In the 1997 film Anaconda, Jennifer Lopez’s character, co-leader of a crew shooting a documentary about a long lost Indian tribe on the Amazon River, quips: “This film was supposed to be my big break, now it has turned into a disaster.” Or something like that. Whatever. The first thought that came to my head was, my god, she might as well have been talking about the movie.
Anaconda is as good (or bad) as any generic monster movie can get: A giant creature that seemed to have slithered out of the dark depths of the House of Representatives is wrecking havoc on a hapless film crew; eventually, of course, despite fatalities, the humans prevail. Simply that and nothing more. The movie is as predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise. And yet why did I spend one fine Saturday morning watching it? Was it to enjoy Jennifer Lopez long before she became J.Lo and American Idol and a string of forgettable pop songs ruined her for me? Was it my morbid fascination with stupid people getting chewed up by CGI monsters? Was it Kari Wuhrer, who was late-night love and entertainment in those long-ago years of raging hormones?
None of the above. I watched because of one thing: nostalgia. I remember many after-school hours during my high school and college days when I would while away time inside a movie house, alone, getting lost in the worlds offered by randomly chosen movies. (Those were pre-Cineplex days, so I stayed in the cinema for as long as I wanted, sometimes just dozing. Yeah. Life was sweeter and simpler back then.) Anaconda was one of the countless movies I saw that, for some crazy-ass reason neither Einstein nor aliens could probably explain, made an impact on my young impressionable mind. So I spent Saturday morning in front of the boob tube trying to be that kid again to relive the feeling. It was a pleasant experience.
Last night one of the cable channels was showing The Big Hit, another blast from the past. Although I caught only the first 20 minutes of it, what it — and Anaconda — reminded me of was clear: that once upon a time, happiness was a quiet afternoon movie date with myself after school.