One of the pleasures of parenting is torturing your children…umm…I mean presenting them with the opportunity to enjoy the books and movies you loved in your youth. The ones that mattered to you, that moved you and helped you scrabble your way through the playground of childhood and the wild jungle of adolescence.
Books are easy. The vast majority of them can stand the test of time, because we’re used to seeing literature as a time capsule of sorts, representing the morals and styles of the period in which the book was written.
For some reason, it’s less easy to be forgiving of films. I never know going in if my kids are going to spend so much time laughing at the horrid special effects that they miss the entire story, or if the emotional resonance will miss the mark, because “kids aren’t like that any more”.
Sharing The Outsiders with my sons was a no-brainer. The book is a YA classic, and Francis Ford Coppola gave it the white glove treatment. It’s beautifully shot and completely loyal to the story, which – being set “back in the day” – is allowed to feel somewhat dated.
But I’ve only recently begun to share the other movies that ruled my world, the ones that spoke to my generation and had us all flocking to the theater on opening night. The ones we watched over and over (on VHS or Beta), because we could relate. Because we saw ourselves in those characters and those situations. Those brilliant, funny, poignant, sad movies that can be summed up in two words:
The eighties were an odd and somewhat laughable time, and the concerns of that decade feel so plastic in our current economical and political climate. So I was afraid that the beloved films of my formative years would fall flat on their asses – not just for my kids, but for me as well. But I decided it was worth the risk.
We started with Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. Safe bet, and still funny. Matthew Broderick at his charming, comedic best. Thumbs up all around.
Weird Science (to which I was never particularly attached) was the next to hit the screen. Goofy. Funny. Just slightly off-color, which the youngest found hilarious.
Okay, I thought. This is going pretty well. Might as well take the big leap. *gulps*
Last weekend, we watched The Breakfast Club. And it still rocks! I laughed, I cried (a couple of times), I fell in love with the Brain, the Princess, the Jock, the Criminal and the Kook all over again, and – to my absurdly jubilant relief – so did my sons.
For me, and for many of my peers in high school during the early eighties, this movie was our Graduate. I so desperately wanted it to hold up, and it did. Because the core issue – of being labeled and judged by generalizations, of behaving in accordance with the projections of others instead of being true to yourself – still hold up, and not just for teenagers. It’s something most everyone can relate to. That’s why the film worked 1985, and that’s why it works now.
Tell me – what was the film of your youth? Have you seen it lately, and did it pass the test of time?