Tuesday, October 25, 2011

top ten Tuesday: childhood movies, take II.

Last week, I wrote about the ten kids' movies that I loved most as a child. This week, I'm expanding: these are the top ten movies I adored as a kid that weren't necessarily meant for children. I watched them nonetheless, and they have stuck with me (for better or worse) since. Onto the list!

Tommy Boy
Growing up, I watched Tommy Boy more than I watched Sesame Street. As you may know, it’s about the screw-up guy who has to sell half a million brake pads to save his father’s company, and in turn, save the town. Chris Farley and David Spade make a killer team, the classic “idiot/nerd” pairing. Let’s face it, this is the only movie where David Spade hasn’t just plain sucked: and it’s all thanks to pairing him with Chris Farley. David Spade is meant to be the straight-man. Tommy Boy one of those movies that just gets better with age – I watch it now, and I catch many of the jokes that I didn’t as a kid. But the jokes that I loved when I was little (fat guy in a little coat) are still just as funny today as they were 15 years ago.
"Did you ever eat paint chips as a kid?"
Looking back, I’m kind of surprised that my parents let us watch this so often – kids are notorious for repeating things, and there are quite a few lines from Tommy Boy that you wouldn’t want to risk your kids reciting in a public setting. Luckily, most of us just stuck with “holy schnikes!”

Grumpy Old Men
I love Jack Lemmon. LOVE him. And it all started here. When you pair him with Walter Matthau, you have gold. When you put them in Minnesota and pit them against each other, you have magic AND gold. The movie is about two old men who have a long-standing rivalry that only escalates when the hot widow moves into town. 
I would watch this with my cousins from Minneapolis, and we just ate it up. The best part of this movie was that it really hits home if you live in a small town in the Midwest. I knew a lot of grumpy old men, and my grandpa (who was actually not that grumpy) was the one who had his grandkids watch this movie. If you haven’t yet figured out that I have the best family ever, this should be a good indication.

Young Frankenstein
I stumbled upon this movie one night on late-night HBO. We didn’t get real channels until I was in my preteens, so this movie came along a little later in my life. This was my first contact with a Mel Brooks movie, and it remains one of my favorite movies of all time. As a 12-year-old, I watched this movie and just loved it. I thought it was hilarious – from Eye-gor to the abnormal brain to “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” it was genius. 
Abby... normal.
Young Frankenstein introduced me to a whole side of comedy film that I’d never seen before. The next day, I asked my parents if they’d ever heard of this movie. My mom informed me that when she worked at the movie theatre in her hometown, this was one of the movies she sold tickets for. I was stunned that my mom could be familiar with something so cool that I’d never heard of before the previous evening. Young Frankenstein led to Blazing Saddles which led to The Producers which led to many great years of movie viewing.

A League of Their Own
When it comes to sports movies, baseball will always be my sport of choice. Basketball movies are not worth your time: Air Bud, Space Jam. With the exception of Little Giants (which was awesome), I can’t think of any notable football movies. Even if I could, they’re mostly about head injuries. Baseball movies tend to be funny/inspiring: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Angels in the Outfield, and of course, A League of Their Own. A League of Their Own is about women playing baseball during World War II and all the crap they put up with. 
"And then there's Marla Hooch... what a hitter!"
Tom Hanks makes the movie with his outbursts: “there’s no crying in baseball!” One of my all-time favorite movie moments takes place in this film: the son of one of the players is prancing around during the final game of the series, chanting, “You’re gonna loooose!” Tom Hanks takes a baseball glove, throws it at the kid’s head, and knocks him down. “Bahaaaa! Got him!” he yells. Seriously, if you’ve never seen this movie, go watch it immediately.

I know, I know. Pauly Shore. But it’s a fish-out-of-water story, and most of it is set in South Dakota! It’s about a farm girl who goes to school in California, ends up transforming into a 90’s era California girl, and brings a complete freakshow (Pauly Shore, of course) home to meet her family. He goes over about as well as you would expect, especially in small town South Dakota. 
I'd hate to see this show up at my door, too.
I used to watch this at my great aunt and uncle’s house. They lived right down the hill from us, and at ¼ of a mile away, they were our closest neighbors. Son-in-Law, though no cinematic masterpiece, will always remind me of South Dakota summers, hanging out with Burt, Garnet, and their granddaughters from California. Burt and Garnet had the greatest collection of movies – Burt (my 70-something great uncle) was the one who first told me to watch The Birdcage. Again, I must emphasize that I have the greatest family.

