My Life in Ju Ju Fruits

On a lazy Sunday evening, after a long, relatively relaxing 4th of July weekend, my wife and I sat back and watched one of the most underrated films of all time. It is a retrospective drama about a man, who works at a rectal thermometer factory, that is diagnosed with a rare but terminal disease and is given only six months to live. He then decides to make the most out of life by buying fancy clothes, eating at the best restaurants, and looking for love. He comes to embark on the adventure of a lifetime where he re-discovers himself after being shipwrecked with the woman of his dreams. He then is compelled to offer himself as a sacrifice to a volcano revered by an indigenous group of Jewish islanders. Yes, Joe Versus the Volcano, you had me at rectal thermometer.

I had to convince my wife to watch it with me as she did that thing where she curls up her nose in cute disgust at my suggesting that she see it. I explained what it was about and her scrunched nose turned into an accepting “Oh! I thought it was a movie about some guy who has to go and, like, actually fight a volcano monster or something.” Though that would also make an awesome movie, that was not this movie.

Joe Versus the Volcano is a brilliant movie because it manages to be endearing despite its ridiculously simple storyline, gaping holes in the plot, and pre-Oscar caliber over-actors Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. For whatever reason, it is my happy movie. Every time I watch it, I feel the odd sensation of happiness that I am really not used to. It might be because of Meg Ryan inexplicably playing three characters, all of comparable cuteness. Who knows.

There are other movies which I look to as representative of some aspect of my being or mile markers on my journey through life. I used to be a rather well-versed movie aficionado until marriage, children, and a career became slightly higher priorities. Where I used to see the newest gripping drama from the Czech Republic on opening day, now I am lucky if I see one horribly written superhero sequel a year. But I am sure that my memories are imbedded in celluloid somewhere, and I would like to share some of those with you.

The First Movie I Remember Seeing: Star Wars. When I was maybe four years old, I can remember my family huddling around our massive 12” Technicolor television set and watching the original Star Wars on the CBS Movie of the week, before they were produced by Hallmark. I can still remember C-3PO and R2-D2 journeying through the desert of Tatooine as the tubes that had been placed in my ear to prevent infection fell out onto the shag carpet next to me. I was a sick, nerdy kid right from the start.
The Four Movies That Have Made Me Cry: My Girl (the bees). Far and Away (ascending spirit brought back by an “I love you. I’ve always loved you.”) Bowling for Columbine (something about grenades in a lunchroom). The Happening (seriously? the wind? but, that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. it… it’s still too hard to talk about.)

The First Rated-R Movie: Past Midnight. Starring the late Natasha Richardson and the soon to be late Rutger Hauer, this movie made it’s way into my home via a promotional video copy that my father got from work. It was my first exposure to the “f” word as well as on-screen nudity, both of which I thought were illegal to have in a movie. This movie really opened my eyes to the potential of cinema.

The First Movie That Led Me to Hold Hands With a Girl: The Twilight Zone: The Movie. Sometime between “Do you want to see something really scary” and the gremlin punching holes in the airplane wings, my hand grazed hers. We then clasped tightly. Then she put her spare hand on top of our union. Utterly confused, but figuring that it was the natural progression of things, I put my hand on top of her other hand, as if we were trying to decide who would bat first.

The First Movie Where I Made Out With a Girl: Wings of Desire, the original German film from which the much lesser City of Angels is based (one Meg Ryan is canceled out by one Nic Cage, bringing us to a grand total of 0). It is German and the screenplay is written in trochaic pentameter. Something about the poetic German, spoken by forlorn angels just did it for us, I guess. I look at this milestone as one of my greatest achievements and coolest things about me. I used to make out to foreign films. I am awesome.

