When we first started this website, we received lots of feedback informing us that watching the same movie every single week was no big deal. Everybody’s done it before.
After reading several comments of this nature on our personal walls and our Facebook page, I began asking around. Have you done this before? Is this not really that impressive of an experiment?
My girlfriend Becca informed me that, every day after school, from kindergarten through third grade, she would watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids on a regular basis. And they weren’t evenly distributed, either. She would mostly watch Crusade, three or four days a week, then toss in Roger or Shrunk to cleanse her palate.
Of course, a clear pattern emerges: everybody did this when they were kids. And they’ve stopped doing it now that they’re adults. Why is this the case?
Furthermore, is it still the case today?
To find out, I had to
get my hands on spend some time alone with speak with a child.
As it turns out, child production is still an active hobby among today’s modern adults, so I thought I’d ask Brian Brinegar, local stand-up comedian in the Portland, ME area, if his own child, 9-year-old Wes Brinegar, would be interested in talking to me about his movie-viewing habits. I’m assuming Wes agreed, but for all I know, Brian threatened to take away his video games for a week if he didn’t.
Here is my conversation with Wes and Brian.
BILL: What are your favorite kinds of movies?
WES: Comedies, mostly. Sometimes action… but not really thriller.
WES: And I’m not really into dramas.
BILL: Don’t like dramas? Okay, cool, so comedies, action… what are your favorite action movies? Like, top five?
WES: I don’t think I’ve really seen many of them, but the ones I have seen were pretty good. And I’ve usually only seen parts of them. I’ve seen parts of Die Hard, I liked some of those. Mainly only seen some of those. I’ve seen a bit of Braveheart.
BILL: Ooh, what did you think of that?
WES: I liked it!
BILL: If you had to pick one, and I know this is tough for everybody… I don’t know what I would pick… if you had to pick one, what do you think is your favorite movie of all time?
WES: I think I’d pick Billy Madison.
BILL: Billy Madison? Great! How many times have you seen Billy Madison, do you think?
WES: Over ten.
BILL: Over ten? Wow. If you could watch it every week, would you?
WES: Once? Yes.
BILL: Once a week.
WES: If it was more than that, I don’t think I would be able to.
BILL: No? Now, a lot of times your favorite movie can change. What do you think your favorite movie was three years ago?
WES: Three years ago? Probably the Harry Potter movies.
BILL: Yeah? Do you have a favorite out of all those?
WES: I like the second one.
BILL: Second one was your favorite? That’s… Chamber of Secrets?
BILL: Cool. Okay, I’m just gonna ask you about some random movies real quick. Have you seen Top Gun?
WES: I don’t believe so.
BILL: No? Tom Cruise, fighter jets, haven’t seen that?
BILL: Okay, have you seen High Fidelity?
WES: I don’t think so.
BILL: That’s got John Cusack, he has a record store… no? Have you seen The Truman Show with Jim Carrey?
BILL: Okay, last one. Have you seen Spider-Man 3?
BILL: Did you like Spider-Man 3?
WES: It was pretty good. I still like the first one the best.
BILL: So you’ve seen ‘em all, one through three?
BILL: Are you excited for the new one that’s coming out?
WES: I never knew there was a new one coming out.
BILL: They’re restarting the franchise. There’s gonna be a new guy playing Spider-Man.
WES: Oh, cool!
BILL: So, you’ve seen Billy Madison ten times?
WES: Yeah, at least.
BILL: Do you wanna watch Billy Madison right now?
BILL: (laughs) Is there a movie you can watch no matter what mood you’re in?
WES: Yeah… I think that would be… Spies Like Us.
BILL: Spies Like Us? Really? Cool. Okay, about movies you don’t like… you said you don’t like dramas. Is there a movie that you absolutely hate and you never want to see it again?
WES: No, I think, just ones that are way too young and ones that I completely wouldn’t get. And just ones that are girl movies.
BILL: (laughs) Girl movies?
(Wes’s father Brian interrupts and I stop the recorder. Brian begins telling stories about Wes and I turn the recorder back on.)
BRIAN: We drove across country and a family member gave us an in-car VCR/DVD system, and it was Finding Nemo, just… again, again. We got ten other things… Finding Nemo, Finding Nemo…
BILL: Over and over and over?
BRIAN: He’s got no memory of that. You can talk to him about the specifics of the movie, he remembers it, but… oh! Also, Labyrinth, he was into. That was another one that was kind of always on. Anyway, I don’t know if that adds or takes away from this.
BILL: Well, basically, a lot of people have been telling us that this [Cinema 52] isn’t a big deal, but everyone who says that they’ve done this before did it when they were kids. They don’t do it at this age.
