Last week, we looked back at the best movies released during the years we were born. For this week’s Roundtable, I thought it would be interesting to jump forward a decade and identify our favorite movies from the time we each turned 10-years-old.
In my opinion, age 10 is about the time when a child starts to understand a little bit about movies and develop a taste in them. That taste may change later in life, but prior to age 10 pretty much all movies (the ones our parents will let us watch, anyway) seem awesome. From my experience, the 7-year-old me didn’t make much distinction between good movies and bad movies; as far as I could tell, ‘The Cannonball Run’ was just as good a movie as ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. By the time I turned 10, however, I started to have some cognizance that maybe ‘Gremlins’ was a better movie than ‘Cannonball Run II’.
This topic has two important rules:
- The movie must have been released to theaters during the year you turned 10-years-old (even if you saw it earlier in the year before your birthday).
- You must have actually seen the movie during its original run. We’re not talking about movies you caught up with years later and recognized as artistic masterpieces in your adulthood. I want to know which movie the 10-year-old you thought was your favorite from that year.
The rules of this week’s Roundtable pretty much pigeonholed me. Being born in December, this left me with only one month to choose from, and in December of 1979, I only saw one movie: ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’. It bored me to death in 1979, and all these years later I still consider it one of the lesser ‘Trek’ movies.
So, if you’ll indulge my bending of the rules, I’ll pick a movie I saw earlier in 1979, which was (and still in many ways is) my favorite movie from that year: ‘Rocky II‘. I hadn’t seen the first ‘Rocky’ when I went to see the sequel, but thankfully I was with a friend of the family (the truth here is that growing up we lived across the road from a large and very Italian family who essentially dragged my parents and I to this movie on opening night) who explained everything I needed to know before going in. Needless to say, by the time the final fight took place, I was up out of my seat and cheering the Italian Stallion on. (Hey, the adults were doing it too.) While today I’d never list ‘Rocky II’ among my all-time favorite movies, I think Rocky Balboa might be my all-time favorite movie character and I still admire this first sequel very much.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I’m pretty sure I caught a grand total of four movies theatrically when I was 10: ‘Scrooged’, ‘Ghostbusters II’, ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ and – drum roll! – ‘Batman’. Three of those were released in really rapid succession, so clearly the Tyner family shied away from movie theaters during the tail-end of 1988 and the bulk of ’89. (We were more on the VHS/Laserdisc/cable side of things.)
If there were any justice in this world, I’d be writing about ‘UHF’ right now. Even at that young age, I could already call myself a lifelong rabid Weird Al fan, and I was frothing-at-the-mouth excited about catching his first movie. It was in and out of theaters so quickly that I practically didn’t even have a chance, although I’d make up for it by devouring ‘UHF’ about 27,000 times in the years that followed.
So, instead, I get to write about ‘Batman‘! It’s the first time I ever remember that seeing a movie theatrically felt like an EVENT. I watched ‘Batman’ opening weekend in a packed theater with my best friend at the time, and we timed it so that we’d get home right when the ’66 ‘Batman’ movie aired on TV. That… was not the double feature that 10-year-old Adam thought it would be. Anyway, ‘Batman’ was the first superhero movie I’d seen theatrically after my comic book obsession was really in full swing. (I had seen ‘Supergirl’ in theaters when my interest in comics was more casual, but let’s focus on the positive here.) It would go on to be the first VHS I got that was mine, all mine, and ‘Batman’ was even one of the first DVDs I ever picked up. I haven’t watched Tim Burton’s take on the Dark Knight in about fifteen years, but now I’m getting the urge to revisit a movie that meant so much to me growing up.
Being born in 1983 affords me the privilege of using ‘Jurassic Park‘ as my favorite 10-year-old theatrical event. I remember waiting in line with my dad, amazed that he was accompanying me to a PG-13 movie, as I was only 10. My parents were really strict with ratings.
I’d never seen anything like it. As a 10-year-old, the special effects dazzled and frightened me. After seeing the movie, my cousin slept over at my house. We slept out on the trampoline, and found it to be a tough proposition. All we could do was imagine what it would be like if a group of raptors suddenly jumped over the fence. We concluded that we’d probably die, but it’d be cool to actually see dinosaurs before they killed us.
Ah, to be 10 again.
Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)
1977 was a great year for movies, but this one’s a no-brainer for me: ‘Star Wars‘. And when I saw it, that’s what it was called: ‘Star Wars’. Not ‘A New Hope’, not ‘Episode IV’. Just ‘Star Wars’. I remember hearing the radio ads for it when driving around with my dad and thinking, “This is going to be awesome.” And it was. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. I went to see it in a little theater in Manchester, NH and saw it another four times during its theatrical run. I’m not sure that the theater even had stereo sound, let alone “Dolby Stereo” (the early name for Dolby Surround). But I loved it.
I bought the action figures, a Landspeeder and an X-Wing Fighter. I still have them and should probably let my 10-year-old play with them some time. It’s one of my life’s great disappointments that ‘Episode IV’ is one of my son’s least favorite films in the series and ‘Episode III’ one of his favorites. Every time he tells me this, all I can say is, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!” How could this happen? But then, he does look a little like our old mailman. Honey, is there something you want to tell me?
Honorable mention goes to ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind‘. As a sci-fi buff (even at that age), I was fascinated by the idea of intelligent, benevolent aliens. To this day, I still make Devil’s Tower replicas out of my mashed potatoes and I peck out the five-note melody on virtually every keyboard I come across. We are not alone, indeed.
So far as I can tell, I saw two movies in the theater when I was 10: ‘Willow’ and ‘Twins’. Technically, I saw ‘Twins’ at a drive-in. I’m torn here, because I don’t really like either movie all that much. I remember talking about ‘Willow’ with my friends on the playground, but I had more fun seeing ‘Twins’ at the drive-in. Truth be told, I recall very little of either film. There was some sort of weird contraption with tubes and such in one. And I think some burning haystacks in the other. ‘Twins’ made me laugh. ‘Willow’ scared the heck out of me at times. Ummmm… I guess the winner is ‘Twins‘. Because of Arnold. I was 10, so Arnold = win. And drive-ins rock.
Wow, there are so many good choices from 1986 that it’s tough to decide on just one. I think my absolute favorite is probably ‘Stand By Me‘ – based on Stephen King’s novella ‘The Body’ – mainly because I was the same age as the kids in this terrific coming-of-age story and felt like I was going on the adventure with them. I also remember liking the music so much that I had a collection of cassette tapes with songs from the soundtrack that we bought at some gas station.
For nostalgic reasons, I also have to give ‘Star Trek: The Voyage Home’ an honorable mention here. I remember seeing it at an old theater that doesn’t exist in Winnipeg anymore during a school field trip.
Man, those were good times.
There are boatloads of movies released in 1990 that I recall seeing then and still love now. I thought that it would be difficult to pick a favorite, but when I saw a certain title, I looked no further. Many viewers criticize it, but I’m a huge fan of the entire trilogy, so ‘Back to the Future Part III‘ easily takes the cake as my favorite film from 1990. I love that the franchise went the opposite direction you would have thought, considering the word “future” is in the title. I adore the Western aspect. The standard genre tropes (spittoons, shootouts, trains, getting dragged behind a horse, etc.) are all here, as well as the series specific tropes (Tannens, manure, being called “yellow,” waking up with his mom talking to him in the dark, etc.). Some may not like ‘Back to the Future Part III’ much, but I find it to be the perfect final chapter to a perfect trilogy.
1984 was a pretty huge year for movies, and my mom let me see a lot of them, even some that were R-rated. (Mom was pretty laissez-faire when it came to movie ratings.) As an adult, my favorite movie of all time (‘Dune’, as many of you know) comes from 1984, but I didn’t see that until years later so it doesn’t qualify here. Regardless, I have no shortage of options to choose from: ‘Gremlins’! ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’! ‘Beverly Hills Cop’! ‘The Karate Kid’! ‘Red Dawn’! ‘Police Academy’! Maybe some of those haven’t held up as well as I’d wish, but 10-year-old me had a blast watching all of them.
And yet, when it comes down to it, my favorite movie that I saw in 1984 also happened to be the top-grossing movie of that year. I laughed my ass off watching ‘Ghostbusters‘, even despite the fact that the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man scared the ever-living shit out of me. (Seriously, I had nightmares.) The jokes more than offset the trauma. It’s a comedy classic that has remained just as funny no matter how many dozens of times I’ve seen it since.
Your turn now. What movies were the highlight of your tenth year on this Earth?