I was thinking the other day about how my parents didn't take me to very many movies when I was a kid. I don't know why. I know they went to movies without us sometimes, so it couldn't have been that we were too poor. I also know that they wouldn't let me see the Back To The Future sequels in the theaters because, ohmygosh, they were rated PG and might be too intense for us! (Nevermind that the original BTTF was one of my favorite films, which I watched repeatedly on tape.) So, I mean, maybe they were just way overprotective ... only prone to letting us see the G-est of the G-rated.
Here are the movies I remember seeing in the theater as a kid:
Batteries Not Included
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
An American Tail (possibly?)
That's between the ages of 0-13. And you might think I saw more, but that I just don't remember them... yeah, well, I doubt it. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to movies.
Meanwhile, we did have a VCR when I was growing up. My dad purchased the first one in 1985. I remember the night we first got it, how he tried to explain to me that I couldn't watch Dumbo NOW, but I would be able to watch it the next day. Madness, I thought. Man, you're crazy! But sure enough, there Dumbo was the next day... and the next... and the next....
Thanks to the magic of TV and that VCR, I spent my childhood watching (and rewatching) Dumbo, Mickey and the Beanstalk, Lambert the Sheepish Lion, Heidi's Song, Garfield In Paradise, A Garfield Halloween, A Garfield Christmas, Garfield In The Rough, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Race For Your Life Charlie Brown, What A Nightmare Charlie Brown (and about a dozen more CB specials) Mary Poppins, Peter Pan (with Mary Martin), The Care Bears Movie, The Secret Garden, Robin Hood, Flight Of The Navigator, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, multiple Looney Tunes cartoon specials, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, the Claymation Christmas Special, Alice In Wonderland, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, Pollyanna, and many more.
However, just because things were edited for television didn't mean my parents always approved of what they had taped for us....
Once, the movie The Adventures of Mark Twain aired, and my family watched it together. My brother and I really enjoyed it, but my parents were not pleased. There's a storyline involving Adam and Eve that is, well, not exactly Biblical. And my parents were all about things being correct, satire be darned. They decided the movie was just too scandalous. And so, after explaining their reasonings to my brother and I, they did the unthinkable:
The taped over the movie.
So of course, because of this, The Adventures Of Mark Twain took on a whole new life in my brain as That movie we loved but that my parents stole from us. For years I yearned to see it again. As soon as I could, I bought myself a copy on VHS. I've watched it several times since. The funny thing is, the Adam & Eve parts are probably the lamest of the whole movie. But the rest is really creepy and cool. Silly parental censorship!
Another time, my dad decided to tape Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for us. This may have been the second time it had aired on network television, because my dad was ready with the VCR remote during the scene where Walter Donovan turns to dust and bones (read: he chose poooorly). My dad actually paused the tape during the recording so that Walter's progression of deterioration was almost entirely omitted. Why he thought this scene, out of all the scenes in the movie, was the one thing that needed to be censored, I will never know. As it stands now, I don't find that scene -- the full version -- scary at all, and never have. I think it's actually kind of cool! My brother and I both chuckle at this memory of my dad's over-protectiveness.
My parents weren't the only ones trying to look out for us. A lot of those taped-off-TV-movies I watched repeatedly as a kid had already been censored quite a bit by the networks. Back To The Future, for example, had most of its "bad" language replaced with somewhat less-objectionable wording... but otherwise, the film remained the same. Not so with the network TV version of The Goonies back in the 80's. That was the version I always watched as a kid. As an adult, I got the DVD and was stunned to see a bunch of scenes I'd never laid eyes on before. The kids shaking the pipes and disrupting the plumbing in the country club? Mouth talking to Rosalita about drugs? Andi kissing Mikey and commenting on his braces? Where did all these scenes come from? To this day, I find them foreign, as if the version on the DVD is some bizarre director's cut or something.
And now it's 2010 and VCRs are practically obsolete. Tivos and Blu-Ray players reign. But I don't understand how people can get rid of their VCRs. Don't they, too, have tapes full of old memories? Or is that just my family? I guess most people can just update their movie collection when a new format comes along, but I'll never be able to. I mean, yeah, I have Pollyanna on DVD now, and I have to admit it looks a whole lot better than the tape -- but sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to pull out the old taped-off-channel-12 recording of it and watch it alongside those goofy 80s commercials that accompanied it back in the day.
Because that's the way I used to watch it.
And sometimes... that's just the way I want it.