Waxing on nostalgia

I have another confession to make. Today I kind of threw in the towel on homework. I didn’t get anything done this weekend because I managed my time a little poorly and because sometimes I have to do things like go to the grocery store. And sometimes I need to go out with friends so that I don’t become a hermit. These are healthy, justifiable things. I don’t regret the way I spent my weekend, really, just that time doesn’t magically expand for me so that I can get done all of the things I need to. Earlier today I was feeling kind of miserable about it, and then something more immediate distracted my attention.

I slipped on the bus (it was wet today) in a valiant attempt to destroy my left knee. It’s really not too painful, but it’s pretty swollen and inflamed, and the whole experience gave me something more physical to be miserable about than just thinking about all of the things I have to get done this week.

So I worked until six and then I came home and buckled down and got a lot of work done. And then I met a handsome prince and lived happily ever after.

Not.

What I did was come home and watch the new Karate Kid, which had arrived from Netflix on Saturday. It was way better than homework. You should know that The Karate Kid (the original) is very nostalgic for me. It’s up there with Ghostbusters (both of them), Disney movies, The Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol and Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken. But Karate Kid is pretty special because it’s one that my brother and I both loved from before we could even read. I remember that we had a copy my mom had taped (remember VHS?) off of the television (we had a lot of taped movies). It had a golden yellow label with the title written in all caps in my mom’s careful handwriting. It also had a stick figure doing The Crane Kick so that we could find it for ourselves before we could read the words. We spent a lot of time practicing the crane kick in the backyard, too. Also, Bryan and I shared a moment when we went to see the movie Pearl Harbor because one of the Japanese pilots in the movie is the nemesis, Chozen, from The Karate Kid 2. Bryan and I looked at each other at the same time and said, “Is that Chozen?” And it totally was.

So, anyway, I’ve been wanting to see the new one because I had heard good things and because I’m generally a fan of Jackie Chan, and who didn’t love Jayden Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness? And let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.

They changed the story enough to be distinct, and left enough the same to be nostalgic. But the new one is a better movie than the old one all around. The kung fu in the new one is way better than the karate (is that actually what they’re doing?) in the old one. There’s no ridiculous orientalism or caricatures of racial stereotypes in the new one, which is refreshing. Also, I think there’s more depth in the mutually beneficial relationship between Dre and Mr. Han than is developed between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. And the new one also emphasizes more clearly that Dre’s ultimate victory is not in defeating the other boy but in mastering himself.

But the new one is definitely short on the cheese factor. Dre is not nearly as dorky as Daniel. None of the bad boys look like surfer dudes with bleach blond hair. Not a single near-mullet poof appears (although there is a pretty swell mohawk). No one wears a piece of cloth tied around their foreheads. And not a single person crawls across the tournament mat over-dramatically on his knees with his face in the ground.

There was, however, a sort of upgraded homage to the crane kick, which was pretty awesome. It made my sense of nostalgia happy.

But they failed to include the “Best Around” song. Somehow, the Justin Beiber song at the end was just not as satisfying.

Anyway, tonight I’m thankful for movies that take me back to my childhood, especially the ones that make me think of my brother, whom I’m also pretty thankful for. Like, all the time.

And just for fun:

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