12 January 2012

Family Movie Night

Lately I’ve discovered my new favorite thing in parenting: family movie night. Sure, it’s an old concept and so was probably an inevitable development, but as an avid movie watcher, it’s really exciting to share this experience with the Doozer.

In a way, it’s something that definitely brings me back to my own childhood. I remember the momentous occasion that was the opening of the first Blockbuster in our neighborhood. Or how my parents finally caved and bought our first VCR when Raiders of the Lost Ark was going to be on TV and I perhaps threatened hari-kari if I couldn’t record it and re-watch it one thousand times.

When I was young, Friday night was often all about pizza and a VHS movie borrowed from the library. It’s where I learned to love the genius of Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther flicks and the inspired insanity of Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein (“I’ll block the bookcase with my body”). And later, when I was a little older, when my parents let me watch my first R-rated movie: Midnight Run. It was just too funny, they argued, I would enjoy it too much, for them to keep me from watching it because of some extra profanity.

And while we’re a long way off from the Doozer’s first R-rated flick, that doesn’t make our own family movie nights any less significant. Of course, the Doozer is kind of a bookworm and it’s often difficult to get him to commit to viewing a full film. His modern mind prefers the quick hits of YouTube videos and 22-minute TV episodes, like Dora the Explorer or How the Grinch Stole Christmas. But I think we may have found our first movie night staple: Winnie the Pooh.

It was meant to be the Doozer’s first movie in the theater. It opened last summer and has a crazy-short running time of something like 63 minutes which made it seem like the perfect first movie to take him to. But he wasn’t having any of it. We talked it up for weeks and then let the idea die a slow, quiet death, because the Doozer had no interest in going to a theater, no matter how much we encouraged it or explained how much fun it would be.

When the movie hit DVD, we got it from Netflix and he was a big fan, once we convinced him to actually watch it. At first, we were unsure of his reaction. It ended and he seemed non-committal. Did you like the movie? Yes, he said. But he didn’t sound very enthusiastic.

But the next morning there were what seemed like a hundred questions about the movie. A continual conversation that seemed to have no end. Though we were mostly done with our Christmas shopping at that point, we decided we’d better pick up the DVD and have it handy, because his interest was definitely piqued.

No dice. The Doozer was not impressed that Santa brought him the Winnie the Pooh movie, that he had his very own DVD copy of it. I don’t like that movie, he told us. Oh, great. I should have known this would happen. He talks incessantly about it, then you hand it to him and tell him he can watch it whenever he damn well pleases and suddenly he’s no longer interested.

Eventually we coaxed him into another viewing. We dimmed the lights a bit (not too much, the Doozer didn’t like the change in environment . . . such a finicky little thing) and made some popcorn. I think that’s his favorite part and perhaps the reason we get him to sit there and watch; he gets to hold a very large bowl of popcorn in his lap during the show.

But he learned the songs and sang along ("Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh . . ."), he asked the same questions all over again, he even laughs at some of the jokes. Our kid gets jokes. Kind of. Sometimes. This just kills me.

Anyway, the film is awesome and I just know the older he gets, the more he’ll get out of it. It has all these jokes about the story being told out of a book and the characters sometimes interact with the text on the pages of this book. There’s a great Raiders of the Lost Ark joke in there, too (things come full circle). The Zooey Deschanel songs don’t hurt either. And the credit sequence that recreates the scenes from the movie using stuffed animals in Christopher Robin’s bedroom is great.

And the whole movie, the entire plot, is based on a mix-up of words. Words. I can’t say enough about how great this movie is and how glad I am to be able to share it with my kid.

If I have any complaints it's that the film itself doesn’t feature this track from Keane, which so beautifully captures the tone of the flick and its simple pleasures.

Man, I love family movie night . . .

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