Adults should spend some time watching kids’ movies
If memory serves me right, it’s pretty great to be a kid.There are obvious reasons. No bills. No relationship woes. No unwanted chin hairs. Clothes don’t need to be ironed – unless there’s a kiddie pageant to attend. And, for the lucky ones who grew up with Garanimals in their closets, clothes are color coordinated to avoid embarrassing fashion faux pas. Best of all, as a kid there are tons of movies made especially for you. There are no deep story lines to follow. There are usually life lessons, but that’s another aspect of childhood that’s so great.Learning to be nice.I’ve seen enough footage of hateful political rallies lately to realize we all should go back to childhood for a spell. I think it would help us all enjoy each other’s company a little more. Remember when our parents taught us to play nice? What about sharing?Kids are supposed to be all about that, right?The weird thing is parents can hammer that into their kids’ brains but the second a car waits a few extra seconds to proceed through a stoplight, the buck stops there. Adults start throwing their hands up in the air – one of my favorite mime-like moves done inside the car where no one can hear the expletives. Adults are also good at flipping the bird out the window. And sometimes brandishing a firearm.If the road rage is volatile enough.Some people just don’t know how to play nice. I was discussing this with my friends Kendra and Dane over a beer at the Brewpub the other day, and we decided it’s time for adults to watch some kids’ movies again. This time, they really need to pay attention.Think “Free Willy.”Or “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” My preference is the 1971 musical version where Gene Wilder plays sans-make-up weird Willy. Remember the premise of the Roald Dahl novel and, subsequently, films? A bunch of kids win golden tickets to tour a candy factory. Every kid’s dream, right? Until things get awkward.Like overall-wearing, orange-faced-and-green-haired Oompah-Loompah strange.One particularly freaky part of the ’70s movie that scared me as straight as my midwestern great uncles is the freaky boat ride. That seemed more like an acid trip than a fun float through candyland.Did anyone else notice the brief-but-traumatizing shot of the snarling wolf?After the boat ride from hell, bad things start happening to the bad kids on the chocolate factory tour. Violet blows up like a big blueberry. Later, blue-faced and all, she is juiced. Yep, juiced.The stuff nightmares are made of, right there.Veruca Salt is thrown in the garbage because she’s a bad egg. One of the kids becomes a human Shrinky Dink. In the end, Charlie comes out the ultimate winner because, plain and simple, he’s nice. Not a big jerk or a money-grubbing snob. Charlie wins big because he’s what all our parents want us to become.Nice. Not such a stretch, is it?Along with being nice, kids’ movies stress respecting elders, minding their manners, and having good sportsmanship.Beer Pong is not the way to achieve this as an adult.Kids’ movies also teach children to believe. Believe in themselves. Believe in Santa. Believe that the world can be a better place.Like a great big chocolate factory.So maybe it’s not so difficult for adults to revisit the life lessons learned in kids’ movies. Just order up some Netflix, microwave some popcorn, and hunker down in a Snuggie on the couch with a good, old-fashioned kid flick. Share a Snuggie.And play nice.So the next time a car takes an extra two seconds to start through a green light, maybe there won’t be all those angry people honking at each other and throwing their arms up in the air. Unless they’re waving them around like they just don’t care.Because, deep down, they’re nice.April E. Clark is thinking insult comedy is not in her repertoire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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