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In Search of Entertainment

Finding common ground on family movie night.

Lately I have been pondering how to share the movies and TV that I loved as a kid with my own children without seeming so… well… dated.

Now that my children are old enough to justify family movie nights at home, I find myself longing to snuggle up on the couch as Fraulein Maria and the Von Trapp children belt out “My Favorite Things. Meanwhile, my kids are begging for the latest in CGI. 

While I enjoy Pixar films and had to see the new Muppet movie in the theater, I also want to revisit the classics I've watched over and over again, and—more importantly—I want my kids to watch and love them, too. I remember my mom introducing my sisters and me to The Parent Trap (with Haley Mills, not Lindsay Lohan) and spending a whole summer singing “Let’s Get Together." When is that going to be the case for my kids?

Our trek to the movie theater over the holiday break to see The Muppets was a great case in point. This being only the second movie they have seen in the theater, everyone was pumped for the event. I had read a review that made it sound fun for all—nostalgia, star cameos, and adult-oriented humor for the parents paired with slapstick silliness for the kids. My husband and I swallowed our reservations about dropping the small fortune needed for a family of four go to a movie (even at 10 a.m.!) and headed to the theater. 

My husband and I loved the film, but our experience was hampered a bit by our children’s lackadaisical interest. They were excited about being at the movie, but not so much about the content. And this was The Muppets! I grew up watching The Muppet Show! Isn’t it mapped on their DNA somewhere that we will like the same things?

There have been similar reactions to other movie and TV shows we have introduced. I was definitely the only one who wanted to stay up to watch Linus wait for the Great Pumpkin before Halloween. Scanning the TV guide for the various holiday specials had no luster because the kids could watch their choice on DVD any time of day. Willie Wonka was a bit scary to them and the chocolate factory was underwhelming.

As I push these classics on my kids, they are begging for the latest in Pixar.  Suddenly, I am "that parent"—that way out-of-touch one who is always talking about the good ol' days. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it so soon.

I hold out hope though that my children and I will find common ground in our entertainment choices. We recently all saw Cars for the first time together, and we all agreed it was a keeper. I may have to give in to my daughter’s longing for anything princess by allowing a viewing of The Little Mermaid, just so I can show her I know all the words to all the songs (yes, I said it). And when I visited my friend and her family recently, we were all delighted with her two daughters' performance of “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music

Now you know what I’ll be showing at our next family movie night. (I’ll also be playing the part of Liesl in our family’s reenactment.)

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