Saturday, November 20, 2010

80's Movie Saturday--The NeverEnding Story (Or, why I should never, ever have been allowed to have children)

Do you have a four-year-old who is eerily drawn to the dark, scary, and sinsiter?

If not, you're really missing out.

My four-year-old is fascinated with stuff that might scare her as evidenced by the fact that for her night-time lullaby she prefers to watch Michael Jackson's Thriller (because there's nothing more soothing than watching a bunch of Zombies dance together in a dilapidated graveyard while their appendages fall to the ground.)

Turns out that this isn't enough for our future-Stephen-King-lover.

We kind of made a mistake.

Every morning when Anna gets up, either Wife or I is outside in the garage running on the treadmill. (Okay, I'll be really honest here and admit that I haven't run since Monday BUT THAT'S GOING TO CHANGE because I'm about to run right now. Outside. In November. Which counts for like 3 runs.)

Anyway, the point here is that when we're running on the treadmill we're watching the X-files, whose intro-music is creepy enough to give adults nightmares, and whose themes deal regularly with incest, extraterrestrials and psychosis.  So, probably not appropriate for Anna until she's at least five.

Here's the thing though. That creepy intro music and muffled discussion of alien private parts and what not? Anna hears it and she's drawn to it like a moth to a flame or like a meth-addict to a crappy apartment complex and is like "Can I watch, Daddy?  Please? Please?"

And I'm like "NO. That's too scary for you. Let's find something more kid-appropriate.

Like The NeverEnding Story."

Here is the music video which makes me feel nostalgic and filled with wonder.

So, today I decided to watch it with her.

As it turns out, the movie it is way better than I remembered and also totally inappropriate for 4-year-olds creepier than I remembered.


Here's a really brief recap in case you've forgotten why you shouldn't show this to your toddler:

Bastion, the protag., gets lectured by his dad who makes a freaky concoction of orange juice and egg yolk which he actually blends and drinks in front of his child. Awkward.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 20: A competitor eats a raw egg at a checkpoint during the 2010 Urban Max Series adventure race at Wentworth Park on November 20, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. Participants competed in pairs of two and were challenged to reach predetermined checkpoints by solving riddles using only using only a mobile phone, map and cue sheet. Contestants could walk, run or take public transport but the use of cars, bikes or taxis meant instant disqualification. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Who doesn't enjoy a good raw egg? Or a good Salmonella infection?

Then, Bastion gets thrown in a dumpster.

Next, a probably predatory book-store owner shows him a book, Bastion steals the book, gets to school, and then decides instead of going to class to sit in a dark room with a fake skeleton and read the book.

The book happens to be about a dude/chick (perhaps a hermaphrodite?) named Atreyu who is asked to save his world, Fantasia, from The Nothing, which is this terrifying cloud thing that eats stuff.

So, he/she decides to do it instead of hunting Purple Buffalo.

It was about this point in the movie that Anna started asking questions. These questions helped to emphasize the extreme level of confusion (and damage?) I was inflicting upon my daughter by letting her see this film.

Things like:

"Why does that rock guy eat rocks?"

"Can some doggies fly?"

"What's her name?" (Referring to Atreyu, played by a male)

"Is that a fox or a wolf?" (Referring to G'mork, the main bad wolf guy that is now going to haunt my own nightmares (again), right before he fights with Atreyu and gashes a big flesh-wound into his/her chest (breasts?).)

"Why did he have blood on him?"

"Daddy can you die from a wolf?"

So, yeah. Nothing but wholesome family goodness in the The Weed household.

I think I should get the Father of the  Century award.

Oh, but one cool thing was that, just as the theme of the movie suggests, there were totally moments when the story was NeverEnding!

Like when Atreyu gets woken up by his/her horse and pets the horse and says "I know what you want, it's time to eat. Good idea!" in the voice of a 23 year old woman, and then it awkwardly cuts to Bastion who cheers like he's at the Superbowl and says "No, it's a GREAT idea" and then grabs an apple (which apple, if you'll remember, he devours whole, including the core, which I always thought as a kid was kind of bad-A. Nothing more tough than eating an apple core.).  At this exact moment, I couldn't help but continue the story by jumping up myself and saying, "No, it's a TRIPLE great idea" and then grabbing a can of sweetened condensed milk because it's Saturday which is my free day wherein I eat whatever crap I want, and I wanted sweetened condensed milk because it's literally dulce de leche that hasn't been boiled, and thus delicious.

(Do you see how that works? If you want the story to be NeverEnding, you must now say something like "No, it's a great idea times INFINITY!" and then get up and eat something yourself, and then document it somewhere like your journal or a $28 million budget film, so the story gets passed on and on and on, just like in the movie. If you don't do this, it is your fault that Fantasia, the storehouse of all dreams and fantasies, crumbles into nothingness.)

