Last night, I was watching Animal House, which I sadly admit, for the first time in a while. As I laughed at the same jokes and recited the same lines which I have for years, it really got me thinking about this and other films I was pretty much raised on. As a child I would watch this movie with my dad and when it was physical humor that I pretty much understood it made me laugh. Other times, I remember looking at my dad and trying to figure out why he laughed at different lines, that obviously contained humor which I, at the time, couldn’t comprehend. While watching this ultimate college film/classic comedy gold, all the great memories I had of watching this with my dad came rolling back to me in an all-encompassing nostalgia fest.
Now I’ve written before about how growing up with films endears them to you and how, for so many, nostalgia makes them better than they really should be. But growing up, in a lot of the movies I watched, I always felt this incredible connection to the heroes I saw on-screen and it all but solidified the passion I would have for years to come. I think about this a lot and the more time I spend pondering why I like something, the more I come up with a reason that I’ll call, the “age of exposure”. It’s the idea that the movies seen at a young age either wowed me or they didn’t and those films helped me start developing my personal film tastes. It is only when I got older that I learned to look for and expect more than just those “cool” visuals. So when I saw a crappy movie at a young age, I may have liked it because I didn’t know about plot holes, forced dialogue, bad acting or weak storyline, it was just visual candy. Flight of the Navigator just looked cool…but watching it now, its cheezy, hokey and dated.
It is an undeniable fact that different things appeal to different people and what one person likes is not guaranteed to be liked by another individual. But as far as an 8 year old watching a movie, certain things I witnessed were what I could consider “cool” and, for me at that age, cool could exist totally without substance. Cool definitely seems to be an element that more kids can relate to than not. Some movies out there are just terrible but at least they look good. They aren’t going to win awards but are fun little 2 hour escapist experiences.
There is a reason why Back to the Future, Predator, Top Gun, Big Trouble in Little China, and Animal House are among my all time favorite movies, and for me it goes beyond nostalgia. Sure that explains some of the movies, and I can’t totally rule it out as a component, but beyond the undeniable “coolness” of each of these films there is something else. They all have such an intriguing premise, amazing visuals and the one building block that holds it together making me like them to this day…a great story that is told well.
However, and more to my point, there is a very good possibility that if I saw any of these movies now for the first time, I might not appreciate them the same way or (shudder the thought) even like them. For example, I saw Conan the Barbarian in its entirety for the first time earlier this year and I liked it. I also saw The Running Man too but didn’t like it even though I do remember it looked cool when I saw parts of it as a kid. But I have friends who did grow up with both and love them both, much the way I love Back to the Future.
At the end of the day, I’m glad I got to see what I saw at a young age. I believe that these wonderful films broadened my appreciation of film, gave me a basis for what my film aspirations or likes would be, and really kick started my imagination because with every film’s completion I was always wanting to know what happened next and writing my own sequels in my head. So there are many reasons I like what I like nowadays (see my Flickchart to see my tastes if you’re interested) but I keep going back to my tastes of old and recalling how they set the bar for me.
Do any of you have films you loved as a kid and still love now?? Are there movies you forgive for being a bad film just because you liked them as a kid?? How about a film you thought was cool and were disheartened to find out that it was actually a terrible film??