I just got back from seeing Wes Anderson’s newest homage to troubled families – “Moonrise Kingdom”. Of course, I loved it. It was simple and elegant and it featured a kitten and Bruce Willis. What’s not to love? It’s a boy meets girl story soaked in Anderson’s own brand of sentimentality that we all seem to relate to. His characters always live life on their own terms whether they are twelve years old, twenty or fifty. Anderson captures the human experience, often through the eyes of kids, making us feel that one thing we went to the movies to feel in the first place. What is that one thing? Well, that’s gonna be different for everybody.
In honor of adventures and not getting stuck in one place, here are my personal top five childhood adventure movies… not including Moonrise Kingdom. Enjoy!
1. The Goonies (1985) – I saw this movie in its first run. In the theater. About five times. I loved, and still love The Goonies. I had this awesome idea for a Goonies themed water slide park that would let you choose from different slides which would all end up in a giant splash pool where the pirate ship was docked. I had it all planned out down to the food court located on the lower deck of Willies ship. I even wrote a letter to Spielberg mapping it out. I never heard back from him though.
2. Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) – Orphaned kids – check! Magical powers – check! Excentric millionaire bent on destroying… who cares! These kids can read each others minds! They can communicate with animals! I adored Tia and Tony when I was little, and often day dreamed about having a bedroom with all the cool toys they had. I must have been a good girl because I received the exact ice cream parlor table and chairs that they had in their bedroom for Christmas one year. I never figured out how to get marionettes to do a creepy dance though… maybe ’cause I’m a girl.
3. Watcher in the Woods (1980) – I would have given up my Star Wars action figure collection for the opportunity to become Lynn-Holly Johnson in the 80’s. She was blond, pretty, happy and she always had super cute boyfriends in super cool movies. My favorite of the LHJ film collection is hands down “Watcher in the Woods”. It is the story of a creepy old house, creepy old woods, and a creepy old lady who has a creepy old secret to keep from the new family who moved in. Oh, and that creepy old lady is played by none other than Bette Davis in one of her last film roles. It’s cool, spooky, suspenseful and fun to watch.
4. Adventures in Babysitting (1987) – I loved this movie from the second it started. The song is “And Then He Kissed Me” by The Crystals and a young Elisabeth Shue is dancing around her bedroom in anticipation of her hot date… that never happens. I liked this movie because it was an adventure movie set in the inner city of Chicago. I remember thinking how cool it was that this baby sitter was able to talk down thugs and pimps, and that the little girl with the Thor obsession would come in handy if I was ever chased down by mafia henchmen. And honestly, how much fun is it to get home JUST before mom and dad?
5. Stand By Me (1986) – Probably the best coming of age film to date. This movie showed me that not all adventures are going to be fun-filled, and it fueled my fear of dogs for years to come. I developed a life long crush on River Phoenix, John Cusack and Kiefer Sutherland because of this film, and I am pretty sure this movie is the reason that the voice in my head is Richard Dreyfuss.
*Honorable Mention to: ET, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Up, Princess Bride, and 8mm