My family keeps a list (literally, I have a Google doc) of favorite movies that we’ve watched together and enjoyed multiple times over the years. This is partly because we love the art form and partly because when you’re a family of seven — and the parents play music, write stories and do social work for a living – it’s essential to find inexpensive group activities.
One of my favorite moments of any given week is when we get to crash on our worn-in Crate & Barrel couch with some or all of the kids and our dog Melody. My wife makes Parmesan popcorn. And I drink wine from a jelly jar. Real classy like.
Although we recently watched and loved the Oscar-winning movies “Jo Jo Rabbit,” “Parasite” and “1917,” in general our Favorite Movie List isn’t made up of award nominees. It’s more of a random collection of PG-13 action adventures, broad comedies and rom coms that, at one point or another, were able to please the majority of household members on a given weekend night sometime over the last 20 years. It was just something exciting or silly that whisked us away.
The list includes:
“A Knight’s Tale,” the 2001 jousting movie starring a young Heath Ledger and set to a soundtrack of classic rock songs. The movie earned 6.9 out of 10 on IMDB but my family gives it an 11 and probably replays it every two or three years. When the hero finds his blind father after being separated for a decade and tells him his dreams came true (he “changed his stars”), I cry into my jelly jar every time.
“Dodgeball,” the 2004 comedy starring Ben Stiller as a villainous gym owner and Vince Vaughan as his everyman foil who compete in a tournament with $50,000 on the line. I quote Rip Torn’s character, Patches O’Houlihan, around the house enough to be annoying. … 6.7 out of 10 on IMDB but another solid 11 in our book.
“The Three Musketeers,” a 2011 PG-13 adventure starring Logan Lerman (the kid from the Percy Jackson movies) as D’Artagnan and three guys playing the musketeers who you’d recognize but not be able to name. There’s plenty of swashbuckling, some terrible wigs and over-the-top CGI – but I’d watch it again right now. Only 5.7 out of 10 on IMDB; I’d give it a 9.
You get the picture. We like fun (dumb?) movies. Here’s an (incomplete) list that I keep in a Google doc and update from time to time:
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
A Knight’s Tale
Big Fat Liar
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Dude Where’s My Car?
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
George and the Dragon
Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2
How to Train Your Dragon
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Land of the Lost
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Pirates of the Caribbean
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
Teen Beach 2
The Princess Bride
And the made-for-TV holiday movie 12 Dates of Christmas
Just reading over that list makes me smile. I bet if you plugged those titles into a database you’d probably get a pretty accurate psychological profile of me at least. And it brings up lots of good memories from the last 20 years.
Here’s the thing, though. I’ve realized during the COVID-19 era that our family viewing time has gotten more difficult to plan.
It makes sense. We started the tradition years ago with a few toddlers in the house. My wife and I picked a show and that was that. Who’s gonna complain? Then, over the years, we adapted our plans to incorporate the wishes of young kids and older kids but I could still more or less make the choice on my own. Now that our youngest child is about to be 12 and our oldest is turning 21, things have gotten more complicated. People are getting older and developing their own tastes. It’s a challenge to find common ground.
I gravitate toward action/adventure/comedy fare. Several of my kids are right there with me but my oldest son would really rather be watching a gritty crime drama. My wife, meanwhile, campaigns for “This Is Us” or anything sweet and sentimental like that and my youngest daughter doesn’t seem to want to watch anything that anybody else suggests; she’s all about “Glee” and other tween/teen comedies and dramas. And, after 21 years of watching Pixar movies, I personally have tired of just about anything animated. All the characters seem to make the same faces, convey the same emotions and journey through the same stretched premises. Enough.
So now that all seven of us are roommates again, we spend more time debating the choices than ever before. But however much time it takes to find a consensus, it’s worth it for me.
Because, the truth is, whatever show we’re watching is really just a means to an end. Ultimately, the point of it all is to be together, laugh together and eat Ben & Jerry’s together.
Of course, some of us want to eat straight out of the containers and others prefer to use mugs but that’s a debate for another day. And, fortunately for me, since nobody likes Cherry Garcia as much as me, I get most of that for myself. …