BRIAN: Let me say this about what you’re doing… because it is a different era, with something like Netflix, TV on DVD, more things are available… Ask him about The Office. And I mean anything. ANYTHING. He just repeats it over and over and over and over. So, maybe it’s the medium, you know what I mean? But that kid right there? Ask him anything about The Office. It’s ridiculous! Movies for him were, “Yeah, I could do it, but…” I come home and he’s been watching season one of The Office for I don’t know how long.
WES: It’s only six episodes.
BILL: That’s true. It’s very short. The basketball one is my favorite from season one.
WES: I love that one!
BILL: When you watch The Office, do you watch the same episode over and over, or do you watch through a whole season?
WES: I try to spread it out for variety.
BILL: Okay, I have a question, because a lot of people brought this up. For our experiment that we’re doing, none of us picked a comedy, because we’re afraid that if you watch a comedy over and over again, it’s not funny any more, because it doesn’t surprise you. When you watch an Office episode again, do you still think it’s as funny?
WES: The second time, yes. The third time, not so much, but if you just watch it repetitively, no. But after you don’t see it for a couple weeks, you think it’s funny again.
BILL: A couple weeks? Now that’s actually really interesting to me. So you could watch, say, the basketball episode of The Office. Two weeks later, you want to watch that again? You think, “That was funny,” and you want to go right back and watch it again?
BILL: Yeah? (to Brian) And Finding Nemo was every couple of weeks, you said?
BRIAN: What? No…
BILL: A couple of days?
BRIAN: Nemo, for a while, was twice a day, in the car, goin’ on right behind me. And then, after we settled in, you’re moving in… “Hey, look, it’s Finding Nemo!” There’s an hour and a half. And you go back to unpacking. And that was his request, amongst all the other things he had. It was Nemo.
BILL: (to Wes) Well, when I was about your age, I wanted to watch Back to the Future 3 on a loop.
WES: Yeah! I haven’t seen 3. I’ve only seen the first one, but I love that one.
BILL: Oh, you haven’t seen 3?
WES: I haven’t seen 2 or 3.
BILL: The first one’s the best, but I saw 3 first, and my dad would rent it, and then, a week later, “It’s the weekend, let’s rent a movie,” I’d go right back, rent it all over again. He would force me to look at all the shelves in the place. “Look at all these other movies!” And I always said, “Back to the Future 3.” And he talked me into watching the first and the second one, but I’d say, “To hell with that, I wanna see 3 again!” Every time he took me back, I’d always want to see it again. It’s weird, because, today, I watch Back to the Future probably once a year, and I’m fine. I think, at this point, and maybe it just comes down to the fact that I’ve been alive longer than you, I’ve seen it so much that it’s almost on file. Do you feel like you could watch an episode of The Office in your mind?
WES: That’s what I do sometimes at school.
BRIAN: Or he goes and will just start quoting a show. Like I can do with Monty Python or Strange Brew. For him, it’s The Office. It’s amazing.
WES: And Jeff Dunham!
BRIAN: Well, yeah, uh…
(Bill and Brian laugh.)
BILL: “Father made a face at this point in the interview.”
BILL: I’m the same way. I can watch Back to the Future, 1 through 3, in my head. Sometimes when I’m bored and there’s no way to watch a movie, I’ll just be playing it right there. So if I said The Office, season three, first episode, you could call that up?
WES: Not titles, but if you described what’s happening, I can get lines.
BILL: The Dundie awards? Could you start that episode right now in your head?
WES: There’s a couple of them…
BILL: Oh, right. Season two.
WES: The first Dundies one? Ryan gets Hottest in the Office. Pam gets… well, Pam did get Longest Engagement for a very long time. This time she got the White Sneakers award. She gets pretty drunk, and then she’s not welcome back to the Chili’s for a very long time. I think Phyllis gets the Busiest Beaver award. Creed doesn’t do anything. Andy isn’t there yet. Stanley, Stanley, Stanley… I think Stanley gets the Sudoku Award or something like that.
BILL: I don’t remember that one either. That’s interesting. If you said any other show, I probably couldn’t have kept up with you, but my sister is obsessed with The Office. I’ve seen it once through osmosis and then again because I decided to sit down and get into it. I really don’t remember what Stanley got either.
BRIAN: Let me show you this.
(Brian picks up a baseball-themed pinball machine game in the living room.)
BRIAN: We got this for Christmas. He had South Park against South Park. He was announcing players, he’d do a little tagline, it was hysterical. So, South Park, for a nine-year-old…
WES: I’ve watched all of the episodes except the very last one.
BILL: South Park?
WES: Yeah, there’s fourteen seasons. I just don’t wanna watch the last one because I don’t want it to be over like it was with The Office. When I was done with season six [of The Office], I didn’t know what to do until season seven came out, like, four months later. I just kept watching and watching and watching.
BILL: Just over and over and over again?
WES: When I came home from school, after I did all my homework, read for twenty minutes, right in the room over there. (points) Watching The Office, until he came home.
BILL: Wow, that’s amazing. And all of them? Just start it up, watch it?
