Wednesday, July 18, 2012

10 Movies That Defined My Adolescence

I love movies probably as much as I love cats, which (if you know me) is a LOT. Besides God, my love for movies is probably my only other constant in life. Is that dramatic? Well I was a drama major in college so I think I'm in debt enough to have the right to be dramatic. Here are the top 10 movies that pretty much changed my life as a kid/preteen/teenager. 

1. Now & Then

If you were a girl in middle school and you didn't obsess over this movie, then you were probably super popular and had a really swell social life but you also might be pregnant now. ZING. Oh man was that rude? I'm kidding I'm sure you're really happy. 

Listen, this movie was so great. This movie was a favorite with my sisters and I. So many summers we'd ride our bikes, singing the old 70s tunes, just waiting for my own Devon Sawa a la "Wormy Womer" to come play basketball with me and give me my first adorable kiss. COME ON! Who didn't love Thora Birch in this movie? Christina Ricci? And their two other friends? So good. The four of them were girls I wanted to hang out with - girls I wanted to be. This is such a great coming-of-age movie. And Demi Moore is in it before she went cray. So good. Gosh, Christina Ricci's meltdown scene about her mom dying and how she tapes down her boobs because she hates them? And also when she beats up that kid because she's playing baseball with the boys and he's all like, "GIRLS CAN'T PLAY BASEBALL" and I'm all like, UGH SOOOOO GOOD. 

2. Jurassic Park

I was, what, four when this movie came out? I probably saw it for the first time when I was five or six but I'm pretty sure it changed my entire childhood and my imagination. First of all, can I just thank my parents for LETTING me watch this movie? Nowadays all these parents who do yoga with their kids and only feed them pureed veggies would freak OUT if their kid was watching this dinosaur spectacle. But those parents are part of my "Juice Generation" theory and why kids are lazier and lazier and one day I'll elaborate about it. Anyway, I grew up in the "Uncensored and Processed Sugar" generation, and in my opinion, the best generation. 

I remember watching this and thinking a few things:

"Why am I attracted to Sam Neill?"

"I want to eat jello after seeing that scene where the kids eat jello."


"Laura Dern has great legs."

This was the first action-packed and scary movie I ever watched and ever became obsessed with. It's what propelled me to stand in the sweltering heat at Universal Studios in Florida with my family to ride the Jurassic Park ride and get a shirt that read "I survived Jurassic Park: The Ride."

This movie was also my little sister Christina's favorite movie when she was two. I feel like this explains a lot about us.......

3. Newsies

I've already blogged about my love of this movie which you can read here, so I'll keep this brief: 

Dancing newsboys. Christian Bale. Badass harmonies. 

Is that brief enough for you? Newsies led me to discover in 8th grade what fanfiction was, which promptly changed my life. Wanna read about my love of fanfiction? You can read my love letter to fanfiction here. But seriously, this movie made me stay up until two a.m. on school nights reading story after story about Newsies. The perfect outlet for a chubby, curly-haired 8th grader. 

4. Sixteen Candles

I went through this phase in 9th grade where I desperately wished I was living in the 80s. I asked my mom for the entire Brat Pack collection of dvds for Christmas. I rapidly became obsessed with Molly Ringwald. I dressed like her. I wanted to cut my hair like hair--it's a good thing I didn't follow through because I'm pretty sure this is what I would have looked like:

SIDENOTE: Where is Carrot Top nowadays? You guys think he's okay?

5. A Little Princess

This one really is probably only relatable for little girls. I watched this movie so many times and each time I thought, "I want to be in this. This is so magical." When Sara and Becky are woken up to a feast - COME ON HOW COOL IS THAT?? Ugh, and when Sara sees the poor lady with her little kid selling flowers in the snow...MY TWELVE YEAR OLD HEART! IT JUST BREAKS. This movie was such a treasure. 

