The Criticwire Survey this week covered the topic of critics’ most watched movies. This isn’t best movies, or favourite movies, or guilty pleasures, but purely the movies that critics keep going back to over and over. A couple oddball choices are in there, like Certified Copy, but for the most part the choices reflect the ultimate quality for a re-watchable movie: fun. Films like Die Hard and Pulp Fiction show up, as do Ghostbusters and Star Wars.
These movies are all lots of fun. Even when they get serious they’re still a lot of fun to watch. Sure, there are movies I love to re-watch, like No Country for Old Men, that give me pleasure more through theme and character than pure entertainment, but those are rare. It’s far more likely that a movie like Drive comes along, which I find endlessly fun to watch. In fact, Drive is probably one of the most recent films to crack into my “most watched” category, or at least it’s well on its way, as is The Muppets. I just can’t get enough of these movies.
I often look at my Blu-ray shelf, which has loads of movies, many of which I re-watch, many of which I’ve only watched the once, and a few I’ve not yet seen. I’ll often sit and stare at my shelf of Criterion Collection releases, trying for many minutes to decide which serious, artistic, important film I’m going to put on, only to settle on J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. I can’t help it. Since getting Star Trek on Blu-ray I must have watched it five bajillion times. It’s not even that it’s a great movie—though it is—and it’s not that it’s a guilty pleasure—because it’s not at all—it’s just that Star Trek is perfectly calculated to be as fun a movie as humanly possible. It’s bright and colourful and has funny characters that get into crazy action sequences, and it even delivers some solid emotional pathos to get you all the more invested in the fun. Plus, it’s got a cool time travel hook, and I go gaga for that sort of thing.
Of course, my most watched movie of all time has got to be Back to the Future. Or maybe not. Well, let me say for now that it’s Back to the Future. It’s my favourite movie, so that helps. I watch it almost once a month. It’s just so damn great. So fun! See? There’s that word again. Fun. I’ve got nothing to do and I want to be entertained for a bit, well I know for a fact that Back to the Future will do the trick.
But then, maybe that’s not my most watched movie. Looking back at my childhood I realize that I used to watch and re-watch certain movies way too often. There are the stable of Disney Renaissance films, which I still cherish. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Not sure which of those I watched the most, but I definitely watched them all a ton. The one movie of my childhood that I watched more than any other is probably Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. And hey, what do you know, Marty McFly himself voiced one of the dogs in the film. I loved that film and I still do. I still occasionally put it on and am instantly transported back to childhood. It’s wonderful and fun and heartwarming and it still makes me cry.
Then there are the Pixar movies. Toy Story counts as a movie of my childhood, sure, but I really only became a total Pixar nut around the time of The Incredibles. My first two Blu-rays were Cars and Ratatouille. Both of those now stand as my most watched Blu-rays. Hell, even though my favourite Pixar movie is The Incredibles, I still watch those other two films more often. Part of it comes down to them being my favourite Pixar films in visual quality, but they’re also just so damn fun and spry. I find The Incredibles weightier than Ratatouille, which despite having very complex themes, also has a whole ton of wonderful slapstick. But really, all the Pixar movies count as “most watched” in my world. That’s because, of course, they’re so much fun.
Other movies I watch a ton? Die Hard is one. Raiders of the Lost Ark is another. For some reason I also watch Close Encounters a lot. Slight less fun, but so totally mesmerizing. I love re-watching movies, and I especially love re-watching the fun ones. What would you say are your most watched films? Are there any great ones from your childhood that you used to watch endlessly like I did? Tell me all about them.