As the leaves continue to fall off the trees and prepare for winter, it seems that most of us are stuck inside with not much to do. On top of this, our parents seem to nag us more and more about sometimes boring or cheesy “family activities.” However, one activity that has worked in my family for the past few months is a Movie Night. It may seem a bit cliche, but the concept itself can be both fun for you and your parents.
About once or twice a month, my family gets together to pick out a movie that we all could watch. At first, my parents were a little apprehensive with the R-ratings, due to their numerous (and disastrous) attempts to spark re-innocence into my younger brother. However, when they accepted that he was simply being a preteen boy with off-color humor, they relented.
The Jiffy Pop is popped, the lights are dimmed, and it’s movie time! Though it may seem that we are simply watching the movie in silence, we aren’t. We do chat briefly about an actor, burst out laughing at goofy parts, or even awkwardly look at each other as a sexual or awkward scene appears in front of us. Moments like this are instances were I feel like my family bonds together.
One of the more questionable aspects about Movie Night is a lack of electronics (iPods, phones, cell phones, etc.). We never really implement a “rule” against it in my family. Instead, we just naturally leave all of our gadgets behind. Oh, and parents, this is probably one of the best ways to wean a child off a certain electronic without having to force it away from them.
And as the credits roll, we return to our normal, busy, hectic lives. However, we don’t forget and treasure the 120 or so minutes spent on the couch, until the next Movie Night arrives.
Now, the fun stuff! Some movies parents should show to their kids (and kids to their parents) are down below. Yeah, yeah, most of these are slapstick, romantic or raunchy comedies, so keep in mind that what your teens might want to watch may be different from what you want and vice versa.
From Parents to Teens
- National Lampoon’s Animal House: The first ever of the frat comedy genre, this late-70s hit put National Lampoon on the map and gave it a reputation for smart gross-out humor. The late John Belushi also follows one outrageous act with an even crazier one. I was actually not the first of my family to experience this. Rather, my brother came across it as a child, and soon after, he was begging my parents to get him a birthday cake with “Eat Me” on it, unaware of the phrase’s other connotations. Nevertheless, this is a fun, crazy, comedy that teens will LOVE!
- National Lampoon’s Vacation: The other NL staple, this time jumpstarting the road trip comedy with various 80s stars (Chevy Chase, Christie Brinkley, and Anthony Michael Hall to name a few). While there isn’t a goofy story behind finding this movie, all I can say is, some jokes are subtle, some are more in your face, all are funny.
- Any Mel Brooks movie: My father introduced me to Spaceballs, a Star Wars parody, when I was 13. I’ve since fallen in love with Mel Brooks movies. He runs the parody gamut from Westerns (Blazing Saddles), horror (Young Frankenstein), history (History of the World Part I), and fairy tales (Robin Hood: Men In Tights). However, I will say that Jewish humor is peppered in Mel Brooks’s movies, so Jewish families might pick up on some of the smaller jokes.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show: My mom has told my brother and I many stories of how she used to go to Halloween screenings of RHPS, telling me that this was something I had to do before I died. While that challenge remains to be faced, I’ll have to settle for watching an over-the-top rock musical complete with a then-unknown Susan Sarandon, a Frankenstein-esque plot, and one fierce drag queen played by Tim Curry. Another plus? This movie has a HUGE cult following, so you never who else you can meet that idolizes this movie.
From Teens to Parents
- Superbad: I was only 12 when Superbad came into theaters and saw it with an older friend of mine. Laughing so hard throughout, I realized that my parents would appreciate a movie with as sick of a plot as this. My dad was horrified, while my mom was hysterical. Yes, the sexual talk can be crude and gross to show in front of your parents, but it is definitely worth seeing a parent’s reaction.
- The Hangover: This movie has become quite the modern classic after being released a little more than a year ago. Sure enough, I wanted my parents in on the smash hit. At least this one made my dad laugh a little more…
- Borat: While it seemed that most people (my brother?) who became fans of this movie enjoyed the outlandish, sexist, ironically anti-Semitic remarks of Sacha Baron Cohen, I appreciated the film for being a revealing mockumentary on how ridiculous we Americans can be. Lucky for me, my parents saw it this way too, gross-out humor and all.
- Napoleon Dynamite: Another cult classic with rural charm, my parents initially complained about how this film had “no plot whatsoever.” After a few more times, this film grew on them and has become one of their personal favorites.