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Writer's Viewpoint: Certain Films Lose Their Allure As We Age

July 28th, 2008 8:45am EDT
1989's BatmanI witnessed the masterpiece that is "The Dark Knight" over the weekend. We do not need to rehash why this film is so good; every perceivable media outlet has already done that. For me, one notable side effect of the film's greatness was to revisit "Batman" from 1989. Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to Tim Burton's vision of Batman, to the point where the film comes off almost campy. This is surprising considering that in 1989 the film was marketed as an answer to fans that complained about the tongue-in-cheek attitude of the 1960's television series.

"The Dark Knight" made the 1989 "Batman" a worse film. Why? Because we now know how a Batman film can be done the correct way and, more specifically, how The Joker should be portrayed, even though my memories of the 1989 "Batman" were always positive. Perhaps other films that I held in high regard from my childhood did not live up to the reputation that I had assigned them. I had to know: what other movies that I used to love do not hold up today?

There seems to be three reasons why this happens: (a) like "Batman," another movie comes along and demonstrates how to do it better, (b) the human brain of a child is not mature enough to realize what it is watching is unsatisfactory and (c) subject matter in the film that was once considered acceptable comes off now as politically incorrect...or worse. Case in point: "Sixteen Candles."

Sixteen Candles



I remembered "Sixteen Candles" as a classic John Hughes film that would be considered timeless in capturing the picture of teenage life in the 1980s. In many ways it is, except for the glaring distraction of the Long Duk Dong (Gedde Watanabe) character. Ethnic exaggerations - Watanabe's character was an Asian foreign exchange student - that I found amusing as a child in 1984 are now the definition of "cringe worthy" and are, for all intents and purposes, racist. This is a shame because the story is still fantastic, but the ethnic stereotypes are so over the top it distracts from the entire story.

Thankfully, not all of my childhood favorites reek with perceived culture intolerance; instead they are just plain… well… bad. I cannot express in words how much I loved "Rocky III." Not only does it feature Rocky, of course, but is also includes prominent roles for Mr. T and Hulk Hogan! A recent viewing of "Rocky III" left me feeling I just witnessed a very sub par movie because, unfortunately, it includes prominent roles for Mr. T and Hulk Hogan.

The same can be said for "Tron." The computer generated effects that were so dazzling in 1982 has no chance when compared to the 26 years of technological advancement in CGI effects, and unfortunately the uneven plot alone cannot save "Tron." "Gremlins" suffers the same fate. The evil gremlins - that were at one point quite terrifying to me - now resemble poorly animated puppets that are less horrifying than the toe monsters in those Lamisil commercials. The exact same effects deficiencies can be attributed to former favorites such as "The Last Starfighter" and "Krull."

Tron



Probably the biggest disappointment was revisiting one of my all time favorite films, "The Great Muppet Caper." There are no cringe worthy moments, the effects are as I remember them and for a movie starring The Muppets, the plot is fine. The sad truth is this movie fails to resonate because, quite simply, I am getting older.

I think everyone can look back to their childhood and find their own "The Great Muppet Caper." Be it "The Never Ending Story," "Free Willy" or perhaps even a masterpiece such as "E.T." (I would have to strongly disagree with that selection). Certain films are just meant to be enjoyed as a child; when viewed again with adult eyes disappointment often follows. With that I take great solace in knowing that somewhere, perhaps right now, someone is watching "Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace" for the first time since they were eleven years old. That same person, 20 years old now, is quite probably wondering what he ever saw in Jar Jar Binks.

The Great Muppet Caper



Related Articles:
-Will 'The Dark Knight' Need Darker Villians For Future Films?
-Movie Adaptations: Why They Succeed Or Fail & The Direction They're Headed
-Point/Counterpoint: Should M. Night Shyamalan Stop Making Films?


Mike Ryan
Story by Mike Ryan
Starpulse contributing writer