Mother-daughter animated movie memories.

by Heather Dunn Schmitt

My earliest memory of going to the movies is a foggy one, but it’s there. I was five years old, I think, and my dad piled all of us–my older sister, my younger brother, and me–into his 1966 Ford Mustang. We drove for what seemed to my young mind to be forever, until we parked and he told us to get out of the car. Then the weirdest thing happened: he grabbed a blanket, spread it out on the hood, and told us to get up on the car and sit on it. Even then I remember thinking that this was a rare occurrence and I should relish it while I could. So we all clambered up onto the hood of the Mustang and stared at this massive screen in front of us. My dad reached into the passenger seat and retrieved a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, original recipe (yes, I remember the original recipe; it’s funny the details that stick) and joined us. He explained that this was called a drive-in movie and that people came to see movies in their cars.

Until this moment, our media exposure had been limited to Sesame Street and The Electric Company, so we didn’t really know what to expect from this “movie.” When the movie started, though, I was rapt. It was The Fox and The Hound (1981), the latest Disney feature. I will admit that I don’t remember much about actually watching the movie, but it must have made an impression on me, because growing up I had books, coloring books, and even the soundtrack on a very vividly-colored vinyl record (that I think I still have somewhere). I still watch that movie today with just a little bit of reverence in my eyes.

Of course, my daughter, who is two and a half years old, holds no such reverence for The Fox and The Hound. I turned it on the other day as a welcome change for our movie night, and the protests started immediately. Once I talked her down off the ledge (because let’s face it, everything at that age is a travesty of biblical proportions) and changed it to a movie to her liking, the following conversation took place:

Me: So, do you like this movie?
Munchkin: Yisssssss. (Her “yes” is very clipped, so it sounds a lot like “Yisssssss.” Don’t know why.)
Me: Why didn’t you like the other movie?
Me: The one about the fox and the hound?
Munchkin: The doggy said, “Woo-woo-woo-woo!”
Me: Yes, he did. Is that what you didn’t like about it?
Munchkin: Yisssssss.
Me: (shrugging shoulders) Okay, so what is your favorite movie?
Munchkin: NEMO!!! (Finding Nemo, 2003)
Me: You like Nemo?
Munchkin: Yisssssss.
Me: Do you like any other movies?
Munchkin: Hiccup and Toofless and Astrid and Stoick. (How To Train Your Dragon, 2010)
Me: What do you like about that movie?
Munchkin: Hiccup rides a dragon. Hiccup does not kill dragons.
Me: No, he does not. So what else–
Munchkin: Stoick is Hiccup’s daddy!
Me: Yes, he is, sweetheart. So what other–
Munchkin: Dory and Marlin in a whale!
Me: (confused) We’re back to Nemo?
Munchkin: I watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse just one time, please, Mommy?

And that’s pretty much how Movie Night ends in our house.

I’m sure she’ll eventually develop a memory of her first movie theatre experience (she has yet to have one). I sincerely hope to take her to see Brave, the Disney/Pixar movie coming out this summer, with the warrior princess Merida as the lead. Knowing my luck, though, she’ll want me to rent out the space just so she can see Hiccup ride that dragon on the big screen, like she’s seen him do a zillion times in our living room. And I might just do it for her.


Heather Dunn Schmitt, 36, and her husband, Andy, live in London, UK with their Munchkin. She is a stay-at-home mother, a voracious reader, and an all-around marvelous person. Heather is a Georgia native and graduated from Mississippi University for Women with Brandie, Carrie, and Nikki in 2007. 

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