Dear Jack: Our “Practice Halloween” Night as a Family/We Watched Gremlins

4 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: Our "Practice Halloween" Night as a Family

Dear Jack,

Tonight we were able to “practice Halloween” at your preschool with all your friends. You got to be the coolest person possible: Captain America.

It was funny because all your friends who were boys were also dressed up as super heroes; but there were conveniently no duplicates: Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman…

As for Mommy and me, we took a more minimalist approach:

Mommy wore a zebra mask and I wore my cave man hat which I’ve owned for years.

(At Target, your costume only cost us $10 and Mommy’s mask was only $3.)

I like the fact you wanted to make sure your stuffed animal, Kitty, was dressed in costume too; as a baby in a onesie.

And by the way, you got a whole lot of candy! The proportion of candy-to-kids was definitely in your favor.

However, there’s a decent chance it’s going to rain on Saturday, which is Halloween.

So even though we are finally moved in to a nice suburban neighborhood where we can truly just walk door to door, instead of driving to a decent place, we may get rained out! Therefore, tonight served as our back-up plan to that happening to us.

And to set the mood for Halloween, I let you watch the 1984 Steven Spielberg movie, Gremlins; which is currently free on Amazon Prime right now.

gremlins_gizmo Dear Jack: Our "Practice Halloween" Night as a Family/We Watched Gremlins

I admit to having a few reservations in that it, along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Jones, were the very first movies to be released under the PG-13 rating; as opposed to PG.

Granted, you watched Ant-Man and it was no issue for you.

I don’t regret my decision. You didn’t recognize the bad words, since to you, “stupid” is the one that concerns you the most right now.

And though parts of it are obviously creepy and violent, it was nothing you hadn’t seen on Goosebumps. I’m not saying I recommend showing Gremlins to all 5 year-olds, but I feel confident in us being able to enjoy it together.

You were on the edge on your seat the whole time, and you loved Gizmo. Not to mention, you’ve already proclaimed that when we go to Nonna and Papa’s house next time, you’ll be bringing home my old Gizmo doll.

Love,

Daddy

Why Eighties Movies are So Hard to Remake

And what happened to the genre of romantic comedies…

Back in October I was stuck at home for a few days with severe sinus and allergy problems, streaming Netflix instantly on my laptop all day. I decided to take a break with an ‘80’s movie that I had nothing but fond memories of since my family rented it on VHS when I was in the 3rd grade.  A movie that the general American population still only refers to with a smile and a goofy laugh: Weekend at Bernie’s.

I made it through 38 minutes before shutting it off.  That movie is so boring.  Not funny.  Too unbelievable.  It took them 33 minutes to kill Bernie, and by the time they finally did, I stopped caring.

As I thought more about it, ‘80’s movies aren’t easy to successfully remake because those cheesy, far-fetched, imagination-dependent ideas just don’t fly now that Aerosol hairspray isn’t clogging our brain anymore.  The Eighties were the only ten years that we would buy those concepts.

Like Tom Hanks in Splash (1984).  He falls in love with a mermaid.

Or Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf (1985).  He is a high school basketball star who happens to have inherited “the werewolf gene”.

Or Andrew McCarthy in Mannequin (1987).  He falls in love with a mannequin that comes to life at the mall he works at.

Or Tom Hanks in Big (1988).  He transforms from a boy to a man and falls in love with a grown woman. And just the record, it remains one of my all time favorite movies.

There was this reoccurring mix of fantasy and romance.  Often with drab dialogue.  But completely overshadowed by its towering gimmick of a plot.

These days, we’re too cool for silly ideas like that.  Since Terminator 2 impressed us with believable CGI (computer generated imagery) in 1991, then Jurassic Park in 1993, we’ve been straying from fantasy and romance, and focusing more on sci-fi with some romance.  Leading us to the days of Avatar and Transformers.  And most obviously, the soon-to-end TV series LOST.

And that’s why if today, if they Steven Spielberg remade Gremlins, it would be a hit.  Or Ghostbusters 3, if they ever actually end up making the movie.  Because that’s something the Eighties gave us that worked: horror and comedy along with sci-fi.  They are currently remaking Child’s Play.  And of course, the Nightmare on Elm Street remake comes out this Friday.

We adopted sci-fi horror comedies and sci-fi romance from the Eighties, but what haven’t translated over are romantic comedies and romantic dramas.  Yes, romantic comedies and dramas still exist.  A new one is released into theatres every week.

But overall, they’ve earned a lousy reputation.  Romantic comedies have become “chick flicks”, typically meaning they’re too predictable and cliché for a man to enjoy.  The “girl goes shopping and tries on ten different dresses for her girlfriends during a musical montage” scene.  Too familiar.

The Eighties pulled off romantic comedies.  They knew how to make them work for both men and women: Can’t Buy Me Love, The Princess Bride, Roxanne, When Harry Met Sally, Overboard.

But there’s only so much Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant a man can stand watching.  So what happened because of it?  Judd Apatow and his friends made the genre of bromantic comedies more popular than romantic comedies.  And not just films that feature Seth Rogan.  The Hangover and I Love You Man had nothing to do with Apatow.

I’m all for seeing a good romantic comedy.  Truly.  I like the good ones, unashamedly.  But it’s been a long time since one has been made.

It’s simply unnatural for the romantic genre to be catered towards women- because romance is about a man and a woman.  Because Katherine Heigl and a remote controlled dildo device don’t make a great team (reference to The Ugly Truth).  But Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan do.

After enough corny romantic comedies, we men got the point:  Romantic comedies are no longer for couples- they’re for single women.  So we avoid them and instead run to R-rated comedies featuring funny Jewish lead comedians like Paul Rudd and Jason Segal (Manspeak, Volume 7: Bromance).

The concept of romance in movies has become polarized.  Women watch chick flicks and men watch bromantic comedy.  Ironic.

As for romantic dramas these days, Nicholas Sparks pretty much has the monopoly on that: A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, The Last Song, Nights in Rodanthe.

Someone tragically dies.  A disapproving mother.  A Southern setting.  Got it.

So what can we say about remaking ‘80’s movies?  Some of them, many of them, most of them, need to stay where they belong- in the ‘80’s and in our fond memories.  But the ones that made us laugh, while freaking us out, while being drenched in sci-fi, well, we want more of those.  And the ones that were truly romantic, catering to both men and women, we want more of those.

We’ll always have a love/hate relationship with the Eighties.