I have pretty crummy fine memory skills when it comes to movies of my youth. I think I must remember every back-in-the-day movie through a gauzy, golden filter; I tend to consider each a must-see masterpiece to share with my kids. Through sad experience I've come to accept that I suffer from hazy movie memory sydrome (HMMS). (Believe me, it's a thing. Don't fall victim to its clutches, too.)
I think I first was alerted to this particular ailment when the kids were pretty young, maybe 6, 8, and 11. We were at the video store (awww, video stores. Remember those?) and I saw the movie Big on the movie shelf.
I gushed. "Oh, kids, you are going to love this movie. It's so funny and it's about this little kid who wishes he were big and he gets his wish. There's...um...a giant piano and...something funny to do with baby corn. I think." I raved. I whipped them up into a Big-fan-club frenzy.
Then when we came home and put on the movie, I got a little jolt of an uncomfortable memory refresher. I mean, it is definitely a fun movie but it turns out it's not exactly a young kids movie. There were adult themes. Double entendres. More like a middle-schooler-on-up movie.
Spells of HMMS don't just bring age-appropriateness into question, though, especially now that my kids are older. Sometimes even the quality of the movie itself is at issue. Are these even the same films? Somewhere along the line some cranky film editor must sneak in and replace the movies I saw and loved, trading them for cheesy, sad-effects dross. Curse you, hazy movie memory syndrome!
Here's an incomplete list of movies that have fallen victim to my HMMS in the last decade or so and left my family either semi-scarred or scratching their heads. Mind you, many of these are fantastic when viewed at the right age and stage but not so much at the wrong one:
Big (premature sharing)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (premature sharing. What I remembered: funny men clopping like horses. What my kids saw: blood spurting, amorous nymphs, etc.)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (premature sharing)
The Never Ending Story (huh?)
Rear Window (premature sharing)
Crocodile Dundee (oh, the 80s. Hello casual cocaine use.)
A Little Romance (premature sharing but a sweet movie at the right stage)
War Games (so outdated it's funny)
Pretty in Pink (sadly outdated; cool/quirky has become outdated/quirky)
Better Off Dead (attempted suicides and homicidal paper boys in a PG? Still, it's pretty funny...)
Even Star Wars, friends. This is probably sacrilege to some of you but my kids--having seen all of the more modern movies inspired by Star Wars--were fairly unimpressed with the special effects and too familiar with the plot. We probably waited too long on this one. Sad.
You would think I would learn but, hey, I've had some good sharing successes as well as the flops so I just keep trying. It's a Never Ending Story all of my own making.
Is it just me? What other movies haven't translated well from your youth to your kids'?
This doesn't help so much with the decades-old movies but one resource I use a lot to determine movie appropriateness for my kids is Kids In Mind. In addition to ratings, the reviewers go through specifically what a movie includes in three areas: sexual content, violence, and profanity. (Sometimes the descriptions are laughably specific and clinical, actually.)