Reel Dad streams Netflix Party with the kids
I love to watch movies with my sons.
In fact, for many years, we reviewed films together for the Ridgefield Press and other Hearst Connecticut newspapers.
But these days, because my sons live in different places, we rarely get the chance to enjoy one of our favorite films at the same time. Until we started sheltering at home. And, thanks to the availability of home streaming, we can once again enjoy the fun of sharing a favorite flick.
One offer that makes this easy and fun is the Netflix Party. And it’s as simple as going on Netflix, choosing a film, ordering the party package, and popping the popcorn. And, as soon as the credits begin, a chat room appears that enables you all to chat with each other as the movie plays. And it’s a lot of fun.
Our most recent movie together, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” reminded us how, at moments, we all wish we could be adventurous enough to get the most out of every moment. Because that’s what Indiana Jones tries to do every time he searches for a rare antiquity.
Now, as one of my sons reminded me, of the possible characters for an adventure film, a seemingly dull professor might seem the least likely candidate to be the hero. That’s part of what gives us so much to talk about Indiana Jones. Students in his college archaeology class likely consider him an ordinary oddity with a passion for old rocks. But we know, because we are at the movies, that this guy offers more than meets the eye. He lets us know, from the moment we meet, that nothing will get in the way of his sense of daring.
This tasty cinema adventure plays with all the things we can and cannot hide. At first glance, Indiana may not register as a great adventurer, despite his love for faraway places and his hatred of snakes. But once he begins to hunt for an elusive object or person, he cleverly disguises his motives to protect his game. By letting us see behind Indiana’s eyes and hat, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg make us feel the fun is just for us.
In a perfectly crafted opening, Indiana’s intentions are simple: deliver an antique figurine to a museum at his college. To do that, he must outrun a giant bowling ball, avoid being killed by a slew of poisonous arrows, navigate a squishy floor, outfox an angry tribe and deal with a snake in an airplane, just as the opening credits conclude. The sequence perfectly establishes the film’s balance between real danger and reel heroism as it whets our appetites for what may happen next. And this all happens while the credits roll.
What makes Indiana such an interesting character - and an effective foundation for the story - is he never loses his sense of humor or takes himself too seriously. There is always something going on in his mind. He’s an ordinary guy who happens to land in some extraordinary places and we’re lucky enough to go along for the ride. By making the character vulnerable, capable of fear and heartache, Spielberg and Lucas create an everyman who quickly connects with an everyday audience. We believe in Indiana from the start. Even when he is tossed into a cave of snakes (which he hates) we know he will think of something. And when he is tied to a stake in the finale, though the outcome doesn't look promising, we have faith this guy will not let us down.
All this excitement makes “Raiders of the Lost Ark” a roller coaster ride disguised as a movie. While it pretends to be based on facts - which may or may not be factual - this is not a detailed lesson in archaeology, spirituality or academic rivalry. Instead we take a thrilling journey into a man’s secret life and, through him, discover an adventure to talk about. Just when we think we have seen it all Spielberg delivers another new surprise.
And that gives us something to talk about. Even when miles may separate us.
See you at the movies.
For details about a Netflix party, go to netflixparty.com. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was released in 1981, with a rating of PG, and running just under two hours.