She's Way Out of the Celluloid Loop

Like many of you, I'll spend at least some time tonight sprawled across the couch with a bucket of popcorn in my lap, watching a cavalcade of stars parade across my television screen.

And when the best picture award finally rolls around, I'll be rooting for my own personal favorite--"The Full Monty"--in part because it's a delightful flick and in part because it's . . . well, it's the only one of the nominees I've seen.

That makes this year like most other years for me, at least since I lost my movie-going partner when my husband died four years ago.

It's not that I don't get out much. I do . . . but I usually have three children in tow.

Grown-up movie dates are a rare treat these days. And when our family opts for a theater visit, my kids tend to choose movies a cut below the academy's standards.

Way below. . . .


If we made a list of our family favorites this year--our own version of the academy's best picture competition, the nominees would be something like this: "Men in Black," "George of the Jungle," "Austin Powers," "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" and "Liar Liar."

(That's presuming "Spice World" was released too late to be eligible . . . although it's a shoo-in for next year's list.)

"Austin Powers" would probably boogie off with our top honors. ("Groovy, ba-by" has become a kind of mantra around my house.)

My personal favorite would be "George of the Jungle"--on the condition that hunky star Brendan Fraser would show up at my house to collect his award wearing nothing but that skimpy loincloth he donned for the movie.

(It's the one kids' movie no woman I know complained about having to take the kids to see. There are many worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than watching Fraser--with his rippling muscles and puppy-dog eyes--swing half-naked from tree to tree.

I imagine that dads sitting with their daughters through "Spice World" must have felt much the same way.)


When the Oscars are over and the best movies are but a memory, I play catch-up by renting videos.

That has its benefits--I like watching a movie while I'm curled up in bed--but its drawbacks as well.

Being late off the mark keeps me on the sidelines of the cultural phenomena the big movies evoke. Jay Leno's jokes about plot twists in "Titanic" and that Seinfeld episode about "The English Patient" all go over my head.

And by the time those movies roll out on my 19-inch TV, it's impossible for them to live up to the hype, and I'm left feeling cheated, still out of the loop.

That's if I even make it to the movie's end. It took me three tries to get through "Unforgiven" and I've yet to see the end of "Shine."

By the time I get the house quiet and the kids bedded down, there's not much left of my weekend nights.

So I cue up the video of "Leaving Las Vegas," turn off the lights, climb into bed . . . and fall fast asleep. And wake up later to find my 7-year-old staring wide-eyed at the screen as Elisabeth Shue, standing naked in the shower, washes blood from a sexual assault down the drain.

It's enough to make a late night session with "Austin Powers" look pretty good.


But I take heart at the fact that as my kids grow up, our family edges toward the time when more academy favorites are on our can-see list.

Already, my oldest has passed me by. Not yet 13, she's seen three times as many Oscar contenders as her mom this year. She's rooting for "Titanic," for its passion and romance, its epic sweep--and the total cuteness of Leonardo DiCaprio.

She saw the movie with a friend the first weekend it came out. And that day summed up the movie-going fate of moms like me:

While our older daughters watched "Titanic," her friend's mother and I took our little ones next door, to see a movie of their choice: "Mouse Hunt."


* Sandy Banks' column is published Mondays and Fridays. Her e-mail address is

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