Our Favorite Childhood Movies
As we’re caught in the middle of the whirlwind that is the holiday season, many of us will be traveling great distances, arguing with our families at the dinner table, receiving shitty gifts we have to pretend to like, and putting on fake smiles as we try our damnedest to ignore the pulsing headache that tortures us so in these early winter months. Sure, some people (psychos) actually enjoy the holiday hustle and bustle, and once the dust has settled and you cuddle up in front of the fireplace with your loved one, there’s still something very special about the “most wonderful time of the year.”
But there was an even more special time in all our lives, when we didn’t have a care in the world and our major concern was whether or not Santa was going to bring us that certain gift we’d been nagging the hell out of our parents for. Childhood was a time when, before we became snooty cinephiles, we could watch movies dozens of times over without mulling over things like cinematography and performances. I swear, when I was a kid, I could watch The Beast twirl Belle around that ballroom all freaking day if my mom would let me (I was obviously destined to become the badass I am today.)
There isn’t anything quite like the first time you acquaint yourself with the magic of movies; everything was dazzling, because you had no reference for what was “good” or “bad.” All you knew was that you liked what you saw on that silver screen, and that was more than enough.
Now, take a break from the holiday insanity and relax as we at Way Too Indie share our favorite childhood movies.
Happy Holidays! (Ya filthy animals!)
Our Favorite Childhood Movies
I guess I was never a big fan of escapist fantasies like Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark growing up. Sure, they were fun, but while my friends would obsess over those classics I would be watching The Goonies repeatedly. Of course, The Goonies isn’t exactly a realistic movie, but the protagonists being ordinary middle class kids stumbling into an epic treasure hunt made my 7 year old self think that it could happen to me as well. For that reason I fell for the movie completely, watching it over and over. Of course it helps that Richard Donner and the whole cast (including Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, Martha Plimpton and Josh Brolin in their younger days) perfectly capture the camaraderie between neighborhood friends. It’s the only film in the 70s-80s era of Spielberg blockbusters (he didn’t direct, but he produced and created the story) that I truly loved, it’s a personal favourite of mine and even now I can still watch it for the umpteenth time without getting tired of it. [CJ Prince]
Every once in a while as a child, flipping through the channels available in our limited cable subscription, a channel that was normally static fuzz would suddenly appear clearly, a scrolling phone number at the bottom of the screen, and I’d know that rarest of TV phenomena had occurred: a Disney Channel Preview Weekend. It was on one such special weekend, glued to the TV, that I was first exposed to the strange wonder that is Labyrinth. The film follows Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), an especially imaginative and day-dreamy teenager, who isn’t particularly fond of her stepmother and baby stepbrother, Toby, who she regularly is stuck babysitting. Always straddling reality and fantasy, Sarah is so fed up with Toby one stormy night she decides to quote the incantation that will bring the Goblin King to rid her of Toby forever. Surprisingly, her wish comes true and a clan of puppet goblins descends, taking Toby to the Goblin King’s far-off lair. Realizing she may have been hasty, Sarah argues with the Goblin King Jareth (my first introduction to the androgynously mesmerizing David Bowie) asking that Toby be returned. Instead he gives her 13 hours to make her way through his labyrinth to find the child.
Sarah’s journey introduces her to many strange Jim Henson creations, usually accompanied by equally strange musical numbers (the best of these sung by Bowie). Though I’d been exposed to Jim Henson before, the Muppets being an 80s-child staple, Labyrinth has a dark quality to it that intrigued 11-year-old me. I found Sarah to be a bit whiny (always shouting about how unfair things are) but her romantic nature fit my own bookish tendencies, and the starry-eyed tension between her and Bowie’s Jareth appealed to my budding hormones. This film ended up being Henson’s last directing endeavor and his meticulous attention to detail is truly incredible. Each handcrafted puppet fits perfectly into his fine-tuned fantasy world, my favorite being a wall of rubber hands that form talking faces. The storyline may not hold up all that well now that I’m an adult, and most of the songs, though full of 80s pop goodness, make no sense whatsoever; but I still find myself taking this one out on sick days, ready to feel like a kid again. Viewer be warned, however, Labyrinth may lead toward an unhealthy obsession with David Bowie and/or a tendency toward impractical crushes on sexy villains. [Ananda Dillon]
Macaulay Culkin may be a ghoulish, pale-skinned, drug-addict looking guy these days, but when I was a kid, watching him beat the living shit out of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern in Home Alone pretty much made him my idol. Chris Columbus’ home invasion comedy about a boy abandoned in his family’s giant house for the holidays was everything I wanted in a boyhood fantasy; it had action, it had excess, it had humor, and in the end, the kid outsmarted the grumpy adults!
