Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Memories Through Movies (Or, A Defense For Bad Movies)

On Saturday I spent most of the day watching a show I hadn't watched in years: "Pokémon." This is either a good indication that I am not as mature as I think I am, or an indication that the summer movie season can't start soon enough so that I actually have work to do.  While watching the show there were two things that crossed my mind.  The first was that the show, while certainly made for kids, was still rather funny and help up much better than I thought it would.  The second thing was that the episodes I was watching were seventeen years old.  SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD!!!!  That means I was THIRTEEN when I first saw these episodes!  Well, after having a laugh about how parents could swear that this franchise was going to die in a couple of years being way off base, I started thinking about who I was when I first saw this show.

I don't know if this is just me, but I tend to be a very nostalgic person.  The reason I am is because I love remembering good times.  I have no idea how other people watch shows and movies, but one of the reasons I like to watch some older things is to remember things.  After watching the show a little more I ended up popping in my pan & scan DVD of "Pokémon: The First Movie" (yes, pan & scan was actually a thing at one point).  I haven't watched this for a long time because the dub is a very, well, loose adaptation.  It has lots of deleted scenes, a replaced soundtrack, and core elements of the story were outright rewritten.  The English version we got changed the main antagonist from being a misunderstood creature who was looking for his place in the world into a villain who wants to rule it, and there was this bizarre choice to put an anti-violence message in it (seriously).

It's hard to watch the dub when the original version is vastly superior in every conceivable way.  Yet I watched it because I was just watching the show and remembering times I spent with friends watching it, and I decided to remember the day I saw this in theaters.  On the day of release this movie was one of the biggest events for us kids at the time.  I remember me and my brother got together with longtime friends of the families, conspired to get our moms to bring us (the dads had the excuse of having to work and provide for the family, so they got to skip out), and we watched this movie that we had been waiting for weeks to see while our moms were just bewildered by what it was they were actually watching.

Despite the fact that the movie was the main event, it was afterwards where all the warm fuzzy memories came into play.  We went to Burger King (which was running a Pokémon movie toy promotion).  We discussed the movie (one thing we were all in agreement with was that we were shocked at how dark and violent it was).  We ate food.  For the first day movie theaters gave out random Pokémon cards for each ticket bought (my mom got Mewtwo, so she was officially the most popular one in our group and even she could understand why).  After lunch we went to the house, pulled out our new cards, and played a few rounds of the card game.  On a random side note, it occurs to me that one of the friends I went to was having his birthday on the day I was watching all this stuff.  Weird.

Getting back to the movie, it's clear watching it now that it isn't very good.  If there was nothing else to compare it to I could actually see where all the complaints were coming from.  Now that I can see the original movie the dub I saw in theaters all those years ago looks all the worse.  Yet I still watched the English version, knowing it was bad and knowing I had easy access to the original Japanese version.  So why watch it?  Because movies are a way to relive good memories sometimes.  That's why, I think, Disney's animated "Robin Hood" is thought on so fondly by many of my friends.  See, "Robin Hood" is a pretty bad movie.  There are many, many reasons it's terrible.  When they try to explain why they like it, I just sort of shake my head and laugh at the attempt.

Like "Pokémon: The First Movie," you have to grasp at straws to really be able to say it's a good movie with a straight face.  And yet... deep down, I understand it, and I know what they are really talking about when they say movies like these are good.  They are talking about the memories of watching these movies with other people.  How watching them brings us back to good moments in time that we want to remember more vividly.  These movies help with the memories, long after the delusion that they were ever good has faded.  I wish we could be more honest that when we enjoy some of these bad movies we are really enjoying the memories that surround the movies, but ultimately that's what we are doing, and there's nothing wrong with that when all is said and done.


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