6. Stand By Me

This movie launched my River Phoenix obsession. And when I say obsession I literally mean OBSESSION. Read his entire biography. Researched everything about his life and his acting. Watched every single movie he was in, even that horrid "The Mosquito Coast" with Harrison Ford. Ask one of my best friends, Jeane. We both fell in love with River Phoenix. Especially with this movie--I remember sobbing at the end. I cried so hard I even yelled at Jeane. HA! I laugh when I think about it now. This movie is so real and so beautiful. When Chris Chambers (Phoenix) breaks down with Gordie (Wil Wheaton) I just kept thinking, "Wow. That is true, raw talent."

This is probably my number one favorite movie of all time. 

7. Titanic

You had to see this one coming, didn't you? I saw it when I was nine with my family in the theatres. Let's move on from the question of "WHY?" and onto what this movie meant to me. It was so much more than how much I still love it today. So much more than the love story, and Leo's fab face. This movie reminds me of a very specific time in my life. When I was sixteen, my parents had been divorced for three years and we had to move from my childhood home into a different, smaller one with just my mom and my two sisters. It was one of the hardest times in my life and I remember I bought the Titanic soundtrack. I used to play it up in my room during the summer as I lay in my new bed in a strange house and read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." I remember the feeling of lying down, reading this book as the soundtrack crooned through my old-school CD player. 

It was in those times that I remember thinking, "I am meant for something more than this." I think that little thought was what propelled me toward God and eventually toward a life of something more than just this world. I am so grateful for that time in my life. When we go through rough times we grow so much, even if we can't see it then. 

8. White Christmas

This is all my Grandpa's doing. My sisters and I grew up watching this with him. I've written about him before - Angelo Marchesani, the true South Philly Italian musician. We would watch it with him and then perform the songs for him. We'd belt out "Sisters" and hysterically laugh. This movie reminds me of all the good things about being little - before holidays got weird and everyone lived so far from each other. It reminds me of the coziness of an East Coast winter, the peace and comfort of cuddling with my cat while my sisters sleep on the floor in front of me and my mom sits next to me and we stay up late watching Christmas movies. It reminds me of my roots. 

9. It's a Wonderful Life

It's basically everything I love about movies and more. Pretty much the above description. Jimmy Stewart is my all-time favorite actor. I can watch this movie all year round. 

10. American Beauty

The only reason my mother let me watch this movie when I was so young is because I wanted to be an actor. She sat me down at told me I should watch this movie if I wanted to see great acting...if I wanted to see art. This is the first movie I ever saw where I thought, "I think this is perfection." I fell in love with Wes Bentley and Thora Birch. I'll never forget one cold evening when I was a student at NYU. I was walking home from hanging out with a friend in the Lower East Side and I passed by the Classic Stage Company, a theatre on 13th street. It was one of my favorite places to see plays. And there he was - Wes Bentley standing outside the door with two friends smoking a cigarette after a performance of a play he was currently performing in at the theatre. My heart began to race and I knew I had to talk to him. I walked right up to him and told him I loved his work and had loved it since I saw him in American Beauty. He smiled and thanked me and I kept walking. 

His acting in this movie was astonishing. The way he welled up with tears, the way he looked in Kevin Spacey's eyes at the end of the film. When Annette Bening collapses in the closet full of Kevin Spacey's clothes - can it even be put into words? Brilliance. 

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  1. a little princess!! ohhhh my goodness! i watched that movie constantly! i always DREAMED i would wake up to a room filled with a feast like they did!

  2. LOVED this idea. I want to do my own fo' sho'. A couple of things:

    1) EEEK you left out "Dogfight"! Should at least get an honourable mention ;)
    2) 2005 "Pride and Prejudice" with Keira Knightly will change your adult life. You should watch it if you have not already.
    3) I couldn't agree more with EVERYTHING you said in the Jurassic Park section. I grew up on Pauly Shore movies HELLO. I must know about your Juice Generation theory! You MUST write about it. Like you, I believe that we are the best generation lol. WOOT.

    - chelsea