Pat Whalen's 5 Favorite Movies
I was raised, in part (kudos to my mom and dad for 30 solid years of parenting), on movies. Whether it was a crappy little 13" VCR combo television set, trips to Tommy K's video rental stores, Black Friday movie theater trips to avoid the hassle of crazed shoppers, Saturday Afternoon films on cable, or the theater on a Friday nights in high school with my buddies when all our classmates were at ragers, movies have and will always be a huge part of my life.
Attempting to narrow all of my favorites down to 5 is extremely difficult (I cheat, a lot). Nonetheless, here they are:
1. Jurassic Park
Sure, this seems like a cop out. Everyone loves Jurassic Park. Every. One. Jurassic Park is the perfect movie. I don’t just love it because it’s the perfect cause-and-effect movie or for the dinosaurs. Obviously, those are key reasons but it was really about how and with whom I watched it. When we were kids, my sister and I would spend weekends at my Aunt’s house. We would climb in the giant bed, pop in a VHS to that tiny TV, and have a blast. The Matrix, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Care Bear Movie and so many more were on the roster. Jurassic Park was one of those films. The best part was the bootleg recorded VHS which skipped over the opening 5 minutes. It didn’t matter, it was all about the company who would remind each other "When you gotta go, you gotta go."
2. The Sting
My dad doesn’t receive enough credit for what movies I love. When it wasn’t college football or college basketball season we spent a lot of time watching Saturday afternoon movies on TNT. This spot could easily be dedicated to The Fugitive and it’s sequel U.S. Marshalls, Murder at 1600, or The Negotiator. But there’s something about The Sting that I can’t explain. Hell, it’s not even my favorite Redford movie (Three Days of the Condor, duh). The first time we watched it my dad would tell me how he remembered seeing it in the theater. “Wait until you get to the twist. The whole theater went silent, they didn’t know what hit 'em.” Spoilers, by the way, there’s a twist and it is fantastic. The Sting is a great movie. But his enjoyment and the memories he shared made me love it even more.
3. The Departed
I debated between this and Catch Me If You Can (I told you I cheat) but I didn’t want you to think I was some sort of Spielberg junkie. Martin Scorsese’s film about the Irish mob was the first R-rated film I was able to get in to on my own and with my friends. It’s also one I quote on the regular, “What Freud said about the Irish is: We're the only people who are impervious to psychoanalysis.” / “I'm fucking Irish, I'll deal with something being wrong for the rest of my life.” Let’s be clear, those aren’t healthy statements, I know...I’m working on it.
We can argue whether the actual rat crawling across the screen at the end was a bad choice (it was) but the rest of the film is great. It’s even fun to watch on FX to see how they cover up all the swears.
4. Star Wars
C’mon, did you expect anything else? Star Wars is Star Wars. Whether that means trying to get sneak peeks of the Christmas Day marathons on Sci-Fi (way before it was SyFy) or getting the Special Edition VHS Boxed Set for my birthday or opening weekend of Episode I (I’m a Phantom Menace apologist...I was 10, give me a break). I’ve quoted it, I’ve acted it out, even cosplayed it. I love Star Wars. The good and the bad. Let’s be fair, there’s a lot of bad. To quote Fanboys though, “You gotta keep the flaws. Crappy effects. Real puppets.That's what makes it so good, you know?” And the people you share it with.
5. Project: ALF
Oscar-winning films, cultural icons, and a made-for-tv follow-up to odd ‘80s sitcom about an Alien Lifeform that finds himself in various antics and subsists on a diet on cats. Hey, I never said I was perfect. Like Jurassic Park, ALF was a prominent member of the Sleepover Movie Club library. It was also another VHS recording, don’t tell the FBI. For those that haven’t seen it, I can’t defend it. But if you don’t laugh during the extended opening there’s something wrong with you. Sorry, the truth hurts. (Just like Dr. Warner was hurt..hehehe)
Honorable Mentions: Batman Returns, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (greatest opening scene of all time), Last Action Hero, Heavyweights, The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, The Girl Next Door, John Tucker Must Die, Marvel's The Avengers (greatest theater experience)
Thanks for putting up with this list! Keep making movies so I have something to watch over the next 30 years.