And the Good Thing is...
by Lovell Mahan-Moutaw

...Family Movies

No, not family movies like The Lion King - real family movies like the family movie experiences you had, well, with your family.

Or maybe you didn't.

But I did.

And I'd like to share some with you.

When I was a wee girl, I went to live with my grandparents after my parents' divorce. At that time, my grandparents had three exchange students living with them. One was from Brazil. His name was (is) Celso. Celso was one of those people you never forget - his personality was so exuberant, he was so sweet, so funny, so wonderful that he could make anyone love him. We took him to see The Pink Panther and he laughed so hard, he actually slid out of his seat and landed on his back, on the floor and couldn't get up because he was convulsed with laughter.

Therefore, The Pink Panther is a family movie for my family, when we watch it, we enjoy it all the more thinking of Celso and the time we shared with him.

And then there was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. My sister went to the Air Force Academy, and even though that isn't the most liberal institution of higher learning in the US of A, it certainly was a place where she was exposed to things you didn't normally get in our small Indiana town. Monty Python was one of those things (This is Spinal Tap was another, but that's a different story). She convinced us to rent it and told us that it was hilarious. "Us" in this instance meant my sister, my brother, my aunt and me. (We had an odd family conglomeration that included four generations.)

We sat down to watch this film in what was called "The Mud Room" in my house. The Mud Room was an enormous family room that held several couches, ottomans, tables, a television, and behind barnwood cabinets, the washer and dryer, the water heater as well as all of our storage. All of the walls were lined with cabinetry and the room also included "The Cubbyhole" which was just one big storage area that also housed the furnace - my Grandmother had odd names for most of the rooms in the house including my favorite, "The Galleyway".


As the younger generations of my family watched in the Mud Room, other members of our family would walk in, pause to see what we were watching, and within minutes, sit down to enjoy. Who knows, it may have been our laughter that brought them in in the first place. Regardless, as most of you know, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is uproariously funny and it sounded that way in the Mud Room that night. We quoted it for days after and watched it again and again. But sitting there, all seven of us together, laughing until we were doubled over, then, when it was over, wandering away chuckling, well, that is the best kind of family movie.

We actually had numerous family movies including White Christmas, Star Wars, Real Genius, Top Secret, This is Spinal Tap and My Fair Lady. My family was a busy family. We had sports and choir and friends and activities and for all of us to be together meant a holiday or a birthday. Those non-holiday/non-birthday family moments, now that my Grandfather has passed away and everyone is out of school and has moved away to start their own lives...those moments mean more to me now than ever.

For example, two years ago, while I was in Phoenix visiting my brother and sister, we rented My Best Friend's Wedding. Of course, we thought Rupert Everett was the best part of the movie. We rewound the Dionne Warwick crab shack scene over and over again until we could speak as Rupert spoke and we sang and lifted our hands and waved them as the crab shack employees and customers did, enjoyably entrenched in the spirit of the moment. Now, any time I hear that song or see that movie or its poster or even Rupert Everett, I think of My Best Friend's Wedding as the best kind of family movie there is.


Lovell Mahan-Moutaw

CineScene 2000