In honor of my dad’s recent birthday, this movie list will focus on movies that my dad got me into, usually by watching them over and over and over again. It was through that repetition that my dislike of some movies turned to genuine interest and my hate of other movies just turned into stronger hate.
My dad was probably the person who even originally got me interested in movies. He attempted to take me to see “Mulan” when it came out in 1998, but I was either seven or eight-years-old and still afraid of the dark. We tried sitting in the back of the movie theater near the doors so there would be some light creeping through, but there was no avail. I was tearing up, and my dad reassured me that it was okay that we left before getting to see the movie even though he couldn’t get a refund for the tickets.
I made it up to him in my teenage and college-aged years by making him go with me to very teenagery, very cheesy movies when I didn’t have anyone else to go with me. For his sake, I won’t confirm the worst of the movies I made him go to, but it had him rolling his eyes and saying (with feigned drama), “Werewolf or vampire? Werewolf or vampire?”
While those movies are still guilty pleasures for me, I became much more interested in superhero movies, most likely thanks to him. Until recently, I’ve gone to see the majority of superhero movies — from the first of the “X-Men” movies to the Christopher Nolan version of “Batman” to the “Avengers” movies and the first “Captain America” and “The Guardians of the Galaxy” — with my dad.
In high school, and college a little bit, I would occasionally go the movies with friends instead of my dad, but you know what happens after school is over. We all go on to live our own lives, and who is still always there, ready to make time to spend it with me? My parents, with my dad taking the most of the “entertain Sam with movies” responsibility.
So while some of these next movies I developed an interest in just after the repetition of my dad watching them, the majority of my favorite movies probably started with him in general.
5) The “Die Hard” series
It has become a Christmas and holiday tradition watching “Live Free or Die Hard.” What is there to make us more thankful for what we have than watching Bruce Willis shoot himself in the shoulder in order to kill the bad guy? It makes me very glad that my job doesn’t involve saving the world. I don’t have the motivation or the energy for it. I can barely motivate myself to go find the charger for my laptop before it dies.
Also, the helicopter scene in “Live Free or Die Hard” really gets your adrenaline flowing and can keep you awake during the post-meal food coma.
This one goes along with the other superhero movies, but I continually kept re-watching “Spiderman” and the Tobey Maguire version of “Spiderman” whenever it was on TBS to annoy my dad. He would tease me by saying, “Is that Spiderman? Are you still watching Spiderman? Is Spiderman still on?”
Now that I own “The Amazing Spider-Man” and its sequel, I don’t know why I don’t put that on more often just to hear him say, “What? You’re watching this again?”
3) “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy
I’m late to most bandwagons, including this one, until I watched “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and realized that, hey, this wasn’t so bad.
I soon became obsessed with this trilogy, including reading the books even though I still find them to be a little dense for my taste (my taste in books is very lazy, I don’t like reading anything that makes me feel like I doing homework), re-watching the movies (I re-watched “The Twin Towers” at least 20 times because that one is my favorite), going to see “The Return of the King” with my dad and brother. This obsession continued to the point of my dad and I went to a museum in Indiana to see props from the sets of those movies on display for a limited time. That became my favorite kind of museum display.
2) “The Terminator” series
I wasn’t really into Arnold Schwarzenegger until I gave these movies a chance and realized that there was more to them than this emotionless robot (he is literally an emotionless robot and that part is boring, but at least he’s bullet proof and carries big guns). “The Terminator” (R, 1984) is basically like character development for Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), making her strong enough to take care of John Connor in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (R, 1991). A strong, female lead was appealing to me, along with the dramatic, time-traveling love affair in the first “Terminator.”
1) The “Back to the Future” trilogy
This one took a long time to hammer into me. I wasn’t much of a fan of the 80s, and I thought the versions of the future in these movies were cheesy, and even a little bit depressing. Then, I paid attention to the crazy old man Dr. Emmett Brown — who time travels with random neighborhood teenager Marty McFly (which is a stupid name), realized that I loved crazy old men and the trope of the eccentric old mentors, such as Gandalf, Dumbledore, Yoda, and so on.
Then I gave the time-traveling aspect a chance, which became a major draw for me after I started watching “Doctor Who,” and I got wound up in how all of the different time lines are connected.
My dad had to re-watch these movies numerous times over the course of about 20 years, though, before I gave these movies a chance.
Dishonorable mentions: I’m calling this a dishonorable mention because no matter how many times my dad will turn this on after supper, I will never like — or even understand — “Seinfeld.” Why is this Jerry’s life? Why are these his friends? Do they realize that they’re all kind of crappy people? Is everyone in the world this crappy? Is that the point of this?
While I’m at it, I also don’t see what’s so great about “A Christmas Story.” In addition to demonstrating all of the reasons why I’m not ready for kids, it’s all about why people shouldn’t give whiny children access to guns, even if it is just a BB gun. I would much rather see Bruce Willis narrowly escape getting blown up by a terrorist team of hackers.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336