Dark clouds pass over downtown Miami, Florida August 15, 2010. An area of low pressure over southwest Georgia could move southward into Gulf of Mexico waters by early Monday and has a medium chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center said on Sunday. The low pressure area was the remnant of Tropical Depression Five which dissipated on Wednesday in the Gulf. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil production, 11 percent of natural gas production, and more than 43 percent of U.S. refinery capacity. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

If you don't get up right now, find something to eat, and document it, these clouds will eat you and your family alive. So, no pressure.

Anyway, right after this is when Atreyu's horse sinks into the Swamp of Sadness, which was so devastating to Anna and me both that I could no longer touch the can of sweetened condensed milk I was sipping from (because that's how I roll people, I drink sweetened condensed milk from the can. Don't knock it till you try it.)

In conclusion, the Darkness is coming. And we're all going to die because there's nobody on earth that can understand the actual name Bastion says melodramatically into the dark night when he's alone in the school surrounded by seance candles, which name utterance happens to be the only thing that can save us all.

Sorry about that.

Hey, guess what else Anna has been begging us to watch that I may or may not review next week because I am a horrible parent who lets his daughter watch movies way beyond her age? The Dark Crystal!!! (Fittingly, this was lent to us by our friend Crystal.)

Update: Anna just came up to me with a random book and said "Daddy, what is this book called?" I told her what it was called, and then she said "I wish we could find the book called The NeverEnding Story. Maybe we can go to the book store to try to find it because I really want the book called The NeverEnding Story."

Perhaps this means I didn't just ruin her life.


  1. Hmm. I enjoyed this post and was going to comment but couldn't think of anything clever to say. (Like that has ever stopped me before)

  2. @Kristina--This comment was sufficiently clever in its non-cleverness. (And really, what does one say in response to a post like this?)

  3. You have to expose her to the Labyrinth as well! I definitely prefer that movie to Dark Crystal and The Never-Ending Story. It's a CLASSIC.

  4. @Catherine--This might be tantamount to a criminal act, but I must admit: I've never seen Labyrinth. Can we still be friends?

  5. Great Post, Josh. Your daughter is LUCKY to have you for her dad. Love your writing and you! Keep up the good work of parenting...go you!

  6. Josh, you are hilarious! I feel the same way. Whenever I see these movies I think of how freaky they are and I can't believe my parents let me watch them!
    And I totally followed directions and ate myself some cheese crackers. Thats a quadruple good idea.
    HOWEVER I must clarify that I gave you the movie, Legend, to watch and then review. Not the Dark Crystal. However, I have that one too and it is a classic in the Weirdest-80s-Movies-Ever Genre. But you must watch Legend first. It.Is.Awesome.

    PS It IS criminal that you have never seen Labrynth. I also have it. Ok now I look like a freak

  7. @Marcia--You might be the nicest person I know. Really truly.

    @Crystal--(part of this commented lifted from a facebook comment--isn't technology amazing?)

    WHAT. I was so looking forward to the Crystal one... my hopes and dreams are kind of spiraling into an abyss of sorrow and ignominy. Can you please provide both?

    Wait. No. I can do this. I will watch Legend. But now I have a legitimate question. Is Legend Anna appropriate (if, when we say a movie is Anna appropriate, we use The NeverEnding story as the gauge as to the maximum non-child-stuff allowed)? Or should I put it in the X-files category?

    Also, I totally felt the universe buzz a little earlier today and I'm pretty sure it's from when you kept the NeverEnding story going by eating something and then recording it right here for others to continue... it's the gift that keeps on giving!

    This comment is officially a post, and I am officially going to study drugs now. To be a chemical dependency counselor, I mean.

  8. First, as a first round crusader, I totally plan to try to continue to get to know and then remain life longfully in touch with all the rest of us crusaders (just came from rach's blog and am commenting to you on your post there.) Second, I have a four year old boy who is currently into all things superhero, but not creepy. Third, I was totally supposed to run today, but didn't. Fourth, I haven't seen the neverending story since i was in fourth grade, loved it, and don't remember anything being scary!!! thanks for the post! christy

  9. Oh dear. I shouldn't laugh, but oh dear. My 3 y/o is scared of the pinky ponk in In The Night Garden!!! Can't imagine showing her The Never-Ending Story (*chortles*)!!!


  10. Confession: Until I read this post, I thought the he/she was named Atrail. Also, The Neverending Story is a creepy movie. We started watching it sometime in the past year (I think it was on tv when we were on vacation or something) but we just couldn't finish it. Are you going to show Anna part 2?

  11. P.S. I was laughing so hard at this post, I actually cried. For reals.

  12. Three things:

    1) While reading this post, I laughed so hard for about 5 minutes that I was crying and actually wheezing. And I woke up the baby. And now he's sleeping in bed with us, which is not cool.

    2) I've never seen Legend. But I think it has Tom Cruise and Satan in it--which is a combo that I think really deserves some attention.

    3) Josh, you absolutely must go out and rent Labyrinth. It's classic. And it has David Bowie playing with Fushigi Magic Gravity Balls, long before they were haunting TV commercials.