Make out material

The Lowest Moment in My Theater Going Experience: The Real Cancun. Soon after I arrived in college sans friends of any kind, I realized the joy of going to the movies by myself. What I once thought was a shameful practice, carried out only by men who were comfortable leaving the house in sweatpants and scooping a bucket of popcorn into their gullet, I came to realize that I could see any movie I wanted without considering what my date or companion would want to see or be subjected to the obligatory discussion afterwards. I enjoyed several movies a week, all at the price of only one admission. I realized the pitiful state of my sorry self when I bought a ticket to The Real Cancun (the first “reality” movie) and a giant bucket of popcorn. I felt so… dirty, especially after wiping the extra butter flavoring off of my fingertips and onto my sweatpants.

First Movie I Fell Asleep to in the Theater: Matrix Reloaded. In my defense, I was working the graveyard shift and going to school full time. And, in my defense, the movie sucked. I fell asleep to a sunglasses sporting Keanu Reeves punching someone in slow-motion and woke up to a sunglasses sporting Keanu Reeves punching someone in slow-motion. At least he didn’t have to try and act.

The First Movie Miranda and I Saw as a Couple: Minority Report. Because nothing is better for a budding romance than Tom Cruise receiving a back-alley eye transplant. She hated it. I kind of liked it. Thus began the Siskel and Ebert relationship of our opposing views.

The First Movie I Took My Son to See: Bolt. Total time elapsed: -12 minutes. Yes, that is a negative twelve minutes. We had to leave the theater in a hail of screaming and crying during the preview for Monsters vs. Aliens. I guess he will never be a film connoisseur like his pops. Maybe I should be grateful for that.

And so, though I now only go to the theater when I can sneak out of work early and not tell my wife that I went, and the only movies I watch at home are Redbox rentals that I watch on a personal DVD player with headphones at 11:00 on a Friday night after the wife and kids are asleep, I still have that intimate relationship with cinema. Re-reading that run-on sentence, it does sound a little like I am having an illicit affair of some kind. But, as happy as my experiences in the movies have made me, my wife always manages to make me happier, even if she refuses to watch Kill Bill and I refuse to watch P.S. I Love You. When they make a movie about us someday, I’ll stand in line to go see it, even if I have to go by myself. With Meg Ryan playing the part of Miranda, I know it will make me happy.

The Movie of My Life: Bag Stranded – The Movie. Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and introducing Denzel Whitaker as the young Cameron Smith.


Cameron said...

Oh, and hey, if you are going to leave a comment, tell me about a movie milestone in your life. If it involves the Olsen Twins, I won't fault you. This is a non-judgmental zone, except for the fact that we are all highly judgmental.

Dan said...

First movie attended with a girl in something resembling a date: Waterworld

First movie as a 3rd wheel: The Horse Whisperer

First movie on a date that I didn't know was a date when I agreed to attend: Seven Years In Tibet

I could keep going but it's hard to match the cinematic quality of those movies so I will end my list here. It should be noted that all other participants are now married to people not in attendance. It didn't work out for any of us but at least we were entertained!

Tricia said...

Best movie of all time: Rocketman also after watching this movie I told my wife I loved her for the first time.

mh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

First movie I saw twice in the theater: Jurassic Park (Couldn't get that T-Rex out of my head).

First movie to leave work early not tell my wife that I was seeing by myself: Ocean's 13.

Movie that I own two DVD's of: Napoleon Dynamite (Two different versions of audio commentary).

Questionable movie in my house growing up: Blazing Saddles (The "bean scene" was pure gold for a young boy).

doug said...

Good post, Cameron. If they ever make a version of Joe vs. the Volcano where Tom Hanks actually has to FIGHT the volcano, you and I can go together. I think it sounds like a GREAT idea.

First movie I ever went to without adult supervision: Far and Away.

First movie I saw where I was at least 10 years older than anyone else in attendance, yet I laughed louder than them all: A Goofy Movie

First movie that made me squeal like a little girl: Operation Condor, starring Jackie Chan.

First movie where I had to restrain my 50+ year-old father from punching his fist through the face of another moviegoer: Taken.