WES: I start at one season, I usually make it through (depending on how long the episodes are) either 2/3 of a season or a whole season before he comes home.
BILL: Interesting. Let me see, I have one movie that I have no recollection of either: Follow That Bird, the Sesame Street movie.
WES: I’ve seen that.
BILL: You’ve seen that? What did you think of it?
WES: Back then? It was pretty good. It wasn’t my favorite. I never really liked Sesame Street, although, at one point, I probably really did. I had a lot of it on DVD. I can remember that I had a whole shelf full of it at my mom’s house. Big Bird gets captured, gets put in the circus. There’s a bunch of songs. Elmo and his friends try to go rescue him.
BRIAN: I don’t know if this is pertinent or just a note to make, but for most of his life, there’s never really been TV in the house. There’s been, obviously, a television, but no–
BRIAN: Yeah, there’s no, “Turn it on, see what’s on.” So what he’s been able to see has either been what we’ve chosen to bring in via DVD or whatever, or, you know, Netflix would be where he… finds it himself. You know, and he’s found some…
BRIAN: Like, when you asked about the Spider-Man thing, if it’s a commercial or anything we might know via that, it’s totally over our heads.
BILL: I’m finding that out. A lot of people I know who are raising kids now, they don’t have TV. They’ve got a monitor. They’ve got a screen, but it’s not hooked up to anything. Now they watch whatever they want.
BRIAN: Yeah, same here.
BILL: Okay, this is just a curiosity. You love Back to the Future. You haven’t seen 2 or 3 yet?
WES: No, the last time I saw Back to the Future was probably a year ago. I would have watched it a lot by now if it was on Netflix.
BILL: Do you remember a lot about it, even though the last time you saw it was a year ago?
WES: Not too much. I can’t quote anything. I know what happens, a good amount of it, especially the beginning. I can’t do a lot in the middle, but the most significant parts, I remember.
BILL: Do you tend to quote movies in your everyday life? Does something happen to you that reminds you of a movie and you just recall it?
WES: Yeah, that happens, but not generally everyday. Some things I see that are a lot like [a movie] and I can make a joke out of it, but I don’t usually do it. A lot of times when I’m home, I do it, but not as much [at school] as at home.
BRIAN: When he was three and I was just really beginning in comedy, he would be dropped off at my house, then I’d put him in the car and take him to the night sitter while I did a show; he would quote Star Wars. Obi-Wan Kenobi. “Always on the move.”
BRIAN: What is that, 2, or 3? One of them. Anyway, that’s the one we had on DVD. Now, what he’s been quoting, quite a bit lately, is South Park, specifically the “shitty wall” episode, with the “god-damn Mongorians.” That’s all over the house. Whenever something goes wrong, it was the god-damn Mongorians! As a parent, once I know he knows where that’s appropriate, where that’s okay, it fuckin’ floors ya. You know what I mean? It would be incredibly hypocritical of me to put any type of value on words, to the extent of what is good versus bad. I know you understand that. But obviously, you’ve got to give your child the cultural awareness. That isn’t fair. If he chooses to drop an F-bomb in class, I know he’ll understand why that’s inappropriate there. Sometimes he’ll say, “Dad, you’re being an asshole,” and when your six-year-old says that to you… It’s like Will Green‘s joke; when a kindergartener calls you an asshole, you probably are. So, he gets it.
BILL: I don’t know if this has anything to do with who you are as a person, or if this is just something that happens to people, but I would watch the same movies over and over again. And really bad ones. Have you seen the Flintstones movie with Rick Moranis?
WES: No. I’ve seen a couple of the regular animated Flintstones.
BILL: Those are okay. (laughs) But movies like that, I saw them on a loop, they’re in my head, they’re never going away. You know the scene in Back to the Future where he says, “This Saturday night, we’re sending you back to the future”? If somebody says the phrase “this Saturday night,” my brain goes, “we’re sending you back to the future.” My brain just fills in the other half. And it’s bad. My mom thought this was “go to a psychologist” bad. I was always doing this around the house, but I’m finding that a lot of people did that. My mom just wanted to think there was something wrong with me.
BILL: Wes, do you ever do that? Do you hear part of a line from Finding Nemo and think, “Oh, that reminds me of Finding Nemo“?
WES: Sometimes in school, that happens in class with Jeff Dunham. And of course I don’t repeat any of it, but it automatically triggers in my head. It usually makes me chuckle.
BILL: (laughs) So you don’t say it, you just think it?
WES: Yeah, it just comes in.
BILL: And then teacher says, “Stop laughing and start learning,” or whatever teachers say.
WES: They usually don’t notice it.
BILL: That’s good. Teachers aren’t paying attention.
BILL: Well, I have more than I need. Thank you very much, guys!
BRIAN: Cool, cool.
WES: You’re welcome!
Wes is the one on the right. Brian did not read for 20 minutes today and must be punished.