Family Movie Night

Okay, I lied in yesterday’s post about not having a television.

We actually have a TV. A cheap Korean 25-year-old analogue 19-inch TV that our renters left two and a half years ago. We found it in the house when we came back from a year in West Africa.

The TV is in the closet by the front entrance. There’s a DVD player attached to it with duct tape. It’s so bulky and awkward I can’t carry it by myself. We used to watch movies on it sometimes but we haven’t taken it out of the closet in months.

Still, once a week, usually on Saturday afternoons, we rent a DVD and eat dinner in front of a movie. Since the TV’s so impractical to move, we use my 17-inch laptop.

“I’M MAKING THE POPCORN. I’M THE BEST popcorn maker,” 6-year-old Etani announces. He scooches a chair over to the stove, pours some oil into a pan, adds three unpopped kernels, and asks me to turn on the stove.

“Did you wash your hands?”

Etani gives me an exasperated look, sighs, leaps off the chair, and comes back trailing a towel.

He knows just what to do, dumping in more kernels once the first three are popped, rattling the pan over the burner energetically so the popcorn doesn’t burn, barking orders at me.

When it’s ready Etani loads the popped corn up with butter and nutritional yeast. If either of his older sisters tries to sneak a single kernel he spreads his arms and crouches like a linebacker to keep them away.

Popcorn flies out of his bowl while he runs to claim the middle seat on the couch.

When everyone has popcorn and a plate of food we start the movie. We try to pick movies that we’ll all enjoy (among our recent unexpected favorites: Julie Andrews’s 1967 classic “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “The Golden Compass,” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth”).

Food gets smushed into the couch, there are screams of frustration when the movie pops out of Full Screen mode as inevitably happens with the computer’s DVD Player, the kids always find something besides the popcorn and seating arrangement to bicker about, and we almost always go to bed later than the ideal time on Family Movie Night (though we pause the movie to put on pajamas and brush teeth and it’s the one night a week when nobody has to be hurried along).

But it’s totally worth it.

The screen time. The glorious screen time. Our two-hour family foray into what most American kids are doing 53 hours a week.

Related post: Kill Your TV.

What about your family’s favorite movies? Do you prefer to rent movies or go to the theater? Please share your suggestions in the comment section below.

Bookmark and Share

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

25 thoughts on “Family Movie Night”

  1. Going to the movies is a much richer experience, and also takes it out of your home, and makes of it more of an occasion. More expensive? Sure, but still cheap entertainment, and if you do it only occasionally, it’s cheaper than cable or buying games for your x-box. Kids’ movies in recent years from studios like Pixar have good messages and are laden with funny references to keep the parents amused

  2. Aww. My mom and I would do this. We didn’t have television, but we had a small TV and a VCR, and we took pleasure in going to the rental place down the road… One of my favorite videos (I loved it at age 5, and I love it now) is called Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. It’s a true story about a young woman during The Depression… she runs away from home in hopes of being able to have involvement with horses in a daredevil act (which, in this day, is no longer performed). If you haven’t seen that one, check it out!

  3. A film your daughters might like: Anne of Green Gables. My daughters loved to watch it over and over with their grandmother.

    I think it is really important to monitor what children see at the movies, so I especially like your idea of a weekly family movie night/afternoon.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Water Tower Casts Shadow Down Long Pond Road =-.

  4. “Spirited Away” is still our favorite family movie (we fast forward some of the scarier parts). We are currently watching old episodes of Little House on The Prairie borrowed from the library.

  5. Oh, FAMILY movies. I was about to write down FREEWAY or TREMORS. Anyway, for family fare, our favorite was always Uncle Buck, and when my daughter was really young, she’s watch 101 Dalmatians over and over and over.

  6. We love family movie night, but I birthed two of the most sensitive children EVER. Intense and sad scenes are verboten in our household, even though they’re 8 and 10 now.

    We’ve had really good luck lately with romantic comedies like While You Were Sleeping and You’ve Got Mail (no dragons attack, no dead parents or pets), and another fun one was “Bend it Like Beckham” (PG-13, but only for British cursing, which nobody understands anyway, and the suggestion of a lesbian relationship).

    Happy watching.
    .-= jamie´s last blog ..What To Do When Your Seats Aren

  7. We’re not a TV family either, and my kids are still youngish (7 and 4) and pretty sensitive, so we’ve only been to the movies as a family once (a highly successful outing to Fantastic Mr. Fox) but lately we try for a regular family movie night, too; recent favorites have been Monsters, Inc., Totoro, The Iron Giant (a little scary at the end, though), and Rivers and Tides (a documentary about artist Andy Goldsworthy — kids love his sculptures!) and Fly Away Home (skip the opening few minutes). Whenever I find a particularly good one, I write about it for my Literary Mama column:
    .-= Caroline´s last blog ..Adopted =-.

  8. My husband and I just rented a wonderful movie, not for kids, but definitely worth seeing after they’re in bed. Its called “Cherry Blossoms”, a German movie about families, relationships, death. Sad, but not at all gruesome. You won’t have nightmares from it, but it may keep you awake.

  9. At our house we do love the movie night, a little too much as my husband is a huge movie lover. Now my children would prefer movie night to be a up to date new realease but it is alwasys an old classic- to date the favorite is Casablanca.

    happy watching.

