Cool Runnings/Mighty Ducks

February 14, 2010

Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up it’s bobsled time!

OR

“Quack, quack quack quack quack!”

 

Because the Olympics have officially begun I decided that I wanted to write about a movie that I remember from childhood that made me want to become an Olympian. Two came to mind…Cool Runnings and The Mighty Ducks.

I’ll start with Cool Runnings. Cool Runnings (loosely) told the incredible story for the Jamaican bobsled team that debuted in the 1988 Olympics. The team was inspiring and the movie was funny. For kids, this movie was edgy enough to feel like you were “getting away” with watching it but was still upstanding enough to teach the lessons FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS and DON’T GIVE UP. For children watching the movie it taught such lessons. For adults it was a movie which could envoke tears and reaffirm the risks taken in life. All in all, Cool Runnings was a grand movie.

The Mighty Ducks. To be fair, there are three Mighty Ducks films. I’ll also admit that the Ducks in the movie never technically go to the Olympics. However, in Mighty Ducks 2 the kids led by Coach Gordon Bombay go to the Jr. Olympics. The original Mighty Ducks were teamed up with new hockey players from all over the country and must learn to play as a team. Once in the Olympics the team and coach had to overcome the commercialism and play for pride. In the end, The Ducks beat the fierce Iceland team.

Both of these movies made me wish that I could be an Olympian during my youth. They were fun movies that portrayed an active lifestyle as the fun way to go. They were laced with various inspiring and confidence boosting storylines and moments but one, more than any other, made these movies truly worthwhile. Both movies taught that PRIDE is the most important thing that a person has. Pride in what you do, pride in your country, pride in your beliefs, pride in your family and pride in your friends. They were feel good movies but for all of their fun, their lessons are why they deserve a second look.

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Boy Meets World

February 5, 2010

“Feeny…Feeny….Feeheeeheeeeeeeny!”

Boy Meets World, what a great show. It deserves a second look for so many reasons. The first reason that the show was so wonderful was Eric. Eric was Cory’s big brother, a hapless and goofy guy that wasn’t ever accused of being bright but had a heart of gold. He struggled scholastically but ultimately made the right decisions in life most of the time. He was there to set the example that doing what you thought was right, even if it wasn’t what you wanted to do is ultimately the right thing. He wanted to adopt a kid but knew he couldn’t provide and he wanted to go to a party school but instead chose Penbrook. What a great example!

Mr. Feeny. I don’t know that there is any reason to elaborate. Mr. Feeny was an inspirational teacher that legitimately cared about the well being of his students. He was invested in their lives.

While the Cory and Topanga love that nearly everyone wants in life was a large part of the show for its entire duration I find another relationship in the show more meaningful and realistic.

Cory and Shawn were best friends. Their relationship, however, was not without its tumultuous moments. The show addressed the differences in their families and socioeconomic statuses. It provided an example that regardless of differences, friendship can endure. In addition, Cory’s family became like a surrogate family to Shawn. Yes, he had his own parents but Cory’s parents offered guidance, unconditional love and stability that Shawn would have otherwise been without. I can’t help but want to sing the song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and look at pictures of myself and close friends when thinking about those two.

Eric, Feeny, Cory and Topanga, Cory and Shawn, the Matthews Family…they all brought something to the table and for that, Boy Meets World deserves a second look.

Oregon Trail

January 23, 2010

Travel the Trail!!!

While the 1990s saw the rise and fall of many educational software programs for children such as NFL Math and Spelling Jungle (easily my favorite) one game completely blew the rest out of the water. Admit it, you and your elementary school buddies fought over who got to play Oregon Trail in computer lab oh so long ago. And why wouldn’t you? Oregon Trail was at face value a pretty simple game, the objective was to survive with as many people in your family as possible along the trail and to make it to Oregon Territory. If you played, however, you know that it was SO MUCH MORE.

In order to survive, however, you had to make difficult decisions that were crucial to the health of your family. Should you buy a Conestoga or simply a large wagon? Should you buy a horse? What medicine should you bring? How many sets of utensils and clothing are necessary? And most importantly, what kind of gun and ammunition should you buy? As you traveled down the trail the full repercussions of all of these choices became evident and often resulted in disaster. Admit it, you got scurvy or had to “administer laudanum” (which is essentially opium haha) and fix wagon axles.

