Life in the 1900s :: Rewatching My Old Favorites with My 12-year-old Son

Life in the 1900s :: Rewatching My Old Favorites with My 12-year-old Son

It started on a trip to Chicago when we got to the rental car counter and they did not have a car for us, even though we had a reservation. While I tried to remain calm, I showed my 12-year-old a YouTube clip of this exact situation in a Seinfeld episode. For days after he was saying: “Anyone can just TAKE reservations, the key is in the holding” and we would all crack up. So, I decided to introduce him to some of my favorite 80s and 90s movies to see if he would enjoy them as much as I had. In a world dominated by modern blockbusters with great special effects and CGI, the joy on his face and the tears of laughter in his eyes were truly priceless. And the observations were hilarious.

Our adventure kicked off with “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” a groundbreaking film that merged live-action with animation. My son loves animation, so I knew this would be a winner. I definitely did NOT remember some of the scenes, or I might have skipped it, but watching my son marvel at the clever integration of animated characters into the real world was worth having to explain some innuendos. He has rewatched this movie at least five times since, that I know of.

Next on our list was “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” a classic comedy that blends humor with some sweet, heartfelt moments. We travel a lot, so I knew he’d be able to relate to the travel nightmares of canceled flights, rentals car snafus, and gross hotel rooms. He did relate, and in a couple of scenes, he just couldn’t stop laughing, proving that Steve Martin and John Candy truly transcend generations. We’ve been quoting all the best lines ever since: “How do they know which way we are going?” Content warning: I forgot how many f-bombs there were, but he’s 12 and he’s heard them before, probably from me, so it was fine.

Our journey through the past reached new heights with “Men in Black,” a film that was so cheesy I knew that the combination of sci-fi and comedy would be a hit. Will Smith’s charisma and Tommy Lee Jones’ deadpan humor resonated with my son, causing us to frequently rewind (so 90s!) scenes because he was laughing so hard and missed the next thing. I did have to explain that before Will Smith played Venus and Serena’s dad before he was canceled, he was a RAPPER. Total shock. 

Forrest Gump was by far one of the best rewatch experiences. I remember seeing the premiere at our local theater with my family when I was also about 12. My son loves history so Forrest being a part of all the major world events in the 70s and 80s kept his attention throughout the movie. He even commented that the 1990s CGI was “pretty good” when Forrest meets Lyndon Johnson and JFK. 

The “Back to the Future” trilogy was my husband’s choice and they’ve already rewatched it more times than I can count. By far his top favorite of all the movies we’ve seen from this era, Marty McFly, Doc Brown, the magic of the DeLorean, and the flux capacitors truly piqued his interest. A great, but, admittedly annoying, outcome of this movie has been the research and the questions about what life was like in “the 1900s.” (Ugh!) But it has also given my son an appreciation for the world his parents grew up in (telephones with cords!). 

Even though it makes me feel ancient, as my son continues to explore my favorite movies from the 80s and 90s, I am grateful for the opportunity to share these experiences with him. Our movie nights have become a cherished tradition; we plan to queue up Jingle All the Way this holiday season. I look forward to explaining how Arnold Schwarzenegger, the body builder turned actor, came to be Governor of California while I was in college.


Stephanie Davi-McNeely
Stephanie Davi McNeely has been in and around the nonprofit fundraising space for nearly twenty years. She oversees development and strategic partnerships, for the ACE Mentor Program of America, a national nonprofit mentoring program based in Philadelphia. There she is responsible for corporate and individual fundraising initiatives, as well as the growth and development of national partnerships with design and construction firms. In her spare time, she plays mom’s league softball, watches her son play soccer, takes French class through the Alliance, and serves as the First Lady of the University of Holy Cross in Algiers. She resides in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband and 11-year-old son.


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