Going to the movies has always been a thrilling adventure for me. I grew up in a fairly low-income home. We didn’t go to the movie often. In fact I can actually make a list of all the films I saw in theaters as a kid. Spoiler alert, it’s not a very big list. It was a combination of being poor thus not having the money to splurge all that often to savoring events as special occasions. I haven’t been to the theater since 2019. I can’t even remember what movie it was I saw last to be honest. Probably the last Star Wars or whichever MCU flick released that Christmas.
I am going to the movies tonight to see the latest Ghostbusters film, Afterlife. I am hotly anticipating this movie that has been calling to my inner child.
Here is a breakdown of all the films I saw in my youth.
1. Ghostbusters 2
A pretty good first flick for a young tyke to behold. This movie was the very first flick I saw on the big screen. While I had previously seen the first film on VHS multiple times, it was an absolute joy to get to experience this at the box office.
2. Home Alone.
Believe it or not only the second film I got to see in theaters. This was a movie I was anticipating so much. It was a Christmas comedy that instantly became a classic. I watched it so any times as a kid I can’t even count. Getting to see it in theaters was a real treat.
3. Lethal Weapon 3
It was a little strange as a younun my parents opted to bring my sisters along with them to watch an R-rated cop movie for my moms birthday but there we were. This was pre-Christian for my parents so they didn’t even flinch taking their kids to an r-rated movie filled with F-bombs and drug references. What I do remember from this film was how boring and forgetable it was for my young mind. Even to this day it’s the one in the franchise I cannot summon images of for the life of me.
4. Dick Tracy
This was a movie a friend of mine dragged me to when I would have rather seen literally anything else. Going into the film I was excited simply because my dad hyped me up. The Dick Tracy references in Bug Bunny cartoons kinda helped me get excited for it. I even stopped at the gift shop along the way ad bought a pack of Dick Tracy trading cards. Then I came out of the movie wishing I could scrub it from my memory. Fortunately I succeeded.
5. The Rocketeer
I will be brief. I hated this movie. I had to see it at the $1 theater because it was all we could afford. I watched it, I forgo it and moved on.
6. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
This is one I watched because I loved the book. It was at a time in my life when I was still very much into dogs and cats. I loved how the puppy was voiced by childhood favorite Michael J. Fox. It was a rare film I was excited to watch on the big screen simply because I had read the book first. While I could hear the voices in my head while reading the book it just wasn’t the same.
7. Jurassic Park
One of the rare times I got to see a legit blockbuster was JP. I distinctly remember sitting in the theater by my self as my oldest sister who took me snuck off with some boy. I was glued to the screen the entire time this movie played out. Like Homeward Bound I read the book before going in. I was in 4th grade so that itself was a daunting task but I had to do it.
8. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
I won’t say it was better than the original but I will say I enjoyed it equally as much when it was new. Over the years my fondness for the first has grown while this one has taken a backseat but I still remember sitting in the theater with glee I was going to get to see this movie.
9. The Odd Couple II
I have no idea why I went to this other than my sisters were in the next auditorium watching Titanic and my parents dragged me to this. While I love the classic original to this day I didn’t care for this weird, out of place sequel.
10. Batman Returns
The first Batman movie I saw in theaters. One of only three to this day to be honest. It was an absolute thrill ride. Batman went from a character I found boring t leaping to the top of my favorite superheroes of all time list where he sits firmly towering above the rest to this day. This was the first movie I ever got the entire toyline of action figures of. I also had the novel, the story book and trading cards. I was really into this movie. So much I got the game on Super Nintendo first chance I could. I even remember going into the theater with the Happy Meal toys my sister and I got from McDonald’s prior to watching the film.
11. Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope Special Edition
My dad was excited to take me to this movie as much as I was excited to see it. Again here we were watching a movie on the big screen I had read the book many times over. Unlike those others this was a movie I was watching not for the first time entirely but was my first time on the big screen. I remember the audience clapping, everyone wearing costumes and my dad even buying me action figures from the display out front when we came out of the movie.
12. Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back Special Edition
I dragged my sister Candy to this despite her insistence she hated Star Wars. The thing I remember the most about this viewing is the audio dropped out during the Imperial March. Also it was the last of the Special Edition films I was able to see in theaters. The reason for that was we were moving during the summer when Return of the Jedi Special Edition was playing so I missed out on that.
13. Super Mario Bros.
At the time this movie came out I was super excited for it. I hadn’t played the SNES game yet, we still just had the original NES with Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt. I had rented the sequel games a couple of times but still going into this my exposure to the character was the first three NES games and the cartoons. I had no idea what to expect but I remember leaving the theater both disappointed while also excited I got to see it.
14. Bill N Ted’s Bogus Journey
I had been a fan of the first one. My sisters thought you-know-how was cute. It was a rare movie we could all agree on.
15. Disney’s Aladdin
To this day the only animated Disney feature film I have seen in theaters. It was a pretty exciting film for me. I had the toys. I read the story book. It was also the very first movie my parents bought me on VHS tape that was just mine. I got it the same birthday as TMNT the movie on VHS.
This was the last movie I saw in what I count as my childhood. I would turn 18 months after I watched it. This was by far the movie I anticipated the most in those days. I had plenty of X-Men comics, toys and other memorabilia. I even had the trading cards to accompany the release of the film. And yes I also read every single magazine I could that ran articles on it pre-release. I was obsessed with this.
17. Batman & Robin
Obviously I am not listing these in release order. But this was one of the last ones I wanted to mention because this was the movie that almost destroyed my faith in Batman the character. For some unknown reason this one was my dad’s favorite one while for me it was atrocious. Looking back on it I can recognize what the filmmakers were going for allowing me to appreciate it in a new light while recognizing it is still a terrible film.
18. Star Wars Episode One The Phantom Menace
I didn’t watch a tremendously large number of movies in the theater in my lifetime. As a kid we were limited mostly to a couple movies per year. Even to this day I rarely watch more than two or three in a given year unless someone else is buying my ticket.
That being said none of the movies from my childhood had the impact on me this movie did. To say I was obsessed would be an understatement. Naturally I read the book. I had the trading cards, toys, comics, etc. I went out of my way to absorb every TV reference to this movie. I recorded the Weird Al music video “The Saga Begins” on VHS from VH1. I love this movie to this day. It remains one of the best movie experiences I ever had as a kid.
19. Austin Powers in Gold Member
Yeah I at through this rubbish at a drive in theater because my idiot guy friends thought it was funny. Ugh I have nothing else to say.
There it is, every single film I saw before I turned 18 years old. Going to the movies was a rare treat for us not a regular occurrence.