The premise behind The Sequels explores finding a way to live a normal life after having a wonderfully fantastical adventure as a kid, and the loneliness that builds in adulthood. So, even though this content isn’t geared toward kids, it would be interesting to look at some of those classic '80s films and wonder, “Which kids might have a difficult time after a grand adventure?”
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Length: 1 hour, 58 minutes
PG Rating, via Motion Picture Association of America: “Some Material May Not Be Suitable for Children – Parents urged to give ‘parental guidance.’ May contain some materials parents might not like for their young children.”
The Temple of Doom is entertaining, but make sure your kids are mature enough before watching this film. The main nemesis in this film rules with enslavement and horrendous treatment of those people, including human sacrifices. So, definitely make sure your kids can handle seeing death in the form of someone’s heart being ripped from their chest.
When I watched this movie as a child, I never once thought, “I wonder how Short Round is going to deal with all of this afterwards?” It begs the question now as I see it from an adult and geeky parent perspective. In this movie, Shorty witnesses many of these awful things. He also has to leap from an airplane without a parachute, wander through the wilderness, and injure a person he cares for deeply.
Even though Shorty harms his friend to save his life, it doesn’t change the fact that this violent action took place. Will that be the hardest hurdle to overcome moving forward, or does he realize he did what he had to do to save his friend? Short Round, played by Jonathan Ke Quan (IMDb), is fun to watch, and he highlights to other kids how useful someone can be, despite only being a child. Although Indi is the star of this franchise, Short Round (a.k.a. Shorty) is the one who saves the day.
Despite the menacing imagery in this film, it is an adventure that leads Indiana Jones to doing what he always tries to do: to do what’s right and help others in the process. Shorty is a big part of that, so like myself as a youngster, I believe your older kids will enjoy it, too.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom celebrates its 35th anniversary this May.
The Neverending Story
Length: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Also, celebrating its 35th anniversary (July, 1984), The Neverending Story is one of the greatest adventure stories a kid can watch. There are larger-than-life creatures, treacherous obstacles, and all of it comes from a story being read by a young boy.
The boy, Bastian, must come to terms with the fact that he plays a huge part in saving Fantasia - the fantasy world from the book he’s reading. How would Bastian deal with this knowledge and go on beyond the adventure? In some ways, the adventure seems to help him cope with the loss of his mother, or at least provide a distraction. Once the adventure and distraction ends, will that grief continue or will he find solace in gaining some semblance of purpose within the story of Fantasia.
This film is a MUCH more family friendly option for your kids than Temple of Doom. There is a far greater element of violence in Indiana Jones, so a younger audience would be better suited with The Neverending Story.
Back to the Future
Length: 1 hour, 56 minutes
What child hasn’t grown up watching Michael J. Fox play Marty McFly in Back to the Future? Time traveling in a supremely cool car – what else could a child ask for in a movie? “Are you telling me that you built a time machine out of a DeLorean?”
Although teenage Marty McFly will have three Back to the Future adventures, I wonder how his life moves forward once all of that time traveling comes to an end. Will he seek out wild rides going forward or will the idea of settling down calm his sometimes-rattled nerves from all of that back in forth.
As a kid, I watched this movie and contemplated whether finding a mad scientist capable of constructing such a vehicle was possible. If I did find this scientist, such as Christopher Lloyd’s character, Dr. Emmett Brown, would I be able to befriend him in time to help him build it? Frankly, I always imagined that Marty lived a long and happy life after the adventures ended. I never once worried that his life would be troubled after those time-traveling years.
Now, after reading Issue #1 of The Sequels, I looked back on these childhood classics and realized there’s such ingenuity in asking what happens beyond those “golden” years. Fortunately for our own kids, we only have to consider how our kids will react after seeing these movies, since they’re not those characters living such incredible adventures. That’s what makes film such a special medium for telling stories. Kids (and adults) can become lost within the story and feel like they’re a part of it.
Emotional bonds can be formed with characters, and they can help to inspire how we might move forward in our own lives. As for dealing with the loneliness portrayed in The Sequels and learning to form bonds to break from that existence, I would highly recommend it for any adult looking to jump back in time…to the future!
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.