We were quite lucky children. We were born into the age of the VCR. What exactly did they do before they could rent a movie from Xtravision? I’m not quite sure. They probably had to wait loads and hope that the film was shown again in the local cinema or something. How sad. But not us. We had the videos. And we watched them over and over and over again. I had a few favourites, ones I would constantly return to, until I knew them off by heart.
a)Addam’s Family Values
This film is always on the telly. Barely a month goes by without some channel broadcasting it – but that’s fine with me, cos it’s SO GOOD. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. It’s got everything – various murder attempts, extremely chirpy camp counsellors, disembodied hands, mustachioed babies, the lot. I remember being particularly impressed by Debbie. Yes, she was a raging psychopath, but she had style. There was a time when I could recite her “Malibu Barbie” speech word for word:
And of course, there was Wednesday. Wednesday became a sort of template for my surly-early-teen years, when I wanted to dress and act like her but being weirdly unable to rebel properly was too chicken to actually do so. I’m making up for lost time now with a seemingly endless number of black and white peter pan collar tops and dresses in my wardrobe.
b) Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Specifically Home Alone 2. The first Home Alone, while a classic in it’s own right, does not come close to the second in my book. So you got stuck at home on your own at Christmas, big whoop. But being stuck in New York on your own at Christmas – now that’s something. I always get teary-eyed when his mum finds him at last beneath the giant Christmas tree in the Rockefeller Centre. And “Give this to Kevin…Kevin’s not here” is STILL quoted by my family in airports.
Terrible quality clip, but you get the idea. Kevin has a wonderful adventure and in between learns some important moral lesson that I never really paid any attention to because I was too busy eyeing up that TalkBoy. Now that is an example of product placement that worked – I requested a pink one from Santa Claus in 1994/95. Best present ever.
We found the tapes a couple of years ago. Of all the things I could have done, I recorded pretend radio news bulletins. Maybe I was somehow foreseeing the future.
One more thing: “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal. *bangbangbang* And a happy new year. *bang*”
c) Richie Rich
The 1990s belonged to Macaulay Culkin. However, I didn’t know that Richie Rich, made in 1994, was his last film as a “child actor”. Then he sadly travelled the route of most child stars, getting mixed up with drugs and drink and becoming bezzie mates with the most unlikely of people, in Macaulay’s case, Michael Jackson. He’s now mostly in the news for not being Mila Kunis’ boyfriend anymore. Which is sad, cos he was cool.
Aaaanyway, Richie Rich is one of those films that isn’t really a classic, but is to me and my sister. The plot is ridiculous, but let’s face it, I don’t care. It’s all about the fun. But here is the plot anyway: Richie has a great life til his parent’s plane crashes and Richie thinks they’re dead but they’re still alive but then there’s a bad guy!! and he’s after the money but Richie has to take over the company then the English butler goes to jail and then he gets out and there’s a nutty professor and then the parents come back and the bad guy gets them and makes them go to their vault in Mount Richmore (get it?!) but the vault is full of happy memories! Cos they really don’t care about their money they are just extremely rich anyway!! So then they live happily ever after and somewhere in there Richie learns the value of friendship. Beautiful.
What we liked most was the gadgets, and how throwaway he was about his wealth. “Oh this rollercoaster in the garden? I got it for my last birthday.” What a cool dude.
d) The Princess Diaries
This came a little later on in life, probably seen for the first time when I was 12 or 13. This film was the world’s introduction to Anne Hathaway – as a nerdy, awkward princess-in-training. Boy, did we get a shock when she whipped off her top in Brokeback Mountain a couple of years later. Well I did, anyway. The film tells the story of Mia Thermopolis, who finds out that she’s next in line to the throne of a (fictional) country between France and Spain called Genovia. Obviously she hasn’t the foggiest notion of how to be a human, let alone a queen, and we have a wonderful time watching her transform from loser to royalty. However, the real stars are clearly Julie Andrews as her grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi, and Heather Matarazzo as Mia’s best friend, Lilly Moscovitz. Princess Mia is a bit of a drip. These characters help redeem her and shape her into an altogether more sympathetic, stronger person.
“Thank you for being here today.” BEST LINE EVER.
Lilly is branded as the bad guy halfway through the film, but wouldn’t you react the same way if your best friend dumped your brother to hang out with a douchebag? Definitely. Lilly at least has some sort of idea of who she is. Mia needs to be crowned leader of a small country and a complete image overhaul before she even realises she has her own personality.
I will admit, I was compelled to read the books after I had seen the film. The books are far more risqué, with many references to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll (mostly sex) that would not fit the Disney ideal. The films transform them into mindless fluff, but the best kind of mindless fluff.
Those are my films. The ones I watched over and over again. But you can guarantee I could sit down right now and laugh at the funny bits, cry at the sad bits, and feel suspense at the suspenseful bits. You may scoff; you may say I am sad, but I bet you love some old, weird films yourself. And I bet you could quote them word-for-word. Don’t be afraid. Feel free to let your old, weird movie love show. Nostalgia is the way forward.