Picture it: My grandparents’ house, December 25, 1999. My brother was about to turn 25, my cousin was 22, and I was a mere 20 years old. As our annual festivities (read: Spades game) were winding down, and we decided to drive to Greenville to see a movie. We’d decided on “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, but by the time we got there around midnight, the showing had sold out. Instead, we saw “Any Given Sunday”. I enjoyed the movie, enhanced by its raucous crowd, but neither of my companions really appreciated the atmosphere.
The next year, we decided to do it make it an annual tradition and invite anyone who wanted to come. Many did, but the movies for the next several movies, while some were “good”, weren’t really crowd-pleasers. They were “Cast Away” (2000), “The Majestic” (2001), “Catch Me If You Can” (2002), and “Cold Mountain” (2003). In 2004, my input was outlawed and the movie decided upon “Ocean’s Twelve”, which was fine, but unimpressive. In 2005, we took a year off, due to general bad moods of everyone involved. Finally, last year, some of our progeny wanted to get involved, so the decision of “Night at the Museum” was made, and ushered in a new era of good Christmas movies. This year, I’ve suspended my longstanding “No Nicolas Cage” rule and we saw “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”. My 12-year-old cousin gave it a 10 out of 10.