Everybody has different tastes in film. Some people can’t move their hands from their eyes when a horror movie begins to play, and others can’t tear their eyes away from the screen. Having differing opinions is normal in every aspect of life. Despite knowing this, it can be aggravating when someone believes that your favorite movie is subpar. You don’t understand because it’s been such an endearing film to you your whole life, through the best and worst of times. However, the person who doesn’t like it has just seen it for the first time. Had they seen it when they were younger, maybe they would have loved it just as much as you do. But watching it as an adult, they simply don’t have the nostalgia for it.
The power of nostalgia is not to be underestimated. Nostalgia is a connection to your past, to your memories. There’s a reason why reboots and sequels of popular franchises are incredibly common nowadays. From Star Wars to the Winx Club, whether you think the reboot was well-done or done poorly, you still watched it because it was nostalgic. One thing that every storyteller wants for their work is for people to become emotionally attached to it. But, it’s much more difficult to establish a new emotional attachment to a franchise than it is to reboot one that people are already attached to. The longer you’ve had something in your life, the stronger your connection to it is. All memories become skewed as time goes by. You can’t truly ever be sure whether something happened the way you remember it.
So, is it good, or is it just nostalgic? I went through a few different films and franchises that I have nostalgia for, and ones that I don’t. As, of course, everyone has their unique tastes, my opinions may not align with yours. That being said, here are my four examples of how nostalgia, or the lack thereof, affected me.
1. The Harry Potter film series
These films are a staple of my and many others' childhoods. Watching them when I was young, I was immersed in the magical world displayed on the big screen. Anything magical astounded me when I was young. I would go into my closet hoping to find Narnia there which I, unfortunately, never did. Even today, I still am partial to stories that feature characters with otherworldly powers. And as a girl, seeing strong female characters, such as Hermoine and Professor McGonagall, made me feel stronger. Rewatching these movies now that I’m older, I can confidently say that I believe they hold up. It would be wrong to neglect to mention how some parts, especially in the first few movies, have some dated elements of ridiculousness. The Goblet of Fire film is basically just a cringy teen high school movie. Regardless of that, it is still my favorite of them all. The “fun for the whole family” vibe remains and could make someone of any age wish they could visit the wizarding world.
2. Grown Ups
I was a big fan of Adam Sandler when I was younger. His sense of humor is childish. So it makes sense that, as a child, I would enjoy his work. However, if you have seen Grown Ups, it is pretty clear it is not a film for children. But I still watched it when I was little and, spoiler alert, it’s how I found out the tooth fairy isn’t real (supposedly). Comedic moments such as Steve Buscemi ziplining straight into a shed and ending up in a full-body cast was top-tier humor to the little eight-year-old girl I was. This movie as a whole is very nostalgic for me, so you can imagine my disappointment when I rewatched it more recently to find it is not that great of a film. I thought it was awkward, unfunny, and poorly written. Despite this, I still somewhat enjoyed it because of the nostalgia. Seeing it again brought back fond memories. But I don’t believe I would have enjoyed Grown Ups at all if I hadn’t had a pre-established connection to it.
3. Avatar: The Last Airbender
Although I grew up during a time when this was very popular, I never saw a single episode as a child. I had heard of it, but I guess I was too busy with Hannah Montana, Ninjago, and many other shows to give it a watch. So, when it had a resurgence on its Netflix release, I decided to see what all the hype was about. I saw many people talking online about how many memories it brought back to them. I admittedly began watching the show with the mindset that people only love it because of their nostalgia. I was dead wrong. This show is beautifully crafted. The animation is pleasing to the eyes. The storyline impressively spans all three seasons. And the characters learn and grow in a believable way. I think it’s fair to say that this is one of the most amazing shows ever made, even with my complete lack of a nostalgic connection to it.
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary
I fear this will be a controversial one. I will preface this by saying I don’t think this is a bad film by any means. I just don’t think it’s that good either. I only first watched this film somewhat recently because my family couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it. They thoroughly enjoyed it, pointing out moments they remembered. It had a simple, predictable plot but the characters were kind of annoying. It’s a very basic rom-com. I don’t feel there is a better descriptive word for this movie besides fine; it was fine. Now, if I did have the nostalgic factor for this movie, I could imagine how others might love it so much. There are memorable moments, such as the blue soup, which seems to be funnier with time. However, without any nostalgia, I feel there is nothing special about this movie whatsoever.
Overall, it’s fair to say that nostalgia plays a large role in our enjoyment of media. Many films and franchises are enjoyable regardless of your emotional attachment to them, and many others are not. But when it comes down to it, does it really matter? Whether you love a film because of nostalgia or not, you are still free to love it. Your enjoyment of something isn’t lessened by the reason you enjoy it. Everyone will always enjoy different things, and there is no reason to be ashamed in saying you love The Starving Games, even though most would agree that it is an objectively terrible film. Whether a movie is good or not will always be subjective. So don’t let anyone tell you not to love Despicable Me. Keep on loving Despicable Me.
The Harry Potter film series is streaming on HBO Max
Grown Ups is streaming on Netflix
Avatar: The Last Airbender is streaming on Netflix
Bridget Jones’s Diary is streaming on HBO Max