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  • Matthew Nelson

School's Out! Enjoy these Classic Movies

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A movie poster for "Don't Tell Mom, the Babysitter is Dead."
Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead (1991)

“I’m right on top of that, Rose.” One of my desert island movies, “Don’t Tell Mom” is a cult classic you might have never heard of. Released in 1991 and starring Christina Applegate, Keith Coogan, Joanna Cassidy, David Duchovny, and others, it’s like a twisted take on “Home Alone,” where five siblings are left alone all summer when their mom goes to Australia and their evil babysitter dies. What follows is a more mature if still ridiculous story of kids left alone–Sue Ellen, the eldest daughter, finagles her way into a fashion career to provide for the family, and Kenny, the eldest son, watches Julia Child and becomes a homemaker and cares for his younger siblings. As their lies become more twisted and their fake life becomes more elaborate, everything peaks during a fashion event hosted at their home. It’s dark, hilarious, sweet, coming-of-age, and a great peek into 90s culture. Rated PG-13 for language and mature themes, reserve this for the older kids and adults.

A movie poster for Luca
Luca (2021)

“That’s called phantom tail. You’ll get used to it. “Luca” is utter eye candy, a gorgeous summer film that washes over you with all its colors. Taking place in a fictional 50s Italian Riviera, with director Enrico Casarosa drawing from his very own childhood, “Luca” feels like a summer period-piece: it’s classic, warm, relaxed, tropical, and yet somehow boundless, stretching like the blue-green sea. The movie is a coming-of-age story following the title character, Luca, a boy sea-monster who wants nothing more than to visit and explore the human village of Portorosso. Luca and his best friend, Alberto, also a sea-monster, befriend a kind human named Giulia, and proceed to have that unforgettable summer you can only experience as a kid. Interestingly enough, like “Brave” and “Frozen,” there’s no love interest! But there is bromance (aka friendship), and it’s wonderful to watch. There’s also Vespas, bicycle races, fishing, swimming, and all kinds of meditation on identity and accepting who you are. Rated PG for rude humor and brief violence, it’s great for the whole family!

A movie poster for American Graffit
American Graffiti (1973)

“Stand by for justice!” Directed and co-written by George Lucas and produced by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), “American Graffiti” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Set in 1962 in central California, with all its hot rods and small-town nostalgia, the movie stars Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Mackenzie Phillips, Paul LeMat, among many others. The story follows a group of high school students at the end of summer–some are going away to college (or so they think) and some are destined to be townies, while others are more focused on street racing, love, or underage drinking. My favorite thing about this movie is how otherworldly it is–you really feel pulled into the bygone era, with the slang, music, fashion, and culture–it’s a total experience. The fact that it’s a perfect slice of life–a day in the life of California teens in the 60s–is the cherry on top. Rated PG due to its age, but with mature themes, fighting, drag racing, and language, I’d call this PG-13 for older kids and adults.

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