Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What's my favorite movie? Hmmm . . .

My daughter, 13, asked me to name my favorite movie. I told her I could not because doing so would be like asking me to choose a favorite between her and her little sister.

Then I realized just how wrong that analogy was.

Actually, me trying to name my favorite movie would be like asking Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar to pick their favorite among Jedidiah, Josiah, Jinger, Jordan-Grace or any of the other 15 Duggar offspring whose names they likely can’t remember either.

It’s fun having a 13 year old in the house because now we can show her profanity-filled PG-13 movies without anyone thinking we’re bad parents.

Well, at least not any of the sleazy Hollywood liberals who serve on the Motion Picture Association of America ratings board.

We treat our favorite movies much the same as we treat our children.

We’re proud of them, we want to show them off to friends, and we believe we have a vested interest in them doing well because we think their success is a reflection of ourselves.

So from an early age we wanted Josie to appreciate movies like “Sneakers,” “Big Fish,” and “Catch Me If You Can,” right along side enduring classics like “Gone With The Wind,” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” and even “Rocky.”

What’s my favorite movie?

What’s yours?

Would you think less of me if you knew I told her my favorites were either “Cool Hand Luke” or “Shawshank Redemption?”

Why I immediately picked two prison flicks must have been because I’d spent the near entirety of the holiday weekend in the bosom of my family and had been influenced by all that loving incarceration.

But just last night the evergreen topic came up with my buddies in the sweet escape of my favorite tavern and I decided, no, my all-time favorite movie is “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”

It’s flat-out hilarious, but I think I like it mostly because it has such a joyful abundance of essential humanity. I love the scene after Jonathan Winters has discovered “The Big W” and they’re all digging in a frenzy. The Winters character and Spencer Tracy catch each other’s eyes and at first appear mutually suspicious of one another.

Then Tracy surprises the big truck driver with a warm, gentle smile that seems to convey that, hey, everything’s going to be all right, we’re going to get through this together.

It only lasts about four seconds, but it’s maybe my favorite scene from maybe my favorite movie. I try and remember to smile just like that anytime I’m with someone who sounds afraid that things are not going to work out.

If anyone had asked me Sunday night to name my favorite movie, I’d have said, “Waitress.” We watched it with Josie.

It’s another movie imbued with a humanity so triumphant it practically shimmers, and watching it becomes heartbreakingly poignant when you know writer/director/co-star Adrienne Shelley was murdered at the age of 40 in an insane Manhattan ’06 neighbor dispute just as her first glorious movie was being critically hailed.

The movie also features an 80-year-old Andy Griffith in a scene-stealer role in what would be one of his last films. It’s great in so many ways.

Lots of days comedies are my all-time favorites. It could be either “SlapShot,” “Hot Fuzz,” “Zombieland,”  “Animal House,” or “The Big Lebowski.”

Many of my favorite movies feature men with holstered guns riding horses. There’s “Silverado,” “Red River,” “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.”

Have I forgotten any?

Yes. There’s “Casablanca,” “Dave,” “Groundhog Day,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and I’ll always find time to watch Paul Newman at maybe his best in “The Verdict.”

Of course, in about 12 hours you can disregard this entire list.

Because, guaranteed, tomorrow I’m going to have a movie I’ll with all my heart declare is my very favorite No. 1 movie of all-time.

See, when you spend so much time inflicting your movies on a teenage child, it’s only natural that she insists it’s her turn to reverse the role and take you to a movie she says is the very best.

Yes, tonight Josie’s taking me to see “Catching Fire.” She saw it last week and swears it’s the very best movie ever made.

So, of course, it’s going to be my favorite if for no other reason than it is hers.

What kind of father would I be if one of my favorites wasn’t one of hers?

And when it comes to my very favorites, nothing will ever top my two little girls.

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