loneliness, and others. It is condescending, to say the least. Over the past several years it seems to have become more prevalent that parents want to draw a steel-enforced protective bubble around their children in order to keep all the bad things away. Thus, you end up with today’s cinematic situation, where movies are either on the infant-appropriate and totally unrealistic G-rated end or they are PG-13, which is a bit outside my comfort zone for my young children. Somewhere along the way the PG movie seems to have been forgotten.
That being the case, we decided at some point that it was time for our girls to be introduced to the films that we remembered from our childhood, despite the fact that they have the occasional bout of violence or vulgar language or sad situations absent in today’s sanitized cinema.
Over the past two weeks we added three more movies to our ever-expanding list. First, we started with the original The Karate Kid and I was totally surprised at how well the movie held up over the ensuing 25 years. You can’t help buy cheer on Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi, who, I had forgotten, was a depressed old man trying desperately to drink away the memory of his wife and child that had died some 40 years earlier.
Yesterday, after we returned from our camping trip, we had a little mini-movie-marathon, starting with a something from Netflix Watch It Now that I hadn’t seen in probably 20 or more years, The Neverending Story. All that I really remembered was a kid flying around on some dog-thing (actually a luck dragon), so there were certainly some surprises in store for me. There was one scene in particular that seemed so foreign when compared to today’s antiseptic-clean children’s films. This particular portion of the film concerned the boy Atreyu leading his beloved horse through the Swamps of Sadness, who becomes overcome with sadness and slowly sinks to his death while the boy yells and moans. It is quite a harrowing scene for a kids’ movie.
The other movie we watched yesterday was completely different than these: Ghostbusters. Let me tell you, it is still an incredibly funny and inventive piece of work and I often found myself laughing out loud. I was a little concerned beforehand that Rachel might find some parts to be scary, but, as many parents tend to do, I underestimated her and she loved it.
There are other movies from that time period that I have my eye on procuring in the near future to watch. Rachel has seen E.T. before, but we’ve never watched it together and I would really like to own a copy of it, so it is certainly on the radar. I’d like to pick up the Indiana Jones movies, particularly Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I’m sure they will love it too. Then there are other classics like Back to the Future, which both Diana and I would like to see again and share with the kids.
What do you think? Do you agree that the 1980’s was a great era for family films? What movies would you suggest?