Welcome to What the Kids Were Watching, a podcast dedicated to exploring the weird, wonderful, and terrible babysitter movies of Sarah and Rafael’s youth. In this podcast series, your hosts will revisit the movies they watched on repeat during their younger years, played in perpetuity thanks to their VCRs and HBO. Each episode includes a frank discussion about why the hosts loved the movie as kids, what they think upon revisiting the movie, and whether or not they’d recommend rewatching it. Not quite a gushing nostalgia-fest and not quite a harsh critical take-down, What the Kids Were Watching is funny, informative, and always honest.
"Die Hard" Part II: Unlocking the Vault (with Guest Star Eric Lichtenfeld)
In the final part of a two-part podcast episode, film historian and author Eric Lichtenfeld ("Action Speaks Louder") joins Sarah and Raf for the second half of their conversation about the 1988 action film and Christmas classic "Die Hard."
This time, the group dives even deeper into the important tropes and meaning found in the beloved film: what the music is really saying; how John McClane is pride and Hans Gruber is vanity; and the sheer delight of stealing a candy bar from the Nakatomi Corporation. Raf dares to ask if there's anything the group doesn't like about the movie (and yes, there are a few things). Sarah, meanwhile, gets to swoon while stating "I'm just basking forever now in this idea that Alan Rickman and I said the same thing, sort of, kind of."
It's also time to say "Happy trails" to Season 2 of What the Kids Were Watching, as it draws to a close with this episode. The podcast hosts send a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who's listened in, both during this season and the last one. It's been a lot of fun, and they truly appreciate all the love and support.
"Die Hard" Part I: Welcome to the After-Party, Pal (with Guest Star Eric Lichtenfeld)
For years, people have argued about whether or not the 1988 action masterpiece "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie. Sarah and Raf are not here to argue about that. They're here to close out Season 2 with an incredible guest star who provides in-depth insight into the film's production and ongoing influence -- someone who literally wrote the book on "Die Hard." (Well, he wrote the Library of Congress essay that accompanied the movie's induction into the National Film Registry.)
Film historian and author Eric Lichtenfeld ("Action Speaks Louder") joins the podcast hosts to discuss the enduring cultural legacy of "that thing in the building," from what set the film apart from other action movies to the connections it helped forge between family members. To say Eric is a "Die Hard" expert is a bit of an understatement -- in addition to writing the afore-mentioned essay for the National Film Registry, he also conducted the interviews for the text commentary track (yes, the one on your DVD!).
A fantastic raconteur, Eric shares delightful stories with Sarah and Raf about the film's subtext, its creators, and, yes, why we have turned it into a Christmas classic. Most of all, the hosts talk about why we're still talking about "Die Hard" 33 years later. It's a phenomenal movie with a ton of thought and care put into it; but as Eric states, it's also "a movie where things matter, [where] what happens to people matters." And that's just one of the many reasons why it still matters.
"The Addams Family" and "Addams Family Values": As Creepy as They Want to Be
The Addams Family: They're creepy, they're kooky, and now they're an essential part of Thanksgiving thanks to the 1991 film "The Addams Family" and especially the 1993 sequel "Addams Family Values." These goth-tastic films, both of which were released during the holiday season, were a much-needed seasonal respite from the season's treacly offerings when our hosts were growing up. "It was teenage catnip," says Raf. "Hot Topic: The Movie," adds Sarah.
Decades after their releases, the Addams Family movies remain beloved for several reasons. For one, the hosts love watching a family that rejects mainstream attitudes with a decidedly un-hipster earnestness, whether the Addams are trimming roses off the bushes or throwing knives at friends. Unlike the first film, the sequel died at the box office, but it found a new life thanks to its now-legendary Thanksgiving scene -- a scene that Sarah admits is still an important commentary on white privilege, but one with a slightly problematic perspective.
Filled with lively discussions about dumb 90s t-shirts, the genuine awesomeness of vultures, and Sarah's alarming knowledge of "Whoomp! There It Is" lyrics, this episode is sure to fester in listeners' memories in the best possible way. Just try not to judge the hosts for the record number of corrections. (And please don't send them to the Harmony Hut.)
