Thursday, June 30, 2016

These Old Walkin' Shoes: East Bound and Down

Have you ever watched a movie as a kid and had it pop into your head later in adulthood? That’s what happened this week for me. Luckily, I own said movie and was able to get my fix in. The best part was that I was able to share the experience with my 17-year-old niece, Brianna. She’s in town visiting after her high school graduation. She was looking to relax a little bit after the long drive from Indiana.

“Smokey & the Bandit” is a movie that I’ve probably seen several dozen times. It was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. Burt Reynolds drove the coolest car, had the prettiest girlfriend, and the best network of friends. Did I mention he had a great car? While I’m not really a country fan, I’ve always loved Jerry Reed’s “East Bound and Down.” In fact, that may have been the reason I even thought of the movie. I was humming it one morning while on my walk.

When I was a kid, I used to re-enact some of the scenes from the movie. Of course, I made my sister the evil Buford T. Justice, even though he had some of the best lines. I could drive that Trans-Am like no one else. I was the Bandit.

I recently learned that Jackie Gleason ad-libbed his lines throughout the movie. Think of the comic genius it took to pull that off. BIll Murray did it with “Ghostbusters,” and Gleason did it with the “Bandit” movies. I can’t imagine the the off-camera antics between Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason. I’ll bet someone needed to change their pants after peeing them in laughter.

For some reason, movies like “Smokey & the Bandit” get stuck in our heads. No matter how many times we’ve seen them, we still laugh at the right points. We ignore the fact they made two sequels and a mess of made-for-TV movies in the 1980s. Instead we focus on the first, and the best.

I’m sure there are other movies from our youth that we love to see over and over again. I’m not talking about movies like “Star Wars” or “Dune.” Those movies are watched repeatedly for entirely different reasons. I’m talking about those Clint Eastwood flicks and the Burt Reynolds flicks. They are not deep, thought provoking films. However, they are the movies that helped define our childhood. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with an orangutan, or outfox the police? Those were cool things when we were kids.

So, Brianna watched “Smokey & the Bandit” for the very first time. Even though the movie is dated in her eyes, she still thought it was funny. Maybe she was laughing at the jokes. Maybe she was laughing at the bell-bottoms. At any rate, it was my duty to introduce a new generation to the great movies of my time.

Just a few days later, I tried to introduce “Goonies” to my own kids. Out of the four of them, only Patience watched the whole thing. The rest bailed fairly quickly. There were a few points where Patience got a little frightened, but she liked the adventure. In fact, the next day, she asked if we could watch “Goonies” again.

I’ve introduced my kids to the “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” franchises. We’ve tried “Happy Days” and “Little House on the Prairie,” but they only really like the latter. For some reason, they really didn’t like “The Munsters.” Strange kids. I guess on my next walk, I’ll have to think up some other movies and television shows for them to try out. Any suggestions?

Craig Bacon, that sumbitch, is going to keep writing these columns. Hope you like them and pass them on to all your friends.