  10. we don’t usually sit down together to watch movies. gg loves garfield cartoons and star wars. i am usually in the kitchen playing with food. i think the one movie i remember watching together was Witches. since we just got a TV for x’mas…. perhaps we will be sitting down together more.

  11. We love our TV and we love movies–in the theater and at home. Sadly, we don’t get to all sit down and watch all that often. Recently, we loved PENELOPE. Very heartwarming. A real hit with all three of my guys: two boys, 12 and 7, and a daughter who’s 10.

  12. We watch a LOT of movies as a family. Since our youngest is now twelve, that means we have a wider range to choose from, but we keep coming back to some old family standbys: MILLIONS, ROBIN HOOD (both the classic Errol Flynn & Disney cartoon version), BABE, PETER PAN (the one with Jason Isaacs as Capt. Hook), THE LITTLE PRINCESS (directed by Cuaron), INDIANA JONES 1 & 3, ENCHANTED APRIL, NICHOLAS NICKLEBY…i really could go on for quite a while!

  13. When I was a boy growing up in the 60’s – 70’s, we were the only family without a TV. But my grandparents lived right next door and they had an old black & white that we could go over on Sundays and watch Disney and occasionally, Lassie. I used to beg my parents for a TV when I was a teen. Especially since Charlie’s Angles was all the rage and I kept thinking I was missing those three girls in bikinis – Life is so unfair sometimes.

    But now we do have a flat screen and DVD. Our excuse is that we live overseas and we need to keep our finger on the pulse of Americana and it’s entertainment on those long cold Russian days and nights. Our daughter is 12 and our son is 8.

    Some of the movies that we’ve enjoyed lately are: My Life is a Dog, Summer Magic, Sounder, Apollo 13, Stand by Me, Totorro, The Jungle Book (Disney’s last animation), Disney’s Fantasia, Huckleberry Finn… And I agree with Debra Murphy above with Robin Hood and those other swashbuckling Errol Flynn movies (Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk).

    I don’t recommend “Charlie’s Angels” (the movie) I or II. Perhaps I didn’t miss out all that much after all.

  14. I rarely go to the moviehouse unless it’s a blockbuster. Too expensive. Since I like cable for the public and educational broadcasts, I subscribe to their basic hookup which includes free recent and classic films. So I don’t rent. One of my favorites is You’ve Got Mail. Wonderful underlying message based on Pride and Prejudice. Others include: The Sound of Music, Camelot, The King and I, My Fair Lady and Grease. There are old Doris Day and Gene Kelly musicals. For the kids: Ratatouille, The Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter. Lord of The Rings shows up often. My point is all my viewing expenses are covered for any number of people for $29.00 a month. And it narrows the choices to a manageable selection.

  15. Our family loves Robin Hood, the BBC series. It has action, adventure, love, silliness, and just the right amount of cheese. I have a huge crush on Alan-a-Dale. Adult faves are This Is Spinal Tap and Fletch. Favorite “mom only” rental is always some BBC Austen or Dickens production, and any episode of Midsomer Murders.
    .-= Carmen´s last blog ..Remembering… =-.

  16. We rented “Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken” for yesterday’s FMN, Tara. We all loved it though Etani said, “it was extra good but a little sad.”

  17. Thanks so much for all these suggestions everyone. Keep ’em coming. I plan to use all them for our FMN programming for the next few months (this list will last us a good long time!) and then write a post with a round-up and review of the movies.

  18. We watched the “Uncle Buck” trailer and it looks hilarious. It’s definitely next on our list. It’s so you, Deston, to recommend that particular movie!

  19. We like both but they’re different experiences. Family movie night at home is a chance to snuggle up on the couch and get comfy and chill together over a film or show we really want to see.

    Going to the cinema is an activity (and not a cheap one, these days, even if you don’t buy all the crap they try to pass off as food). And sometimes you just want a big screen experience, say for a film like Avatar, which I had no desire to see but my son convinced me and I was pleasantly surprised. I found things to like about this blockbuster, not least of which all that phosphorescence in the forest.
    .-= sarah henry´s last blog ..Favorite Food Films =-.

  20. Like Jamie, I have VERY sensitive kids who don’t dig anything scary. For that reason, family movie night it much preferred to going out to the movies. If anything even borders on scary, the mute button is our best friend. The old movies are our favorites: Singing in the Rain, Annie Get Your Gun, Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. We recently watched the Muppet Movie- so adorable and a fun romp down memory lane for me!

  21. Forgot about two other favorites. The pipi longstocking movies are great. Terribly dubbed from Swedish which, for me, just adds to the fun. Then there is because of winn Dixie. Love it!

  22. I just remembered a great movie I watched with my kids. There are two versions of Cheaper By the Dozen, an old one from the 50s and a newer one with Steve Martin. Both are about a family with 12 children, focussing a lot on the father. In the old version the father is quite stern, and orderly, but loves his kids a lot. The newer one is funnier. Neither is at all scary.

  23. Miracle Alaska is the perfect family movie. My kids love it and so do we. It’s a feel good movie with spectacular scenery and a spirit that will fill your whole house.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *