Christmas vacation was very uneventful at the Haines household this holiday season. We didn't go anywhere — and I mean anywhere. We didn't entertain, except for a small afternoon get-together with our close friends from church on the 16th, and Chris's sisters and their families on the 30th. I didn't do any Boxing Week shopping, although Chris did on Boxing Day, but that is a story for a whole other blog. We did, however, enjoy time together in our own home, among our own things, especially in our newly finished basement.
For two years we had been promising our kids (and ourselves) a cool basement, with an awesome TV with surround sound, and an Xbox 360 with Kinect. This was in great measure a reward for Chris finishing the work mostly on his own. His framing and my painting, along with hiring a very reasonable worker to fill in our gaps, basically paid for the extra large TV, furniture and accessories that adorn our cozy family room.
So the past two weeks we have enjoyed them together. And although Chris and I do enjoy watching the kids exploring their new Xbox games (and joining in now and then), this has primarily meant family movie nights. And as a family we have watched a bunch, together and separately. I'll give a short list, although at this late hour, as I'm watching the end of The Amazing Spider Man with my boys, I won't promise it is exhaustive.
- The Avengers — Chris and Connor and I had already seen it in the theatre, and we had to twist Janelle's arm to join us. But she LOVED it! She giggled and cheered and remained wide awake until the movie ended at midnight. We got to experience the 3D feature of our TV, which we had previously only tried with Hugo. We hadn't set out to buy a 3D TV, but were seduced by a deal when we bought it, and I have to say, the 3D is excellent, far better than any we've seen in a theatre. So the kids each got a few 3D movies for Christmas, and it has been fun to check them out. The Avengers was a great way to start. We all loved it, and I know it is one that will remain in our movie library to be enjoyed many times and for many years to come.
- Madagascar 3 — Janelle got this one for Christmas, and it was also in 3D. She loves all the Madagascar movies. I remember her as a tiny little girl dancing around in front of the TV in our basement on Crocket Street singing "I like to move it, move it!" We don't all get the same pleasure from the movie that she does, but her enthusiasm for it is contagious, and that makes it a family favourite.
- Brave — The kids and I saw this one in the theatre this summer, and I picked it up for Janelle on Black Friday for next to nothing. Connor was at his buddy's house for a post-Christmas sleepover, so Chris and Janelle and I settled in to watch her movie. Janelle and I enjoyed it as much as the first time. I love that it is a love story between a princess and her mom. Chris wasn't overly impressed with the movie, but he did love that Janelle held his hand all through it. She is Daddy's girl.
- Whales and Dolphins 3D — We all watched this one the afternoon of New Year's Eve. This was the only disappointment we've had with the 3D on our TV. The movie is really interesting, but the transitions were very disorienting. I kept wanting to take off the glasses. Like all of our 3D movies, it comes with both a 3D disk and a 2D disk. I look forward to viewing it again in 2D.
- The Lorax — Janelle had been dying to see this one. Connor saw it on a rainy day at camp in August, but she had only seen it in French at school. I missed this one, which the rest watched while I cleaned the house for our Haines family party. I can only share the kids' reviews: "So cute!" (Janelle) and "Sooooooo boring!" (Connor). Shocking.
- Moneyball — I brought this one home from my Black Friday shopping spree in Indiana and put it Chris's stocking. He picked it one night last week. We both enjoyed it. Really interesting subject matter, and Brad Pitt not looking like a homeless man. Highly recommended.
- Secret of the Wings — Janelle's movie. She watched it and loved it. Connor endured it while putting together some of Janelle's Lego. I skipped it.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark — Chris, Connor and I watched this perennial favourite on New Year's Day. I can't say a bad thing about that movie. We all love it. Doesn't everyone?
- Say Anything — There is a second hand CD/DVD/Video game store nearby where we often trade in our movies and video games. They have a 2 for $6 rack, and we've picked up quite a few previously missed movies there. We figure $3 is cheaper than renting or OnDemand, and we can watch it on our own timeline. A few months ago Chris came home with this throwback to the eighties that neither of us had seen, and we pulled it out two nights ago. It wasn't bad. It was fun to check out the clothes and hairstyles that we can hardly believe we had any part of, and John Cusack gave a really good performance. The lead actress was terrible though. I can understand why I've never seen her in anything else. Glad I saw it, but I'll be happy to trade it back in at the video store.
- Tin-Tin — Connor found Tin-Tin on Netflix one day last week. I only saw a few minutes of it, but Connor was very impressed. He said the graphics were "Crazy", and insists we need to make it our next family movie night. Today he even spent a Christmas gift card on the Tin-Tin Xbox game.
- Prometheus — Before we went to Indiana for Thanksgiving in November, Chris had been complaining that he missed this movie and that he was sure I'd never watch it with him. I found it in one of the super-cheap bins at Walmart in the middle of the night on Black Friday, so I knew I had to bring it back to him. I kept it for Christmas and he pulled it out on New Years Day morning. I stayed in bed and watched a couple of episodes of The Gilmore Girls (my latest obsession). As he had predicted, there was no way I was going near that movie. I asked later if there was anything about it I would have liked. Chris very honestly said no.
- Crazy Stupid Love — This is another one I picked up in a cheap bin on Black Friday. Last night was my turn to pick, so I pulled it out. We both thought it was a very cute movie. Definitely worth the $3 I paid for it.
- The Amazing Spider Man — Tonight's pick. This time we could not persuade Janelle to join us, and I skipped the sad parts while I talked to my parents on the phone and put my girl to bed. The boys seemed to enjoy it, and I know this one won't be making a trip to the second hand store. However, Chris said after it was over "It has good bones, but I still think I prefer the first Spider Man series".
- Star Trek the Motion Picture — In the time it took for me to write this blog post, the Spider Man movie ended and Chris pulled out his well-used copy of the first Star Trek movie, just to see how it looks on his new big screen. He fast forwarded through and saw his favourite parts, and then moved on. I only included it because it provided the soundtrack to the writing of this post.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — Connor has finally found his way to bed and Chris has popped in this last (and my favourite) movie in the Indiana Jones trilogy (I know there is a fourth, but does it really count?) We won't watch the whole thing, only the first few minutes, but it is fun to see old favourites, as well as new favourites, in our cozy new family room.
We still have a cabinet full of unwatched movies that we've picked up either at the second hand store or Black Friday sales. Lawrence of Arabia, Crash, Avatar, The Ides of March, Funny Girl, Mean Streets, an entire boxed set of Clint Eastwood movies, plus many more, all waiting to be watched at our house. And those are only the DVDs! The choices on Netflix are practically endless. We plan to scale it back to one movie a week, though. Anyone care to join us?