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Middle school friends stay connected creatively

During these stay-at-home times, a group of eighth- grade middle school friends in St. Charles County have found a creative way to stay connected, have fun and learn about how our culture has changed [or not] during the past 50-plus years.

The seven students — Lilly, Melody, Emma, Emily, Bremen, Hailee and Will — started “Movie Night” on Monday, March 23. 

Each week, one person serves as host and chooses any two movies they like. Then, the other six people vote and whichever movie gets the most votes is the one they watch. However, in one evening, they can vote again and watch more than one movie.

They view the movies through “Netflix Party,” a Google Chrome extension. While Netflix Party is free, a subscription to Netflix is required.

A screen shot of Netflix Party

The host logs into the Netflix website, looks up a movie and starts playing it. Once the host starts the movie, he or she clicks on the red Netflix Party icon [NP] that appears to the right of the address bar to begin the party. A chat box on the side of the screen opens with a link to the people in the group.

If the host pauses it, the movie is paused for everyone, and they can chat while watching the movie. To date, the group has watched a variety of movies from a wide span of years [1964 – 2018], exposing them to cultural aspects much different than what they have experienced so far in their lives. However, it was for the newer movies that they provided the most comments:

Hailee on Mary Poppins Returns [2018]: “It was different! It was quite a unique movie. It’s a fun movie to watch when you’re sick of action movies.”

Melody on Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse [2018]: “I really liked the music! The animation was some of the best I’ve seen.”

Bremen J. on The Bee Movie [2007]: “It was a fun movie to make fun of with friends. But the movie itself wasn’t very well written.”

Emily on Incredibles 2 [2018]: “I like how much detail was in the movie. It was extremely well animated.”

Lilly on Ant-Man and The Wasp [2018]: “I didn’t expect this movie to be as good as the first one, but I was pleasantly surprised! It was just the right amount of action and humor.”

Emma on Avengers: Infinity War [2018]: “I loved how funny it was. I like how they used humor to lighten the mood of the movie.”

Will on Insidious [2011]: “It was a good movie. I didn’t feel like it was truly terrifying, but it excelled in other areas.”

During and after watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lilly and Emma commented that the Marion character played by Karen Allen was unbelievably weak. They said, “Marion would just stand by meekly, screeching ‘Indy, Indy’ while Indy did all of the fighting. Why didn’t she help by fighting, too?”  Perhaps denoting a cultural difference, female audiences in 2020 may differ than those in 1981 regarding how strong or weak female characters should be during a fight scene.

The friends plan to keep Movie Night going until they can see each other in person again.

Asked what they would recommend people do in setting up their own Movie Night, Lilly recommended: “The only thing I would stay is to keep an even number of people in the group, so that there is an odd number of voters. This will help ensure there are no ties when voting for movies.”

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