Winter break was filled with great times, fabulous food and hours and hours of movie watching with the kids. Typically we watch G-rated, kid-friendly movies and animated holiday classics. But now that our kids are teens we’ve moved onto more “mature” movies with some rather racy content such as Pitch Perfect, Pitch Perfect 2, The DUFF and The Hunger Games series. And although I miss the days of Mickey’s Once (and Twice) Upon a Christmas and the miserly ol’ Miser Brothers, fortunately, our kids still love some of our tried and true movie favorites, such as Home Alone, Elf and The Santa Clause. So, one night, when my girls suggested watching Home Alone, although I lay on the couch completely exhausted, I optimistically agreed.
I stayed awake for most of the movie, but ended up power-napping for a bit, unfortunately snoozing through the church scene, where Kevin talks to his scary neighbor Old Man Marley about forgiveness and family and…well, after that, the movie just wasn’t the same for me.
I’m a sap when it comes to sentimental, happy and heartwarming stories and movies. My kids shoot me that “you’re crying again?” look every time something emotional happens, knowing tears will be flowing and pretty soon I’ll transform into a tissue-wielding, nose-running, mascara melting mess.
Even though I’ve seen some of my favorite movies twenty or so times, (at least) and I know full well what’s going to happen, I still cry. But on this particular night watching Home Alone, I didn’t cry. I felt empty, disappointed, left hanging, and without closure. Sure, Harry and Marv got locked up and Kevin’s mom came home but the part of the story that makes me watch it over and over again, the part where Marley and his son are reunited at the end fell flat for me because I didn’t see and feel the build-up that got them there – that hopeful church scene. The normally laugh out-loud, crazy, paint can flying, doorknob singeing, rope cutting scenes didn’t carry the movie for me. I missed (what I consider) the “heart of the story” and Home Alone just wasn’t the same.
As a writer, I know, we all know that the heart of the story matters most but, wow! miss it in one of your favorite movies and you’ll see just how much it matters!
We also know to show and not tell, that showing is much more powerful than telling. So, you can take my word for it and try to imagine the effect that missing this scene had on me, or you can experience the impact for yourself.
Do it. Try it. Grab your favorite book and skip the lines/pages that tug on the heart, our put in your favorite movie and fast-forward past the scenes with the heart-wrenching lines (or take a power-nap, at least you’ll feel refreshed), and you’ll find that matter how fun a story is, no matter how many funny and clever lines are perfectly delivered, no matter how much your stomach hurts from laughing, what makes a movie watcher and a book reader, go back time and time again is the heart of the story.
Happy New Year!