A Beautiful Mind….Of Movies?

7 04 2011


      By sheer happenstance movies have always played an important part of my life.  I’m sure growing up in a small coastal town with nothing to do played a role as well, but that’s neither here nor there.  More specifically comedies have always been a topic of discussion in our family.  I remember “quotes” (yes I just put quotes in ” “) at young age from movies like Blazing Saddles, The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack and Animal House were always in heavy rotation in our household.  It sometimes seemed less about the movie and more about the funny lines or “one-liner” .  Everything from Chevy Chase “slip streaming” in Fletch and Dean Wormer talking about, “double secret probation” to “he’s a cinderella boy, tears in his eyes I guess” from Caddyshack.

Looking back and doing a little self diagnosis I’ve realized a few things.   A) The focus on singling out dialogue and not the movie has no doubt greatly contributed to my (A.D.D.)  2) I have a very active imagination and dream in color.   C) I have developed an almost super human ability to accurately recite random lines from movies after having only seen them once.  No doubt someday this will come in handy…. I’m just waiting for my moment in the sun. 

Of course the real tragedy in all of this is that I could have just as easily been blessed with this skill set in any field.  For Example: The precise knowledge of  human anatomy needed by a surgeon.  An engineers memory of mathematic equations and formulas needed to build skyscrapers.  A high-profile attorney’s ability to quote cases pertaining to legal precedents.  Sadly, the closest I’ll ever come to any of this is dropping a Kramer vs Kramer reference while playing Operation and helping out with 2nd grade math.  I’m the John Forbes Nash Jr. of something nobody really cares about…. movies.

How I picture my above mentioned skill someday being useful:  I see myself being called in by the FBI to help in some sort of hostage crisis.  A terrorist wearing a vest of dynamite has threatened to kill everyone unless someone can accurately tell him about the Blues Brothers car.  (shhh… just go with it)

Cut to me E-braking the classic Smokey and the Bandit Firebird in front of the building holding the hostages.  Special Agent in charge Dixen Cox runs up to me and says, “Try not to make a mess of things this time, we don’t need another Farley incident”.  Completely disregarding his authority I point to his tie and tell him he has a spot, he looks down only to get hit in the face with my finger as I take off towards the building.  Armed with only a Zippo lighter and a vast knowledge of movies, its go time. 

Walking through the front door I see a badly beaten off-duty Blockbuster employee who tried to be a hero.  He tried to answer the question, but panicked and recommended the terrorist ask a question about the Twilight Saga instead.  Blockbuster employees…frickin amatuers, they only know what someone else told them to say and dream of being the next Shia LaBeouf.

 I hold my arms up and turn around slowly showing that I’m unarmed….(At this point a guitar rift from Peter Frampton’s Do you feel like we do starts playing) With my back turned, I flip open my trusty Universal Studios Zippo, light a cigarette, take a drag, wink at the token hot chick and blow a smoke ring…..

In a tone that is both confident and arrogant (Clint Eastwood) I start in, “It’s got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. (I turn around and start slowly walking towards the terrorist) It’s got cop tires…. cop suspensions…. cop shocks…. (Finally nose to nose) It’s a model made before catalytic converters, so it’ll run good on regular gas.”  Then staring into his eyes I take the cigarette and put it out on his forehead…  A bead of sweat rolls down across this face, which has just turned white.  

With a pale face and fear in his eyes, it’s at this point he realizes two things: First, he’s met his match. Second, when I distracted him with the cigarette, I lit the fuse on his jacket with the zippo.  Horrified, he takes off running out of the building, screaming “El Diablo Blanco” opting for suicide by cop.  As he explodes in a hail of gun fire, I have some sort of cheesy 80’s catch-phrase like “Looks like he blew his top”…. Kiss the girl…  Roll credits to Under Pressure by Queen.     Hey… It could happen…

Finding common ground & Passing the torch:

This love of movies is something that our oldest boy TJ has picked up.  Movie nights have become somewhat of a ritual around our home.  To lend some perspective: since October 28th 2009 I’ve rented and watched 490 movies from blockbuster online.  Movie night involves barricading ourselves in the guest bedroom with a bowl of popcorn and some drinks.  I with my cocktail and he with Capri Sun Roaring Water.  I explain the finer points of highbrow humor as we view such classics as: Vacation, Uncle BuckFletch and Plains Trains & Automobiles.  I explain the genius that is Landis, Hughes and Ramis.  The classic comedic timing of Chase, Akroyd, Murray and Candy.  

Last night for the first time he watched The Great Outdoors.  I found it in the $5 bargain bin, you know the one where you have to literally shovel the movies from one side to the other.  If you haven’t seen the movie you can probably stop right here… be thankful 1950’s style McCarthyism isn’t going strong and move back to whatever communist country you came from.  If you have, then you may or may not know the film was produced by John Hughes. 

I know we all love John Hughes films ( National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Uncle Buck, Home Alone to name a few). Whether he directed or produced them, they all have a similar feel… The most common term used is “teen angst”, but I feel Hughes is so much more.  He was somehow able to find a common thread everyone shares.  Everyone went to School with a Ferris Bueller, or has an Uncle Buck in their family.  You can easily see yourself in those same situations and you identify with the character.  That’s what makes John Hughes one of the best.

Without out getting too deep or philosophical, The Great Outdoors was a blast to watch with him.  Of course after the movie all he could talk about was when John Candy shoots the bear in the rear.  You remember, with the shotgun that doubled as a lamp.  If case you forgot, it skins the fur off revealing what is supposed to be the bear’s “behind”.  I thought TJ was going to pee his pants he was laughing so hard.   His laughter does more for me than any movie possibly could. 

If you have kids you know what I’m talking about.  Someone once told me, “A childs laughter is like medicine for the soul” and they were right.  I proudly watch in wonder when on occasion he puts two and two together and sees the humor in something that’s not overly obvious.  There’s something to be said for going to bed happy with a smile on your face and laughter in your heart.  Don’t get me wrong you’ll still hate work, and you have no desire to get up and leave that warm bed, but at least you can look forward to getting home and sharing a laugh.

The next morning in typical fashion, he bursts into our bedroom at 6:50 and has to tell mom all about the movie.  Which has backfired on me several times, due to a flawed and biased movie rating system!  Allie has come to accept these briefings and always looks at me as if somehow she could have done better, shakes her head, and asks, “what have you done to our child?” 

Every father and son has their “thing”, watching movies is ours.  It’s almost as if I’m passing the torch, passing along my useless skill set.  Someday with any luck TJ will sit down with his kids, download  Family Vacation.  Then talk about comedy and movies of grandpa’s era.  Or maybe he’ll become the next John Hughes of his.




One response

7 04 2011

Another great post. Thanks for sharing this. I enjoy reading your blog very much. Spending time with my family and doing fun activities is something that truly makes me happy.

Check out these Family Activities

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