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In the final part of a two-part podcast episode, film historian and author Eric Lichtenfeld ("Action Speaks Louder") joins Sarah and Raf for the second half of their conversation about the 1988 action film and Christmas classic "Die Hard."This time, the group dives even deeper into the important tropes and meaning found in the beloved film: what the music is really saying; how John McClane is pride and Hans Gruber is vanity; and the sheer delight of stealing a candy bar from the Nakatomi Corporation. Raf dares to ask if there's anything the group doesn't like about the movie (and yes, there are a few things). Sarah, meanwhile, gets to swoon while stating "I'm just basking forever now in this idea that Alan Rickman and I said the same thing, sort of, kind of."It's also time to say "Happy trails" to Season 2 of What the Kids Were Watching, as it draws to a close with this episode. The podcast hosts send a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who's listened in, both during this season and the last one. It's been a lot of fun, and they truly appreciate all the love and support.
For years, people have argued about whether or not the 1988 action masterpiece "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie. Sarah and Raf are not here to argue about that. They're here to close out Season 2 with an incredible guest star who provides in-depth insight into the film's production and ongoing influence -- someone who literally wrote the book on "Die Hard." (Well, he wrote the Library of Congress essay that accompanied the movie's induction into the National Film Registry.)Film historian and author Eric Lichtenfeld ("Action Speaks Louder") joins the podcast hosts to discuss the enduring cultural legacy of "that thing in the building," from what set the film apart from other action movies to the connections it helped forge between family members. To say Eric is a "Die Hard" expert is a bit of an understatement -- in addition to writing the afore-mentioned essay for the National Film Registry, he also conducted the interviews for the text commentary track (yes, the one on your DVD!).A fantastic raconteur, Eric shares delightful stories with Sarah and Raf about the film's subtext, its creators, and, yes, why we have turned it into a Christmas classic. Most of all, the hosts talk about why we're still talking about "Die Hard" 33 years later. It's a phenomenal movie with a ton of thought and care put into it; but as Eric states, it's also "a movie where things matter, [where] what happens to people matters." And that's just one of the many reasons why it still matters.
The Addams Family: They're creepy, they're kooky, and now they're an essential part of Thanksgiving thanks to the 1991 film "The Addams Family" and especially the 1993 sequel "Addams Family Values." These goth-tastic films, both of which were released during the holiday season, were a much-needed seasonal respite from the season's treacly offerings when our hosts were growing up. "It was teenage catnip," says Raf. "Hot Topic: The Movie," adds Sarah.Decades after their releases, the Addams Family movies remain beloved for several reasons. For one, the hosts love watching a family that rejects mainstream attitudes with a decidedly un-hipster earnestness, whether the Addams are trimming roses off the bushes or throwing knives at friends. Unlike the first film, the sequel died at the box office, but it found a new life thanks to its now-legendary Thanksgiving scene -- a scene that Sarah admits is still an important commentary on white privilege, but one with a slightly problematic perspective.Filled with lively discussions about dumb 90s t-shirts, the genuine awesomeness of vultures, and Sarah's alarming knowledge of "Whoomp! There It Is" lyrics, this episode is sure to fester in listeners' memories in the best possible way. Just try not to judge the hosts for the record number of corrections. (And please don't send them to the Harmony Hut.)
Do you like strong female protagonists, Dire Straits songs, dope sweaters, and robots who take everything literally? Then you -- like our podcast hosts (and guest star!) -- probably loved the 1986 film "SpaceCamp." Dubbed "baby's first 'Apollo 13'" by Raf, this charming film follows a group of teens and their rejected-astronaut-turned-reluctant-leader Kate Capshaw as they accidentally blast off into space on the world's most expensive test drive.The film did poorly at the box office, as it launched only five months after the Challenger disaster. But the home video market brought a lot of fans into its orbit, including Sarah, Raf, and Reese Marino, this episode's guest star (follow her on Instagram: @notorious.mbg). Like "Real Genius," the first WTKWW subject, "SpaceCamp" instilled a deep love and respect for science in our hosts' heads. The trio raves about the film's great character development, inspiring female role models (especially Lea Thompson's highly relatable Kathryn), and celebration of all things space. They also discuss how the film introduced them at a young age to the double standards forced on women and POC in STEM fields.Now, the film isn't perfect. It offers little backstory and a John Williams score that does a lot of heavy lifting. But its mantra that smarts can take you further than sass was a real feat at the height of nerds-versus-jocks movies. So join our hosts in the shuttle (okay, couch) as they talk about extra-terrestrial disc jockeys, Morse Code, Max and Jinx's "Gift of the Magi" relationship, and the importance of kids' movies that show how people can be brilliant in different ways and that everyone brings something essential to the table.
