Shot By Shot: A Senior’s Movie Experience
For my whole life leading up to it, I was convinced that high school was like “Mean Girls.”
On my first day of freshman year, I would be thrown into lockers, entranced by the looks of a beautiful blonde senior girl whose favorite movie is “Varsity Blues.”
The truth is, I wanted to believe that movies were like real life, unless of course we are talking “March of the Penguins.” All I wanted to believe was that if I skipped school one day, I could be singing in the Chicago parade and pretending to be Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago. For all clueless ones out there, that’s a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” reference.
As I look back on the early years of my life, I think about the movies that have defined me and dominated my visions of the future. In a way, we all do this, and we don’t even realize it. And I have to say, these movies that define our lives aren’t always the most critically acclaimed.
As I reflect on the movies that define my own life, I try to timeline it by around five years.
First five years of my movie watching life? Easy one, “Beauty and the Beast.” Yes, it may not be the manliest Disney movie of all time, but it was all I knew. It is actually sad thinking of the amount of times I would cry as my mom would eagerly throw in the cassette of the “instrumental side” of the soundtrack. I swear if I see one more talking candle I’m going to lose it.
Next comes the inevitable “Space Jam” phase. All joking aside, I truly still believe that this film is an absolute cinematic masterpiece. Bugs, Daffy, and even Newman (yes, the guy from Seinfeld is in it) were regulars on my 20-inch Quasar television, stopping by at least three times a week to say hello. Those Monstars still haunt my nightmares.
Let’s ride this cinematic timeline another five years. What’s the next stop? All aboard the “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” train. The facial expressions of a young Jim Carrey still haunt me to this day. I can never think of a field-goal kick the same way for the rest of my life. Laces out, Finkle.
Some of the best memories of my childhood include staying up past10:00 p.m., eating sour Skittles, drinking flat Diet Coke, and watching Jim Carrey brilliantly perform his famous “talking butt” scene.
On a side note, one of my personal heroes, critic Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly, had this to say about my childhood gem. “[Jim] Carrey suggests an escaped mental patient impersonating a game-show host.” He finishes the sparkling review by giving the film an “F” grade, a rarity among film critics.
Finally, here we are on the final stop of my cinematic journey so far. It wasn’t really until I became a teenager that I fully grasped the magic behind the film world. I was always intrigued by the silver screen, especially with how they could get Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny in the same shot.
I can still remember exactly when I discovered that I wanted to spend the rest of my life involved in cinema. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon my freshman year and I was just about to pop in my coveted “Scary Movie 3” DVD for about the third time that week. Suddenly, my Father dashed into the room, wielding a now dated Blockbuster DVD in his hand.
“Today, you’re watching something different. This movie is called ‘Good Will Hunting’ and it’s a hell of a lot better than ‘Scary Movie 3,’ my dad said.
I don’t have to explain the feeling I had when I was watching ‘Good Will Hunting’ for the first time. It was unexplainable. Finally, I realized that there was a world that I understood. I could be laughing one minute and crying the next. It is a phenomenon that comes with the magic of a movie that really hits you.
My eyes were now open.
For too long, I’ve failed to recognize that sometimes, it isn’t all about what the critics say and the letters they give each movie. My love for film criticism has blurred the lines between fact and opinion, and for too long have I confused the two. The essence of criticism is strictly opinion and experience based, and it took a little self-reflection in order to discover that.