Sometimes I'm convinced my wife thinks I'm nuts. She cannot figure out why I watch movies repeatedly. She has a few chestnuts she enjoys and will watch on occasion, but I'm not sure she'll ever understand why when certain movies happen to be on TV, I feel almost compelled to watch them. They run the gamut from funny to thrilling to dramatic. The ones I really love I've seen sometimes a few dozen times.
It started with The Empire Strikes Back. I was 11 when it was released and there was a movie theater in the mall less than a mile from my house. My friends and I went to see it first thing in the morning, standing in line with the other nerds. Once we were in, we didn't leave except to pee and get popcorn through a half dozen showings. We went back and saw it multiple times after that. I don't know how many times I've seen it now that I own the DVD, maybe 100 or more, yet that whole "Luke, I am your father" crap never gets old.
It might be because I watched reruns a lot as a kid. I would see the same episode of The Jeffersons or Three's Company more times that I or anyone else would care to. It bled over into film. This isn't to say I don't like watching new movies. I do. But, once I get my claws into one, I go back for seconds, thirds and twentieths on occasion. Here's why.
5. If it is compelling, it's compelling.
Or funny or fascinating. I will never get sick of Jason Robards telling a story about J. Edgar Hoover as Ben Bradlee in All the President's Men or watching Quint, Hooper and Brody talk about their scars on the boat in Jaws. I could watch John Winger convince Russell Ziskey to not only steal the EM-50 in Stripes, but drive it into Czechoslovakia to rescue their unit, 1,000 times. When it's good, it's good.
4. Often things are missed in one pass.
Watching a great movie is a little bit like listening to a Beatles record. If you pay attention, each time you'll hear something different. I've listened to Beatles songs hundreds of times over the years and I still find myself hearing things I'd never heard before. That is the power of discovery that comes with repeated watchings of movies, particularly in this new world of CGI technology.
This story continues on the next page. 3. It's comforting.
This perhaps best applies to holiday films. Whether it's Elf or Die Hard, there are movies that just go with Christmas (and I'm not above watching Will Ferrell clown around New York in tights in June either). Watching them is a tradition that gives a sense of place and home. Really, any film can have that impact, which is why certain movies -- Shawshank Redemption comes to mind -- are replayed over and over on cable networks. There's something reliable about the same outcome and re-connecting with those characters even after years of the same.
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2. Not everyone has a photographic memory.
Sometimes, watching a flick again is simply the best way to remember it. In the age of information, our brain is forced to process so much on a daily basis, it is easy to understand how detail could be lost over time. If a movie means something and delivers an emotional impact, particularly if it makes people happy, there's really no reason not to see it again if for no other reason than to remember that feeling.
1. How else would you memorize good movie lines?
I admit it. I'm a quote junkie. I'm sure I would sound much more literate were I to quote Joyce instead of Tommy Boy, but words are words and if they mean something or make me laugh, I don't care if I found them in a Hemmingway novel or a Spielberg film. Shakespeare, after all, wrote scripts before there was such a thing as a movie projector.