What do you get when you combine a life-destroying journey across space and time with the fun-filled tale of a wise-cracking kid and his wacky robot friend? The answer: Disney's "Flight of the Navigator" (1986), a strange but mostly loveable combination of eerie sci-fi film and "a boy and his dog" story (except that the dog's a robot).Fun is threaded throughout this film, starting with the opening scene of a dog frisbee-catching contest that keeps teasing the audience with faux spaceship sightings. (As Sarah quips, "We open the movie with the Fort Lauderdale championship for 'Who's a Good Boy?'") The movie also features middle-class families with boats and huge houses on the water, a spaceship that operates on Muppet logic, Chekov's fireworks, and a 12-year-old who -- according to Raf -- acts like a bitter Boomer.Unlike 1982's "E.T.," "Flight of the Navigator" did not terrify Sarah as a child, who watched it multiple times with family friends and still considers it to be Sarah Jessica Parker's greatest performance (after "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"). In a slightly emotional turn, she gets a little nostalgic at the end of the episode, thinking about the recent loss of her mother and remembering "the joy of going to a movie together with my family and seeing something that we all genuinely enjoyed." But sometimes, it's okay to be nostalgic and love a movie for its memories more than its content -- especially, as Sarah notes, when we're still "trying to read our own star charts to plot our own way home."
In many ways, "Demolition Man" is a perfect "What the Kids Were Watching" movie: Sarah saw it way too often as a child; revisiting it reveals a deeply flawed film; and Raf knows a whole lot of facts about it. Nearly thirty years after its release, this 1993 action film continues to raise questions. Is the movie really "Brave New World" fanfic? What would you do if Taco Bell was the only restaurant left? And -- most importantly -- why the three seashells?Fortunately, the podcast hosts are willing to yell about these questions and more. They admit it's delightful to see Sandra Bullock in her last role before rising to stardom in "Speed." Likewise, Benjamin Bratt as Alfredo Garcia and Glenn Shadix (a.k.a. Otho from "Beetlejuice") as the endearing Associate Bob are charming.Yet the film remains problematic on multiple levels, from certain characters to cringe-worthy dialogue to bigger structural issues. As Raf states, "It doesn't want to commit to any of its ideas. It just wants to comment on the ideas." So grab your dog-eared copy of "Brave New World" and some elegantly plated Taco Bell, and join our hosts as they revisit a Murder Death Kill-filled vision of the future as imagined by the past.
Like a fine merlot and a cheeseburger, "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" (1989) and "Encino Man" (1992) make a surprisingly good pairing for a podcast double feature. Both films feature characters from the past suddenly introduced to the present as hilarity ensues. Both introduce male friendships that are warm and supportive. And, like most comedies of the time, both feature scenes in malls.However, "Encino Man" remains burdened by something that "Bill and Ted" is refreshingly devoid of: a toxic main character. Sean Astin -- known for playing sweet, loveable underdogs -- stars as David, a deeply unlikeable high school senior who mistreats his friends and stalks another student. Fortunately, Pauly Shore's charming Stoney and Brendan Fraser's delightful Link make up for that unpleasantness, prompting both Sarah and Raf to wish these two had their own movie together.Likewise, the friendship between the titular characters of "Bill and Ted" is lovely to see, as it's nearly devoid of toxic masculinity. The hosts are surprised at how much of the movie remains endearing, even more than 30 years later. (Quips Sarah, “That was my introduction to Bill & Ted: knowing nothing about it and just being told ‘You’ll like it,’ and then walking out and being like ‘I’m going to love Keanu Reeves for the rest of my life.'”) So grab your phone book -- or look up what a phone book was -- and get ready for a fast-paced journey of hilarious historical hijinks.(TW: discussion of sexual assault)
It's time to turn in your receipts for the petty cash and declare "Dishes are done, man," because the hosts (and a special guest star!) are here for the cult classic "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead." This 1991 film may have faltered at the box office, but it found a dedicated fan base through cable and VHS rentals, encouraging a generation of Gen X kids and older Millennials to yell "I'm right on top of that, Rose!" at work.While Raf doesn't count the movie among his favorites, two of its biggest fans remain Sarah and the podcast's first-ever guest star, Javi Perez. Together, this nostalgic trio celebrates the truly wonderful performances of Christina Applegate as Sue Ellen, Joanna Cassidy as Rose, and Keith Coogan as Kenny. The group also discusses the delightful 90s fashion and music choices the film makes.However, it's not all about Rose-colored glasses. Upon revisiting the movie, the hosts find plenty of examples of toxic behavior. Is Bryan a good boyfriend, or the worst kind of nice guy? Is the Crandell mom too passive-aggressive? Would the fashion show outfits really work as school uniforms? Let's pour a big bowl of Cap'n Crunch cereal and find out.
