There was a post going around Twitter this past weekend where you are asked to name 5 movies you’d seen at least 10 times. Considering the people I follow, I saw many of the usual suspects mentioned (Star Wars being the big one). Of course, this got my mind going on those movies I could claim that I’d absolutely seen at least 10 times. Now I think for it to count, you would have had to sat and watched at least 90% of the movie. So if Shawshank Redemption is on TNT this weekend and you catch it shortly after Andy arrives in prison, I think that counts, but if they are well into him doing the taxes for the guards… then that doesn’t count.
The weird thing about this little exercise is not so much identifying the greatest hits of my own life, but trying to determine those movies that I have really and truly seen 10 times. Fundamentally, viewing a movie ten times is a lot. When you think about it, it’s a bit harder to do, especially as you move from your childhood into adulthood. Back then you had summers and random weekends and probably random afternoons where I decided to watch Young Guns for the twentieth time. As the list builds, anything that came out in the last decade or so is almost immediately eliminated. There are movies I feel like I’ve seen 10 times, but do I really know that I’ve seen The Replacements 10 times (I mean, I pretty much watch it every time it pops up on TV)? I love A Knight’s Tale, but I gotta be honest, it’s probably more like a 7 or 8 time movie for me at this point. Even something like Avengers is around 6 or 7 times, but there is almost no way it is 10.
But really, what does the list tell us about ourselves and our friends? There is a comfort in rewatching something over and over. I see it in my own household constantly as my wife has certain TV shows on a continuous loop (Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, Lucifer being only a few). You’d think she’d rather watch something new (and we do), but she uses the shows as a way to unwind and de-stress. She also uses them to fall asleep, training her mind to shut down as the episode plays on in the background.
There is also something to the idea of needing those familiar movies (or TV Shows) to help us through certain times in our lives. They can be a bonding mechanism or just a way to appease the next generation.
During last year, I definitely found it helpful to get a level of comfort in the familiar by watching something like Firefly on a weekly basis during the summer (about 2 episodes every Friday to really have a sort of throwback to “better times”). Revisiting those characters that I’ve loved through their handful of adventures is always a nice way to spend some time. I don’t have to worry about following every word since I nearly know all of them by heart. Even more than that, on first watch of nearly anything you are going to get caught up in the big moments (whether it is a small comedy or a big blockbuster). A single rewatch allows you to see what you missed in the first place.
Back in college, Clerks and Mallrats played over and over from the same VHS tape. It was a beat-up version copied from a rental so on my old-ass tv we had to turn the volume to its limits in order to hear it (even in our small dorm room).
Also during college, whenever I returned home for Quarter breaks, my sister and I would make a point to watch The Breakfast Club and Weird Science. Those movies became our way to bond in a real way that we didn’t or hadn’t been able to do when we were living together 24/7 and annoying each other day in and day out.
Casting my mind even further back, rewatching the pair of Ghostbusters 2 and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was the only thing that would calm my younger brother down enough to let my mom sleep (she worked nights, so during the summer we babysat). Again, it was a VHS copied from HBO with both movies on it. Over the course of two summers that tape was played nearly every day. It got so bad that my sister hid the stupid tape… but my brother found it time and time again.
Much like music has an ability to recapture a moment in time for the listener, I think movies can remind us of who we were when we first watched them, and then later, on the rewatches, we are able to glean different and new things from those same stories, finding a way to apply them to our current lives.
John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.
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