Pick-a-Flick.

This was the name of a video rental store when I was a kid. Twenty-eight years ago, video stores were scattered throughout the area–not every town had one. I remember as a kid going with my dad to these video stores. Most of them were small and rather seedy joints, dimly lit and smelling of dust. This was long before big chains like Blockbuster, when you would peruse the shelves and your choices were Beta or VHS. When we first got our VCR, the first two movies we purchased were Footloose and Romancing the Stone, and to this day, both of those movies have a solid place in my childhood. My dad, though he is rather quiet and reserved, passed on a love of stories and movies to my brother and me. Quality time with dad meant sitting in a dark theater with a popcorn and a soda, or curling up on the couch with popcorn and rootbeer sundaes, and so, there are certain movies I love because of their connection to my childhood and my dad. In addition to the aforementioned two, there are also:

Star Wars IV-VI — I know I am not alone in this, but these movies, in my opinion, simply cannot be touched. I know there are some that are technically better, and I know that other episodic storylines have rivalled its greatness (LOTR, Star Trek, HP), but for me SW has a certain something that will always hold it head-and-shoulders above the rest–probably because it was the first story in which I knew and loved the characters over a period of time. I was invested in their futures and their destinies. I cared about them.

Star Trek – I suspect this is my dad’s favorite, and why not? The story kept reinventing itself in The Next Generation and Deep Space IX in new and interesting ways. Plus, it was much more accessible than Star Wars, pumping out far more movies, three television series, and seriel books with regularity over the course of three (or so) decades. The Wrath of Khan has the distinct honor of being the first movie to Freak my !@#$ Out AND make me cry. At the beginning of the movie, when Khan put those black weavel-things in those guys’ helmets and the weavel-things crawled into the guys’ ears and the guys fell to the ground screaming in pain and the weavel-thing crawled out again all bloody…OMG! My 7 year-old self just freaked the FREAK OUT. It was awesome. But at the end, when Spock sacrifices himself to save The Enterprise, I cried… quite unconsolibly. The irony that Bones was the one who tried to stop him, that Spock saved Bones’ life despite the fact that Bones and Spock had a rather antagonistic relationship, was not lost on my young self… and that’s a mark of good story telling right there.

The Little Rascals, “The Kid from Borneo” episode – Okay, I watch it now and I cringe at the fact that a black man is supposedly the “wild man.” Please don’t lambast my eight-year-old self for lacking the social-conscience to see the inherent racism. My brother and I just thought it was wildly hysterical to watch him eat everything in the refridgerator and get shot in the butt with a roman candle. “Yum-yum. Eat ’em up!”

the original The Parent Trap – Yes, the remake with Lindsey Lohan, Miranda Richardson and Dennis Quaid is very good. But in my heart they will never rise to Hayley Mills, Maureen O’Hara (come on! It’s Maureen O’Hara!!), and Brian Keith (who was quite dreamy and had a sexy voice as well). I love the scene in the 1961 version in which Grandfather McKindrick uses reverse psychology to trick Maggie into getting a makeover before she flies to California to reunite with Sharon and Mitch. I also love how Pastor Mosby is so genial and doesn’t seem to mind the hijinks that is carrying on in poor Mitch’s confusion as to why, days before his marriage to Vicki, his ex-wife has suddenly appeared on his patio in his bathrobe. It’s a classic scene. To be fair, in the 1996 verion, the scene in which Hallie is reunited with her mother on the staircase of the James’ London home gives me goodbumps every single time. But while we’re on the subject of Hayley Mills…

The Trouble With Angels – I’ll admit, if you’re flipping through channels on a Saturday afternoon, this is a really easy one to skip over. But you shouldn’t. For one thing, it’s funny. Not in a belly-laugh way, but in a charming way. For a goody-two-shoes like I was, it was fun to live vicariously through Rachel and Mary’s troublemaking. More than that, though, it’s an excellent story about forging a friendship, finding one’s purpose, disappointment, struggling with faith as a seeker and as a believer, and discovering oneself on a path that was never expected. My favorite feature of the story, though, is that it touches on, but does not seek to reveal, the mystery that compels Christians to sometimes make “sacrifices” in obedience to God that is difficult for others to understand. It’s sequel, though, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows? Don’t bother. Really.

Can’t Buy Me Love – This movie came out the summer I turned 12, and it is one of the last movies I can remember seeing with my dad before it became cooler to go to movies with my friends. Now dad and I go to the movies together. 🙂 I still remember that just as dad and I were settling in and the previews were starting, I spilled my Sprite all over myself. It was summer, and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. As you know, they keep movie theaters nice and cold in the summer, so I shivered all the way through the movie because there was no way my dad was going to get up and walk out of a movie that he had just paid two tickets to see. I still managed to enjoy it. Also notably, this is where I claimed Patrick Dempsy to be mah boyfriend–looong before you Susie-come-latelys “discovered” him as Dr. McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy. Seth Green is in this movie too; he was hilarious even as a kid… “Now that ain’t Dick Clark.”

So, if you’re snowed in for the fourth time this year (like I am), and you’re looking for something to watch–I recommend you march your little computer over to Amazon or YouTube or something and check these out.

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