Watching Back to the Future repeated on TV for the umpteenth time made me think how the genuine family blockbuster has waned in recent years. It is hard to think of films that are big box office smashes and which are something which will be both loved at the time by a wide range of ages and will endure.
Films like Back to the Future, Gremlins, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Ghostbusters were fun, didn’t treat their audiences like idiots, could be watched by children and teenagers with their parents or grandparents or as “date movies” and still hold up today. They can now be seen as late examples of a long running genre that has pretty much died out today.
Instead, there’s been a fragmentation so that we have gross out dumb films for teenagers that they couldn’t watch with other family members without feeling mortified – from American Pie onwards. Any number of offensively inoffensive films starring (usually) Jennifer Aniston have taken the place of When Harry Met Sally. Instead of Ferris Bueller we have a procession of ever weaker vehicles for Owen Wilson.
Perhaps it is just as well that technology has made the wait for the Christmas Radio Times and its listing of the Christmas must-see films an anachronism – there just aren’t the unifying live-action family blockbusters that all the generations can sit together to watch after the Turkey’s been polished off. At least we have the repeats of the classics year-round on the more obscure digital channels.