Summer Sleepover Series Part 1
Geeks Gone Wild!
By Henry Kaye
Sleep deprivation, benign destruction, and junk food. That’s what summer sleepovers are all about. My own sleepover memories include an unforeseen nocturnal nose pummeling, breaking a mirror with my head (again, unforeseen), and getting stuck in a giant, blue foam tube (don’t ask). All these incidents (and more) ornament my childhood like badges of honor, but perhaps the greatest experiences of all were when a few buddies stayed over for movie marathons. For days afterward we would quote movies with the unrelenting pace of a broken record, and we still reminisce about them to this day. Sleepovers are celebrations of immaturity and mischief, and are invaluable to a child’s development. So for the coming months, I will give you heaps of movies to choose from, genre by genre, in order to calm your rascals and protect your fragile valuables from. . . er. . . unforeseeable accidents.
(Coming in 200 years to a Holo-deck near you)
Geeks are taking over the world, and it’s about time. Face it, they’re more efficient than you, know more than you, and have more in-depth orientation when it comes to Star Trek (okay, so the last one isn’t really much to brag about, but they are pretty cool). The social circle/religion/cult of geekdom has become the epitome of human awesomeness, and I say that the Klingon-speaking, light-saber-wielding, Rush-listening citizens of this earth deserve the high esteem they are held in! CUE THE WOOKIE CALLS! WOOHOO! If your child is a geek in training, or a full-on geek already, you should advertise the fact rigorously (it’s the equivalent of being an honor student), and be proud of the magnificent Earthling you have developed. No longer are geeks the refuse of high school, no longer must they wallow in their basements playing Halo. The world has accepted them for the great sci-fi encyclopedias they are, and now the massive community of Geek has this galaxy within its cybernetic grasp.
But their knowledge of all things science fiction wouldn’t be anywhere near as vast without the constant watching and re-watching of the movies I have set before you. These movies are quoted, studied, analyzed, and worshipped by members of the Legion of Geekosity, and detested by others, but when approached without the clouding influence of cinema snobbery, these visions of future worlds are enjoyable for all concerned. And lest you think geekdom is limited to science-fiction, I’ve included a couple of fantasy/adventure flicks to memorize and quote, so you, too, can be part of the dweebness.
The Last Star-Fighter (PG)
When a trailer park inhabitant wins a star-fighter themed video game, a race of endangered aliens recruits the young man as a starship pilot in order to defeat a vicious tyrant. The movie is one of the first to use CG effects, so don’t expect a mind-blowing action sequence, but it’s still great fun. Even leaving out the technology, every aspect of this movie is riddled with the 1980‘s, but not quite enough to make it feel inaccessibly dated (or to make your mom sigh out of nostalgia). Don’t be afraid to show this to the little ones; it’s completely family friendly and great entertainment.
Recommended age: 9-13
Otherwise known as “Little Green Men vs. the Chinese Furby”, this fragment of 80’s pop culture has managed to survive for 20 years as a camp classic. When a dad buys his son an exotic creature in Chinatown, he is given a strict set of rules to follow. But does he follow them? Of course not, that would be boring. Thanks to a young boy’s lack of responsibility, we are allowed to bask in two hours of mischief and monster mayhem. It’s a good movie for sure. After all, where else can you see thousands of evil critters singing along to a Disney movie? But don’t expect your kid to think it’s the be-all and end-all of American cinema. The movie has a limit to the amount of fun it can have, and in the end it’s what it was made to be: a kid’s movie.
Recommended age: 8- adult
This everlasting classic is still loved by audiences today, and remains one of the best representations of childhood there is. When Mikey (Sean Astin of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and his friends are in danger of losing their homes to the local country club’s need/greed for land, they go in search of buried treasure to get their homes back. But when a band of robbers discovers their scheme, all heck* breaks loose.
*I would like to remind parents that in this by-gone era of filmmaking, sometimes language, sexual references, and nudity did not merit a rating of PG-13 or higher, even though today they might have. There is probably more swearing in this movie than you would remember, but then again, you turned out to be a perfectly reasonable human being, so I doubt it’ll harm your kid.
Recommended age: 11+
Based on Isaac Asimov’s classic collection of short stories, the movie (starring Will Smith) is a robotic murder mystery with incredible action and amazing effects. Smith plays Detective Spooner, a technophobic cop with a suspicion that supposedly harmless robots are behind the murder of his old friend. It has Matrix-esque action, and every minute detail is crafted to the point of perfection. Plus, ladies get to see Will Smith naked in the shower. Have fun.