Mrs Doubtfire
This is another movie that we always watched at my grandparents’ house, but only when my grandma wasn’t around. Grandpa Darwin knew how to bend the rules. Honestly, though, who can resist a story about a divorced dad who dresses in drag as an elderly Englishwoman in order to spend more time with his kids? It’s Robin Williams at his weird best. Plus, let’s talk about the supporting cast: Harvey Feirstein as the make-up artist brother who brings it all together, and Pierce Brosnan as the too-good-to-be-true boyfriend moving in on Robin Williams’ family. All of this with a perfect soundtrack: “Dude Looks Like a Lady” never sounded better.
More like "Lady Looks Like a Dude."
Liar Liar
Back when Jim Carrey was still funny, there was Liar Liar. When we weren’t watching Tommy Boy, my friends and I were watching Liar Liar. Unlike Tommy Boy, this movie isn’t quite as funny as it was when I was 10, but watching it makes me remember all the inside jokes and great times we had. The movie is about a lawyer who lies all the time, especially to his family. His son has a birthday party, and the dad doesn’t show up and lies about it. The son wishes that his dad can’t lie for 24 hours. As expected, chaos ensues. Jim Carrey is great as the scumbag liar lawyer, and Cary Elwes plays the dorky potential stepfather like he was made for the part. Does anyone remember his weak attempt at the Claw? “The Claw’s coming atcha! Ooooh, you’re scared of the Claw!”

Nothing can stop the Claw.
the Lord of the Rings trilogy
When they learn that I grew up in such a small town (less than 1000 people), the first thing people would ask is, “What did you do for fun? Cow tipping?” No, not cow tipping. When we got our licenses at the ripe old age of 14, the last place any of us wanted to be was our hometown. Once we were old enough for cars and part-time jobs, my friends’ and my favorite pastime was going to movie matinees in Brookings, the nearest respectable town. We went to a matinee at least once a week, twice if we could afford it. This is how I first saw Lord of the Rings. My friend Sarah and I were looking through the paper for movie listings, and everything looked like garbage. There was one movie we’d never heard of, and it was a fellowship and a ring. So we took our chances. Sarah thought it was just ok; I was stunned. How could it be that I had never heard of this story before? I was elated to find out that there were two more movies in the series, and I happily attended each movie within its opening week. I was a full-blown nerd from 2001 – 2003.  I went twice to the second movie, three times to the third… and one of those times was by myself. Yes, I went to a Lord of the Rings movie completely alone. Going to the third movie alone was bad enough, but I may or may not have seriously considered buying a fake One Ring. 
I'm so ashamed.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I had more or less grown out of it. I packed away my poster and figurines, and I gave my do-it-yourself iron-on t-shirt (yes, that happened) to Goodwill. I kept my shameful secret until I was a junior in college, when I let it slip to my boyfriend, James. James was delighted, to say the least. As a fan of Stargate and music theory, James was thrilled to hear about my less-than-cool past. So now the internet knows my secret. But let’s be honest: if a mild obsession with Lord of the Rings is one of my most embarrassing secrets, then I’ve had it relatively easy.

The Jerk
My cousin introduced this movie to me about 12 years ago. I had never heard of it, and I was only mildly familiar with Steve Martin because of a movie-of-the-week viewing of Father of the Bride. The movie is about a guy (Steve Martin, of course) who goes from rags to riches back to rags, and it is hilarious. The situations are just ridiculous, and so are the characters. 
This picture says it all.
Example: Steve Martin’s character is over the moon when his name appears in the phonebook for the first time. His name is in print, he cries, and that’s the kind of publicity one needs: “Things are going to start happening to me now.” The very next scene shows a man with a machine gun. He closes his eyes, opens up the phonebook to a random page, and lands on Steve Martin’s character. Of  course, he then tries to kill him. This movie was the inspiration for my “quote of the day.” These were quotes from movies, TV shows, friends, or whomever that I would write in my assignment book. Thanks to The Jerk, quotes of the day were written and enjoyed amongst my friends and me for years. I believe the quote was: “I just need enough gas to fill up my lighter!”

Titanic came out in 1997, and I was ten years old. I saw it in the theatre with my parents and was head-over-heels. My first crush was on Leonardo DiCaprio. Predictable, I know. I asked for (and received) a fake “heart of the ocean” necklace for Christmas that year. I purchased it on VHS the same day it came out. My friend Sarah and I had a raging case of Titanic fever. We each owned the soundtrack, and we both had the poster hanging in our rooms. 

This poster.
We would take turns watching Titanic at each other’s’ houses. This was quite a commitment, you realize: the movie pushes three hours in length, and ten-year-olds generally do not have driver’s licenses. We had to beg our parents to drive us back and forth, and we had to plan around who had the most family home that day: my house only had one TV and one VCR, so if my siblings were home, we had to try our best to watch the movie over at Sarah’s house. She had a TV and a VCR in her room: the holy grail of pre-teen-dom. Soon, we had the entire movie memorized. But like all good things, our love of Titanic came to an end. When we started making up replacement dialogue and laughing at the over-the-top acting, we knew that Titanic had run its course. Even today, though, we can both recite some of our replacement lines, and I must say, some of them are better than the actual script.
So those are the movies that I loved when I maybe should’ve been spending more time watching Barney. Are there any movies that you adored that were not quite age-appropriate?  If you’re like me, chances are, those movies left a much bigger impact on you than anything you could find on the Disney Channel.

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