Let Me Entertain You | Use Nostalgia Responsibly

People often say that you should never meet your heroes. Well, not often. It’s not like every day someone comes up to you and says: “Don’t meet your hero. He’s probably a real dick.” In any case, it is a well-known adage which speaks to the fact that people are usually a lot more disappointing than you want them to be. I would like to venture another similar phrase in this blog, right now: never revisit your favorite childhood movies alone, and if you do have to be alone, make sure you’re sick.

The day before I wrote this blog, I had a Halloweentown movie marathon with my friend Anna. We ordered in sushi and watched three of the best Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs) that has ever graced the silver screen. As everyone of my generation knows, the Halloweentown movies follow the adventures of children Marnie, Dylan, and Sophie Piper as they travel to the parallel world of Halloweentown, wherein all monsters coexist peacefully. Debbie Reynolds is also inexplicably in each of the movies, playing the Pipers’ grandmother, a witch named Aggie Cromwell. When I was 9, these movies were phenomenal cinema. I loved October because Disney Channel would play Halloweentown, Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge, and Halloweentown High. (In 2006, they made Return to Halloweentown, but this movie was blasphemy because they replaced the original Marnie.)

Marnie and Aggie doing some witching stuff. Even the promo photo alone gives you a clue as to how awful this is. Image credit halloweenforum.com
Marnie and Aggie doing some witching stuff. Even the promo photo alone gives you a clue as to how awful this is. Image credit halloweenforum.com

So Anna and I watched the original three Halloweentown movies. It was great because we were eating and sushi and hanging out, but damn those movies are absolutely horrendous. Like, a whole new level of bad. The special effects were terrible, but that was to be expected. The ugly writing, ridiculous storyline, painful acting, and awful early-2000s outfits are really what put the Halloweentown movies over the edge. Sure, it was fun revisiting my childhood, but I was hanging out with someone. Had I been alone in my room watching Halloweentown and eating sushi, it would have been a lot sadder.

There are genuinely amazing kid’s movies out there. The Disney Renaissance and Pixar movies are brilliant for any age group, and should be revisited. There are some mediocre kids movies, which are pretty bad, but they’re still somehow entertaining enough to keep you laughing and enjoying yourself. But then you have your Halloweentowns, movies that should stay in the past along with tamagotchis and NSYNC. We shouldn’t return to Halloweentown alone, because the second trip will never be as magical as the first. You’ll find yourself disillusioned with your life, discomforted rather than reassured by nostalgia gone sour.

Which brings me to my second point: if you’re going to watch a bad childhood movie alone, watch it while you’re sick. When you’re sick, your brain cells are damaged and you’re basically a little kid anyway (this is fact trust me I am science person). You’ll be like, “Wow, Halloweentown really is great. Nicolas Cage should steal it, because it’s a national treasure.”

For example: I was very, very sick a few weeks ago and I decided to watch The Parent Trap, the 1990s one with Lindsay Lohan. Now, this movie is borderline mediocre category (that is, acceptable to watch alone), but it’s still pretty bad. I mean, have you seen it lately? The movie’s got like seven different endings. (The parents had a date on the boat! It’s over! No, now they’re going camping. Nick and Meredith broke up, now it’s over! No, now the parents are going to have another date. The parents decided to split up again! It’s over! No, now, there’s a tearful reunion scene.)

I still secretly think that Lindsay Lohan has a twin and that's how this movie was possible. Image credit Walt Disney Pictures.
I still secretly think that Lindsay Lohan has a twin and that’s how this movie was possible. Image credit Walt Disney Pictures.

But I was sick, so I thought this was the most genuinely heartwarming and even romantic movie I’d ever seen. Seriously, I cried when the parents got back together at the end. The little voice of health and sanity in my head was saying, “Grace, why is this entertaining you so much? Can’t you see that this is a terrible, nonsensical movie?” But I just didn’t care. The illness had damaged my brain such that unimpeded nostalgia was possible.

It’s easy to get nostalgic this time of year. You’ve been away from home for a while now, you’re feeling swamped by midterms, and you just want to pull a Coldplay song and get taken back to the start. But everyone needs to move forward. Watch good childhood movies and appreciate the jokes you didn’t get before, but that you understand now that you’re older. Hear the lessons they teach and continue to apply them to your own life. And if you’re going to watch a bad one, watch it with a friend, so you can laugh about it and make fun of it together. If you have a friend who will imitate Kalabar’s evil son Cal’s deadpan acting from Halloweentown II with you, you’re really doing okay.

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