Pop quiz, hot shot: What deliriously fun, fast-paced film released in the summer of 1994 made Keanu Reeves an action star? The answer, of course, is "Speed." (Or as Homer Simpson called it, "The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down.") The movie also served as the directorial debut of "Die Hard" cinematographer Jan de Bont. Plus, it made the world fall in love with Sandra Bullock, and it inspired Sarah's love of retro cat-eye glasses."Speed" is one of those movies that's so improbable and over-the-top, there's no point in dissecting it too much -- you'll miss all the fun. Upon rewatching it, Sarah and Raf are struck by how much they still enjoy the film, even with its ridiculous scenarios. And all these years later, Reeves' and Bullock's performances remain explosively great.But what truly surprises the hosts is the sense of community they now see within the film. Unlike action movies with a lone wolf-type character, Reeves' police officer and the bus passengers work together to survive and thwart the villain. Camaraderie and compassion develop in the commuting micro-community, with Reeves' character using words before bullets and the passengers working together to protect one another. It's an inspiring message that still holds true today, even if the film's plausibility remains as thin as a bus pass.
Get your air horn ready, because Season 2 of What the Kids Were Watching is finally here! Sarah and Raf are back on the couch, ready to discuss the films they watched ad nauseam as kids -- and, as usual, they have a lot to say about them.But the inaugural episode of the second season is more animated than usual, as the hosts find themselves drawn to talking about cartoons for the first time in the podcast. They tackle three animated features that were created to sell lines of toys: "The Care Bears Movie" (1985), "Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer" (1985), and "My Little Pony: The Movie" (1986). The Care Bears -- who Sarah dubs "the NSA of goodness" -- use tricks like great Carole King songs and a genuinely creepy villain to win the hosts over. Raf remembers the Rainbow Brite film fondly, but Sarah can't get over how the titular character is "pretty, but kind of useless." Then there's the My Little Pony movie, which -- according to our hosts -- made "The Care Bears Movie" look like "Citizen Kane."However, in an extra-special bonus, the hosts also talk about a half-hour TV special that's better and more fascinating than any of the three feature-length films: "My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle." "It's like My Little Pony meets Dungeons and Dragons," says Raf, while Sarah adds, "It's like a Rush song come to life." It's a weird, wild little cartoon that's more Dethklok than dainty -- and the hosts are here for it.
In the Season 1 finale of What the Kids Were Watching, the hosts finally find a dino-sore spot: a film they vehemently disagree on. The 1993 dinosaur action/adventure/thriller/total special effects game-changer "Jurassic Park" had so much influence on Sarah that she talks at 1.5 speed for most of the podcast. Raf, meanwhile, is ready to roar with critiques and complaints about the movie.But as the hosts discover, there's a lot to love AND dislike about the original "Jurassic Park." For example, sexism clearly abounds, from the mean jokes at Lex's expense to the numerous Ellie Sattler butt shots. However, the film does a great job of building tension by slowly revealing the monsters (a la "Jaws"). Sarah also argues that the film is one coming-of-age metaphor after another, especially with its presentation of possible romantic partners. "If you watched this movie at the age that we watched it," she says, "you found yourself shockingly attracted to one of four characters: Sam Neill as Alan Grant, Laura Dern as Ellie, Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm, or the velociraptor."Yet it's hard to ignore the film's larger message about how humans are the real problem, especially in this day and age. As Raf quips, "It's all fun and games until someone tries to destroy a civilization." But between groan-worthy dinosaur puns, hot fashion takes, Halloween costume suggestions, and the terrifying truth about pelicans, things never get too gloomy in the podcast. After all, the hosts want to end the season on tricera-top.
"This movie is basically Merrie Melodies meets 'Chinatown.'" So begins Sarah and Raf's analysis of the groundbreaking live-action-meets-animation film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." This 1988 movie enchanted both of our hosts when they were young, driving them to learn as much as they could about its production. And what a production it was! From lawyers fighting over Donald and Daffy getting an equal number of frames per second to robots that had to move like animated penguin waiters, this film was all sorts of complicated.But "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" is more than just a logistical nightmare that became a technical triumph. It's also a portrait of haunted characters stuck in the past as villains around them stare maliciously toward the future. It's a story about the toxic reverberations grief can have years later. It's a pamphlet come to life called "How to Talk to Your Toons About Alcoholism." It's a dusty gallery of cringe-worthy references that have not aged well. But most of all, as Sarah says, "It's a dark noir thriller, you know, for kids!" And it's one that's worth revisiting.
