Skip to main content

My daughter, 15, was watching The Conjuring 2 for the second time. Giggling. Snorting. Laughing out loud. Announcing how much she disliked actor Patrick Wilson. I said, “He’s stiff and sort of plastic, but a very good actor. The roles he chooses are like that.” She said, “No, he’s just bad.” I asked why she was watching a scary movie two months before Halloween … in the morning … while eating breakfast … and talking over the last fifteen minutes. She said she’d been watching the scary parts at night (apparently, the climax not frightening enough to qualify).

She ended our conversation by stating how the movie’s good except for the main characters (Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Mr. and Mrs. Warren, the true ghost hunting couple of the 1970’s). “Whenever they’re in it,” she says, “it’s like a comedy.” I’m proud to say my daughter is a proper horror-movie fan – respecting Black Christmas and Rosemary’s Baby while questioning the popularity of Friday the 13th and the existence of April Fool’s Day.

A few days later my son, 17, and I are watching Carlito’s Way for the first time. It’s a highly-anticipated movie night. He’d been excited ever since he saw and loved Scarface (Carlito’s Way being a film by the same director, Brian De Palma, and starring Al Pacino as a rehabilitated Puerto Rican criminal instead of a rising Cuban criminal). My son doesn’t understand the critics’ backlash nor people’s obsession with wearing shirts that idealize a drug dealer (i.e., Tony Montana of Scarface). He appreciated Scarface for the acting, dialogue, and proper music placement (especially when there was no score).

Carlito’s Way, on the other hand, was not as enthralling for him. During the final scenes, where the suspense and music rose, he said, “This doesn’t even feel like the same movie.” He guffawed at the attempts to present a creative cat-and-mouse chase scene. He squeaked an ear-piercing laugh at the surprise – the final bullet that’s fired. “Why are you laughing?” I asked. He did an impression of the music jingle: “Do da da loo!” and we roared out in unison as if we were watching Jim Carrey for the first time. All of this was over the end narration, too, which he claimed was dragged out and anticlimactic. “Why’d they show him get shot in the beginning?” I agreed. I’ve never understood this. Nor Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” over the end credits (or the use of the song the first time).

The last conversation was with my eldest son, 20, who has been challenging me, repeatedly, to watch the Japanese anime series Death Note with English-speaking actor overdubs (instead of the actors’ first language and subtitles). I’d been refusing, because that wasn’t how I approached things. “Give me the original.” However, since I was already going back and forth between reading the books and watching the show, I decided to give it a try midway through the series. And I think I’m enjoying the English-dubbed version more. Being animated helps with the non-matching lip movements, of course, but my appreciation for the art direction and story have increased. After all, I’m already reading the story’s text (in book form) and don’t need to read it again on a TV screen.

He and I sidetracked and discussed watching movies on small screens (on a plane, on a phone, etc.). He said, “I saw Demolition on a plane for the first time. That’s my little pocket movie.” This is another way to mentally playback and re-watch a movie in contrast to my theory of needing a larger-than-life image in order to appreciate the movie.

With these three conversations, I’ve learned the younger generation isn’t necessarily ignorant about what they’re missing (original theatrical releases, stylistic changes). Sometimes, I have to remember to listen and not just preach my own points.

Dan Jones

Author Dan Jones

More posts by Dan Jones