"SpaceCamp": Out of This World (with Guest Star Reese Marino)
Do you like strong female protagonists, Dire Straits songs, dope sweaters, and robots who take everything literally? Then you -- like our podcast hosts (and guest star!) -- probably loved the 1986 film "SpaceCamp." Dubbed "baby's first 'Apollo 13'" by Raf, this charming film follows a group of teens and their rejected-astronaut-turned-reluctant-leader Kate Capshaw as they accidentally blast off into space on the world's most expensive test drive.
The film did poorly at the box office, as it launched only five months after the Challenger disaster. But the home video market brought a lot of fans into its orbit, including Sarah, Raf, and Reese Marino, this episode's guest star (follow her on Instagram: @notorious.mbg). Like "Real Genius," the first WTKWW subject, "SpaceCamp" instilled a deep love and respect for science in our hosts' heads. The trio raves about the film's great character development, inspiring female role models (especially Lea Thompson's highly relatable Kathryn), and celebration of all things space. They also discuss how the film introduced them at a young age to the double standards forced on women and POC in STEM fields.
Now, the film isn't perfect. It offers little backstory and a John Williams score that does a lot of heavy lifting. But its mantra that smarts can take you further than sass was a real feat at the height of nerds-versus-jocks movies. So join our hosts in the shuttle (okay, couch) as they talk about extra-terrestrial disc jockeys, Morse Code, Max and Jinx's "Gift of the Magi" relationship, and the importance of kids' movies that show how people can be brilliant in different ways and that everyone brings something essential to the table.
"Flight of the Navigator": Muppet Logic in Space
What do you get when you combine a life-destroying journey across space and time with the fun-filled tale of a wise-cracking kid and his wacky robot friend? The answer: Disney's "Flight of the Navigator" (1986), a strange but mostly loveable combination of eerie sci-fi film and "a boy and his dog" story (except that the dog's a robot).
Fun is threaded throughout this film, starting with the opening scene of a dog frisbee-catching contest that keeps teasing the audience with faux spaceship sightings. (As Sarah quips, "We open the movie with the Fort Lauderdale championship for 'Who's a Good Boy?'") The movie also features middle-class families with boats and huge houses on the water, a spaceship that operates on Muppet logic, Chekov's fireworks, and a 12-year-old who -- according to Raf -- acts like a bitter Boomer.
Unlike 1982's "E.T.," "Flight of the Navigator" did not terrify Sarah as a child, who watched it multiple times with family friends and still considers it to be Sarah Jessica Parker's greatest performance (after "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"). In a slightly emotional turn, she gets a little nostalgic at the end of the episode, thinking about the recent loss of her mother and remembering "the joy of going to a movie together with my family and seeing something that we all genuinely enjoyed." But sometimes, it's okay to be nostalgic and love a movie for its memories more than its content -- especially, as Sarah notes, when we're still "trying to read our own star charts to plot our own way home."
"Demolition Man": The Bravest Newest World
In many ways, "Demolition Man" is a perfect "What the Kids Were Watching" movie: Sarah saw it way too often as a child; revisiting it reveals a deeply flawed film; and Raf knows a whole lot of facts about it. Nearly thirty years after its release, this 1993 action film continues to raise questions. Is the movie really "Brave New World" fanfic? What would you do if Taco Bell was the only restaurant left? And -- most importantly -- why the three seashells?
Fortunately, the podcast hosts are willing to yell about these questions and more. They admit it's delightful to see Sandra Bullock in her last role before rising to stardom in "Speed." Likewise, Benjamin Bratt as Alfredo Garcia and Glenn Shadix (a.k.a. Otho from "Beetlejuice") as the endearing Associate Bob are charming.
Yet the film remains problematic on multiple levels, from certain characters to cringe-worthy dialogue to bigger structural issues. As Raf states, "It doesn't want to commit to any of its ideas. It just wants to comment on the ideas." So grab your dog-eared copy of "Brave New World" and some elegantly plated Taco Bell, and join our hosts as they revisit a Murder Death Kill-filled vision of the future as imagined by the past.