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I grew up in a conservative, christian farming community…ok, that sounds like the start of a boring life story. But, this is somewhat of a life story…and if you’re childhood was anything like mine, you’ll sympathize with what I’m about to tell you.

As I was saying, both of my parents had a desire to pass on the conservative values they grew up with to their children. By design, I grew up living a sheltered lifestyle which meant I was never in the loop about the latest trends that were commonly discussed among my group of friends. And to top it off I was the oldest, which made me the guinea pig–the child where the parents make all their mistakes in their efforts to figure out what their parenting style ultimately is.

mediaMy interests were starkly different from that of my parents. I was and am a self-defined “media guy.” If it had anything to do with movies/tv, music, or books, you can bet I was all over it. I developed specific tastes early on, and as I got a little older, well….let’s just say it wasn’t easy being a media lover in my family.

I am one of the few children of the millenial generation who grew up without cable/satellite, nintendo, etc. All we had was local TV and that was spotty at best. We had to have an antennae on top of our house in order to receive the only 4 channels available. All we had was a set of “Rabbit Ears” that we would wrap in aluminum foil. If the picture was only 50% clear, we felt like we were one of the elite citizens.

tv antennaeThe other thing that made it difficult for a media guy was a phrase I heard constantly, sometimes even daily: “Turn it Off!” In the beginning they were a little more lenient with me, but as the family got bigger, they became increasingly more “involved” in their kid’s lives. I don’t know if it was because they felt I had become corrupted by my media choices, or because they suddenly “woke up” as parents and were attempting to set a clear standard.

Well, I reacted to all of this coolly and calmly. I did what any red-blooded, socially suppressed, american teenage boy would do: I rebelled.

Years have passed since then…and it turns out my childhood has had a much bigger influence on my life than I realized. To this day, my favorite movies are the ones I was “allowed” to watch as a kid. So I guess the old saying really is true: “The music you grew up with, (or the movies you grew up with) is/are always the best.”

Here is the list of movies that no child should grow up without, and that every parent will let their child watch:

The Wizard of Oz was a first for me–the first movie I recall seeing, and my first favorite movie. This is the quintessential childhood flick. Judy Garland was my first crush. The Tin Man, with his unique heart given him by the wizard, was my favorite character. In fact, I wanted a heart like his and I got one. (Then it broke. I never got over it! But that’s a story for another time).

With a script written by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, what kid would not enjoy the 1968 Ken Hughes classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Dick Van Dyke’s starring role as Caracticus Potts, who captured hearts as Burt the Chimney Sweep in Mary Poppins three years previously, only adds to the fact that this is a must-see. But for me, the selling point was the flying car! (Which, I understand, still exists! You can see it in the Smithsonian Institute)

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial from Steven Spielberg also has one of the greatest flying scenes ever. Initially, the first few minutes of this movie alwasys scared me. It took several viewings for me to finally watch the whole movie. But after I finally started to get into it, we discovered the famous name-calling scene–You know, the one where Elliott calls his older brother “Penis Breath.” The rest of the story can be summed up in two words: “The End.” Then we grew up and the perspective changed.

This swashbuckling adventure has some great action scenes, but it’s more humorous than anything. What makes this one particularly memorable is the dialogue: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”, (a line that is quoted back to actor Mandy Patinkin every single day by fans), “Inconceivable!” And of course, “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife. But after what you just said, I’m not even sure I want to be that anymore.”

When I watch this one, I’m 6 years old again. With a dog as the star, and kids, messes and action, this movie has childhood written all over it. Plus, it features former Disney star Dean Jones in a rare bad-guy role and was written by John Hughes, who’s known for his other childlike movies (Dennis the Menace and Home Alone, to name just a few).

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