  13. @Christy--Round One Crusaders Forever! Also, I am comforted to hear that NEStory didn't traumatize you when you were little.

    @Rach--Now, I'm not sure what The Night Garden is, but I have the feeling it is a very responsible, wholesome show because that's the kind of person you are and I'm not. Which is why you're children will not turn out to be axe murderers. So, good job! (Jury's still out on mine.)

    @Ashley--I hadn't realized there's a part 2!!! I've never seen it, but I'm thinking I must explore this. Also, I don't know if I've ever been more glad to hear I made someone cry.

    @Adam--Three things:

    1. It's about time I see a comment from you.

    2. I'm really sorry I woke the baby, but I'm also kinda happy because I'm not really sure if I've ever induced wheezing in another human. Kind of a big day for me, I guess.

    3. Your comment made ME laugh out loud.

    Finally, yes. Yes I will see Labyrinth. You all have me convinced.

  14. Hi Josh!

    I love the Neverending Story. Of course, it is pretty scary at times. My wife is still bothered by the freaky, talking wolf.

    Labyrinth is one of my favorites though. I remember going to see it in the movie theater. The Dark Crystal is also scary (for a kid) but good. If you want another good/scary movie, there's always Willow!


  15. WILLOW! How could I forget? I have that, too.

  16. Do not, I repeat DO NOT let her watch the Labyrinth until she's at least 6 or 7...David Bowie in spandex is something you should never expose your child to...

  17. This post is very funny. And, of course, I can relate to everything said about "The Never Ending Story" because it was a huge part of my childhood as well. Part 2 is not good. I watched most of it. I am sure Anna would like it, though.
    I kept thinking you were all talking about "I am Legend" and I was thinking that that is definitely not Anna appropriate. I get it now, I think. The Dark Crystal is very creepy. I watched it several years ago and was amazed at how dark it is. BUt I remember it vividly from when I first watched it as a child and I loved it and found it totally fascinating.
    I think that the fact that Anna wants to find "The Never Ending Story" totally makes up for all creepiness. It opened her mind and imagination, WOW.
    I wish I owned Willow. I have been craving to see that. I remember we (the weed kids) watched it one time with Adam and Moore kids while Andrea was babysitting. Awesome.

  18. All of the above movies are absolutely fantastic (though I have not seen Legend in its entirety) and bring back oh so many wonderful childhood memories. By childhood memeories I refer to momories from the ages of 21-23, when I was finally introduced to popular media and spent approximately a year and a half catching up on everything I had misssed. The Never Ending Story was actually one of the few that I had seen as a child, and though terrified by it at the time, have fond memories of and have watched many times since.
    In regards to the end of everything as we know it, we need not fear: MOONCHILD!!!
    Confused? This is the name that is yelled to the wind which halts The Nothing and saves the world.

    In response to Adam, David Bowie certainly makes Labyrinth, but he wasn't actually contact juggling in the movie. The inventor of contact juggling was literally standing behind Bowie and doing those tricks blind by sticking his arms through Bowie's sleeves. Pretty cool. Also, Fushigi Magic Gravity Balls are the cheaters way to juggle as they are essentially hi-tech gyroscopic orbs, whereas true contact juggling is done with solid metal, rubber, or in this case crystal balls. I apologize if that sounded snooty or condescending, but I have several friends who would be severely disappointed in me if I had let that one go:)

  19. I own The Neverending Story--one and two--and I cry inside that I can write that. Terrible, terrible films.

    The Dark Crystal is much better written, but freaks out my youngest. "Skeski liiiike." Mhmm. Freaky.

    Gremlins is also horribly inappropriate for children, but I made them watch it anyway. The puppetry is fantastical.

    I was really rooting for the bad-guy chick in the red 80's outfit to kill everyone. She looks like a reject villain from any one of the Power Rangers shows. I kid you not.

    1. Gremlins. *Shudder* That one used to give me nightmares. The part where they're all hatching....

  20. It's amazing how different movies look through the lens of parenthood, isn't it? Everything seems more awful with their big innocent eyes locked in on the screen. When my oldest two kids were probably 3 & 4, they started singing along with the ladies society song from Mary Poppins. I couldn't believe Mary Poppins had just taught my children the word "stupid." When they were maybe 6 and 7 they were terrified of the old man in Pollyanna. Like had-to-leave-the-room terrified.

    The good and bad news is that nothing is shocking with the third and fourth child. They've already learned it all from their public school-attending older siblings.

    Then there's the movies that I've gone back to watch and can't figure out what my parents were thinking letting me watch them so young. Like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Horrifying! Why in the world did they think it was okay for their 6-year-old to watch someone's heart ripped from their chest using chanting black magic? Or when I realized what Grease was actually about? What did my parents want me to learn from that as a young teenager? To lower myself to the standard of the cute rebel? Great, parents. Good job. It's a miracle I turned out so well.... :)