The 1994 comic book film "The Crow" has a famous and heartbreaking history. Its star Brandon Lee — son of Bruce Lee — was tragically killed in an on-set accident. Because of this, the film was edited down with much of its expository material removed, and the result was a tight and haunting story with an iconic lead performance. Sarah and Raf note that it's hard to watch Heath Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight" and not think of Lee's Eric Draven.That doesn't mean "The Crow" is a perfect film. As much as Raf loved it, he admits that it's "the most 1994 movie ever made," but celebrates what a landmark it was for the comic book movie industry. The gore and violence made Sarah hesitate to embrace the film, as did the cheesiness. The villains' names "sound like something from a PBS children's television show," she says, adding that their "Fire It Up" dance "feels like they're just really excited about going to regionals."Yet "The Crow," for all its flaws, remains important to both hosts. It's an extraordinarily well-edited film, it helped popularize "Hot Topic" (For real! Kind of!), and its soundtrack was essential for goths and non-goths alike. Plus, the film's message about how "real love never dies" hits them right in their still-teenage hearts. In Sarah's words, "It's so important that it doesn't need to justify its existence. To ask if it holds up is sort of belittling how important it is."(Bonus content: Sarah's beloved dog Verona, who passed away in May 2019, spends a lot of time walking around, flapping her ears, and licking Raf's face in this episode. At the time of recording, the hosts thought she felt unsettled by the film's sad background and was driven to move around a lot. Now, her noise is a sweet reminder that — as the film's characters keep saying — real love never dies.)
The late aughts had “Twilight,” but in the early 90s, vampire fans were sinking their teeth into “Interview with the Vampire” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” — and today, these two movies are the subject of a bloody good podcast episode. Raf explains how these films were groundbreaking in many ways, from portraying vampires as creatures worthy of sympathy to featuring a gay subtext that was rarely seen in the era's big-budget films. Sarah admits she hasn't seen these movies as many times as Raf has, but she does approve of Gary Oldman’s “Victorian Geddy Lee” look.In many ways, these two films are as different as night and day. Both hosts agree that “Dracula” is beautiful but boring, despite Sadie Frost’s amazing Lucy (and in spite of Anthony Hopkins' scenery-chewing Van Helsing). “Interview,” meanwhile, suffers from Brad Pitt's Louis — who Sarah dubs "sullen furniture" — but sparkles thanks to Tom Cruise's charming sociopath Lestat and Kirsten Dunst’s fantastic baby vampire Claudia, as well as Latinx representation and the afore-mentioned gay subtext. But why do women suffer so much more than men in both films? And is living forever an eternal party, or an eternal funeral? The hosts try to find some answers that don't suck.
The legacy of the supposedly family-friendly comedy "Short Circuit" is a frustrating one; and in this podcast episode, Sarah and Raf try to parse out what's salvageable from the 1986 film and what's not."Short Circuit" is the story of a robot/mobile nuclear weapon that gets struck by lightning and, Pinocchio-like, goes on a series of wacky adventures to become alive. Or, as Sarah sums it up: "This whole movie is like one big commercial for a surge protector." In addition to the robot Johnny Five -- clearly the inspiration for WALL-E, according to Raf -- the film features Ally Sheedy as Stephanie Speck, a.k.a. "a bubbly female version of Noah's Ark," and the exceptionally smug Steve Guttenberg as Newton Crosby. The podcast hosts discuss the dangers of letting kittens run across the stove, the importance of learning the word "warmonger" at an early age, and how -- as Sarah notes with disappointment -- "Even robots can sexually harass you. There really is no safe space."But the hosts also address the elephant in the room: the Indian-American character Ben, played by Fisher Stevens in brownface. How do you talk about a racially insensitive film you loved as a kid? How do you publicly address your childhood ignorance? If you're Raf, you're honest and measured. If you're Sarah, you yell a lot. "I'm angry that I didn't know's embarrassing that I thought this was funny, and I'm ashamed of it," she admits. Between the hosts' own experiences with negative Latinx representation in film and the racism their family members endured, they have a lot to say about this film's terrible legacy as they contemplate how to move forward.
