My tween cousin and I have a weekly movie night. I am continually searching for themes to surprise him with, but the rentals need to satisfy the both of us: this way, we can both look forward to spending quality time together. The tween age bracket is hard to please, but I’m hoping that a mixture of recent and retro classics will suffice. My choices tend to lean on the retro side, only because I’m older, more nostalgic and I appreciate the value of introducing a new generation to a relevant old film. The theme of time travel can be broken up into a few months of movies, depending upon the quantity viewed in one sitting. My cousin and I can watch at least two, possibly three per week. Even one film can make all the difference, as long as it’s within the theme.
My first pick, in no special order, is called “Frequency” from the year 2000. It stars Jim Caviezel as a homicide detective for the New York police department in 1999. His father (Dennis Quaid) was killed thirty years ago, but thanks to a strange short-wave radio he recovered from his youth, he can now communicate with his father in the late sixties, warning him of the impending disaster. However, this altercation of the timeline causes an unwanted effect: the cop’s mother is murdered instead. Together, the father and son work to identify the killer before he or she can strike. This is an inventive story with a perfect amount of suspense. The element of time travel is used in a unique way and the result is entertaining.
The next pick is called “Mr. Destiny” from 1990. It’s about an average, unhappy working-class guy who wishes that he could have not struck out during a crucial baseball game in high school. A mysterious man, similar to Cinderella’s fairy godmother, allows him to re-live his life as if he finished that pivotal baseball game successfully. However, things aren’t always as they seem, and this movie teaches a valuable life lesson in addition to promoting qualities such as loyalty, honesty, and friendship. The alternate time travel is also slightly reminiscent of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
The next pick is titled “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” from 2010. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina and Gemma Arterton. An adopted prince gains an ally in a princess to join forces against some powerful villains. These villains are looking for a renowned dagger containing the Sands of Time, permitting the owner of it to reverse time. Despite the fact that this tale is set in the sixth century, it has plenty of action, romance, drama and even suspense. The actors were very convincing, and this movie was just plain fun.
My top ten time travel movies for tweens wouldn’t be complete without the “Back to the Future” trilogy. It’s rare that a film has a successful sequel, let alone a third installment. It’s about a teen that hangs around a crackpot scientist who invents a time travel machine inside a car. All of the adventures that come about from the machine change the course of history for those involved. But for the viewers, it contains memorable scenes, unforgettable one-liners and a great film score. The first movie is one of my top favorite movies of all time, and I’ve practically memorized the script!
The seventh pick is called “Flight of the Navigator”, a 1986 Disney movie. A boy from 1978 is accidentally sent forward in time to 1986 without aging. This is all due to a mysterious UFO that is attempting to get back to its home planet. The mechanical captain of the spaceship is voiced by Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman). There’s even an appearance by a very young Sarah Jessica Parker. This is a terrific family film with a great soundtrack and memorable characters.
My eighth pick is titled “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” from 1989. I only favored the first film, because the sequel got a bit too weird for my tastes. This bodacious theatrical release stars a young Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and none other than George Carlin. The plot focuses on a pair of slacker high school students that need to ace an oral history exam in order to graduate and keep their rock band from breaking up. A time traveler from the future helps them out – in a most excellent way – by allowing them to travel back in time and retrieve various key people from history in a telephone booth. It could only happen in the eighties!
My final picks are actually an original film along with its remake. The title of the movie is “The Time Machine”. The first version is from 1960 and the second one was released in 2002. Both films have strengths and weaknesses, but they are memorable and entertaining. My cousin even wanted to read the book after seeing both movies: getting a tween to do that is a feat within itself.
These movies are definitely part of popular culture. While a few of them have yet to reach classic status, they make up for it with unique storytelling techniques. The plots will generate tons of interesting conversation pieces between the average adult and tween while opening the doors to bond and showing them a part of nostalgia without being too pushy. As a result of viewing them in a family setting, I hope that memories can be made and shared to last a lifetime.