ET ex­posed: just a big rub­ber pup­pet

Sen­ti­men­tal clas­sics a hard sell to new gen­er­a­tion

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @mur­phymi­randa

SPOILER alert … if you haven’t seen it; trig­ger alert … if it makes you weep like a child.

We’ve been try­ing to wean our kids off an­i­mated movie schlock like Bar­bie and the Three Mus­ke­teers and Scooby Doo Solves the Kennedy As­sas­si­na­tion.

It’s not easy; they think that any piece of live-ac­tion film is ba­si­cally the news and dou­bly bor­ing.

But still we per­sist. And so we drew up a list of our favourite Gen Xer kids’ movies that we hoped they would love too.

First cab off the rank: ET, The Ex­tra Ter­res­trial.

When we showed our kids ET, we were pre­pared with tis­sues and life les­sons.

They came in handy for my hus­band and me, who sobbed like tod­dlers on the sofa. The kids, how­ever, were strangely un­moved, ex­cept when the pot­plant looked like it needed wa­ter.

Were our off­spring so­ciopaths? Why weren’t they dou­bled over with tears at the sad­dest, loveli­est movie ever made?

Turns out they con­sid­ered ET to be just a big rub­ber pup­pet. CGI an­i­ma­tion has got that good that any­thing prior just looks lame.

We’ve given our child­hood movie ed­u­ca­tion a red-hot go, though. They loved Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, The Princess Bride and the Star Wars movies – although when a ma­jor char­ac­ter got killed off our seven-year-old cried “Dad! You’ve taken me to the wrong movie!”

That’s the power of films, es­pe­cially for kids. Good tri­umphs over evil, or­phans de­feat the sys­tem, hor­rid come­up­pances are de­liv­ered to wrong­do­ers.

Of course, you’ve got to be wary of the dark themes at work. Parental guid­ance is rec­om­mended, so when my kids asked to watch Bambi, I was both sen­ti­men­tal and wary.

I briefed them pre-screen­ing on the early, trau­mat­i­cally tragic death of Bambi’s mum.

“How does she die?” asked one of them, al­ways keen on the fine print. “Um, I can’t re­mem­ber,” I replied. “Maybe in the for­est fire.”

Af­ter a bit, as I hov­ered in the kitchen wait­ing for emo­tional dis­tress, one of the kids came burst­ing in, tri­umphantly ex­claim­ing: “Mum! You were wrong! Bambi’s mum didn’t get caught in the fire – she was killed by hunters!”

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