Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Indoctrinating the Younguns

My mother did it for me over twenty years ago, and I'm doing it to my kids, with no apologies.

When I was around 10, and lasting for several years thereafter, Mom made a point of renting videos as a means to creating culturally-literate children. The great part was that in addition to getting a great education, we also had a ball seeing terrific classic films together.

Now when I run across fellow Gen-Xers who haven't seen these gems, I have to remind myself that not everyone had such a great learning experience from their parents in their early teens.

I plan to show my kids all the same great shows Mom shared with me, but at this point, my kids are still a little too young to appreciate the likes of Lawrence of Arabia, Casablanca, or The Philadelphia Story. Ditto with some of the Hitchcock greats (my personal favorites: Charade and Wait until Dark). My son might be able to sit through something along the lines of The Dirty Dozen, being as there's a lot of guns and fighting in it. And I've toyed with showing them Some Like It Hot, since that's downright hysterical. Even the youngest might be able to get some of it.

But until they're mature enough to appreciate the older greats (with a few exceptions, like Mary Poppins and Chitty, Chitty, Bang-Bang), I'm indoctrinating them with the classics from my youth. We've gone with The Private Eyes, an 80s film starring the inimitable Tim Conway and Don Knotts. A few of the others they've watched include blockbusters like E.T., Big, Newsies, and most recently, Footloose.

(Side note on that one: I've known forever that Footloose was filmed in Utah, but now that I'm an adult—and am far more familiar with Utah County than I used to be—it was a ball watching it and recognizing actual locations. It was also fun to see one of "our" missionaries from the time my parents presided over the mission in Finland. He was an extra in the movie before he served. I had to jump off the couch, rewind the DVD, and point out Elder Sperry to the kids. We caught sight of him two or three times.)

Next up is Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which I saw over and over again at the Movies 8 dollar theater with my good buddies, twins Denise and Melinda. We saw a lot of movies together that year. (We also smuggled pounds and pounds of penny candy from ShopKo into the theater. Good times.)

Movies on my to-be-watched list: Ghostbusters, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and The Muppets Take Manhattan. I regularly come up with more to add. That way I can make sure my kids get a taste of the cultural icons I grew up with.

One great thing about all this is that we're having a ton of fun watching these movies together. Each brings back all kinds of great memories for me.

Another benefit: The kids are starting to "get" references in TV shows and movies that refer to things they recently saw because I showed it to them. They're also understanding better why Mom and Dad laugh at parts of the Shrek trilogy and other movies that they don't grasp: Oh! Those lines are references to other shows! It's like a light bulb going off in their heads.

Just the other day, my daughter was home sick. We ended up snuggling on the couch together as we caught an episode of Leave It to Beaver. I didn't expect her to watch the whole thing, but my culturally-literate side kicked in, and I insisted she watch a few minutes of it. That way when she heard mentions of "The Beav" or "June Cleaver" on other shows, she'd know what it meant.

Lo and behold, that very night while watching a DVD, we heard a reference to Leave It to Beaver. She was a bit tickled to be the only kid in the family who had a reference for the line.

So thanks, Mom, for yet one more thing!


Luisa Perkins said...

So fun! One of our traditions is Family Movie Night. Where the Red Fern Grows, Pollyanna, That Darn Cat, Journey to the Center of the Earth, all the Cary Grant movies: the list goes on and on...good times indeed.

Don said...

How many movies show a character standing on one foot, arms raised above his head? For cultural indoctrination, Karate Kid is a must.

Wax on, wax off Daniel-san.

Annette Lyon said...

Karate Kid, Yes! I'm adding it to my NetFlix queue!

Janette Rallison said...

I loved Bill and Ted's Adventure and not too long ago showed it to my kids. I'll have to watch all the ones you listed.

Terry Neff Allen said...

This is a great list, Annette. My mother watches old movies and will record some of them for me. We love the old musicals, but I have yet to see some that you have listed. I'll have to at them to my list and watch them.

Karlene said...

One of our favs was Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead. For years now, when someone asks if someone else has done something, we reply, "Right on top of that, Rose." (We watched a TV edited version, so I'm not sure on the rating but it has a good message to it.)

Other family favorites are Princess Bride, Split Infinity, and Rigoletto (the last two are available through Feature Films for Families)

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

It's nice to have that sort of background giving you a reference for understanding. I grew up watching old flicks with my mum. While my peers were obsessed with Corey Hart, I was drooling over Carey Grant. Set me apart, but I liked that.

Crystal Liechty said...

About a year ago, my husband and I went through a Turner Classic Movie phase. It was our favorite thing to curl up in bed and watch whatever black and white was on TMC that night.
Great blog, Annette! You should make a list of the essential movies to raise your children on for us!

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for visiting my blog!

Ines said...

We love the old ones, too. My kids, esp. the teenagers, are addicted to "The Brady Bunch". They will deny it though...(I guess it's not "cool").

Julie Wright said...

I grew up with grandma and got the really old movies, like Chistmas In connecticut and Tammy and the Bachelor. This was a fun walk down memory lane! Love it!

Unknown said...

awh annette,
this is so cool what you are doing. and i had so much fun seeing the familiar names of fun older movies i have enjoyed in my life.

you made me think of "the apple dumpling gang," too! .. mr donovan, i gotta go! hahaha. enjoyed that movie when i was a kid. i'm 39, so it was fun to go back a little in time in your post. i will always love "sound of music." it is one of my all time favorite movies. when it came out, i still vaguely remember falling asleep for part of it laid out on the carpet near my parents theater seats.

way cool about what was familiar to you when watching "footloose." sure loved that one, too, and the soundtrack!

happy friday, kathleen :)

The homestead said...

Annette I found your blog via Sarah Austin's. It's good to see all the wonderful things you have accomplished. We have also been showing our kids our favorite flicks. We have boys, so ours are more along the lines of Indiana Jones and Star Trek (skip the first one- it's terrible!) Laura DeBry Harkness

Annette Lyon said...

Kimberly, Who's Corey Hart? :) I guess I was more aware of Cary Grant, Rock Hudson and the other greats of the past too.

Crystal, great idea! I might start a list of movies we've shown the kids and ones we still plan to.

Jules: Tammy and the Bachelor is one of my high school favorites! Several of us had parents of that generation, so we used to watch it for slumber parties. Sing the sappy theme song with me! (Tammy, Tammy, Tammy's in love . . .) My favorite line from that movie: "Just think. The very same moon that's shinin' down on me this very minute is shinin' down on Pete's tomatoes."

So Grateful: Sound of Music and other musicals are on the list. We've shown a few musicals so far including SOM, with more to go. Definitely. (One of my faves: Singing in the Rain.)

And Laura!!! Holy cow, girl! Thanks for dropping by! What's it been, a decade or more?!

Jenna said...

Very cool! We do the same kind of thing too, but you've given me some great movies to add to my list!


Amazon's famous Prime Day events are huge for so many reasons, and for bookworms, it's even better: books aren't high-ticket ite...