05/24/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

I Need to Know If He Dies

The other night my husband, my 13 year old daughter and I decided to watch Apollo 13. My daughter and I have never seen it; my husband, of course, has.

I prefer to watch the kind of movies that have really pretty clothes and shoes and you might get ideas for a beautiful new hairstyle or a new way to arrange your furniture while you watch the movie.

My husband likes the movies that get nominated for awards. I usually find these movies:

  • way too boring or heart-wrenching or violent or scary
  • not enough "pretty" or "funny" - the people in the critically acclaimed, aka "good," movies are usually wearing ugly clothes or they're really sad because they have some kind of major struggle going on in their life - which means they totally do not care what their hair looks like. Or the movie takes place like in a super fast car or in the train station or a space ship or something.

So, last night we agree to watch Apollo 13, which apparently was a very popular movie based on a true story about some astronauts (Forrest Gump and the dude from Footloose are two of the astronauts, but I warn you, there aren't any 60's music or fabulous dance sequences in this one).

About 20 minutes into the movie my daughter asked my husband, "Is Tom Hanks going to die?"

And this is how the conversation went from there:

Husband: "I'm not going to tell you."

Me: (looking up from InStyle magazine) "No, seriously, if he's going to die, I need to know now."

Husband: "I refuse to tell you the ending of this movie, just watch it, you won't be disappointed."

Daughter: "But Daddy, if he dies I am going to be really sad, I don't care how good the movie is, I don't want to watch it if he's going to die."

Husband: (quickly losing his patience with us) "I am telling you - you will feel uplifted at the end of this movie"

Me: (knowing that 'uplifting' might be code for poignant and bittersweet, aka depressing, a word that those a**$%*e movie critics use to trick you into seeing a movie that makes you cry for days, and frankly, who needs such an emotional rollercoaster ride to appreciate life?!)

"Listen, just [edited for language]-ing tell us if he dies so that we can prepare ourselves! Sorry honey, Mommy should never say that word, it's just that Daddy is really being an [edited for language] right now. Sorry, Daddy is not an [edited], Mommy should not say that word either. DUDE! *$%3@!!! Just tell us if he's going to die at the end - *#$^%#@!!!!"

We did eventually convince my husband to guarantee us that no one was going to die and only then did we agree to watch the rest of the movie and as it turned out, it was, in fact, a really good movie. (I guess the critics aren't complete $*^%@ 's all the time).

But it got me to thinking that there are two kinds of movie watchers -

Movie Watcher A- watches to escape life, to be taken on a wild, scary, heart-pounding or heart-wrenching journey.

Movie Watcher B- watches to affirm life, to be taken on a journey that will leave watcher enriched, inspired, educated or with a belly-ache from laughing so hard.

I fall firmly into the "Movie Watcher B" category. I want to be entertained, not emotionally raw.

In fact, I looked up the definition of "entertained" and this is what says:

"to hold the attention of pleasantly or agreeably; divert; amuse."


I guess you could argue that people who enjoy the scary, sad movies are agreeably giving their attention to these matters. However... it still doesn't seem very "entertaining" to me.

Listen, there are heart-breaking, poignant movies that have changed my life. American Beauty. One of my very favorite movies of all time. It's tragic. But I've found that there is something about knowing ahead of time where the movie is going, that prepares me for the end... allowing me to relax and just enjoy the journey.

It's the surprise, the pure shock and awe, that leaves me reeling. If I have fair warning, about exactly what I'm getting myself into, I can find a way to deal. I'll probably see the movie Precious for this very reason. I know what I'm getting myself into. I can prepare. It feels important.

Also, watching a movie like this at home versus the theatre gives me some control over my experience. If it's too intense, I can press pause and get up and get myself an ice cream, a glass of something bubbly or perhaps even wait until daylight comes and resume when I'm ready.

I don't quite understand the person who goes to the movies, wanting to be disturbed. Feeling let down if the images are not still lingering days or weeks after.

I've heard people say things like; "The characters wrapped themselves around me and refused to leave."

I don't need any more "characters" in my house, we're full up.

How about you? Which movie watcher category do you fall into? What's your favorite movie this year? Do you have a favorite movie of all time? Do you like the scary, moving, poignant films? Or are you a romantic comedy junkie like me?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.