Recommended age: 12+
Star Wars (Episodes IV, V, and VI) (PG)
If your kid hasn’t seen ‘em, make ‘em. As a child, I would watch these movies with awe as light-saber duels, x-wing dogfights, and sweeping deserts appeared on the screen, and cheered when my favorite character (Darth Vader) entered a scene. Lucas’ masterpiece is filled with fantastic characters, compelling plotlines, and stylish action, all combined to create one of the best science fiction movies (and series) ever made. I recommend that all children see these movies, and hear the story of the great imagination behind it. Come to the dark side. Watch these movies.
Recommended age: 5+
Galaxy quest (PG)
The Last Starfighter, Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, and Tim Allen lead a perfect cast in one of the most quotable movies I’ve ever seen. When stars of the cult show Galaxy Quest (think Star Trek, but dorkier) are taken by cosmic squids in need, who mistake the cast for real space heroes, they are forced to fight off the ruthless leader of a race of evil aliens. It’s a hilarious movie, but the flubs are sometimes even funnier (watch Sigourney’s mouth when she says “screw that” during the hydraulic chomper scene. Hint: She doesn’t say “screw”). And of course, the cast appears to be having the time of their life. The movie makes endless jabs at Star Trek, but if you’re a trekkie (pardon, Trekker), keep in mind that the entire crew of the U.S.S Enterprise saw this movie and loved it.
Recommended age: 10+
Space Balls (PG)
Again, I would like to say that language was not judged as harshly in the 80’s as it is now. Mel Brooks has made so many spoof movies, I could write an article on almost any genre and have one of them on the list. This is a classic send-up of Star Wars, and the gags are incredible, but if this is your kid’s first Brooks film, I’d recommend starting him/her off with something like Robin Hood (Men in Tights) to get them used to the style of humor. Remember that Brooks is very inappropriate at times, and the movie is filled with swearing and sexual references (although not to the point where it becomes threatening to your child’s innocence). Enjoy Rick Moranis as the asthmatic, Lord Helmet, and the greasy evilness of Pizza the Hutt.
The James Bond Films (PG-PG-13)
The name is known by those who haven’t even seen the movies. Shaken martinis are ordered because of this man, even though it’s common knowledge that they taste like gin in a fjord. Bond is an American icon (even though he’s English), and the cinema wouldn’t be the same without him. Bond movies are typically good, although they do follow a specific formula, and the cheese ball factor is off the charts. Most of the Bonds after Sean Connery couldn’t live up to him, but some have come close. I should warn you however, that aside from the inherent sex and violence of the series, the two latest Bond flicks, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, contain some pretty graphic stuff (almost to the discomfort of adults) so unless your kids are very mature, I wouldn’t sit them down in front of those two.
Recommended age: 12+
The Matrix (R)
Though this movie is rated R, it is the opinion of myself and several others that it is no worse than many PG-13 movies in circulation today. Keanu Reeves plays a computer hacker by the name of Neo, who is, for some reason, being hunted down by mysterious agents. Soon, it is revealed to him that the agents are the police force of the alternate reality he inhabits, and that in real life, the human race is being used as batteries for a race of machines. The imaginative plot escalates from there, and so does the action. The special effects managed to beat the first Star Wars prequel at the Oscars, and the visuals have been mimicked ever since. If your kid watches this at a sleepover, the room will be filled with WHOAs , cools, and immeasurable grins.
Recommended age: 13+
The Lord of the Rings (PG-13)
Ever watched all three extended editions of these things in a row? You should. One of the craziest things I ever did was watch all three of the Lord of the Rings movies back to back. Why is this so crazy? Because each extended edition adds up to be four hours long. Twelve hours of movies. By the end you won’t even remember the definition of “butt.” All three of these movies are brilliant, so there are no complaints on my part about the experience, but by the end of it you look like a plague victim.
The movies are so brilliantly put together that the emotion provoked by this movie is palpable. When a member of the fellowship dies, sadness spreads like wildfire, and when it’s finally over, you actually feel like you’ve accomplished something. The third movie is filled with intense violence (and I mean filled) so be aware of your child’s maturity before letting him/her watch it. But most importantly, bring your hobbit feet and plastic dagger. It’s going to be a long journey, my precious.
Recommended age: 12+
I hope you enjoy these titles, and I wish you happy viewing.