For Sarah and Raf, a certain 1989 marketing juggernaut changed the way they saw movies forever...and thinking about it drives them both a bit batty.In this podcast double feature, the hosts tackle Tim Burton's toxic-candy-colored "Batman" (1989) and the much-maligned "Batman Returns" (1992). Raf discusses how "Batman" laid the groundwork for modern-day comic book movies and ushered in the era of affordable VHS tapes. Sarah, meanwhile, notes that the film's kid-focused marketing and gritty embittered tone make it feel like "an angry divorced dad," though she stans Vicki Vale's bizarre fashion choices.But both hosts are here for "Batman Returns," the film that pushed Burton away from the franchise but won over Sarah and Raf's cine-manic hearts. They'll discuss whether Michelle Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle is actually a good guy, how Max Shreck is Peak Walken, how Bruce Wayne could've been the Penguin (or Shreck) in a different life, whether Batman and Catwoman could've made it work — and, most importantly, how this dark film about murder and corruption is really a Christmas movie. Just like "Die Hard."
It takes a very special movie to get someone to start a podcast. For Sarah, that movie — the movie that launched the idea of What the Kids Were Watching — is the 1986 Eddie Murphy comedy "The Golden Child." Like many people their age, Sarah and Raf saw "The Golden Child" multiple times before the age of 11. HBO had it on constant rotation, Eddie Murphy was hilarious, and the film had fart jokes. What's not to love?Well...quite a lot, actually. Revisiting "The Golden Child" over three decades later reveals a ton of problems in the film, including the obvious and awful Asian stereotypes, many less-than-stellar punchlines, a romantic relationship that doesn't make sense, and bizarre style choices for the set (an Elvis poster in Eddie Murphy's living room? Really?). But after everything's said and done and we've all desecrated a prayer wheel reenacting the "I-I-I want the knife, please" scene, the hosts must decide if the movie is worth their time or if they should leave it in the recycle bin.
Steve Martin's delightful comedies "L.A. Story" (1991) and "Roxanne" (1987) have more in common than you may think. Both are based on classic works of literature: "Roxanne" is a sweet retelling of "Cyrano de Bergerac," while Raf insists "L.A. Story" loosely retells "Hamlet" and "The Tempest." Both movies can be seen as fairy tales for adults, respectively showcasing a whimsical and magic-drenched side of Los Angeles and the sheltered charm of the imagined mountain town Nelson. They paint adult life as a mixture of bizarre trends, Shakespeare quotes, and good old slapstick fun. But are these fairy tales for women or for men? And decades later, do these noses by any other name still smell as sweet? In the third episode of What the Kids Were Watching, the hosts break down why these Martin films initially won them over, why Sarah kept rewatching them (especially "L.A. Story") over the years, and whether or not they're worth a revisit...or a twist of lemon.
“Weekend at Bernie’s” was released in 1989. But 30 years later, people who haven't seen the movie still know its premise. So why won’t this film die?In the second episode of What the Kids Were Watching, Sarah and Raf take a journey deep into the heart of 80s movie stereotypes. Hear about the high points of “Weekend at Bernie’s," like Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman’s hotness; the low points, like how most of the women are “furniture with boobs;" and the surprisingly great performances, like Terry Kiser as the titular “dead mobster marionette." You’ll also hear fun facts about the movie, like how Bernie’s house was built on an environmentally protected beach — Sarah has questions about this — as well as the film’s sequel...just kidding; they refuse to talk about the film’s terrible sequel. (Bonus feature: You can hear Sarah’s beloved dog Verona running around, flapping her ears, and snorting, all free of charge.)
Welcome to What the Kids Were Watching, a podcast dedicated to exploring the weird, wonderful, and terrible babysitter movies of Sarah and Rafael’s youth. In this podcast series, your hosts will revisit the movies they watched on repeat during their younger years, played in perpetuity thanks to their VCRs and HBO. Each episode includes a frank discussion about why the hosts loved the movie as kids, what they think upon revisiting the movie, and whether or not they’d recommend rewatching it. Not quite a gushing nostalgia-fest and not quite a harsh critical take-down, What the Kids Were Watching is funny, informative, and always honest.In the first episode, break out your “I <3 Toxic Waste” shirt and bunny slippers, because Sarah and Raf are talking about one of their favorite childhood movies: “Real Genius.” This 1985 film starring Val Kilmer celebrates nerds, science, the Cha Cha, popcorn, Bryan Adams songs, “smart people on ice,” fighting the military-industrial complex, and more. “Real Genius” was a hilarious departure from other nerd comedies of the 80s, treating its characters — including its female characters — more like people and less like punchlines. Learn why this film turned out so different from the other movies in its genre and how it had a long-term impact on a generation of self-professed nerds. Give it a listen. It's a moral imperative.
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