Oregon Trail deserves a second look because it was a game that linked actions and repercussions. It was a game with a point, it had depth. It’s popularity amongst children is evidence that children (admittedly I was one) were looking for something more than just a quick thrill, they were looking for a challenge. Once I made it to Oregon and struck a land claim I always felt very accomplished, especially if all of my family survived the journey. Damn those accidental hunting accidents and unfortunate snake bites!

The Titanic Frenzy

January 16, 2010

In light of the Avatar craze I decided to look back at James Cameron’s last pop culture saturating feat, 1997’s Titanic. Sure, the special effects were mad cool for their day but no film since Titanic has had the allure of Titanic. A few reasons that the Titanic frenzy deserves a second look follow.

“I’ve seen it six times in theatres.” “Wow, but I’ve seen it seven times!” Really… why on earth did we all need to see Titanic more than once or generously twice in theatres? I’d like to think it was because as a human collective everyone decided to examine the fragile state of humanity. In reality, we all loved Jack and Rose and most certainly hated Cal. Admit it, you clapped in the theatre the first time you saw Rose spit in Cal’s face and run to Jack. Jack and Rose’s love story made us all pine for a deep love and intimate connection that would compel us to change our name and start our new lives with only memories of the person that inspired us.

Not to be cliche’ but when I think of inspiration and I think of Titanic, one very important person comes to mind. Not James Cameron but CELINE DION. You can love or hate this song. I choose to love it. I love it now and I loved it in elementary school when they would play the song with sound bytes from the movie itself dubbed in on the radio. I danced at my earliest boy/girl dances to this song and believed in all that it said. Today I still think the song deserves attention. It’s my favorite song to sing at karaoke and (youtube it!) the music video for this song is absolutely hilarious.

While Avatar is admittedly an enjoyable movie with special effects that blur reality and fiction the culture surrounding the movie, the hype, the public fawning of it are minimal in comparison to Titanic. My apologies to the Na’vi of Pandora but Jack and Rose will always be king of the world and that is why Titanic deserves a second look.

dreamteam spacejam

Alright, I know that Space Jam came out a few years after the 1992 Olympics but for the purpose of this blog I’m going to group them together.

The 1992 Dream Team was amazing. Ten of twelve of the players were inducted in the National Basketball Hall of Fame. They won gold in the 1992 summer Olympics in sensational fashion. They dominated everyone that they played. Larry Byrd, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan aaaahhhh, those were some good basketball days.

It may seem like an obvious thing but one great thing about the Dream Team was that they played basketball. Sure, people watch the Olympics in the summer every four years and get all excited watching the amazing sprinters and marathoners. Not to mention, the gymnasts. While entertaining to watch, these sports are a bit too technical and ivory tower for after school elementary leisure.

The reason that the real Dream Team (meaning without Kobe because he’s a douche) deserves a second look is because they were relatable. Nearly every child in the United States could identify who Michael Jordan was. Also important, nearly every child had access to basketball. Unlike gymnastics or competitive track, kids could really play the game of basketball with their friends. It opened up opportunities for kids to be included. It takes a lot of coordination and money to get into gymnastics. Also, let’s be honest, some kids enjoy racing but every day after school? I’m going to bet most didn’t get out their starter gun and track spikes and take off in a sprint. No, basketball involved a ball and a concrete slab available in almost any environment. Major metropolises, rural towns and everyone in between, most places had a basketball court where kids imagining the Dream Team could play.

Space Jam came out a few years later (1996) but it fed into the basketball frenzy for kids. Space Jam jerseys were everywhere and playing basketball singing “Welcome to the Space Jam” became a commonplace activity for youth. Kudos to the entertainment industry for capitalizing on the craze and creating an environment for kids to get up and actively play. Had Space Jam been about pole vaulters, gymnasts, sprinters or shot put throwers I doubt that quite as many kids would have been able to play out the movie with their friends for fun. Basketball was a feasible activity for kids, thanks Space Jam.  Also (a bit of a side note) kudos to Space Jam for having a girl basketball player on the team. It made the movie that much more relatable for the children of the 90s by including the girls.

PS The soundtrack is killer….”I Believe I Can Fly”…anyone?