The new Ghostbusters movie will be out this summer, and my twelve-year old daughter, Grace, wants me to take her. “Not until we watch the original on Netflix first,” I respond.
This doesn’t faze Grace, because when in 2010, Will Smith’s kid, Jaden, became the newest incarnation of The Karate Kid, I had Grace watch the first three Ralph Macchio/Pat Morita versions with me.
Jurassic World last summer? Jurassic Park first.
When we heard Star Wars: The Force Awakens was being released in December, Grace and I took the twelve months before to watch the first six episodes.
And, when I told her the concept behind the original Planet of the Apes franchise because I’d just seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, she was intrigued enough that we watched the first five movies (1968 to 1973), then Mark Wahlberg’s foray into the genre in 2001, and finally caught her up with the latest series: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
You may ask, “Why?” Why do I force my middle school-aged daughter to relive my cinematic-youth before I allow her to enjoy the remakes of today. Is it to recall my glory days with my child? Absolutely. Is it because I want her to realize that my life in the 80’s without the Internet, Netflix, cell phones, YouTube and Hoverboards really was a wonderful time? Sure.
But I justify my selfish reasons by telling her (and myself) that she’ll appreciate the new versions more if she sees where they came from. She’ll get the inside jokes they’ve left for us, the children of the 80’s: Frenchy from the original cast of Grease playing Vi, the waitress, in the live broadcast version in January; the “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” played on the little girls’ radio in the remake of Footloose; and the nod from Han Solo (“We’re home”) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
More importantly, though, I have discovered over the years of forcing my girl to watch these old movies with me, it brings the two of us together. It takes my youth of yesteryear and hers of today and gives us common ground. She “gets” where I have come from. And, I understand better where she is. She can better appreciate me as a man who was once a boy, because she sees my past and understands how it relates to her present.
The thing is, we enjoy doing this. She laughed at the make-up in the original Apes series, but loved how the filmmakers created a never-ending super-ape time loop. When Princess Leia first appeared on screen in the latest Star Wars, Grace gasped the same time I did.
We even found common ground last year when we watched the Back to the Future series together for its thirty-year anniversary. She got a glimpse of my 1980s and what my generation envisioned for the future, her present: the flat screen TV’s, FaceTime, and Google Glass.
It doesn’t work with everything, though. I loved the Rocky movies at her age, but couldn’t get Grace excited about Creed. Therefore, no Rockys one through six.
But, that’s okay. We’ve got years of remakes ahead of us, allowing us to understand one another even better. One day we may revisit ET, Gremlins and even The Breakfast Club. Next on the agenda, though, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, in anticipation of Pee Wee’s Big Holiday. Grace will think of me as the coolest dork-dad on the planet… I know you are, but what am I?