More often than not on Friday evenings my family has a movie night at home. My kids are 15 and 11 and we are finally at the point where we can regularly watch films that are rated PG rather than G. This has been pretty neat and recently we’ve been introducing our kids to several films that my husband and I really enjoyed from our own childhoods.
The first one up was The Last Unicorn. That movie really made the rounds at birthday parties in 1982/1983 and I saw it a lot as a kid. My family wasn’t particularly impressed and watching it recently made me aware that there are many themes in the movie that aren’t really kid friendly. I remember being terrified of the Red Bull (no, not the energy drink) when I watched it as a kid.
Our next film was Labyrinth starring David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, and a bunch of awesome muppets. It’s full of catchy musical numbers (Dance Magic anyone?) and the Bog of Eternal Stench. My kids enjoyed it, especially my daughter.
Recently we watched the entire Back to the Future series (1985-1990) which gets worse as you go along. The first film has a really clever premise and we all really enjoyed it. I seem to recall that numbers II and III were filmed back to back which was pretty revolutionary at the time, but is more common today for large productions like Lord of the Rings and Marvel movies.
After that we watched The Dark Crystal (1982). It has a somewhat complicated plot and my daughter was thoroughly confused by the ending of the film.
Our most recent selection was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) . This film does not hold up well over time. It’s funny to see Keanu Reeves actually emoting in a film and I found myself wondering whatever happened to Alex Winter. The fashion choices in this film are epic.
A few things have happened while we’ve watched these films. The first is the recognition that we have come a long way as a society in terms of social justice since the 1980’s. Some of what is in these films is hard to watch and literally had me cringing in my seat at times. Many of the above films are products of their times and feature harmful racial stereotypes, homophobia, sexism, etc. Rather than attempting to “protect” our kids by pre-screening these films, we’ve been watching them together and having conversations about disturbing and disappointing content as it comes up. My son in particular has been really appalled by some of the scenes in these films (especially a horribly homophobic one in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure).
I’m almost scared to watch The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink…