Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Family Movie NightTuesday, March 28th, 2017
I’m about to take Family Movie Night more seriously. Firstly, we’re going to do it more often. Once some building work at the house is complete, I hope it will be a weekly thing, maybe more often during school holidays. Secondly, I’m going to put more thought into the choice of film.
Apart from rare trips to the cinema when I was growing up, I had to watch whatever films I happened to catch on a few TV channels. The advent of VHS and DVD improved things a bit, but not that much. With multiple streaming channels and VOD, kids have a huge choice available to them 24/7. The downside of this is that they rarely stray from their comfort zone. They know what films they like and they watch them often. My 12 year-old in particular will avoid entire genres because the first few minutes of a particular example didn’t grab him. I’d like to push those boundaries and make sure they’ve seen at least a few great classics that are appropriate to their age, but aren’t necessarily on their radar.
It’s not just for their benefit. I often wish that I was watching a favourite film for the first time again. Of course I can never do that, but might showing them to my kids for the first time get me closer to that experience, through some kind of empathetic effect? It’s worth a try.
Why Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?
My 9 year-old daughter had a sleepover at a friend’s house. This was a good opportunity to watch a slightly more grown-up movie with my son. Let’s call him “Stanley” (because that’s his name). As I hadn’t prepared for this situation, I pitched some options I found on Netflix to Stanley:
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)?
“Too creepy…” Fair enough. It is a 15 and the PG-13 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016) approached his limits.
The King’s Speech (2010)?
“Sounds boring…” Oops. I’ve clearly undersold it, but having done so it’s probably best left to another time.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)?
“I’ve seen The Lone Ranger. I don’t really like Westerns…”
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid it is!
How was it?
I knew how limited Stanley’s exposure to Westerns was, but I was still surprised by his unfamiliarity with cowboy tropes. At his age, I’m pretty sure I knew all about the rules of fast-draw gunfights, the deadly consequences of being caught cheating at poker and the roles of sheriffs & deputies, though I’m sure at least some of that knowledge was gleaned from Bugs Bunny cartoons. After a bit of pause-and-explain during the opening scenes, however, Stanley got quite into the jaunty heroics and banter between Robert Redford and Paul Newman. What surprised him was that lawbreakers could be the heroes of the tale, which shows just how sanitised storytelling for younger viewers has become. And as for the way it ends, well…
For me, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as a whole is pretty much as I remembered: superior lightweight entertainment. I had, however, forgotten just how well the leads work together. The pairing of Newman (who was just past his prime) with an ascendant Redford is an absolute triumph. Few films exude such charm and exuberance.
It’s on Netflix too, so here’s a more detailed review.