I’ve become my mother. I mean, in terms of cultural relevance. When I was about 10-years-old, my family was in the video store (remember those?), but my sibs and I couldn’t find anything we wanted to watch. So my mom suggested we watch this “hilarious” comedy A New Leaf, starring Walter Matthau and Elaine May. She told us we’d love it. We hated it. It was really cheesy. As 4- to 10-year-olds we couldn’t appreciate any of the 1971 film’s nuances, and we made fun of my mom for the suggestion. She didn’t live that one down for another decade. Every time we were indecisive about a movie, someone would suggest A New Leaf and elbow my mom.
Now in my house, my wife and I both scramble to get to the Netflix queue first and rearrange things to suit our own likes. I’ll scramble to get Looper to the top, while she’s sneaking on-line to bump up Hope Springs. So recently I battled to get The Neverending Story on the top of the list for our weekly family movie night with our 6-year-old. I won, and we sat down one recent Friday to watch.
The synthesizer music, the blue screen, the dog/dragon with the animatronic face. Awesome. Every bit of it. But not to my family.
My son kept jumping around the room and climbing on the couches. For a 6-year-old, he’s got a great attention span. The kid can really sit through a movie when he enjoys something. So when he’s all wiggly, we can tell he’s not into the movie. Well he was really wiggly. Plus, my wife kept shooting me these weird looks as if to say, “Nice one dude…what the hell are we watching?”
Okay. I’ll admit, Falkor’s jaw movements don’t sync up with his voice, the courtiers at the Empress’s temple (with their many-sided faces or massive heads) are pretty freakish, and the crossover into the real-world when Bastian flies over the city and lands the bullies in a dumpster doesn’t really make sense. I can recognize all of these flaws and yet I love the movie.
I’m guessing that’s probably how my mom felt. She really liked that Walter Matthau movie and, in some way, wanted her kids to share in that experience. But it wasn’t part of our generation. We didn’t get it, and she was left feeling disappointed. That’s how I felt with The Never Ending Story. I wanted everyone to love it and, in a way, get them to connect with the feelings I had when I watched the movie for the first time.
I still love The Neverending Story. It came out in 1984 when I was just 9-years-old. It was one of those movies that made me believe in the imagination and feel like I could do anything inside my mind. But I can’t just inject that feeling into my 6-year-old, 21st century son. I guess that’s something he’ll have to find on his own, from the hallmarks of his own generation. I’ll just have to chalk it up to a generation gap, and hope that he finds his own sense of wonder in the movies of today.
But in the meantime, watching the Dark Crystal couldn’t hurt, could it?