Culkin’s Kevin McCallister did what any young boy would do in his situation; he played adult! Or, his idea of adulthood at least. He ordered out for pizza, watched violent movies and, of course, made his hilarious and now classic attempt at shaving. When Pesci and Stern’s bumbling “Wet Bandits” try to raid the McCallister household, setting off Kevin’s kick-ass array of booby traps he’s strewn about the house, it makes for one of the most delightful, broad, wacky climaxes in any kids movie I can recall (the nail through the foot is still wonderfully gross!) It was Looney Toons, it was sadistic, it had some heart, and it’s my favorite childhood movie. [Bernard Boo]
Transformers: The Movie (1986)
Transformers: The Movie was BY FAR the film that I spent the most time with as a kid growing up in the late 80s and early 90s. Back when we had video stores (you kids are missing out now), my dad and I would drive to the nearest Pop N’ Go video store every Friday night to rent the newest movies. While he would get something different every week, I stuck with this animated movie from 1986 that, to a 6 year old boy, had everything one could ask for. I couldn’t even venture a guess of how many times I’ve seen it. Ok, I will. It’s probably easily over 60 times. These days, I only watch it once a year just to remind myself of the total awesomeness that permeates the film. The story is pretty terrible (bad robots look to incinerate good robots while a massive robot planet looks to destroy everyone), but when you have voice work from Leonard Nemoy, Judd Nelson, Robert Stack and even Orson Welles himself, who cares?! While the voice acting is great, hands down the best part of the film is the soundtrack, which is comprised of both original works (by Stan Bush) and songs from the likes of Weird Al to White Lion. Transformers literally rocks for pretty much its entire 85 minute runtime. I guarantee that by the time the end credits roll, you’ll be belting out the lyrics to The Touch. [Blake Ginithan]
The Sound of Music
When she skipped over hills and onto screens 48 years ago, Julie Andrews had no idea she would be melting hearts across the world, producing the highest grossing film of its day. The Sound of Music is a well known classic with good reason; from its lovable characters to its thoroughly enjoyable songs, even hardened cynics would be hard pressed to find something to dislike about this film. If you’re unaware of the plot, you’ve got something of a massive gaping hole in your life, but just as a reminder, the delightful Rodgers and Hammerstein musical tells the tale of a young, rebellious nun who, upon deciding that convent life isn’t for her, becomes governess to the seven children of Captain Von Trapp, all in the midst of Nazi-riddled Austria. We’re quickly swept away by Maria’s charms, and for so many children across the world, she resembled something to aspire to – an independent, somewhat off-beat woman that found her place in life – so it definitely holds a place as a childhood favorite for me. Not to mention they’re all totally good at tricking Nazis. [Pavi Ramani]
You’ve Got Mail
As a 90s kid, my memories of the movies are flooded with classics by Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, and Tom Hanks. While you were sleeping, Forces of Nature, Speed, French Kiss, Sleepless in Seattle, Forrest Gump, Toy Story, Cast Away are all the movies that come to mind when I think about my favourite childhood films. I’m assuming it’s a testament to being raised by a mother who was in love with all three actors and refused to accept anyone else existed.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my favourite movie consists of two of those three. Yes, You’ve Got Mail, is my all time favourite childhood film. It’s probably a bit out of place in this list but what of it! Being that it was released in 1998 means that I was 7 when it came out. I remember falling in love with the characters, wanting so much for them to realise who each other were, and to run into each other’s arms and live happily ever after. I must say, I never really thought I’d be admitting all of this for the world to see, but I’m hoping my fellow writers aren’t too judgmental considering their picks! [Amy Priest]
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
This was an easy topic for me because my mother loves to tell the story about six-year-old Dustin and how I watched Pee-wee’s Big Adventure…on repeat, in the same sitting. Looking back on that now, two things come to mind. First, just how much work that required for parents who had to manually rewind the VHS tape (which as a kid felt like an ETERNITY!) Second, just how messed up Tim Burton’s first film is now as an adult (or maybe it’s the combination of him and Paul Reubens.) This highly intoxicating visual adventure starts with a bang as Pee-wee Herman’s Rube Goldberg invention makes his breakfast in the morning, and never lets up after his precious bicycle gets stolen. What makes this wild adventure film work is the writing credits; shared by Reubens who makes sure his character is felt in every scene, Burton who gives the film a slightly dark tone, and Phil Hartman who brings his comedic mastermind to the table. As an adult having re-watched it not too long ago, I was surprised how much enjoyment I got out of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure as a kid and that I was not completely terrified of it (though I still blame the film for my dreadful fear of snakes.) Yet with every scene offering overwhelming amounts of stimulation either by goofy dialog delivery or wacky visuals, it is easy to see how a child would not get bored with a single frame of the film. [Dustin Jansick]