Lights, Camera, Action! (aka: Family Movie Night)

family movie nightIn our house, nearly every Friday night is Family Movie Night. With three kids and busy schedules, it is not always an easy date to keep. But whenever we can, my three kids and I love to curl up on the sofa, eat homemade pizza and popcorn, and watch a movie together.

Of course, it can be tricky to choose a movie that everyone will enjoy. My 15 year-old tends to favor exciting movies filled with action, like The Matrix or the Bourne Identity series. My 13 year-old daughter goes moony-eyed over typical “teen girl” movies, like Mean Girls or Divergent. Meanwhile, my 10 year-old still loves the Disney videos and adventurous kid films that the rest of us have seen nearly 100 times, like Finding Nemo or Pirates of the Caribbean. Disney Finding Nemo

And then there’s me. While I am happy to watch just about any movie, I have an affinity for the Great Films – films which tell a good story, are supreme examples of their genre, or portray the depths of the human experience in a unique way. Some years ago, I was introduced to the Criterion Collection. For those of you who are classic film virgins, the Criterion Collection is a tremendous library of some of the most prolific, outstanding, and or groundbreaking films of all time. The films are not always as well known, though the directors may be. They often feature themes and plots which require some thought and reflection on the part of the viewer. And no, they are not usually wrapped up with a neat, colorful little Disneyland happy ending like most films we are accustomed to today. More often than not, the films from the Criterion Collection leave the viewer rather unsettled, by introducing a disturbing ethical dilemma, then refusing to offer a neat solution. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have sat, watching the credits with wide-eyed incredulity and a sense of injustice. How could the director have allowed the film to end there? Why did the protagonist make such a choice? And for the next day or two, I walk around in a daze, chewing on the deep moral issues raised by the film like a piece of succulent grilled meat.

The Criterion CollectionSadly, my kids just can’t see the greatness of the Criterion Collection films. “Mo-om…not another black and white movie!” they complain. So I have learned to save these films for the weekends when the kids are away. After all, the point of Family Movie Night is not to persuade my children to think like me and enjoy what I enjoy most. The point is two hours of fun and laughter as we bond together as a family – even if that means watching Finding Nemo for the 100th time.

Great Picks for Family Movie Night 

The Goonies D.A.R.Y.L.
Pirates of the Caribbean Homeward Bound
Earth to Echo The Parent Trap (both)
The Indiana Jones films Freaky Friday (both)
The Hunger Games Akeelah and the Bee
The Harry Potter films Big Hero 6
Catch Me if You Can Night at the Museum
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen Jumanji

Got any more suggestions? We are always looking for new ideas.

Great Criterion Collection Films for Beginners

The 400 Blows (1959) 12 Angry Men (1957)
Bicycle Thieves (1948) The Virgin Spring (1960)
The Game (1997) Walkabout (1971)
Rashomon (1950) My Life as a Dog (1985)
Au revoir les enfants (1987) Cria cuervos (1976)