So This Is A Space Movie?: Watching Empire Strikes Back With Small Humans

June 19, 2018

A couple weeks ago the Wonder Woman and I watched The Empire Strikes back for the first time with the kids. It was quite the experience, and the Sharp four were in rare form. Well, the seven-year-old Zoologist and the five-year-old Ballerina were in rare form. The one-year-old Jedi and the two-year-old Demolitions Expert couldn’t have cared less. 


Of course, the best part about watching The Empire Strikes Back is the big reveal that you-know-who is somebody’s father. There are countless viral videos of kids finding out for the first time that one of the biggest villains in movie history is the father of the hero everyone is banking on to save the day. I was curious how my kids, at least the two older ones who were paying attention, would react to this twist. What follows are the highlights of the experience. 

  • A few minutes into the movie the Zoologist looked at me and asked, “So, this is basically a space movie?” I mean, it is named Star Wars, and he has seen A New Hope so it isn’t like this is brand new to him. I hoped this is just him asking an obvious question as a way of starting a conversation.
     

  • Not long after the space movie question this exchange took place:
    Ballerina: Is this movie pretend?
    Zoologist: Of course it is. There isn’t even a Star Wars galaxy.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the good guys were.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the bad guys were.
     

  • In one scene Chewie laughed and the Zoologist thought it is the greatest thing ever. We have to pause the movie so that he can go put his Chewbacca pajamas on.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the good guys were.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the bad guys were.
     

  • While Chewie is working on the Millennium Falcon the Ballerina grows very curious about his size leading to this back and forth:
    Ballerina: Is Chewie big?
    Me: Yes.
    Ballerina: But is he big?
    Me: Yes.
    Ballerina: So, is he big?
    Me: That’s what I said.
    Ballerina: So, he is big?
    Me (growing exasperated: Yes, he is big.
    Ballerina: He’s big?
    Me: Yes, that is what I have been saying.
    This actually went on longer, but even typing it after a good bit of time has passed I started to twitch.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the good guys were.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the bad guys were.
     

  • Someone asked why Leia and Han were being rude to each other and in my explanation I used the phrase “butting heads.” This expression blew the Ballerina’s mind, and eventually led to her putting the phrase together as buttheads. I tried to explain that the expression was not buttheads, but she was laughing at herself saying butthead so much she couldn’t be bothered to listen. This prompted the Zoologist to list about a dozen species of animal that butt heads.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the good guys were.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the bad guys were.
     

  • Finally, we arrive at the seminal moment of the movie. Darth is about to tell Luke that he is his father so I start recording a video just in case my kids decide they want to be viral superstars too. The moment happens and there is no reaction whatsoever. Everyone just keeps watching the screen like Darth just said “Good day to you sir.” At this point the Ballerina was actually wearing a Darth

    Vader mask so it is possible that she didn’t even hear what was said, but the Zoologist was standing 5 feet from the TV staring at the screen intently. I paused the movie just to ask him if he heard what was said. He did, but he was a little suspicious that Darth was lying because Darth was a bad guy and Luke was a good guy. This lead to a philosophical conversation about how dads and kids each make their own choices and kids who have bad dads can choose to be good, and just because a kid has a good dad doesn’t mean they can’t make bad choices. We finished our talk and then watched the rest of the movie.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the good guys were.
     

  • The Ballerina asked who the bad guys were.

In summary, in my house one of the biggest twist in cinema history led to a discussion of sin, free will, and the choices we make. I don’t think my children will be going viral anytime soon.

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