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Excitement fizzles out in memorable movies
VITAL TRIFLE, BY LAURI GROSS
Excitement fizzles out in memorable movies
My daughter is not one of those teens who refuses to participate in any activity with her mother. But she does refuse to watch any movie with me if I am the one who has picked the movie.
Over the last few years, I subjected both my kids -- but mostly my daughter -- to old movies that I loved when I was a kid. With few exceptions, Katie has hated them all. In fact, I have hated many of them as well.
It all started with "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The kids hated it, and it was much more lame than I remembered. Undeterred, I moved on to "Rocky." As I watched the movie with my kids and tried to listen to the dialogue above their whiny complaints, I couldn't help but agree with them. This movie was boring and dumb. I just couldn't believe it was the movie I so loved as a teen. Had I become so tainted by today's over-the-top and in-your-face movies that I couldn't appreciate fine art a few decades old? I was about to find out.
Many of the movies on my list presented a world of the future. The movie makers predicted overcrowding, global warming and advances in computing and medicine. However, according to the Hollywood of the 1970s and 1980s, people would never figure out that smoking was bad. Even in the future, everyone smoked like chimneys. Also, most filmmakers could not imagine a world where women were any closer to men's equal than they were when these movies first graced the big screen. In the future, women were still subservient, clueless homebodies.
Here's a title-by-title recap:
"Total Recall" -- Happily, I still enjoyed the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller set on Mars, but it was much bloodier than I remembered. This is probably because the last time I saw it I had no kids and did not consider every movie in terms of whether my kids should see it, as I do now.
"The Terminator" -- Again, Arnold did not fail to deliver. Both Katie and I enjoyed "Terminator" (1984) and "Terminator 2" (1991). The action still kept our attention, the characters still spoke to us, and the plot was still super-cool. Plus, Katie got a laugh out of Sarah Connor's 1980s hairdo and high-waisted jeans.
"Jaws" -- To me, everything about "Jaws" was as perfect as when it first kept me out of the water in 1975. Our whole family watched it, and Brent and the kids admitted it wasn't awful, but they didn't seem to appreciate it as much as I did.
"Alien" -- I was glad to discover that I still love this movie. It still packed the same breathless punch as when it debuted in 1979. My whole family was riveted to this one.
"The Gods Must Be Crazy" -- In this funny little 1981 movie, the unexpected appearance of a glass Coke bottle throws a family of African bushmen into disarray as they try to fathom why the gods would drop such a bizarre object into their previously simple, orderly lives. With amateur special effects, corny dialogue, predictable action and long stretches of inactivity, this movie still tickled me. The rest of the family, not so much.
"The Posieden Adventure" -- Many scenes of this 1972 movie burned bright and clear in my mind, and I was surprised to learn that my memory had not distorted the truth. Overall, the movie had inched closer to the lame side of the equation, but it wasn't awful. As usual, my family disagreed and really hated it.
"Soylent Green" -- Two words: the worst! I remember my parents being really impressed with this movie. I was 9 years old when it debuted in 1973. I considered myself impressed as well, even though I didn't really understand the movie. Anyone who knows anything about this movie will recall the final "Soylent Green is People!" scene. It turns out that is the only consequential scene of the whole thing, and getting there is tortuous, monotonous, badly written, ill-conceived, pointless drudgery. But we did learn one thing from this movie: Dentistry had not learned to give leading men a Hollywood smile. Let's just say Charlton Heston could have used a whitening and a good orthodontist.
"Planet of the Apes" -- In the 1970s, my family was devoted to the whole series of "Planet of the Apes" movies. The first actually made its debut in 1968. As with "Soylent Green," my admiration for "Planet of the Apes" was mostly based on the fact that my parents enjoyed them, so I figured I did too. This time around, "Planet of the Apes" scored somewhere above "Soylent Green" but far below the impact level it once had. Dialogue meant to stir controversy and outside-the-box thinking instead made me giggle, but at least it made me giggle. I think the kids found a few scenes interesting but just barely.
"Andromeda Strain" -- My daughter recently enjoyed reading this book and saw a remake of the original 1969 movie, so she was somewhat more willing to sit through this oldie with me. It turns out that the most exciting thing about "Andromeda Strain" is when you realize it's almost over.
"West World" -- The only thing I remembered about this 1973 sci-fi flick was that Yul Brynner was the bad guy in a fantasy vacation spot gone awry. In 2011, it seemed, like many other oldies, very slow and predictable, but, thanks to Yul Brynner, it was still worth watching.
Thank you, Netflix, for making this nostalgic Hollywood tour possible.
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