PICKIN' ON FILM: Family movies have changed over time

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One of my favorite things about movies is that they have a paradoxical nature when it comes to one’s memory.

I look back at some of my favorite movies growing up and I find it interesting that some of them are exactly the way I remember them, filled with the same memories of magic and happiness experienced when I saw them in the theater or later on a VCR.

Naturally, others just can’t hold up to what I once thought they were.

When I occasionally sit and watch television with my 4-year-old niece, Jeanne, I think of the patience it took my father Tommy Bragg to take a friend and I to see the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie at the Carmike in 1990.

After about 10 minutes with Jeanne and her dear friend Dora the Explorer, I’m ready to run from the room, but realizing how short my time is with her, I’m happy to sit planted while Dora explores her world and Jeanne is in heaven.

Parents today are much luckier than those of the past now that Pixar and other production companies have realized that they need to write jokes into the script that will at least make the experience of watching a children’s film more bearable.

In fact, a friend of mine watched the Johnny Depp movie “Rango” with his kids and told me it was as racy as any adult movie, albeit cleverly written for kids.

Another interesting thing about family movies is how bizarre they can be.

Thinking about Tom Hanks in “Big,” Robin Williams in “Hook,” or Paul Hogan in “Crocodile Dundee,” I can easily say that those are pretty normal stories and situations for a kid to watch and understand.

In 1986 I was fascinated by a movie called “The Peanut Butter Solution.”

The story goes that a boy named Michael and his friends found out about a house in their town that burned down in a fire.

Curious, as all children are, the kids go searching through the remains of the house when the ghosts of the homeless squatters who died in the house appear and scare Michael, who faints.

The boy eventually wakes up to realize that he has lost all of his hair, but he is visited by the ghosts who give him a recipe for a magic potion made of peanut butter that will help him regrow his hair.

For brevity’s sake, I’ll skip to the end and tell you that he uses too much of the solution so that his hair grows nonstop and he is then kidnapped by an evil man who makes paintbrushes out of his hair.

Now, I will tell you that I had to look up most of the plot of that movie and in truth I have only seen one VHS copy of it anywhere in the past 28 years, but the evil paintbrush maker kidnapping that kid to harvest his hair burned into my memory.

I am the baby of three, which means I had the luxury of doing many things my older sisters didn’t get to when they were my age, but I can easily say that if my mother asked me the plot of that movie if I wanted to rent it she’d tell me absolutely not.

The plot sounds like something David Fincher would make in the vein of “Se7en.”

Now I know movies like “Hook” are based off of a previous story are pretty cut and dry and just need to be reimagined a little bit, but “The Peanut Butter Solution” shows how crazy screenwriters can get when they’re trying to come up with something in the family genre.

It also shows how much memories of formerly favorite movies sometimes decay into nothing when we look back on them.
Tagged under  Family Movies, John Bragg III, Movies, Pickin on Film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Peanut Butter Solution

Members Opinions:
July 23, 2013 at 10:11pm
I agree that when I look back on some movies, I get just as excited to see them as I did when I was a child. Others however, have a slightly different feel to them. There are several movies I can watch now and catch onto things I have learned now that I am an adult.
I think it is a good thing for writers to slip adult jokes into movies that children won’t understand. The children get to enjoy the characters while the adults get to feel involved as well. Take Dreamworks Shrek for instance. There is a line in the movie where Shrek looks at lord Farquaad’s Castle and says, “Do you think maybe he is compensating for something?” Children would not understand what the reference really means, but it gives the adults something to chuckle about.
Another innuendo found in a beloved children’s movie is found Toy Story by Pixar. Nothing is actually stated in the film, but one of Sid’s toys is a visual representation of something only adults would understand. One of his toys is a pair of legs from what one can assume is a Barbie with a fishing rod secured to the top of them. If my memory serves me correctly, the toys name is legs. This toy was actually supposed to represent a hooker.
However controversial some of these things may seem to some people, I think they are harmless. I for one never paid attention to the references as a child. Just because these movies are created for kids, doesn't mean people from all ages can’t enjoy them.

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