When you reach a certain age, it’s almost expected that you’ve seen a specific cannon of movies. There are some movies you just HAVE to have seen…Star Wars, Annie, The Godfather, Lord of the Rings, Gone with the Wind, The Birds, etc. It took quite awhile for me to sit down and watch a few of these…I saw The Godfather because my dear friend Amy insisted one afternoon when we were in our 20’s. Many others I’ve seen just because they seem like an excellent idea. Some, though, just don’t call to me in the same way. Most would advise seeing them just for the sake of seeing them…and I can understand that to a certain extent. You’ve got to have a well-rounded background to talk movies, right? Well, I’m here to admit that I haven’t seen a single Star Wars or Lord of the Rings Movie.
Let me give you a moment to gasp, because here comes another knockout punch: I have no real desire to do so.
I can explain, I swear! These are movies that just never came up as something I had to watch. I was so busy exploring other off the wall titles that I just didn’t pick up some of the movies that some would consider cannon. I went my own way; I was also a child of habit. I’d have my same stand-by faves to watch (and, for the most part I still do. Give me anything Wes Anderson or off beat with a good soundtrack, and I’m entertained). But it all really started on my childhood Friday nights.
I can honestly say that for a long while, I’ve considered myself a movie buff. When I was young, my family’s Friday night ritual was a pizza from Fasano’s in Bridgeview, IL (STILL the best thin crust pizza, might I add) and then stopping at the local video store for a few VHS tapes. It was cheap, easy and always a fun experience. Lots of times, my sister and I would have our cousins sleeping over, as we both had a cousin who was close to our age. My mom would order the “Hovanec Special” (extra large half cheese half sausage, mushroom and onion with an order of tomato bread), my dad would pile us all into our van and we’d be on our way!
At the video store, my sister, cousins and I would go to the two very same sections: Comedy and New Releases. We were there so often that the manager knew my dad and would put the new things aside for us to choose from first. (That, really, is just a Charlie Hovanec perk. That man can talk to any person about any old thing and make you feel like you’re his BFF for life). My cousin Natalie and I would almost always make it a point to take home Back to the Beach which starred Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello and Lori Laughlin.
I don’t remember why we loved this movie so much, other than it was a feel good beach movie about a girl who wanted the freedom to date someone her parents would never approve of. Then, of course, there was a surf battle and Annette and Frankie saved the day. Why did a 10 and 12 year old love this so much? I’m not sure, but suffice it to say that my awesome cousin Natalie bought me this baby for my birthday last year, and you can bet I’ve watched it since then.
My sister and I were famous for loving our Cabbage Patch kids, so you can understand that as we got older, and the 80’s never really took itself too seriously, we found ways to continue loving these toys without looking too “babyish.” We all know that when you’re a kid, not looking like a baby is the most important thing to your childhood pride. The Garbage Pail Kids was a movie that starred some very scary-looking and gross versions of the Cabbage Patch kids that were the rage of the 80’s. The plot is basically unbelievable, includes some singing and dancing life-size babies with big heads and as many grotesque bodily functions as one can pack into a movie. Oh, and one of the characters has the head of an alligator.
I bought my sister this movie last year for Christmas, and let me tell you that when we sat down to watch it recently, I could not remember what the heck I thought was so awesome about it! But, something about the movie did make me smile and reminisce remembering the video store trips on Friday nights.
I can’t remember when those trips ended. My family moved away from the Justice area a long, long time ago, but it was over much before that. I believe it was when I got a job and started working on the weekends. My family was still ordering pizza and hitting the video store (I’m pretty sure that’s what we’d call it whether we were renting a VHS tape or a Blu-Ray), but the togetherness and the sleepovers were just not a thing we’d get to do. I realize that part with a bit of sadness, but I believe that not remembering WHY something ended means that what you DO keep are the awesome memories that these things happened.