Pizza night movie logbooks
Keeping track of our favorites
In the beginning, there was pizza, but no movies. My youngest son would get too sad or scared or upset to sit through a feature film. “One day,” I thought, “One day we will be able to all sit down and eat pizza and watch a real movie together.”
That day came during the first Christmastime of the pandemic, when the youngest was approaching age six. We started with gentle, short viewings, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, Muppet Family Christmas, It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!, and even Elf. (My log notes that “Jules cried, but we made it through.”)
In 2021, when the boys were 8 and 6, Friday night pizza and a movie truly became a family ritual, something we looked forward to every week, something we did almost without fail. We quickly ramped up to stuff like Batman ‘66, The Sword in the Stone, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, Star Wars, etc. The Common Sense Media website helped a lot: we could review the plot lines and fill the young one in on what was going to happen and assure him that everything would turn out okay.
I keep track of all the movies we watch in the day’s entry in my logbook, but I hadn’t made a big list of them until recently.
One star = Everybody really liked it, would watch again.
Two stars = Everybody loved it, feels like a classic.
Something that’s really important to me about movie night — and all moviegoing experiences nowadays — is not to go in with any expectations. Sure, I’d love the kids to love the same movies as I do, but I don’t need them to. I love seeing old stuff through their eyes. Some stuff just doesn’t hit for them the way it hit for me. (Ghostbusters and Back to the Future, for example.) Some stuff they aren’t quite ready for. Some stuff they love that I can’t stand. (Like the Wimpy Kid movies.)
Some of the stars and no stars might make you raise your eyebrows — Angry Birds gets a star but The Princess Bride doesn’t? That’s the way it shook out those nights.
Something I love: We’ll never, ever run out of movies to watch! It’s simply impossible. There’s always something to look forward to.
As for picking the movies: I do most of the programming. I keep a big list of possibilities in the Reelgood app, and go with what feels right on Friday night.
Occasionally something will hit and I’ll program around that: We did an Aardman series after Shaun The Sheep was a huge hit, a classic Pixar series, we watched a bunch of stuff from the Disney Renaissance after we went to Disneyland, and we watched a bunch of Frankenstein spinoff movies after they loved the original.
We haven’t seen a bunch of stuff! Some stuff I’m saving. For example, I’ve been waiting for the right time to do a Studio Ghibli run-through. (You’ll note that My Neighbor Totoro is missing from the list — that’s just because we watched it when the kids were really little. Same for Singin’ in the Rain: I took my oldest to see that at the Paramount theater when he was only four.)
I’ll take recommendations from other people, but I’ve learned to do my research first! For example: I did not realize the new Jumanji movies were PG-13. My kids loved them, but I’m not sure they were totally appropriate. Then again, that’s probably why they loved them. I’m sometimes surprised by what I watched when I was nine:
Back in 2021, I made a list of pizza night blockbusters from that year (Meg’s dough recipe is at the bottom!) but here’s an updated list of our absolute favorites, in case you want recommendations.
Robin Hood (Disney, 1973)
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Lilo and Stitch
The Wizard of Oz
The LEGO Movie
The Shaun the Sheep Movie
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines
A Charlie Brown Christmas
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Into the Spider-Verse
Again, I don’t think these are the all-time greatest or anything, just stuff we all liked.
Okay, now tell me your favorite movies to watch with your family in the comments!